Saga of the Ugly Duckling Buckeye

By FireAntFarmer · Apr 19, 2013 · Updated Apr 19, 2013 · ·
  1. FireAntFarmer
    This is a story of a miracle and the will to live. It may also be a story of my guilt over interfering with nature.

    I just incubated 27 shipped buckeye eggs. It is my first time and using a Genesis 1588 incubator, I was lucky enough to manage six very happy, healthy, beautiful chicks. After watching a couple of chicks die in their shell which were largely pipped, my wife and I couldn't find it in ourselves to watch this shrink wrapping go on any more. The humidity was ranging between 70 and 74 but my babies were still getting "stuck" for some reason.

    The first chick to hatch (which was a day early, had been in the incubator undisturbed for 48 hours along with it's siblings. There were two more chicks struggling to get out, both with large openings for about 12 hours. They both would push furiously as they struggled with the remaining shell but it was no use, they were stuck and going to die. We opted to interfere amidst my knowing it was a bad idea and probably would come to no good.

    I removed the six fluff balls, now almost fully dried, and placed them in the brooder. I sprayed water into the incubator and placed a hot, wet paper towel inside to try and raise the humidity and soften the stuck chicks. After showing the brooder chicks the water a couple of times and leaving a food trail to the feeder, and seeing that they were taking food from the paper towels on the floor of the brooder; I turned my attention back to the two chicks in trouble. We just couldn't bear to watch the tragedy unfolding before us without at least trying. There was no doubt that these two were going to die a horrible death by shrink wrapping amidst there constant cries for help and occasional bursts of super chicken strength pushing the shell breaks as far out as they could go before collapsing from the effort.

    I pulled the first chick out and handed it to my wife as I sprayed more water to rapidly replace the lost humidity in the incubator. She began to carefully pull shell and membrane away from the peeping chick. These two exhibited such strength and will to live we are in disbelief. This amazement and excitement would grow and continues to grow with each passing moment even as I write this ongoing account of events.

    As she peeled away the first chick's shell, I could see that this chick had a very good chance of survival. When the chick was completely free, we placed it back into the incubator exhausted and pretty sticky all over. It would have to fight to live and get to it's feet.

    The second chick was in worse shape. By the time she got half of it's shell open, there was a large area of membrane that was visible and had dried to white paper. No way that chick was ever going to get out of there. I had no choice but to spray it down and wetting it to the point that she could peel it away from the chick. By the time we got this chick completely out, it was clear that the chick had a couple of boo boos and a small amount of blood accumulated on the bottom the of the incubator as I laid it back down. I had placed it on the damp, hot paper towel but it's determination to get up and live was unstoppable. Soon it had flopped completely around the incubator and then got still again but was crying louder than ever.

    The poor thing, in between trying to get up by flopping around, would lay there exhausted and legs in the air shaking like it was freezing.

    It never stopped peeping, and is still peeping all of these hours later. The chick had a small section of the shell glued to it's head that we decided would have to wait to come off. My wife finally became concerned that even though it managed to make an effort to move, the chick was not going anywhere so she took a closer look and was horrified to find that the still gooey chick was glued down to the floor of the incubator and the egg shell on it's head was glued to the wall of the incubator.

    We had no choice but to spray the stuck areas with water to soften them and within minutes we were able to pry it away from his most recently found problems. He was still acting very strongly but was so sticky everywhere, we knew it would just get glued down again. My wife wanted to take it out and place it in a t-shirt on top of a heating pad. I was horrified but after all the chick had been through, we knew this amazing specimen wanted to live and if we didn't do something, it was going to die anyway. I decided the best thing would be to regulate the heat using a meat thermometer between the chick and the heating pad so we wouldn't cook the poor thing to death after having tried to freeze it with water and low humidity outside the incubator.

    She cuddled up with the thing in her lap as I carefully monitored the temperature and turned the pad on and off as needed. My wife has a whistle thing she does with all birds that visit our yard and she "talked" to the chick as she dried it in her lap occasionally turning the chick from one side to the other. The chick showed it's appreciation by quieting down and opening it's eyes fully and we began to have some hope. We put the chick back into the incubator for the night and fully expected that both chicks might die during the night.

    This morning, they were both doing ok. The little reddish golden one was tiny but walking around and then collapsing to rest a bit. Perfectly normal, but clearly not as strong as the first batch of chicks. This one would live and be fine we decided, it just needed another day in the incubator before it could hold it's own with the other chicks in the brooder who by now, come running to see us (and the food and water) when the lights come on and they hear our voice.

    The larger, black ugly ducking (Are buckeye chicks supposed to be black???), was still trying to flop around and stand up but never could get his legs under himself. I took him out and cuddled him in my hands with his legs properly positioned under him and he seemed to enjoy that as he quieted down. I felt his strength as he pushed around in my cupped hands so I placed him back into the incubator on his feet but he only stayed there for a minute and then he flopped off his feet and it appeared he had a leg problem. I decided they were old enough to drink water so I filled an eye dropper and we carefully gave them both several drinks of water and a speck or two of crumbles.

    I had to leave and go to the grocery store and within twenty minutes my wife was calling me to let me know that the ugly duckling was on it's feet and walking! I was astonished. It was unbelievable to me, but it had to have been the water that turned the tide! It was no ordinary water you see, it was something special. I always opt for what I consider to be best in nature and that means no ****** medications and only non-gmo feed. It will soon be the same with honey bees. Natural bee keeping is the only thing that can work on this planet as everyone is finding out. I know, I know; I have interfered with the natural order of things by my actions these two chicks but my wife and I couldn't help it.

    The water is mixed with organic herbs and apple cider vinegar. It is loaded with natural probiotics. I am sold, and will never use anything else! It is called Green Root Acetum Tonic by Moonlight Mile Herb Farm. I have since given them both a second drink and they are both hopping up and walking around at the sound of voice and looking at us like, when do we get out of this dirty smelly box??? They will both surely live! The water made the difference, and almost immediately.

    Now the big question? All of my chicks are so quiet and small. Not so with the big black ugly duckling that refuses to die! He is constantly talking. He just won't shut up! Is it a buckeye or did the breeder make an error? Is there a chick fairy that swapped an egg in the night knowing this chicks only chance of survival was with us? Perhaps it is a buckeye, but if so; he is the only chick out of eight that looks this way. What ever it is, it will never land on our dinner table, it is family now.

    Don't fuss at me for interfering with the natural order of things! I don't want to hear it! I know I did bad but it turned out soooooo good!

    [​IMG]Not doing so good here.

    [​IMG]Walking around feeling better now!

    Share This Article


To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. FireAntFarmer
    Thank you for your karenbrat! I will remember these tips next time around for sure. I have moved them to the brooder, but they are isolated from the others who are almost three times their size now! The first guy is eating feed but the ugly duckling is still only old enough for the occasional drink every few hours. I will have to contact the breeder and find out what in the world he sent me!!! Too funny, I think :)
  2. karenbrat1
    We've helped stuck chicks out. A lot end up with curly toes from being stuck. I've also held gooey chicks under wrist-temp running water to loosen the goo (making sure to never douse its head as they can aspirate the water and then die of pneumonia), then blow dry them til they're fluffy and able to go into the brooder. They cry and struggle during the washing and drying process, which funnily enough seems to get their little metabolisms boosted and they get stronger after that. And no, Buckeyes are NOT supposed to be black.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: