Intervention: Helping Your Chicks Hatch

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by fowlweatherfriends, Jun 23, 2007.

  1. verlaj

    verlaj Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 31, 2009
    Micanopy, Florida
    I also thank you so much for this thread! I had my first eggs in an incubator this week - humidity was too low - had a chick that pipped, but 24 hrs later was not making any progress and sounded weaker. I followed your advice and the chick is just fine. The membrane inside the shell was definitely dry and pretty tough. Wetting it as you described certainly helped to soften it up.

    There was one more egg in the incubator - I was able to get the humidity up by laying a paper towel in the bottom that wicked water up and increased the humidity. The last chick hatched with no problem on its own.
    Thanks so much for posting your advice! I learned a lot and was able to rescue the chick that I'm sure was having trouble because of my failure to keep the humidity higher at hatch time.
  2. sugarjax06

    sugarjax06 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 12, 2010
    Lancaster, CA
    Thank you for writing this up! It helped me rescue a little one this morning. I'm not one who can't be patient enough to let the chick do its job but my husband and I could tell this wasn't going in the right direction. The chick had pipped and broken through a large hole in the center of the shell. We could see it's beak, wing and leg through this window. From there it tried and tried but couldn't make any progress. We left it in that position for about 10 hours but I could tell it was drying out. I had to use the wash cloth and q-tips to help the little one. The membrane was so hard and crusty that there is no way it would have been able to push through. As soon as I would loosen up an area, it would push and squirm as things got looser. I didn't even need twizzers for the shell and the membrane was completely separated from that. I left the last little bit attached, wrapped him in the wash cloth and put him in the 'bator. All is going well so far. He is still pretty crusty so hopefully when he dries off some, he won't be so stiff.

    Thank you!!
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I intervened for the first time yesterday. I'd mucked up and let the humidity drop too much, so the poor little pipped chick had the membrane shrink-wrap around it. It had its beak out, breathing and peeping loudly, but the membrane had dried up in the opening totally around the small opening. First I wrapped it in warm, very wet paper towels, and that helped some, until finally I started to pick at the shell.

    I did it slowly, over hours... but the shell fell away easily until I had a small, lumpy, wiggling, peeping, shrink-wrapped "package" of chick. The membrane was softening, but it was really nasty stuck to the chick over one wing shoulder and part of the chest. I FINALLY understand exactly what the term "shrink-wrapped" means!

    Again, after much wetting and waiting, I was able to get most of the membrane off the chick - no blood at all. There's still a bit of membrane stuck to the chick, but that's not really a horrible problem at this point. The chick's feathers are all glued down to it, and the poor thing has been able to stretch out and kick, but it's still not able to stand up.

    I've left it with lots of very wet paper towels and had to go to work. I hope it will have rested and been able to un-bend throughout the day. I guess I'll see when I get home tonight. I think it was just cramped in there too long - it's a LARGE chick, too.
  4. La_TomboyGirl

    La_TomboyGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2008
    NW Louisiana
    [​IMG] This is yet another "Thanks!" to the original poster! I just used this great, easy-to-follow advice to save a stuck chick....I have some eggs under a bantam broody & the first hatched perfectly on 11/4, but the rest were still quiet with no signs of pipping or peeping. This was also a staggered hatch, with some of the eggs a newer than others, but since the broody was going totally au natural, LOL, I had no idea that they were sooo far ahead of the ones added "a bit" later! I'm still a newb on the hatching scene, folks. My good friend had just received a turbofan incubator as a gift from DH, & insisted I take it home so that we could attempt to save the mid-stage newbies once the others started hatching. So last night, I took the rest of eggs in for candling so I could see who needed to go into the bator to 'bake' a lil more, & I had a pipping peeper! How exciting! I put the more developed eggs, including the pipper, back with mom, & popped the rest into the bator @ steady 100F. This morning pipper was no better off, but peeping loudly, & looked really big, like it couldn't move @ all. The membrane that was visible was also VERY dry & leathery, so I found this post, & within 30 minutes had the lil guy out of the egg & into the bator for drying. I couldn't fig where else to put him, so that's where he went. He's peeping, stumbling around & drying off right now after resting for a while. Here's what I did, in case it might help anyone:

