How to wrap fertilized chicken eggs so they don't break when shipped!
Fertilised eggs can be mailed and shipped thousands of miles fairly safely if certain principles are followed.
I have some tips and experience to share. The eggs in the picture had great packing materials, but not thick enough bubble wrap padding between the eggs and nowhere near enough popcorn filler to stop the eggs banging into each other as the parcel was tipped up.
I have been shipping average 100 fresh chicken eggs a week for the last 4 and half months and only 2 cracked that I know of, one I suspect we missed on candling and one cracked for the inside out as it froze due to extreme cold in the Prairies in February. These tips for secure shipping of fertilised chicken eggs and for the fastest, easiest wrapping as it is a slow process.
I will show you what we do which works well. I have another article on the principles of packing fertile chicken eggs well no matter what the materials if you prefer different materials.
If in doubt, do a test mailing of eggs to yourself, or have double the padding! For those joining swaps for the first time on the larger poultry forums, I hope this information helps and makes the swap fun!
Getting set up to ship poultry eggs
Tools & materials for wrapping fertilised eggs
Egg wrapping and candling is best in a clear clean area. Use all new materials to prevent disease spread and so you can be consistent. Make sure you have
- Padding material for around the individual eggs (bubble wrap works best for us)
- Padding material for around the eggs to hold them together as one unit (we use new cardboard flats we cut down and rubber bands)
- Filler material for between the body of eggs and the box (rubbermaid tub of popcorn)
- Scissors for cutting bubble wrap into strips
- Roll of tape in heavy dispenser for taping the bubble wrap one handed - much faster than cutting pieces
- Packing Tape, Scales and Tape for wrapping and printing online labels
Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farm
For wrapping each fertile chicken egg
Choose bubble wrap with small bubbles, in a long roll and a foot wide. There are perforations every foot along it.
When cut into 3 inch strips it is slightly taller than the eggs and a single foot long by 3" wide strip wraps one egg perfectly. One foot square sheet wraps 4 eggs.
Wrapping the fertilized eggs
Each fertilised egg individually
The fertilised egg is carefully rolled in the 3" wide by 12" long bubble wrap and taped in one spot with a short piece of tape from the dispenser. The extra material at the top and bottom of the egg is sufficient to protect it if it is put in a carton or flat with a top.
With a single strip of bubble wrap and one piece of tape, you have a securely wrapped chickens egg. As soon as it is wrapped, store the wrapped fertilised chickens eggs pointy end down in a carton while you finshing wrapping the others and decide on the carton and box size.
Bundle of wrapped hatching eggs
Preparing the egg carton
I use a large kitchen bread knife to carefully cut the new cartons down to size. Scissors are hard to use and slow and you will get blisters! I trim the carton so it matches the shape of the box so padding can be the same thickness all the way round.
You can use ready made 12 or 18 egg cartons on egg boxes, but cut the lid off, because the padding will make the eggs to tall for the carton. You will reuse that lid and rubberband it back on before shipping.
Fitting the fertile eggs in the carton
Making sure to line the eggs up carefully
If the fertilised chicken eggs are larger, like L to XL, with the bubble wrap they will be almost too wide to fit in a egg slot. They eggs must sit central in an egg slot or the walls/points between eggs may put force on the eggs at the pointy end if the box get excessive pressure in the mail. So allow a few empty egg spaces as a buffer.
If someone is getting bantam and large fowl fertilised eggs, I always alternate them, large-small-large and so on. Usually Medium and small eggs don't require any extra spaces left. With fertilised Turkeys eggs, only put one every other egg slot.
The goal is to have the eggs touching so they don't move, and not so tight they are pushed out of position.
Securing the egg bundle together
Line up the cartons
Line-up the lid that is trimmed exactly the same as the bottom. Make sure it is identical and that the high points of the carton dip down between the tops of the hatching eggs and not down on the ends of the eggs.
