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Intervention: Helping Your Chicks Hatch

post #1 of 352
Thread Starter 

Edited By silkiechicken:

Please read this thread first on a discussion of helping vs not.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=45583&p=1
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Hi,
For those who have an incubated hatch and are wondering when and how to help your chicks that are not making progress, you may be able to use this info.

Do NOT be afraid to help the chick out! If you don't hear as much peeping, or see as much beak movement and it has been hours-it's probably time to help. More than likely it has nothing to do with a "weak" chick, but has everything to do with a chick whose membrane has dried out, or is too large for its shell but otherwise perfectly healthy and normal.

A good indicator of when to help (besides the peeping and moving lessening) is if you see that the pipped area has a very very white membrane showing through at the edges. Most intervention is required because of humidity issues.

When the chick pips its beak externally the drying process of the membrane really kicks in. And drying makes it nearly impossible for the chick to move around to "zip" the rest of the shell.

Here's what you need:

Have WARM water handy
Really Really WET WARM washcloth
DULL tweezers-not sharp and pointy
An eyedropper, or q-tips, or medicine dropper
Clean hands
Good lighting

Here's what you do:

Remove your egg from bator keeping in mind to turn off any air cconditioning and fans. You want your room as warm as you can stand. (Do not worry about the chick cooling off too much if the room is fairly warm. I have had mine out of the bator for up to 1/2 hour working on the shell and membrane-and the chicks are alive and healthy today). And do NOT be afraid to open and close the incubator-just keep adding wet cloths to the bator to keep humidity up.

Using your dull tipped tweezers, carefully start at the pip already created and lift ONLY the shell (like a boiled egg-but try hard to NOT include any membrane in your peeling of the shell) and to work around the shell. The best process is to take a bit in the tweezers and PINCH the shell and it will break in very small pieces gradually creating a neat little "zip". The key is to pinch small areas at a time and not remove huge sections. Your goal is to imitate what the chick would do under normal circumstances.

Zip the shell around the end where the chick started pipping-it should be at the large end of the egg, but sometimes they will pip at the small pointy end or even in the middle.

As you help zip the shell carefully take your warm water dropper etc. and "bathe" the membrane occassionally to start softening it up. Be very very carefull not to drop water or soak the area of the beak. You do not want to drop water in the nostrils and drown the chick.

If for any reason you see blood from the membrane-STOP. Put the egg back in the bator, and wrap the very wet, warm washcloth around the exposed zip you have created. Be careful to not completely cover the beak, but cover as much of the exposed membrane as you can to soften it up. Lay the pipped BEAK area on its side or facing up-not facing down-keep in mind the chick is breathing AIR at this point and will need to have an open uncovered access to breathe.

Leave the baby in the bator for an hour or two longer. Then try repeating the process untill you have zipped entirely around the egg. The MOST important object is to get the membrane very soft like it should have been for the chick to make its way out by softening it in the warm washcloth.

In VERY difficult cases, over a period of hours, you can, in steps, do this process and remove almost ALL of the shell and soak the membrane in the wet washcloth in the incubator. You also can (using your judgement) decide to help remove the membrane itself, but do not do that too early in the shell removing process (you can email me for more directions on the membrane).

All in all, you need to be very confident to intervene like this. If you are too scared or iffy about it, you may want to just wait it out. But honestly, if you wait and the chick gets quieter and stiller, chances are you will loose it without doing some intervention.

So you know it really does work, I have hatched out MANY like this myself. Once they make the pip and can't zip, the membrane rapidly dehydrates. Also, some chicks are just WAY to big for their shells and cannot physically move around to do the zipping and then they die in one spot having been unable to rotate. I found that several difficult chciks are actually the largest ones-the smaller "runt" chicks have literally kicked their way out like they were kickboxing.

I "gave birth" to, or hatched 2 chicks out COMPLETELY in my hand by using this method above AND removing the membrane (email or ask for those membrane directions). And I have also helped way more zip using the above method. They are alive and thriving as I speak-so it can be done! I am not a person who is willing to sit and listen to my bator get quieter and quieter as the chicks die in their shells. But, as I stated, you must choose what you feel is best for your situation, and be sure and ask if you are not sure when to intervene-there are many here on the BYC that have a wealth of info.

Best wishes

AS TO CHICKENS:
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE

http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=841
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AS TO CHICKENS:
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE

http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=841
Reply
post #2 of 352

This is very very good information! Thank you so very much for posting it. I think it should become a permanent sticky in this forum. Oh Rob......

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" Proverbs 3:5
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"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" Proverbs 3:5
Reply
post #3 of 352
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much! My recent hatch had humidity and chick size issues. The babies were literally packed into most of their shells, some had pipped in the pointy end, and some in the middle (silkies-go figure!). And with my air conditioner running due to summer heat, my humidity was very difficult to regulate this hatch.

I just sincerely hope I can help someone, as I see so many that ask about their chicks in the incubator getting weaker and quieter and it breaks my heart!

I took the "no guts, no glory" approach to this hatch (and one previously) as I could see from their pipping hole that the membrane was completely dry and they were fading away. I have 11 healthy little guys chirping away as I am writing. 3 initially hatched themselves (and they were all smaller bodied), then I noticed one died in its shell and that's when I took action for the other 8.

