We ordered our first baby chicks (only pullets) from a hatchery. However, my 8 year old daughter wanted to see them hatch from eggs. We live in the city and no one that keeps hens has fertile eggs around here. We had to come up with an alternative, so we turned to the natural grocery stores that carried ” Fertile ” eggs for eating.
She loves to create all sorts of stuff so she built an incubator with my help on the scavenging of parts. Four days were spent getting the right temp and humidity using water trays and adding holes. One Saturday we drove to 4 local natural food stores trying to find the most recently packed grocery store fertile eggs. We ended up with Trader Joes white Fertile eggs and brown Fertile eggs from Sprouts.
I kept telling her not to get her hopes too high. A lot can go wrong with incubation, and there was a lot of information on the web saying it could not be done with store refrigerated eggs. Well, by the 13th day, we had 8 embryos developing from the Trader Joes eggs. After seeing how much fun my daughter and I were having, my son decided to continue to use the incubator for a science project and use it to determine which kinds of store bought eggs can hatch. My son was selected to represent his class at the district science fair and he was very excited about participating at it.
We ended up keeping the first chick that hatched, and the kids named her Joey. We had other chicks from subsequent hatches as well, but not being able to identify the gender as baby chicks ourselves, we didn’t keep them. All the science project chicks, except Joey, went to a farm in the high desert. When we realized Joey was a pullet, we felt thankful and blessed. At 19 weeks + 1 day old she laid her first egg. It was a white 1.3 oz egg. Her eggs are now consistently about 2.0 to 2.5 oz. She is sweet and gentle with the kids. She is a leghorn hybrid and we believe she is from a Hyline W-36 hen’s egg due to her docile nature.While she started out very quiet, as she got close to laying she got pretty vocal. Joey is our most talkative chicken, but due the fact she is very easy going with people, lets the kids hold and bathe her, and lays large and extra large eggs almost daily, she is a great backyard pet chicken. Joey turned 1 year old on February 3rd, 2010.
Since we originally posted our results at BYC in early 2009, we have noticed others have had similar results with other grocery store egg experiments. Here is a thread about a variety of those hatches: http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=290845