Repairing Cracked Eggs

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Q: We occasionally need to repair eggs that have been damaged. We have sought advice as to what materials to use to make these repairs. It seems that everyone we talk to recommends something else. What do you recommend?

A: Although there are many things that can be used with equal success, I use simple Elmer’s Glue-All. If I am dealing with fine hairline cracks, I will “paint” a very thin layer of the glue over the crack. If I am dealing with a break that has caused an indentation in the shell, I will use a single ply of facial tissue as a support webbing over which to paint the glue. Many times, as the glue dries, the weight of it will force the indentation to extend further in the egg. The tissue acts as a support to help prevent this.

The easiest way to proceed is to first cut a piece of tissue that is shaped like, but a little bigger than, the indentation. Then separate the two plies, and place one over the indentation. Paint the edges with a thin layer of glue. The glue that seeps through the tissue should be enough to make the overlap stick to the edges of the indentation. Once this is done, paint the rest of the tissue with glue to create an airtight seal. If I am not satisfied with how well it sticks, I will paint more glue around the edges of the tissue. If I am not happy with the strength of the tissue webbing, I will place the second ply on top of the first piece. The existing glue should be sufficient to make the second ply stick to the first.

The main problem that occurs with repaired eggs that are not killed by the trauma or contamination is extreme water loss. Many aviculturists use different repair materials and glue compounds because they believe that what they use will prevent water loss better than those that they have tried previously. I personally believe that success rate is more of a function of the number of hairline cracks that you do not see, rather than one type of material being much better than the next. Eggs with several unnoticed hairline cracks that go unrepaired will most certainly experience a greater water loss than those that have no “hidden faults.” On the other hand, if you cover the egg too extensively with repair material, it will not allow the necessary water loss to take place. This, of course, will also result in the death of the embryo. I have never saved a damaged egg that has been damaged to the point that fluid has leaked out of it.