Nursing a baby chick


In the Brooder
5 Years
Jun 2, 2014
In my first hatching from a broody hen one of the chicks had some trouble and the setup wasn't great. The chicks were in a nest box. Somehow the first born had gotten out and the mother was down on the floor of the coop with it rather than in the nest box with the others. There was one egg on the floor that had a chick working it's way out. Another wasn't developed enough to live and also broken open. I'm not sure if the mother tried to get them to the same place as the active one or not. I had to test the rest of the eggs in the nest with the water test to see if they were still hatch-able.
After the first time you do it you know better than to help the chick out of the egg. I did that and it still has a sizable portion of the yolk to absorb and the arterial connections etc. At that point realizing I should have left it, I took the rest of the shell away. I left the yolk section attached so it could absorb what nutrition it could from that before it dried out. I put it back in the nest with the mother and she would have none of it. So the chick got a private box away from any pecking.
The first day it seemed weak but ok. The large dried bit of yolk hindered it getting around. I saw it peck at some food but not really eat or drink. It was going noticeably downhill on the second day. There was nothing providing nutrition. I carefully cut off the dried section to allow it to move easier leaving enough to ensure I did not cause it to lose any blood.
I tried a dropper but chickens are not designed to nurse. It's not in their nature. I tried wetting food and using a dropper. This didn't work either. I would hold it in my hand and it's eyes would close after a minute or two. It was obviously getting weaker quickly.
I'm a problem solver at work from mechanical engineering to biological systems so sat down to figure out some way to nurse a chick. The chick needed nutrition and liquid. After thinking about it for a bit the answer seemed obvious. Yolk provides all they need in the egg and should be a great source for everything the chick would need. I just needed a delivery system.
I got a recently laid egg and took the yolk out. I then diluted it with some water trying to leave it as thick as possible but still be liquid enough to flow well. Using a hypo and a teflon blunt "needle" I nursed the chick.
What I found worked well rather than trying to force the beak and squirt liquid down, is to slowly push some fluid out to the end of the hypo making a small ball of liquid. While holding the chick touching that to the back of the beak causes the liquid to wick into the chicks mouth. After a few repetitions the chick will swallow naturally with little trauma.
Within 4 hours the chick was up and rolling. I did this several more times until I saw it actually eating some of the food. It's development was behind the others but it had no issues after the initial setback. I put it back with it's mother one night when it was strong enough to survive any pecking if there was any. The mother accepted it back.
I haven't seen much on how to help a weak chick and thought this might be useful. If anyone is interested in the blunt teflon "needle" or hypo, email me. I would advise to have one if you think you would want to use it because this chick would not have lasted long enough for something to arrive via mail. I used them at work and so had access to them. I would be interested if people thought this would be a good item for the BST (buy, sell, trade) page.

Yolk Removal. The clump on the back is the dried yolk.

Egg Remains. Still quite a bit of yolk in the egg and on the chick (previous).

Water and food I tried in the back, Weak chick.

Nursing the chick. Don't flood the nose holes. It does not go inside her mouth.

Artificial Mother. It didn't like being along so a U shaped piece of cardboard with rags felt enough like mother it was more content at night.

Noticeably smaller but doing well.

Happy Chick.

The End
Last edited:


6 Years
Jul 24, 2013
Congratulations on saving the chick! I'm sure that many people will find this information helpful.

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