How to tell if a chick drowns

sonjab314

Constant State of Confusion
10 Years
May 15, 2010
3,362
60
271
Missouri
I know everyone here has their preferences about humidity during lockdown and I respect everyones opinions. I hear a lot of people say that they have had chicks drown. How do you know they have drowned? Are the chicks fully formed and just didn't pip? Did they pip the air cell and not pip the shell? What if they died with the yolk sac still unabsorbed? Could they have drown? I am just curious to see everyones answers.
 

rebelcowboysnb

Confederate Money Farm
11 Years
Nov 14, 2008
14,674
665
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Independent State of Dade NWGa
Can never know for sure.
If they fail to pip the air cell its possible they drowned or could have been something else.
If they pip the air sell but not the shell, an when you open the egg its very wet an the yoke is not absorbed. Most likely they drowned.
I do assume that they did not drowned if the yoke had time to get absorbed. Wet or not.
 

sonjab314

Constant State of Confusion
10 Years
May 15, 2010
3,362
60
271
Missouri
What else causes chicks to die in the last few days even though the temps and humidity are stable?
 
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Gypsy07

Songster
9 Years
Feb 4, 2010
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Glasgow, Scotland
Chicks dying during incubation because of excess humidity is NOT the same thing as chicks drowning. It's a very badly misused term. An embryo can fail to develop and die at any stage of the incubation. And excess humidity can be the cause of the embryo dying. But a chick can only drown AFTER it has pipped internally into the air cell and started trying to breathe air. If there is excess fluid in the egg at this time, the chick can inhale it and drown. But before it pips into the air sac, it isn't breathing air, so how could it drown?

So a chick that has drowned will have pipped internally into the air cell. It might also have pipped the shell. If you're doing carton hatching I think it would be quite easy to see. Break a small hole through the shell into the air cell and have a look. If it has broken through to the air cell then drowning is a possibility. Tip the egg up and see if any fluid drips out. At this stage of development and hatching, there should be almost no liquid left in the egg so if fluid drips out, the chick most likely did drown. I think a chick that drowned could have either an unabsorbed yolk sac or an almost totally absorbed one, depending on whether it drowned immediately after breaking through to the air sac, or after 12 hours of resting and absorbing the yolk. That is definitely possible, depending on the positioning of the egg. Also even with lots of fluid in the egg, the chick might be lucky and not drown. If it manages to keep its beak above the fluid, it can still hatch okay.

A chick that hasn't pipped internally into the air cell has NOT drowned. It may have died during incubation due to excess humidity conditions, but technically, it has not drowned. So do the same thing and have a look in the egg. If the chick looks almost fully developed but it hasn't broken through to the air sac, break the egg open into a bowl and see if it looks like there is a lot of excess fluid. The more fully developed the chick is, the less fluid there should be.

Like Cowboy says, there are loads of other reasons for late deaths apart from excess humidity or drowning...
 

sonjab314

Constant State of Confusion
10 Years
May 15, 2010
3,362
60
271
Missouri
Very nicely put Gypsy. Thanks for the response. I kind of figured that was the way it was. Chicks, in a sense, are like human babies in the womb, they practice breathing "amniotic fluids" until the pip internally. Therefore how could they drown if they have lived their first 3 weeks of life emmersed in fuid?
 

rebelcowboysnb

Confederate Money Farm
11 Years
Nov 14, 2008
14,674
665
368
Independent State of Dade NWGa
Its probably not technically drowning if they never pip, true. But we really dont know why they live fine without breathing up to that point an then die if they cant pip. I assume at some point the air intake from the egg shell is cut an the chick has to pip an start breathing to live. If that is true an some chicks cant pip to start breathing, weather they try to breath under water or not they cant come up for air so to me the term Drowned seems to fit.
 

appalachianchic

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 29, 2013
39
3
26
I have lost a hatching of chicks. After looking online I still have no clue as to why they made it to the last stage and then died. All the eggs had alot of fluid in them, the membranes were really thick and the yolk was partially absorbed. This morning two of the eggs that were still alive were cheeping and half way hatched. I can see that the yolk is still not absorbed. We watched as on chick seemed to gasp for breath and died right in front of us. During the last three weeks I had two HUGE humidity spikes that took about a day to get under control. This is a staggered hatch with the remaining six due in two or three days. We don't look for them to make it either or the remaining half hatched chick. All the eggs that have died were alive at one point because we could see them moving when they were candled on day 21. None made it into the air cell.
 

appalachianchic

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 29, 2013
39
3
26
Forgot to mention these are silkie eggs but six LF ones that were in there too but transferred to a broody when the first one pipped are alive and doing well.
 

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