“Dear Duncan, Thanks you for what you do we have learned so much from you and Wendy. Like a lot of your readers we are new with chickens as well. We have a few young hens and a rooster who we think is the coolest. We are worried about the rooster in the hen house when they start laying eggs. Like all roosters he likes to make sure his heritage carry on, he is already trying to do his thing. My wife and I are concerned we are going to be eating fertile eggs? Sounds silly but should the rooster leave the hen house?” ~ Dan & Family
Dan, don’t ever think a question is silly, I’m glad you wrote.
Some people even believe that fertile eggs are more nutritious.
I’ve tried to find research on the subject but was unable to locate anything but opinion.
What I know with certainty is that fertile eggs are fine to eat.
If we look to our past and the farmers of yesteryear, we realize that it is very likely that most eggs consumed on the family farm were fertile.
Before there were grocery stores and mail-order chicks, a rooster was an extremely important part of the flock. Without the rooster a flock would only survive one generation. Eggs were a staple in the diet and the flock must continue to procreate.
Another thing we need to understand is that a fertile egg will not produce a chick unless it is incubated either by a broody hen or in an artificial incubator. Without the right temperature and humidity, the ovum remains upon the yolk as a small white spot called the germinal disk. Every egg has this germinal disk whether it has been fertilized or not, but it is only a fertilized egg, kept under the right conditions, that will begin to develop into a chick.
The point is that you don’t have to worry about eating feathers, beaks and bones even if the egg is fertile as long as it is not incubated.
However, some of you may find it interesting to know that there are parts of the world where eating fertilized eggs, complete with developing chicks, is common place.
I’ve never had the experience myself but my understanding is that fertilized duck eggs, incubated from 14 to 20 days make up a regular portion of the Filipino diet as well as that of other people groups.
In the Philippines it is called balut, in Vietnam it is known as hot vit lon, the eggs are boiled before consumption.
The duck egg would typically hatch between 26 and 28 days so you understand that the chick inside is pretty well developed by the time it is consumed.
Within some cultures, it would be considered taboo to eat a developing animal, in others it would not. We each tend to stay with what is familiar to us, that’s just our human nature.
But for those of you who may find it unappetizing to eat an egg that has the potential to become an animal, consider the fact that you most likely do not have a problem eating that same animal once it is fully grown. Just something to think about.
Anyway Dan, my thoughts are that it is best to leave the rooster with the hens so that he can protect and take care of them and generally do what roosters do. Ultimately though, it is up to you.