You already have fertile eggs, you know what you need to hatch chicks and how to hatch chicks with an incubator. Now that you are incubating chicks, it is inevitable that at some point you may need to help a chick hatch.
Doing this for the first time can be really scary. However, once you get the hang of it, it really is not that bad.
When Should You Help a Chick Hatch?
Before going through the process of helping a chick hatch, let’s review when you should help them.
First, you should know that if you help a chick hatch it may not be very strong and may not survive.
So, be prepared if you help a chick hatch that they may not make it. Or, they may need some extra attention to get going strong.
Second, you should give the chick as much time as possible to get itself out. Sometimes they pip and start zipping, but do not fully hatch because they aren’t ready (they may still have blood vessels to clear up or the yolk to absorb).
So, make sure you have given it ample time before you try to help a chick hatch.
That being said, when SHOULD you help hatch a chick?
If we have had humidity issues and think that the chick is shrink wrapped (the membrane has dried to it) we will help the chick hatch if:
1) it seems to be strong and trying to get itself out and
2) it has been at least 24hrs and the chick is not making progress on it’s own.
So, you decide that the chick does need help to hatch, here’s how to do it:
1) Take a standard sized paper towel. Wet it with warm water (you don’t want to get it chilled).
2) Find the spot where the chick has started to pip (chip away a small piece of the shell)
Slowly chip some of the shell away. Pay attention to if you see any blood. If you do, stop. The chick needs more time before it hatches.
3) Once you get the shell removed on part, you may need to wet the membrane to start peeling it back. Be sure you aren’t dripping water into it’s beak.
You will also want to be slow and meticulous while doing this. Depending on how dry the membrane has become, it may have actually dried and bonded to the chicks feathers and skin.
If this happens, don’t worry. Just continue to drip water from your paper towel of the membrane and slowly peel it away being careful not to pull out too much chick fluff.
4) There are two membranes. You want to separate and pull back the thicker top layer membrane first. Sometimes, both membranes will peel off together. If so, stop if you run into any blood.
There are blood vessels that run through the membrane and are a part of the chicks developmental circulation. If they are not ready to hatch and bleed to much, they can bleed out and die.
5) Once the first membrane is pulled back, you can pull back the thinner second membrane (Again, they may pull apart together).
6) Once you have freed the chick some, you can wrap the chick with the wet paper towel (again being sure not to cover it’s beak). And place it back in the incubator so that it can finish hatching.
7) If it has not made more progress after some time, you can check on it and give it some more assistance.
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