Knowing when to assist - day 21 patiently waiting on peeps .. then dead in the shell

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by BellaSaff, Dec 29, 2015.

  1. BellaSaff

    BellaSaff Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 31, 2013
    I have acted on the advice that chicks will hatch past day 21, heard the cheeps and then they stop. Of course at this time I find chicky dead in the egg. This has happened now on three different (and my only hatches).
    Today's was 1 naturally hatched overnight, one was pipped this morning, one was cheeping and the other silent.
    This afternoon is about 4 hours past the 21 day mark and the pipper had zipped a little, but both eggs stopped rocking and I went to assist. Both active eggs from the morning had dead in shell chicks, and the inactive was cheeping, so I made a window, membranes looked ready, and I opened half the egg, little live chicken placed back in incubator....
    Really... I seem to keep coming up dead chicks when I don't assist and each that I do lives.... Are others finding the wait on eggs gives dead chicks.
    The partially zipped one had been knocked upside down, possibly why dead?
    Final question for those of you with time and experience to reply is the little assisted chick has a beak that is skewed, top across bottom, I know I didn't do this as I was careful to pip at the air near, but not at the beak. Is this a comon deformity and can I help? I recently corrected a splay leg chick who looks perfect among the brood-brothers/sisters so I am keen to intervene.
    Expecting another hatch due Friday midday and I do not want to let the cheeps RIP. At what time on hatch day do you guys get moving to save the little guys?
  2. RooDen

    RooDen Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 21, 2014
    My chicks usually start hatching around 18-20 not later than that. If your chicks are peeping for like almost half a day you need to intervene. Some chicks are weak and tend to have a difficulty breaking open.
  3. cmfarm

    cmfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2010
    Elgin, TX
    What did the chicks look like that didn't make it (if you where able to get a good look at them)? Maybe it is the eggs? Are you getting them all from the same place with each hatch? Sometimes if chickens aren't fed the right diet or have poor genetics you will end up with deformities like you described with the living chick. Or perhaps it is the incubator. Maybe it is too hot or cold and causing issues with the development. There shouldn't be a need to help very many chicks. When I hatch a big batch most make it out easily on their own. I only assist if they where at the bottom of the pile and dried out and got stuck before they could make it out.
  4. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2013
    Quote: At what time on hatch day do you guys get moving to save the little guys?
    Not an easy question to answer. I always always sit on the fence. If we go in to help are we messing things up? If we don't will the chick die? We've gotten a few out of the shell successfully and some we didn't go in when we could/should have.
    I usually make my determination if the shell has pipped (If it zips, they can usually get out.). If activity ceases the chick could just be sleeping, but over a period of time if the chick is squaking loudly and then gets quieter and quieter it seems to me it is getting weaker and that is where we intervene. My husband has a steadier hand so he does the actual removing of the shell while I assist and have warm wet cloths ready to keep the shell moist.
    Every one we have assisted seems to have survived. If I had to categorize them, I think it is most often a large chick (often rooster?) crammed into the egg.
    A few times I have missed when we should go in and lost the chick. Sometimes an egg was pipped and got rolled pip side down and the chick couldn't get out. A few times I didn't know this until I moved the egg and saw the pip. The chick was already dead.
    I think it's a case you have to watch and use your best judgment and sometimes you're right and sometimes your wrong, but the criteria for me is if I know the bird is alive and seems to be getting weaker.
  5. gpop1

    gpop1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2015
    It sounds like you have a incubator problem that is leaving you with a bad decision at the end.

    if the chicks are late then it normally due to the incubator being 1-2 degrees cooler. If i have chicks that fail very late or during the pip stage the first thing I suspect is high humidity during the early stages of incubation resulting in a small air cell. If you see goo at the pip site its a sign that the chick drown at pip.

    There lots of reasons why things go wrong and as you seem to be getting the same results its time to look at all the possible reasons. The best approach is information.

    What was the temp during incubation.
    What condition is the breeding flock in.
    how thick is the shell compared to a store bought egg.
    what was the humidity during incubation.
    what was the humidity during hatch.
    Are the eggs shipped.
    Anything notable that happened during incubation.
    Could you see the air pocket or were the egg shells to dark.
    What was the size of the air pocket compared to a online chart.
    Did you do a egg-topsy was the chick shrink wrapped, stuck to shell wall or gooey wet

    Now this will sound cruel and uncaring but a cross break chick is bad news. We had one and I don't regret the time or effort we spent on that chicken but if we ever get another we will cull it immediately. It may shows a flock in poor health. Its also sometime generic.

    splayed leg can happen for a number of reasons but the most common is a slippery incubator floor. If that is the case they sell draw liner that looks like rubber mesh real cheap that is great for putting in the bottom of the incubator.

    I personally have no problems with assisting as long as you have a plan before you start. I have a tool kit near the incubator just in case.
  6. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2013
    Just giving the other side of the story for someone who may be worried and not sure what to do with a scisserbeak. I never ever had one then last spring I had a broody hatch some chicks. One was a scissorbeak, didn't notice it initially. She never had any special care and has grown into a beautiful hen (seven months old now.) who is laying large beautiful dark olive eggs. From that I'm assuming the cream legbar rooster is her father and her mother is one of the black hens but not necessarily the one who hatched her if other hens laid their eggs in the same nest.
    I've had the possible mothers for several generations with never a problem, but not the father's side. From talking to an avian vet he said while the problem could be poor health or nutrition (but not in this case.) it can also be the result of the position of the chick in the egg.
    Since she has a unique colored egg, I just wouldn't hatch any of her eggs, but I'm certainly happy to keep her as part of my laying flock
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Bella, it sounds like you may be having issues with your temp or your humidity being off when you are incubating. Are you hatching eggs from your own flock? An other possibility may be that your flock is lacking in some important nutrients... or there may be some genetic issues going on here. But, I'd much sooner think that it's the incubation that's giving you problems. Have you calibrated your thermometer and your hygrometer? I strongly suggest that you check your temp throughout your incubator. Divide the available space into a 9 square grid, similar to tic-tac-toe, and check your temp in each of those squares with an accurate CALIBRATED thermometer. Read all of this excellent resource: It will answer questions that you didn't even know that you had. I also recommend that you do "dry incubation" if you have not yet done that.
  8. BellaSaff

    BellaSaff Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 31, 2013
    Great input into the situation. I have been silently musing the last day.
    I was planning to keep the little one but closer inspection revealed only one eye and the intestines were protruding a little. I euthanized the little chick. I tried a different method baking soda and
  9. BellaSaff

    BellaSaff Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 31, 2013
    ... and vinegar. Lots less humane than pulling the head (I did this onece for malformed budgie chick) to break the neck I found the chick struggled. Having said this breaking the little budgie neck was also pretty traumatic.. I was sonervous I pulled to hard and the thing came off.
    I think in retrospect I would use the neck method in preference if I had to act again. Over so quickly I have to wonder if it would even have registered the experience.
  10. BellaSaff

    BellaSaff Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 31, 2013
    You were spot on about the incubation. Thank you. My first hygrometer was 10% too high. Better eggs next time I start.
    Meanwhile I assisted the last hatch (4 of 5 araucana chicks) and am planning to assist the next as these air cells are still well below norm. Will lockdown on day 19 to give the best chance for those that are closer to normal development a go without assistance in a second incubator. The rest I will assist as soon as the internal pipping is apparent.

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