Fertilized vs Unfertilized Chicken Eggs – How to Tell the Difference?

When looking at a chicken egg, it’s hard to tell whether it is fertile or infertile since both fertilized and unfertilized chicken eggs look the same. However, chicken eggs can either be fertile or infertile, depending on whether a hen has been mating with a rooster.

Chickens can only lay fertile eggs if they mate with a rooster. Chickens that don’t mate with a rooster will always lay infertile eggs. Both fertilized and unfertilized eggs are safe for consumption and have the same nutritional value.

How to Tell if Chicken Egg is Fertilized or Not?

The eggs available in stores are either fertile or infertile. If you strictly want fertile eggs, either for eating or incubating, it helps to find out whether the eggs you have are fertile or not. Even in the presence of a rooster, it doesn’t mean the hens will automatically lay fertile eggs.

Having roosters in your flock only increases the possibility of your hens laying fertile eggs. Therefore, you have to determine whether the eggs are fertile or not. Here is how you can tell whether a chicken egg is fertile or not.

Use the Candling Method

The candling method is the easiest and oldest way of telling whether a chicken egg is fertile. This method entails holding a chicken egg in front of a light source in a dark area. If there are dark splotches on the egg, it means it is fertile. If you can’t see any dark splotches on the chicken egg, it ultimately means the egg is infertile.

Pay Attention to the Yolk

Fertile and infertile eggs look the same on the outside. They also look the same on the inside. However, observing the yolk can help you detect if the chicken egg is fertile or not. Infertile eggs have tiny white spots on their yolks. These spots are also known as the germinal disc. On the other hand, Fertile eggs have large white spots on their yolks, which resembles bull eyes.

Look for Blood Spots

Fertile eggs also have blood spots in their yolks. If you crack an egg and notice some blood spots on the yolk, the chances are high that the egg could be fertile. However, the egg could be infertile if there are no blood spots on the yolk.

Use the Floating Method

This is the most straightforward way of telling whether a chicken egg is fertile without breaking the egg. Put some water in a container and put the egg you want to know whether it is fertile in the water. If the egg sinks deep into the water, it indicates the egg is fertile. If it floats on the surface, it means the egg is infertile.

How do Chicken Eggs Get Fertilized?

To lay fertile eggs, a hen must mate with a rooster for the fertilization of eggs to take place. Hens lay eggs even if they don’t have a rooster. Nonetheless, such hens will only lay infertile eggs. Once a hen mates with a rooster, the rooster’s sperms travel into the hen’s oviduct and fertilize the egg, enabling the hen to lay fertile eggs.

However, the sperms may fail to travel into a hen’s oviduct after mating with a rooster. In this scenario, the hen won’t lay fertile eggs even if she mates with the rooster multiple times. Older roosters have a high chance of fertilizing eggs since their sperms are potent, unlike those of younger roosters.

Are the Eggs We Eat Fertilized or Unfertilized?

The eggs we eat can either be fertile or infertile. It depends on whether the hens have been mating with roosters before laying. Most commercial eggs are infertile since egg production, in this case, doesn’t entail hens mating with roosters.

Chicken owners who have roosters in their flocks always consume fertile eggs because the roosters in their flocks mate with the hens, ultimately making the hens lay fertile eggs. If you purchase chicken eggs from a store, the odds are high that the eggs could be infertile.

However, if you buy eggs from a poultry farm where there are several roosters, there is a high possibility the eggs could be fertile. Overall, it isn’t easy to tell whether the eggs you are consuming are fertile or not. It all depends on the source of the eggs.

Can You Eat Fertilized Chicken Eggs?

Yes, you can eat fertilized chicken eggs since these eggs are completely safe for human consumption. You won’t experience health issues after eating fertilized chicken eggs unless you have egg allergies. However, fertile eggs can be unsafe for you if they are dirty or if you have been keeping the eggs for too long, ultimately making the eggs stale and unfit for consumption.

Fertile eggs could also be unsuitable for consumption if a broody hen has been sitting on the eggs. The temperature changes that occur when a hen sits on fertile eggs can make the eggs unsuitable for consumption. Leaving the fertile eggs on your counter for a long duration can also make the eggs unsafe for consumption.

Fertile eggs can go bad if they remain in the wrong conditions for too long, and therefore leaving the eggs on the counter for a long duration can ruin your fertile eggs. Furthermore, improper storage can make the eggs have an unpleasant taste and smell. Always eat freshly fertilized eggs for your safety.

Is There Any Nutritional Difference Between Fertilized and Infertile Eggs?

No, there aren’t any significant nutritional differences between infertile and infertile eggs. Both fertile and infertile eggs have the same nutritional value. These eggs also have a similar taste and smell. Chicken eggs will always have the same nutrients and minerals, whether fertile or infertile.

For instance, fertile and infertile eggs are rich in vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. Whether you are consuming fertile or infertile eggs, you will still get the same nutritional value from the eggs.


Chicken eggs can be fertile or infertile depending on whether the hens have been mating with roosters. Fertile eggs are suitable for chicken keepers who want to incubate eggs and get baby chicks.

You can use simple tricks to know whether you have fertile or infertile eggs. Overall, both fertile and infertile chicken eggs are suitable for consumption and have the same nutritional value.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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