Pro-Tips for Purchasing Hatching Eggs

It’s getting to be that time of the year: HATCHING SEASON! Pictures of rainbow-colored eggs and fluffy little chicks flood social media, and the year's first orders are placed in a virtual online frenzy. STOP. STOP RIGHT NOW and get control of yourself {I'm saying this as a friend}

Don't get swept-up in all the hype and madness, only to regret an impulse buy that could affect your wallet...and your flock in the long-run. Whether you’re ready to hatch your first clutch of fertile eggs, or are an old pro incubating, what are some factors to consider when buying hatching eggs? Here’s some helpful info:


  1. Check that the breeder/supplier is NPIP-certified, a registered business (do a quick search online in your state’s business registry), and legally able to sell and ship eggs out of state. As a BUYER, you deserve legal protection against scammy, illegal, and difficult and/or problematic transactions (i.e. paying for eggs and your order not being fulfilled/delivered as promised, seller "disappears" and ignores your emails despite having your deposit or payment in full). Dealing with legally-established, tax-paying and legitimate businesses offers protection to you as the consumer. Ask me how I know ☹

So what is NPIP certification anyway?

A quick summary: NPIP certification means the breeder’s flock has been tested by their State Veterinarian for Salmonella/PT (Pullorum-Typhoid), and potentially other devastating poultry diseases such as AI (Avian Influenza) and MG/MS. Some states allow local, in-state sales of chicks and eggs without having to be NPIP-certified, but may require a Poultry Dealer license or something equivalent (check with your state Department of Agriculture to be sure). It’s critically important to the health of your established flock and your property to take proper biosecurity measures to prevent disease transmission (vertically, through contaminated eggs, and horizontally, between chickens).

Here's a link to My Pet for NPIP-certified, private-breeder hatching eggs that I HIGHLY recommend:


  1. Ask for current photos of parent stock (i.e. what will my chickens look like when they’re mature). This is where you may notice potential flaws, concerns re: flock health, etc. and can make more informed decisions to buy. If the breeder or seller can’t/won’t/is unwilling to provide recent photos, move along. Legit breeders have plenty of pictures and should be able to produce those upon request.
  1. Ask for recent photos of egg color from that specific breeding pen, unfiltered, and with multiple shots. Photoshop and lighting make a huge difference in the color and “look” of eggs.
  1. Understand your risks when hatching shipped eggs. Typically there are NO GUARANTEES on shipped, fertile hatching eggs. Rough handling before/during transport and/or by the US Post Office can drastically affect your hatch rate, with some eggs arriving “scrambled” (air sacs detached, eggs broken or cracked). Obtaining eggs from local breeders (again, legit businesses) is another great option. Below are some examples of well-packed, fertile hatching eggs that successfully hatched for me:

Individually bubble-wrapped hatching eggs

Napkins around delicate hatching eggs that were encased in shipping box

Some breeders go the extra mile with packing their eggs

  1. Find out when the hatching eggs were collected. A clutch of fertilized eggs can remain viable for several days (some folks claim upwards of 10-14 days even!) without incubation as (in nature) broody hens will naturally “collect” them. For the very best hatch rates, freshly laid is always best! 
  1. Egg cleanliness: something that may also affect your hatch rate. Really mucky, muddy, or cruddy eggs increase the chance for bacterial growth during incubation (either under a broody hen or inside an incubator). I’ve personally never had an egg explode in an incubator (since I candle them several times throughout hatch to check for viability), but I’ve lost eggs under a hen and it wasn’t pretty (and smelled horrific!) 


Hopefully these tips will help you make a more informed decision when buying the best hatching eggs and adding to your flock! Stay tuned for more blog posts throughout the season for other tips, stories, and adventures with our chickens, goats, pigs, garden and farm life! Happy hatching, everyone!!




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