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Warm Water Trick For Hatching Eggs: Does It Work?

Here’s a question for you: What happens when you have fertilized eggs, but your hen isn’t broody and you don’t have an incubator? One affordable option that can be done by anyone is known as the Warm Water Trick for hatching eggs, which involves heating water and warming the egg until the chick breaks through. Here is everything you need to know about the warm water trick, including whether it works and how to do it.

Here’s What to Know When Your Egg-specting

egg shell hatching

Whether you are raising chickens, turkeys, ducks, or some other bird, you are going to get eggs. For those with chickens, you can expect the hens to lay an egg every other day or so, depending on their breed. Hens begin laying eggs around 7 months old and will maintain peak production for about 2 years. After that, egg laying begins to taper off.

Keep in mind that chickens will lay an egg whether that egg has been fertilized or not. However, chicks will only hatch from eggs that have been fertilized.

The incubation period for chickens is about 19-21 days, though most will hatch on the 21st day. In order to hatch, chickens need a stable temperature of 99.5 degrees F (37.5 degrees C) and consistent 58% humidity for those 21 days. The eggs must also be turned hourly when in an incubator.

However, even in the most ideal of conditions, chicken eggs have only a moderate chance of hatching, around 75-80%. Even those people with high tech incubators may not be able to coax an egg to hatch within the 19-21 day window. The warm water trick provides an alternative to incubators and broody hens.

Reasons Why an Egg Has Yet to Hatch

If you believe that your eggs should have hatched by now but are stalled, then there is a high chance that those eggs won’t hatch at all. Here are some reasons why your chicken (or other bird) eggs have not hatched:

  • The eggs have not been fertilized. Hens cannot hatch eggs without a rooster to fertilize the eggs. Without fertilization, there is no way for an embryo to develop within the eggs. Sometimes, the hen will refuse to sit on eggs because they have not been fertilized.
  • First time mothers do not know what to do with their eggs. Sometimes, this neglect or inexperience causes delayed or failed incubation.
  • Hens may sense when their eggs are not healthy and abandon them.
  • The humidity is incorrect. If the humidity is too low or high, it could cause malformations and early or delayed hatching.
  • The temperature in the coop or incubator is too high, leading to the chick dying in the egg before it hatches or no embryo development. If a chick does develop in too high of heat, it may lead to mutations or weakness.

Eggs were handled roughly, leading to no embryo.

What is the Warm Water Trick For Hatching Eggs?

Photo credit: Pigeonpedia

The first thing you need to know is that this method works — it just takes considerable diligence on your end. The warm water trick is ideal for hatching eggs that were meant to hatch but show no progress. You can use the warm water trick to see if an egg is developed, too. Here are the steps needed to complete the warm water trick for hatching eggs successfully:

  1. Find a medium-sized or large-sized microwave-safe bowl and pour at least several inches of water into it.
  2. Put the bowl in the microwave and heat the water for a couple of minutes. The water should be no hotter than 100 degrees F (37.7 degrees C).
  3. Dampen a soft towel or cloth in the water.
  4. Gently wrap the egg in the warm, damp towel.
  5. Place the swaddled egg inside a dry bowl.
  6. Put the bowl under some source of heat, preferably a heat lamp.
  7. Maintain a consistent temperature around 98-99 degrees F (37.2-37.5 degrees C). Do not let the egg get too cold.
  8. Every 6-8 hours, rotate the egg, ensuring the heat is reaching every side. You will have to reheat and moisten the towel during this time.
  9. Your baby chick should hatch within 1-2 days, if done correctly.

Is There Another Way to Use the Warm Water Trick?

There are many ways to use water to decide whether an egg has met certain criteria, such as being safe to eat. You can also use the warm water trick to tell when an egg is ready to hatch.

If you are unsure of an egg that has yet to hatch, you can add an additional step to the process mentioned above. When the water has been heated, place the egg in the bowl. If the egg goes directly to the bottom of the bowl, it means that there is no live egg inside to be hatched. If the egg floats just below the water? There is a high chance that there is a live chick inside. That, or the embryo has undergone some kind of development.

Why does this happen? As an egg develops into a chick, a tiny air cell forms within the eggshell. The pocket allows the egg to float below the surface of the water.

Should an egg breach the waterline and stay there, it means that the egg may be a dud. There is a chance that the internal membrane broke, causing the egg inside to wither and dry up.

Here is a video on warm water float test:

Alternatively, you can use the candling method to see if an egg has developed. Both methods are pretty accurate.

Check out this video for more information on candling:

What Are Some Risks of Hatching Eggs With The Warm Water Trick?

The warm water trick for hatching eggs is efficient, low-cost, and works well most of the time. However, you need to be very careful when using the warm water trick for a couple of reasons. First, if you accidentally make the water too hot and fail to check the temperature with a thermometer, you risk damaging the eggs and/or cause development to stall out. Additionally, this method subjects eggs to potential bacteria.

The success of the warm water trick depends entirely on how well you follow the steps and monitor the progress of the eggs. 

Final Thoughts on the Warm Water Trick

There you have it: the warm water trick for hatching eggs of all kinds, be they chicken, turkey, duck, or pigeon. If you don’t have broody hens or an incubator handy, the warm water trick is an effective way to hatch eggs. That said, there are some risks involved, so make sure you are thoroughly prepared before trying the warm water trick.