    Had a small portable heater going in the bathroom where I did the deed, because we keep it a bit chilly in here normally. I laid a towel down on the counter, had my soaking wet, almost hot, washcloth sitting in hot water in the sink, Qtips, & some pointy tweezers (that's all I had). I think using the Qtips as compared to dropper helps keep it from getting too much water in there. I started @ the pip where the lil guy was visible & peeping, & gently popped of the shell in lil bits, which was very quick & easy because the membrane was so dry. I wetted the membrane as directed, and it seemed to be in two layers almost. Like a thick white outer layer, then a thinner, more transparent layer under that. I VERY carefully used the pointy tweezers (I think the pointy-ness helped actually, but I'm used to doing very painstaking tweezer-work for crafts) & peeled away the outer layer, keeping it moist with the Qtip, & rewarming/wetting the washcloth which it was sitting on rather frequently. I had the heater blowing right there on the counter, too. I got all the outer layer off, then wetted the 2nd layer with the Qtip, being careful to avoid the chick's face, & not getting the Qtip too wet as I did it. It turned kid of gooey-like, but was still tough. I started to remove the gummy layer, & I did see some lil blood vessels, but would go back & work from the opposite side when I encountered them, just carefully going back & forth breaking through, & encountering only a tiny bit of blood. The chick finally fell out as I neared completion, & started kicking right away. There was some blood in the egg bottom, & it scared me, esp. as he was still attached by 2 strings, which were pulling @ his belly. They did not appear to have blood flowing through them, as they were clear, so I gently snipped them off up near the egg shell with the tweezers. There was a tiny bit of blood on the washcloth @ that point, but I popped him into the bator, which is lined with paper towels, & now he's fine.

    I hope this might help some newb out there if they are nervous. I don't think this lil babe would have made it out because of its size. It was totally unable to move within the shell. Don't be afraid, just be calm & careful. Good luck to you all! [​IMG]
  5. La_TomboyGirl

    La_TomboyGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2008
    NW Louisiana
    My lil guy (or HOPEFULLY gal) is doing awesome & now has a sibling to share the brooder with from the same Mom with tiny green eggs. I did this 2nd one the same way, & it even bled about twice as much, but was fine in the end. I think I won't let these eggs be incubated by the broodies anymore, cuz only one out of 3 has managed to get out on its own on account of size. Just a lil updater for y'all. [​IMG]
  6. mrose340

    mrose340 New Egg

    Jan 16, 2011
    Well- I just want to say that I wish I had seen this board a few years ago when I had what my family call my day of "emergency hatchectamies"!! I haven't had the challenge of working with an incubator because I had the sweetest speckled hen- Penny (basic barnyard cross but very small- just smaller than a football), black with brown tips. Anyhow Penny went broody on 6 eggs and the rest of my hens-11 huge Black Australorps would kick her off her nest (they wouldn't lay in the regular nest boxes at all!) lay their eggs and she would sit them. The girls gave her 17 more eggs before I realized what was going on! She looked like something out of a Loony Tunes cartoon this tiny hen and this pile of huge brown eggs she couldn't quite cover!!
    Anyhow- we built her own 'clubhouse' for mothers from a small dog house from the neighbors, enclosed 'porch' and her own flag that read "Shhh Mother Working"
    Due to the difference in days- half the chicks hatched one morning. And being a good mother... Penny immediately looked after them forgetting the others. So I jumped into the coop, grabbed an egg- heard peeping and took the lot into the house. (Penny I am sure was relieved for the break!)
    So- hear I had all the eggs on my counter with my heat lamp rigged high up on the cupboard-- crying not having any idea what to do except what everyone does when they don't know what to do... call MOM! Who said, "Well- you can't leave them in there they'll dry out and die!" So-- I started operations on a clean towel- and bowl of lukewarm water and hatched those that had peeped from their shells (only 2). The rest had started to get real quiet- so I put a wet towel over them. I'm not sure if this helped but when I cracked the shells open gently they were still a bit moist- not near where they should have been but at least not dry as the first one.
    All the chicks lived! They stayed inside for about a week then I reintroduced them back to Penny in her coop. What a sight that little flock was- even when the chicks were full grown they followed Penny everywhere!!
    My advice is to stay calm and don't wait too long- when my chicks were getting quiet it meant they loosing the battle. best to get them before they are too weak to make it their the 'surgery'
    If all is a success A stiff drink or chocolate afterwards to celebrate is a nice reward- something to calm the nerves!
    Best of Luck!!
  7. ZooMummzy

