EMERGENCY: DYING CHICK. Please help! I don’t know what to do!

randomchickperson

In the Brooder
Jul 19, 2021
19
17
34
Hi there, I had a chick hatch in my incubator overnight and put him in the brooder this morning. He does nothing but sleep and doesn’t even walk around. When I picked him up several times he only opened his eyes sometimes and the other times he was just limp with his eyes closed. It’s breathing also seems laboured compared to the other chicks. The others started pecking at him and his eyes so I had to separate them. i don’t know what to do. Please help
 

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Swbertrand1

Crowing
Apr 21, 2018
1,130
1,550
271
Wilmington, NC
Did the chick absorb all of the yolk sac? Did it pip normally based on what the egg it came from looks like? Did you remove the chick from the incubator before it was dry? If yes, on questions 1 & 2, and assuming everything else is normal, sleeping is natural for a newborn chick; limp when moved, not so much, but only time will tell. On question #3, is the brooder at the right temperature? About 95 degrees is optimal for the brooder for newly hatched chicks. Too hot is not good, and too cool is not good.

Hatching is a tiring process for chicks, and this one may just need more rest than the other chicks. If it were me, I'd give the chick 24 hours or so and see if it doesn't gather some strength and energy. Absorbing the yolk sac gives them enough nutrients and fluids for a few days before they'll really need to learn to eat and drink, so I'd give this one a little time to come around.
 

randomchickperson

In the Brooder
Jul 19, 2021
19
17
34
Did the chick absorb all of the yolk sac? Did it pip normally based on what the egg it came from looks like? Did you remove the chick from the incubator before it was dry? If yes, on questions 1 & 2, and assuming everything else is normal, sleeping is natural for a newborn chick; limp when moved, not so much, but only time will tell. On question #3, is the brooder at the right temperature? About 95 degrees is optimal for the brooder for newly hatched chicks. Too hot is not good, and too cool is not good.

Hatching is a tiring process for chicks, and this one may just need more rest than the other chicks. If it were me, I'd give the chick 24 hours or so and see if it doesn't gather some strength and energy. Absorbing the yolk sac gives them enough nutrients and fluids for a few days before they'll really need to learn to eat and drink, so I'd give this one a little time to come around.
I believe it did absorb all of the yolk sac. It pipped normally but I helped it to zip part of the eggshell. Then it did the rest of the rest of the hatching on its own. I’m just worried because it looks like it’s gasping for air, it keep opening and closing it’s mouth and breathing more heavily than the others. It also doesn't really open its eyes when I pick it up as if it is too weak to pay attention to its surroundings. But I will give it time. Thanks.
 

Swbertrand1

Crowing
Apr 21, 2018
1,130
1,550
271
Wilmington, NC
I believe it did absorb all of the yolk sac. It pipped normally but I helped it to zip part of the eggshell. Then it did the rest of the rest of the hatching on its own. I’m just worried because it looks like it’s gasping for air, it keep opening and closing it’s mouth and breathing more heavily than the others. It also doesn't really open its eyes when I pick it up as if it is too weak to pay attention to its surroundings. But I will give it time. Thanks.

Not all chicks hatch like little kick-boxers. If it didn't absorb all of the yolk sac, you'll see it hanging from the chick's vent or possible left inside the shell. If you've had other chicks hatch, you know that there is a little bit of umbilical that's still attached right when it comes out of the egg, but that separates shortly after hatch.

If there is any umbilical still attached, it should be almost fully collapsed and thin if all was absorbed correctly If it is thick and yellowy (like the yolk), then the chick may not have gotten full absorption, but a little leftover yolk that is NOT absorbed is not a cause for crisis, only when it doesn't get a most of the yolk sac.

With that said, I'd give the chick time to rest, checking on it every few hours and be sure that the temperature where it's been separated to is correct at 95 degrees - check that every hour if you can.

The chick MUST stay warm, but not too warm. Measure the temperature exactly where the chick is right now, not above it, beside it, or below it, but right were its back is located where it's lying down. Check the temperature regularly, and worry about feeding and watering tomorrow. Hopefully by then the chick will have gotten the needed rest and will be up and exploring. That may happen tonight too - each chick is slightly different, some more than others...

EDIT: try to resist the temptation to help a chick hatch. Some take an hour or less; others can take many hours, some even a day, though that's kinda pushing it. I'm glad to hear that it did some/most of the work on its own, but the rotation they do in the egg as part of the pip process helps them to start building muscle and coordination from the time they're ready to come out. The big push at the end to separate the egg halves is the next part of building muscle. Try to let them do that on their own. I know it's tempting to "help" them, but it's best to leave them alone :)
 
Last edited:

randomchickperson

In the Brooder
Jul 19, 2021
19
17
34
Not all chicks hatch like little kick-boxers. If it didn't absorb all of the yolk sac, you'll see it hanging from the chick's vent or possible left inside the shell. If you've had other chicks hatch, you know that there is a little bit of umbilical that's still attached right when it comes out of the egg, but that separates shortly after hatch.

If there is any umbilical still attached, it should be almost fully collapsed and thin if all was absorbed correctly If it is thick and yellowy (like the yolk), then the chick may not have gotten full absorption, but a little leftover yolk that is NOT absorbed is not a cause for crisis, only when it doesn't get a most of the yolk sac.

With that said, I'd give the chick time to rest, checking on it every few hours and be sure that the temperature where it's been separated to is correct at 95 degrees - check that every hour if you can.

The chick MUST stay warm, but not too warm. Measure the temperature exactly where the chick is right now, not above it, beside it, or below it, but right were its back is located where it's lying down. Check the temperature regularly, and worry about feeding and watering tomorrow. Hopefully by then the chick will have gotten the needed rest and will be up and exploring. That may happen tonight too - each chick is slightly different, some more than others...

EDIT: try to resist the temptation to help a chick hatch. Some take a hour or less; others can take many hours, some even a day, though that's kinda pushing it. I'm glad to hear that it did some/most of the work on its own, but the rotation they do in the egg as part of the pip process helps them to start building muscle and coordination from the time they're ready to come out. The big push at the end to separate the egg halves is the next. Try to let them do that on their own. I know it's tempting to "help" them, but it's best to leave them alone :)
I actually only helped when I saw that it had pipped approximately twelve hours ago and had not made progress. It also passed away just now so i believe that I was correct and that it wasn’t just resting.
 

Swbertrand1

Crowing
Apr 21, 2018
1,130
1,550
271
Wilmington, NC
I actually only helped when I saw that it had pipped approximately twelve hours ago and had not made progress. It also passed away just now so i believe that I was correct and that it wasn’t just resting.

I'm so sorry! Sometimes nature makes the right call.

Helping the pip is tricky because it's easy to break blood vessels, not that that is what happened here, but that can kill a chick or leave it weakened and possibly dying right out of the egg.

We've lost them too; it comes with the territory unfortunately. We've assisted maybe five chicks out of some 60 or 70 over the last few years that we've incubated, and it's always a dangerous proposition, but we've only lost one assisted hatch as I recall. Know you did what you could, and turn your attention to the others now... :)
 

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