Alwyn Wils, a 45-year-old Dutch man, has been making news since he published a video of his project. After buying a 12-pack of supermarket quail eggs, he plopped them all in an incubator out of curiosity. One of those eggs hatched into a healthy baby quail, which he has named Albert. Check out the video below:
We don’t have any way of verifying that this is all real, but the phenomenon of hatching supermarket eggs isn’t impossible. Typically, eggs (quail, chicken, whatever) are unfertilized; hens will lay eggs most days without the need for a rooster. Even cage-free eggs are usually unfertilized, because there’s really no reason for an egg-laying facility to have a rooster around.
But fertile eggs, those that may or may not have resulted from the mating of a hen and a rooster, are available. Often eggs obtained from a farmers market have the potential to be fertile, and some retailers, including Trader Joe’s, will specifically sell fertile eggs. (The reason for advertising fertile eggs is that some assume fertile eggs to be more healthful than infertile; there’s no evidence that this is true, and in fact unless you incubate a fertile egg, the differences between a fertile and infertile egg are extremely small.)
But fertile eggs can, if treated properly, hatch. Users of the forums on BackyardChickens.com have extensive threads about incubating and hatching fertile Trader Joe’s eggs; the chickens hatch normally. (Many of these chickens are named TJ.) So it’s certainly possible to buy an egg at the store and hatch it into a chicken. It just isn’t all that likely, which is why Wils’s baby quail is so fun.