Incubation and Embryology - University of Illinois

Making Embryo Sets

Embryo sets provide you with an opportunity to show your students what the embryos look like during the 21 days of embryonic development. Instructions for making the embryo sets are included as a lesson plan, if you want to do them with your students.

To make an embryo set, you will need to either use some of the eggs that you have set or contact a hatchery to see if you can get eggs with dead embryos. To make the set, the same steps will be followed for each specimen. The embryos in the early stage of development are more difficult to separate than those that are more advanced.

The steps in making the embryo set are:

  1. Gently break the egg at the air cell or large end. Use your tweezers for this. Use the tweezers to peel away the shell and membranes from the embryo. Be careful not to damage the embryo. Take your time!


  2. Separate the embryo from the rest of the egg. Remove the embryo's membranes.
  3. Cut the embryo's membranes off at the belly-button or umbilicus.
  4. Wash the embryo gently in running water. Be careful not to drop the embryo down the drain.
  5. When the embryo is clean, put it in a glass jar.
  6. Fill the jar with 70 percent alcohol and close the cap tightly. The directions for preparing the 70 percent alcohol are in the Embryo Preservation Resource sheet.
  7. Label the jar. You might put the label on the lid so it doesn't block your view of the embryo. Include the age of the embryo and the kind of poultry.
  8. Repeat this process every day until hatch. You could do this over a several year time period.

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