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Q: I want all my eggs to hatch, so is there any type of chicken breed that has a higher hatching rate for their eggs?

A:

This is one of those questions where it's hard to tell what exactly you're asking, a question that tells us you're probably a beginner at incubation. Remember, fertility rates are different than hatching rates.Even when the eggs you place in your incubator are 100% fertile, you may get zero of them to hatch. This is because if the conditions aren't just right---if your incubator is too hot or too cold (or too humid or not humid enough, etc.)---the eggs may not hatch in those sub-optimal conditions.

So, hatching rates are dependent on YOU, and how well you or your hen incubate the fertile eggs. In the case of shipped eggs, it will also depend on how gently the eggs are handled during transit.

If you were asking about fertility rates, the answer is "not exactly." Rose combed roosters have lower fertility, so to keep the fertility of your eggs up, you would need to keep a higher rooster to hen ratio. However, the difference in fertility is usually small, and keeping extra roosters in rose-combed breeds usually solves the issue if you start noticing a problem with your fertility rate when you check your eggs. Additionally, some breeds may have problems mating which can reduce fertility. For instance, the Cornish is so broad breasted that roosters can have trouble mounting the hens. Roosters of other breeds like Dorkings or Japanese Bantams have such short legs that mounting can be problematic. And in rumpless birds, the saddle feathers may get in the way of the vent, causing problems maintaining fertility. To solve those problems, breeders and hatcheries often use artificial insemination for these breeds. When it comes to fertility rates, hatcheries and reputable breeders keep tabs on their rates, and take whatever steps needed to make sure the fertility of their eggs is where it needs to be for every breed. If you are planning to raise any of these breeds yourself, you will want to research what the issues might be and how your flock management can address them.

When it comes to hatching rates, there are no breeds we know of that naturally have a higher rate, but again there are some that have lower rates.

For instance, Araucanas (NOT Easter Eggers and NOT Ameraucanas) have a "tufted" gene which is fatal to about 25% of the fertilized embryos, so those chicks die in the egg.

Araucana tufts
An Araucana rooster with double tufts---different than bearded Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers

The reason for this is that when the chicks are homozygous for tuftedness--in other words, when they get two copies of the tufted gene--that causes developmental abnormalities that are fatal. Frizzledness is the same way, so birds that are frizzled are normally bred to birds with smooth feathers to avoid high incubation mortality. White wyandottes (although not other colors) are also associated with high incubation mortality.

In addition, you will have better hatching results when the eggs are laid by chickens who are at "prime" laying age. As a hen gets older, her whites become thinner, the same thing, incidentally, that happens with older eggs. Young pullets may lay small eggs which don't leave enough room for the chick to develop. If there are too few roosters---or if they are older roosters---eggs may not all be fertile, as well!

Finally, if you asked that question because you were trying to figure out which breeds are broody and make good mothers, the best are probably silkies, cochins and orpingtons... however, there are many breeds that do a good job. To find a list, try using our Chicken Chooser breed selection tool to find breeds that will rear chicks.