I'm a bit scared to try it, because I'm not sure what would be worse--cracking open a rotten egg, or having to figure out what to do with a chick.

So how about it? If I leave chicken eggs out, will they eventually hatch if kept at the right temperature?

EDIT - Sorry for the confusion. I was referring to store bought eggs only.

  • Can you give a bit more info? How old are your chickens? Are they incubating? You have a rooster, I hope? You normally don't have to crack open an egg, so no worries about a rotten egg.
    – Mien
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 21:33
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    You can sometimes find fertilized eggs in grocery stores (or health food stores). I have no idea if they would ever hatch, though, because they spend quite some time at temperatures not exactly suited to chick development.
    – Marti
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 15:09
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    @Marti: Chilling a fertilized egg will kill the germ. Fertilized eggs intended for hatching should be kept at about 50-65F until they are incubated. Incubation temperature is 99.5F. Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 16:25
  • As recently as the 1980s, you would very occasionally find an egg containing a foetus in a shop-bought box. Producers check by holding the egg to a bright light. Nowadays that process is automated.
    – slim
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 14:06

5 Answers 5


If you're getting your eggs from a supermarket, they won't hatch. This is the case with eggs you get for eating from almost any source.

Hens lay eggs even if they haven't been, umm, mating with a male. Any egg laid in those circumstances will never hatch because it's unfertilized, and that's the standard practice for any commercial egg operation.

Now if you have a free ranging hen and a rooster too, and they're not kept apart, then yeah, you could get a fertilized egg. And that egg needs to be kept properly warm to hatch.

  • 3
    Does chilling the egg, even if it is fertilized, irrevocably kill the embryo? Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 0:17
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    As long as you don't keep it chilled for too long, answer is: No, it usually just slows down the development of the embryo, so it is possible to slightly adjust the "birthday" of the chick by adjusting the temperature. Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 10:33

Store-bought chicken eggs are usually unfertilized, and so will not hatch under any condition.

Chicken producers do sometimes keep eggs at slightly low temperatures to delay hatching for up to a week, or occasionally longer (for references see R.A. Ernst et al, Common Incubation Problems and R.A. Ernst, Hatching Egg Sanitation), but the lowest recommended temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 19.8 degrees Celsius. After storage, they're put into an incubator at 99.5 to 100 degrees Farenheight (37.5 to 37.8 Celsius) to hatch them.

The standard refrigerator temperature of around 5 degrees Celsius (about 41 degrees Fahrenheit) is well below the recommended temperatures, so would almost certainly sterilize fertilized eggs.


They won't hatch if they're store bought, because they're unfertilized. Try going to a local farm and look for hens with laid eggs; make sure to ask the farmer if they have mated because if the chicken has mated it will be fertilized.


Only properly fertilized eggs will hatch. Bought in eggs also would not.

  • 2
    What do you mean by "more hearts for consumption"? Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 12:11
  • If you meant to write "healthy" instead of "hearts", I'd be very interested to see any proof of that oft-repeated, um, supposition. (In case it's not obvious, what I mean is that, as far as anybody with any credibility knows, fertilized eggs are nutritionally totally and completely identical to non-fertilized eggs.)
    – Marti
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 14:34

I believe that any egg can hatch and all you have to do is have hope and try.

  • 5
    Unfortunately your belief is completely incorrect.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 5:25

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