    ZooMummzy Queen of the Zoo

    Mar 31, 2008
    Philomath, Oregon
    I just wanted to say thank you for this post too. I have been helping my chicks hatch as needed and will continue to do so. It's tricky and definitely a live and learn type thing but once you do it and it works, wow does it feel good! I've messed up a few that's for sure but I've helped more than I've lost. Thanks again for helping those who want to do all the wrong things in order to help the little ones! [​IMG]
  8. DrRob

    DrRob Out Of The Brooder

    Can somebody answer my question please..

    I have removed some of the shell at the base of the egg to check the chicks moving as I cannot tell with my candling lamp and they are overdue by 2 days (Bantam Chicks at 23 1/2 Days) I have movement in 2 do I need to do anything to the area of membrane at the base end whilst its back in the incubator to stop it drying too much ? or is it best just to leave it.

    A more experienced breeder is coming over in about an hour to see if the chick needs to be got out.

    The eggs are back in the incubator at the moment on a low setting - Temp 36.7 and Humidity of 45 as my polystyrene incubator is c**p, so its in my new RCOM 20.

    Any suggestions please.

    Dr Rob.
  9. wsdareme

    wsdareme Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2010
    Yelm, WA
    A million thank you's to the original poster in this thread. I saved one of my chicks this morning following the instructions.

    The chick had pipped a hole the size of a pea yesterday early afternoon. By this morning there was no further progress. It was breathing and occasionally peeping, but I could see the membrane was bright white -- dried out. I carefully wrapped the egg in a warm wet washcloth and went about picking tiny pieces of shell away with a pair of blunt tweezers, all the way around like the chick would have done naturally. The shell fell away easily, but the membrane was dry. I made sure I dampened all of the exposed membrane with a Q-tip dipped in warm water. Then I'd wrap the whole egg in a damp paper towel and put it back in the bator, making sure there was a hole so the chick could breathe and I could monitor it.

    Over the period of several hours it seemed that the chick was exhausted, and although still peeping loudly once in a while, did not appear to be making any progress. So I carefully pulled the top off the egg (it was pipping upside down, by the way) and it still stayed in a little egg-shaped ball. That's when I saw the very faint outline of the edge of the membrane that was still covering the chick! I carefully peeled it away, and when I did, its head and a wing unfolded. Its lower body was still in the other half of the shell, and I didn't know if the yolk had been totally absorbed, so I wrapped it back up in the damp paper towel and put it back in the bator.

    After about an hour, I helped it a little further and could see that it was still attached with the umbilical cord, but there was no blood. It's feet were free, so I left it to rest and kick itself loose, which it eventually did.

    The poor little thing was so exhausted. It pretty much lay in the bator without much movement. I didn't know if it was resting or dying. I turned it over once to help it dry on the other side, and it wiggled and peeped, so I had hopes that it was just totally exhausted.

    I'm happy to say that it's in with its hatch-mates, although it's still wobbly. I waited until it could get around under its own power until I put it in with the others. I felt it might be better for it to get knocked around a little bit than to be alone in the bator. It is peeping loudly and seems to be perking up like a normal chick.

    Thank you again, a million times, for this post!!!!!
  10. angelbabyamy

    angelbabyamy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 18, 2011
    Myrtle Point, OR
    This is helpful. This is my first hatch and it is day 19. This morning before I went to work I saw on of my eggs starting to pip. This was at 6 this morning, it is now 12 hours later and the crack is bigger- maybe an inch but there is not a hole in it. i don't see membrane, just pushed out shell with a crack. My humidity is 63 most of the day according to my son. I kept the humidity at 45-50 during incubation. I don't hear the cheeping I did this morning. Do I wait until tomorrow morning to help? It is a Polish egg.

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