How to incubate chicken eggs when an egg is cracked in an incubator

Written by denise bowman
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How to incubate chicken eggs when an egg is cracked in an incubator
With a little help, slightly cracked eggs can be successfully hatched in an incubator. (Egg image by Andrei Leczfalvi from

It does not take much force to crack an egg. Maybe one egg bumped against another as it was being collected in the hen house. Or possibly one egg rolled into another while being loaded in the incubator. Eggs can crack during the incubation process as they are turned. Most cracked eggs will need to be disposed of, but depending on the severity of the damage, some can be salvaged.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • High-powered flashlight
  • Water-soluble white glue

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  1. 1

    Remove the eggs from the incubator and carry them to a secure work surface. Work quickly but carefully so the eggs are returned to the incubator before they have a chance to cool off too much.

  2. 2

    Turn out the lights in the room.

  3. 3

    Candle the egg by holding the flashlight behind the egg. Move the flashlight around as needed to visualise inside the egg. Blood vessels and irregularities in the shell will be visible as the light is moved around.

    How to incubate chicken eggs when an egg is cracked in an incubator
    (flashlight image by Sonar from
  4. 4

    Discard eggs with large cracks and those where the membrane of the egg has been damaged.

  5. 5

    Coat hairline cracks in the egg with a small amount of white glue. Cover the entire crack, but avoid covering the undamaged areas of the egg. The repair may require several coats of the glue.

    How to incubate chicken eggs when an egg is cracked in an incubator
    White glue can fix a crack in an egg. (bottle of glue on black marble image by phizics from
  6. 6

    Replace the eggs in the incubator after all have been checked and cracks covered.

  7. 7

    Candle the repaired eggs a few days later to make sure the chicks are still developing. Discard eggs with blood rings, eggs with a bad smell and those that appear to be seeping.

Tips and warnings

  • Eggs should be candled several times throughout the incubation process. Recommended candling dates are day seven, 14 and 18, but candling can take place more often, if needed. Chicks from repaired eggs may require assistance hatching from the glue-thickened egg.
  • Do not incubate badly cracked eggs. Bacteria can easily enter these eggs, killing the chick and causing it to decompose. Decomposed eggs can explode in the incubator, threatening the remainder of the hatch.

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