The two that I literally birthed in my hand had me in tears-it was such a beautiful thing to have them unfold and stretch in my palm! My children were there and it was an unbelievable experience for them as well as me. I do have it on film (most of it anyway) and I have no idea how to get it online. I have a tech savvy friend and maybe I can get it figured out in the future. My kids took turn filming and they got some really good footage. We ran out of film for the last one that was born in my hand.

I think I missed my calling-I should have been a vet, or a midwife smile

AS TO CHICKENS:
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE

http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=841
Reply
AS TO CHICKENS:
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE

http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=841
Reply
post #4 of 352

thanks 4 the info but it is now mid day 22 and one egg had the membrane showing thru but no sign of movmnt and most of the eggs are full to capacity or at least 75% full temp steady 99.9 and still no sign of peeps this is wirse than when i was in labor for my 2 kids i am very discouraged what do i do pls heeeeeeeeelllllllppppppp!!!!!!!!sadsadsadsadsadsad

post #5 of 352

I took the advice and opened the cracked shell w membranes showing chick fully developed feathers and all but dead and yolk sac on abdomen not absorbed does this mean all the others will have the same fate chick had no movement at all def dead i am so frustrated and sad that im a bad electric mom some one pls  i need some encouragement here then ad murphy's law goes my candler bulb broke today so i can't check any others and im afraid to lv eggs that are left unattended due to recent probs

post #6 of 352

I've had these kinds of problem for a while now. I even borrowed a Sportsman thinking it might have been my bator. But it all came back to the fact that I cannot survive in this hot humid climate without my air conditioner. It just keeps the humidity in the bator too low no matter what I tried. I could get it up for a while, but not consistently. This last hatch just had too many birth defects. So, since I am unwilling to put any more tiny babies through that again, I have chosen to quit incubating. If I have someone go broody at a time when eggs I want to hatch are available, I may let her, but no more incubating for me......
hit

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" Proverbs 3:5
Reply
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" Proverbs 3:5
Reply
post #7 of 352

My first hatch...1 out of 7. Next hatch was zero due to temp fluctuations. Last hatch, 4 days to go showed 4 viable embryos. We got 2 chicks. One needed just a little help, he was much larger than the sibling that hatched 26 hours before. Humidity, watch it constantly. And the issue of shippped eggs, well I am looking to closer sellers. I have had a lot of clear eggs so you know the Post Office is working against us!

Muffin the alpha roo,2  Americauna hens,a few dutch and cochins,  2 cats, daughters 6/11/12, son 9,3 fish, 1 bunny, clueless husband (how many chickens do we have, why??), Viva las chickens oh, and I just got another horse
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Muffin the alpha roo,2  Americauna hens,a few dutch and cochins,  2 cats, daughters 6/11/12, son 9,3 fish, 1 bunny, clueless husband (how many chickens do we have, why??), Viva las chickens oh, and I just got another horse
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post #8 of 352

FWF...if there is about 1inch of zipping already around the egg and the process seems to have stopped is it time to help out? Quite honestly i think this chick has only been going at it for about 3-4hours so far so its early days yet, and his two siblings got out just fine. I looked in there shells and the membrane is really tough! I mean it must be a real job for them to get through that thing!

I will sit back and watch for now...no movement from the pipped/partially unzipped egg for about 2 hours now.

post #9 of 352
Thread Starter 

Hi aran,
I would do a little bit of a wait and see. Especially if you have several more eggs in the bator. What is the best determining factor for me is lack of sound and or movement. I actually did everything the "wrong" way-and I did it on purpose in order to not lose all my babies. I picked up the ones that had externally pipped and talked to them and lightly tapped the shell. If I got a good response I waited a bit to see if they could make it out on their own. If there was not much of a reply, I started extending the pip myself and wetting/softening the membrane process.

It is a tough judgement call sometimes. But, as I said, I did everything the "wrong" way and ended up saving all mine. I had them out of the bator for up to 30 mins sometimes and they did not suffer for it or die (I even dropped one on the carpet as I was removing the shell-and it is thriving). When they are at the point of living outside the shell they are actually very hardy little things and even the shell cooling did not harm them. If you feel you are going to end up with a bunch of dead baby chicks by waiting, then it's time to step in and help. All you would be doing is helping remove the shell (which is not attached to the bird) and softening them membrane in order to prevent death from humidity issues.

If you have any questions, or I didn't cover the process clearly enough above, please feel free to ask any questions.

Best wishes! smile

AS TO CHICKENS:
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE

http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=841
Reply
AS TO CHICKENS:
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE

http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=841
Reply
post #10 of 352

FWF...i put the egg up to my ear...no movement no noise...I checked the pipping site and yes the beak was exposed but again no movment. I figured there was nothing to lose so I helped it out of the egg...actually EXTREMELY easy....didnt take more than 4-5mins total. No bleeding, getting the shell off was very easy ( used blunt tooth pick and picked it off piece at a time) Unfortunately i think i waited too long...the chick is still rolled up in the shape of an egg and i dont see any movement. I think it may be dead already. None the less I have just put it back in the bator to get warm and dry and see if it wakes up by some miracle. Now having seen how easy that was i am not waiting anymore...the next pipped egg gets help its as simple as that!

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