When the temperature rises in the spring and summer, so do the thunderstorms. In many places throughout the world, the weather can change quickly. When I first got my chickens, that first thunderstorm had me concerned. Would they be okay? I wondered, do thunderstorms affect chicken eggs? Will they still hatch?
Not to worry, a thunderstorm will not hurt your chickens or their eggs. There is a myth that thunderstorms will kill chicken eggs, but this has been disproved repeatedly.
Read further as I explain why thunderstorms can not harm your chickens or their eggs. Plus, I will talk about how chickens may react in thunderstorms and some other reasons why chicken eggs may not hatch.
What is the Big Myth?
Some folks speculate that because thunderstorms change the humidity in the air and dry up the airspace in the egg.
I’m not sure where this myth began, but I frequently see it mentioned in chicken forums in Ireland and Australia.
However, this is untrue, and in fact, the only reason thunder would have any effect on eggs would be if the mother hen got spooked enough to leave the nest for a while. But this is also very unlikely as most hens are very devoted mothers.
Will Thunderstorms Hurt My Chickens?
Many people are terrified of thunder and lightning, and many animals are as well. For example, I had a German Shepard that used to tremble horribly during storms.
We are all told to take cover during storms and stay inside. So it’s natural to worry that our chickens may be at risk in a thunderstorm.
Of course, there is always a chance that humans and animals could be struck by lightning, but it’s extremely rare. Especially in the cases of chickens as they are low to the ground, and as we know, lightning usually targets the highest object as it’s looking for the path of least resistance.
This doesn’t mean thunder and lightning won’t scare your chickens. On the contrary, they do get startled by loud noises. But they will eventually get used to it, especially if you live in an area where thunderstorms are almost daily, such as in the deep south.
Will Weather Affect Chicken Eggs?
Just because thunderstorms alone won’t harm chicken eggs, that doesn’t mean that fluctuations in weather won’t. Like many animals, high and low temperatures can affect them and their offspring.
Areas with temperatures exceeding the high 90s and above can often cause eggs to hatch before they are ready. In addition, the physiology of laying hens is affected by high temperatures as they will reduce their feed intake, which usually means they will consume less calcium.
When chickens are hot, they pant to cool themselves, which lowers the amount of CO2 in the blood, and produces respiratory alkalosis. Unfortunately, this means that the amount of calcium in the eggs is reduced.
Hot weather also causes laid eggs to sweat, providing a favorable environment for bacteria that can penetrate the shell. Eggs in the heat can also hatch early, causing them to have a weakened immune system which puts them at risk for death.
Cold weather can also affect hatching eggs. When the mercury dips into the freezing mark, the eggs will take longer to hatch, as cold affects the internal structures of the eggs.
While most hens are pretty hardy in the cold, their egg-laying will slow down depending on your breeds. Rhode Island Reds, for example, are almost guaranteed to continue laying for you through the winter. Just be sure to grab those eggs before they freeze.
What Are Some Other Reasons Chicken Eggs May Not Hatch?
Unfortunately, there are several reasons why chicks die in their shells and don’t hatch.
- Vitamin B deficiency
- Protein deficiency
- Calcium deficiency
- They fail to develop
Hens are susceptible to salmonella, and it’s relatively common among chicks and young adult birds. When laying hens are hit with salmonella, it can disrupt their laying and hatching patterns.
Salmonella also makes hens weak, which can prevent them from spending enough time sitting on their eggs. Often it causes the preborn chick to die, or they can be very weak if they do hatch.
You can take steps to keep your hens from getting salmonella by preventing rodents from getting into your coop. Clean chicken droppings regularly as the droppings can make healthy members of the flock vulnerable to salmonella.
Vitamin B Deficiency
If a hen is deficient in vitamin B, it can prevent them from hatching its eggs effectively. In addition, hens who have a deficiency of vitamin B can have reduced weight and problems with feed intake.
You can easily treat vitamin B deficiency in chickens with supplements you can add to their drinking water.
Protein is a must for hens who are laying and hatching eggs. Hens who are not getting enough protein in their diets are at risk of producing few and lighter-weight eggs. There is also a higher risk of the chicks dying in their shells.
Luckily, many treats for chickens are high in protein, such as mealworms and pumpkin seeds. You can also purchase chicken treats in the form of a block that is packed with protein.
Calcium is probably the most essential vitamin for proper egg development in hens. Developing eggshells are often weak and thin without a diet rich in calcium. This causes a poor atmosphere for chicks and increases the rate that they may not make it.
Calcium can be given to hens with a calcium-enriched feed or by feeding oyster shells, both of which can be found in your local agricultural store.
Dehydration is dangerous in chickens and all animals, especially in areas like the southeast with low humidity and high temperatures. Dehydrated hens are less likely to have the energy to sit on their eggs, risking the chance of chicks dying.
Water intake is also vital for a healthy hen who can produce quality, robust eggs.
It’s crucial to ensure that your hens have plenty of fresh water at all times, especially in high temperatures.
In a developing egg, the chorioallantoic membrane is made up of fused chorion and the wall of the allantois. It is used as a medium for viruses.
In Chorioallantois, the development of an embryonic egg is affected, and it can cause a baby chick to die before it is born. It also causes the egg to be unable to be fertilized in the first place.
Chorioallantois can be very contagious among flocks, but thankfully, a veterinarian can immunize them against the disease.
They Fail to Develop
Unfortunately, an egg will fail to develop for reasons we don’t always understand. This problem is usually linked to issues with the hen’s reproductive health or genetics.
We’ve learned that thunderstorms can not affect chicken eggs, but weather changes certainly can. In addition, a lack of nutrients in a hen’s diet can also prevent chicken eggs from developing correctly and, in some cases, a deceased chick.