I use rubber bands to secure the lid down without add too much pressure. They are flexible and the standard ones I use will stretch along the length of a dozen egg carton or egg flat. You can use packing tape, but I find it messy, hard to keep the eggs and lid in place and takes much longer. With the rubber bands, you can still easily adjust the egg positions so the points of the carton go between the fertilised chicken eggs.
If you want to bubble wrap this outside of the hatching egg parcel for extra protection you can but they are fine without.
Don't skip the step of putting the lid on. The tops of your eggs will not be protected and it will be impossible to stop the individual fertile eggs moving around in the box. If you don't want a lid on at all, then wrap the eggs with a second and third strip of bubble wrap. That will use more tape and materials and time.
Packing the egg mailing box
Centre the hatching egg bundle
Put a thick layer (bare minimum 2 inches) of popcorn in the bottom of the box and if it is cold or hot, line it with bubble wrap too for added insulation. Make sure the egg bundle is in pointy ends down.
How thick you make the border around the fertilised eggs bundle is up to you. If it is 6 inches wide, chances of the eggs being damaged even if the box is kicked is slim, but you also have to weigh up the likelihood of major trauma against keeping the cost of shipping reasonable too.
3-4 inches is ideal in every direction around them as it gives the best of both worlds. The wider that layer is in extreme hot and cold the better too, for insulation. You can put 2 layers of egg bundles in a taller box just put 1-2 inches of popcorn between.
Closing the egg shipping box
How much popcorn to put in?
Always fill the box to the top with Popcorn to where the folds are for the flaps. Gently shimmy the box and gently poke your fingers down the sides of the egg carton bundle as the popcorn can settle during shipping. If too loosely packed, space open up at the top as the popcorn settles, allowing the eggs to move around in the box. Popcorn will heap in the middle when shimmied while the corners are empty so scrape the hill of popcorn into the corners.
On closing the lid you want the egg bundles securely held in place. But not so much pressure it pushes on the eggs. Or the popcorn so loose the egg bundle rattles around in the box.
The best test is gently close the lid so you don't hear a major squeaking creaking of the popcorn (sign you may have too much), and gently shake the box and see if you hear the hatching egg bundle moving around, if it's moving you need more popcorn. Adjust as needed.
Getting the box ready to ship
- Tape all the exposed edges to keep the popcorn in.
- Insist on getting the buyers phone number to write on the box. It has saved a batch of eggs more than once with timely deliveries possible that would not have been.
- Write "This way up" in an attempt to keep the pointy ends down. I no longer write "Fragile", I don't want to draw attention to the parcel as being breakable, but I may write "Perishable".
Once the parcel of eggs is closed, weigh it and measure and use Canadaposts Ship in a Click online to find shipping cost or if paid for by Paypal, use the paypal shipping which is even easier. It is quicker for me to do this at home and take a few parcels in already done. Whatever is best for you.
If mailing, send only Priority (1-2 days) or Xpress (2-3 days) as shipping regular (5-7 working days) guarantees your live eggs to sit in a hot/frigid depot over a weekend severely compromising the eggs. If a buyer insists on getting them shipped that slowly, you may want to reconsider selling to them as the chances of their hatch being poor or non existent is very high. Where possible ship on a Monday (possibly Tuesday) to make sure there is no weekend layover.
Other methods of shipping are by bus or courier. I have no experience shipping that way, just by mail.
Good Luck shipping and hatching your fertilized poultry eggs!!
I hope this has helped the fertilized eggs shippers and swappers out there.
I have personally received a leaking broken yolky mess of fertilized eggs that I have paid for and it is unpleasant and disappointing.
Whatever rare breed chickens you want to hatch, please ask any questions in the comments if something wasn't clear. I am happy to help!
By having eggs shipped to you, you can enjoy Rare Heritage breed chickens like
- Partridge Chantclers
- Euskal Oiloas
- Silver Grey Dorkings
- Black Sumatras
- Lavender D'Uccles
- Wheaten Ameraucanas