If previous generations of your family raised chickens, they might warn you about the dangers of an incoming storm whenever dark clouds appear on the horizon.
However, you don’t need to worry about the eggs in your chicken coop just because of a storm.
While weather considerations of light, humidity, and temperature affect eggs, a storm will not kill your baby chicks before they hatch. Thunder and lightning may scare your hen away from her nest, but they will not affect the hatching rate of the eggs otherwise.
Keep reading to learn what weather conditions affect eggs’ ability to hatch and hens’ ability to lay eggs.
What Effect Do Thunderstorms Have on Chicken Eggs?
Even though there are old wives’ tales from experienced chicken keepers about bad thunder and lightning storms, these myths are unfounded.
It’s one of those mistaken beliefs like how hens need a rooster to lay eggs.
Beginner chicken keepers should always verify any claims before making decisions based on hearsay.
Storms don’t cause embryo fatality in poultry eggs.
They also don’t directly cause any delayed hatch rates.
Loud thunder or electricity in the air does not kill baby chickens in their eggs.
However, storms with lightning and thunder can scare the hens away from their nests.
If this happens, the eggs can lose a day or two of incubation time.
The eggs will still end up hatching as long as the hens return and the eggs stay at a warm enough temperature during this time.
Does Weather Affect Eggs?
The weather has the potential to affect an egg’s hatching process.
The table below offers a quick snapshot of what weather patterns affect eggs.
There is nuance to this, so keep reading to learn more.
|Weather||Affects Egg Laying?||Affects Egg Hatching?|
Temperatures exceeding 97° degrees Fahrenheit (or 37° C) can expedite eggs’ incubation time, causing them to hatch early.
This results in poor embryo development.
Chicks without enough time to fully develop have weaker immune systems and less energy.
Extended cold weather will also affect hatching eggs and their incubation time.
Extreme cold, such as temperatures below freezing, will add extra time to how long an egg takes to hatch.
Freezing temperatures also possibly affect an egg’s internal structure, further delaying hatch time.
Rain or snow itself will not affect egg production or the hatching period, but other factors go hand in hand with precipitation and will.
Rainy and snowy weather also means cloud cover, reduced light, and cooler temperatures.
Because of this, rainy days with the little sun during a cooler time of the year will likely lead to a decrease in laying eggs among your hens.
There won’t be a huge difference in the number of eggs produced, though.
You might only see a couple of fewer eggs laid across your whole flock.
When this happens, production levels could take a few days to return to normal, especially if the rainy weather persists.
Days with light rain and little cloud cover will not affect egg production.
Likewise, the snow itself is not the culprit for a change in egg-laying or incubation time, nor will it necessarily lead to dead chicks.
However, the cold required for snow falling and sticking to the ground will affect both hens and bad hatch rates.
Like temperature but unlike precipitation, humidity affects eggs.
A humidity range of 40% percent to 70% percent is ideal for hens laying eggs.
Humidity is essential for the proper development of healthy embryos.
Low moisture levels in the air will cause a loss of egg weight and increase air space within the egg.
An expanding air space decreases the amount of space available for the chick to grow, stunting its size.
Small chicks are often weak, causing issues hatching without help and potentially death.
However, high humidity also creates issues for hatching chicks because of the opposite effect.
With high moisture levels, an egg does not lose enough weight and has too little air space.
This means the chick will be bigger, but it doesn’t mean it will be a healthy chick.
Without enough air in the egg, this large chick will develop respiration problems and not get enough oxygen.
The large chick will also find it difficult to move around the egg and hatch by itself.
Between air problems and struggling to break through the shell, these chicks also are at a greater risk of death.
Light stimulates hormone production in chickens, humans, and other animals.
For chickens, sunlight and darkness will affect their egg production and laying abilities.
Ideally, a chicken will have 12 to 14 hours of light and 6 to 8 hours of darkness.
This will create the optimal amount and ratio of hormones needed to lay eggs.
Depending on the climate and where you live, your chickens may not get enough daylight during the shorter days and longer nights in winter.
Remedy this by adding artificial light to round out the natural light available.
The commercial incubation process of eggs tends to be in at least partial darkness, but studies have found exposing avian eggs to light beneficial.
This is because poultry embryos’ pineal gland is sensitive to light, which affects the embryos’ growth.
Being exposed to light during incubation can increase growth and decrease incubation time for these bird eggs.
Are Chickens Afraid of Thunder and Lightning?
Arguably, the biggest impact of storms on eggs is the least scientific one.
Like children and dogs might wince when lightning shoots across the sky, young chickens will react negatively to unfamiliar things in their environment.
Chickens also experience fear and anxiety, just like humans.
They are on the lookout for threats to their health and safety.
Loud noises will startle them, and they will run to find a safe place to hide from the danger.
Finding a safe hiding place sometimes means leaving the eggs and nest behind.
When this happens, the eggs will cool down.
If the mother hen returns within a few days, the eggs will warm up again and resume incubation.
Related Reading: How long hens need to sit on eggs
The overall hatching time will be delayed by the number of days the eggs were left unattended.
After experiencing a few thunderstorms, your lovely flock will get more used to the weather, decreasing their fear response.