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Why Did My Chicken Eggs Not Hatch?

Last Updated: 22.04.24


Raising chickens could prove a profitable business and relatively less stressful than other farming businesses if you know how to do things well. Thus, if you plan on farming chickens for their eggs or meat, you need to learn how to properly look after your birds, and that includes creating the perfect atmosphere for them to hatch by constantly checking the incubator temperature for chicken eggs.

However, the path to a successful business won’t be easy, especially if you don’t know too much about raising these birds and offering them a welcoming environment.

And, even when they do have everything they need, not all of them will hatch their eggs, giving birth to new chickens, which could be seen as a setback for your company. Let’s take a closer look at the incubation process and identify the reasons why some of the eggs remain unfertilized.


How are chickens born?

Depending on their size and breed, hens will start producing eggs at the age of 6-7 weeks. In almost all species of birds and animals, it requires both sexes to deliver a baby, and it is no different in the world of hens.

However, chickens don’t actually need a male or a rooster to lay eggs. They are capable of doing that on their own, but in order for an egg to be fertilized and produce a living offspring, the sperm of the rooster will be required. Without it, the eggs remain unfertilized and, therefore, won’t come to life.

Another interesting thing about chickens is that even when the eggs are fertilized, not all of them hatch. For an egg to have a chance of developing into a living form, it should remain at the exact temperature of 99 degrees Fahrenheit in the first 24 hours, and then to a similar temperature for 21 days, which is called the incubation period.

Female chickens have two modes – the “laying eggs” mode and the “sitting on eggs” one. The bird will only switch from the first one to the other when her nest is full of eggs, which usually counts for about a dozen. The second phase is called “brooding” and is the final one that will help eggs hatch.

During the brooding period, the hen rarely leaves the incubator to eat, rest or stretch as she must keep the eggs warm enough for them to hatch. She also turns more protective and won’t leave anyone else near her nest.

However, chickens farmed artificially and on an industrial scale often lack the instinct of brooding as they are only needed to lay eggs and not to hatch them also. Thus, most of them will keep on laying eggs that won’t be fertilized with the help of a rooster as there is no need for him also.

Why aren’t store-bought eggs hatching?

If you went to the supermarket and bought a dozen eggs in the hope of creating a mini farm on your own, you will be disappointed to discover that they won’t hatch. The reason behind this is simple – hens don’t need a rooster to lay eggs, and, without him, the fertilization cannot take place.

Chickens keep on laying eggs that are easily picked up by farmers every morning and delivered to the stores where you are buying them from. And, even if there is a slight chance for the eggs you’re buying to have been fertilized by a rooster, they are stored in cool places, where temperatures aren’t near the 100 degrees Fahrenheit needed for them to be incubated.

In fact, not even your home will be close enough to this temperature to provide the right environment for the eggs to hatch, so that’s why you won’t be getting baby chickens anytime soon.


Why fertile eggs don’t hatch?

If you thought things were complicated before, wait until you find out that not even all fertilized eggs turn into live chickens. The truth is that getting chickens out of fertilized eggs is more of a game of chance instead of exact science.

There are other reasons why not all eggs that have been fertilized will hatch, and this often has to do with a form of infertility, either from the rooster or the hen.

Immature males or old roosters often have problems with their sperm, which leads to infertility problems. The same thing can happen to female chickens if they are too young or too old too.

Another thing that might cause the eggs not to hatch has to do with overweight breeders, often enough males. Incorrect feeding or not providing enough nutrients for your birds can also lead to fertility problems.

Although resilient, chickens do suffer from certain diseases or get infested with mites or parasites which often leads to infertility.

Last but not least, improper living conditions may also affect the rooster’s sperm quality, meaning there are fewer chances for eggs to hatch. Not providing enough space for your chickens to roam freely might put additional pressure on them and cause stress.

Similar effects are also seen when there are too many birds sharing a limited space or there are too many females sharing the same male chicken.

How to prevent fertility problems

Although some eggs may “fail to launch” no matter how much you dedicate your spare time to looking after your flock, most of the infertility causes can be solved. Parasites and diseases can be easily treated if they are discovered in time, so make sure your birds get their regular check-ups and are seen by a veterinarian.

Proper feeding with high-quality and organic ingredients will also boost your chicks’ immune system and promote fertility. However, it is important to talk to a specialist or a vet before changing your birds’ diet to make sure it contains all necessary vitamins and minerals for healthy growth.




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November 1, 2020 at 2:46 pm

Hi. We have a brooding hen who has been laying on her eggs for 21 days today. I fear her eggs are not going to hatch- what do we do from here? Just take the eggs away from her? We aren’t exactly sure how to proceed? Thanks!


November 3, 2020 at 9:24 am

Hi Meg. Usually, eggs take exactly 21 days to hatch, however, there have been cases where it took longer than this for the eggs to hatch. Please check out this article for more details:


March 14, 2020 at 10:12 am

So… we have a older rooster (7 years old I think) who we love and want to let have some babies before he dies. We’ve checked his eggs and they all have the tell tail white “bullseye” of a fertile egg.
We put a clutch of 6 eggs under a silky who has had several lots of chicks with different roosters and is she is an excelent mom. Everything was done by the book but it’s been 21 days and it looks like they have stopped development since our last candleing a week ago.
We can’t think of anything being wrong other than our roosters seed being bad on a genetic level.
He is fertilizing the eggs but then they just stop halfway through.
Their diet is good they have plenty of space. We got rid of the bigger younger rooster.
He’s as happy as can be.
We can’t seem to figure it out.
It’s not world ending we just love our Dante who is gentle to the girls and friendly to us and we want him to have a little son to take his place when he’s gone.

Any help?


July 12, 2020 at 7:02 pm

Hi Jonah. I am having the same issue and was wondering if any of you had any luck with any of the eggs hatching?


March 16, 2020 at 1:21 pm

Hi Jonah. First of all, it’s lovely that you speak about your rooster in such an affectionate way. I suggest that you take him to a specialist as some tests are required before anyone can offer any advice. It would be irresponsible to do so without actually seeing your rooster.

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