Oy, helping chicks out of shell

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by corvidae, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. corvidae

    corvidae Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 27, 2011
    I have an 11 year old Greenpeace-save-the-whales-and polar-bears-tree-hugging-environmentalist son. He is having a little trouble with the idea of possibly NOT helping the chicks having trouble out of the shell. We have 18 eggs in lockdown right now, our first hatch, and I would like him to have a good idea of what might happen if we help them out (should they get stuck) and why we should or shouldn't help them. H's read the thread that was a sticky post and it just confused him more. So, WHEN should one help a chick and when should one stand back I'm personally inclined to let nature take its course, but then, I've not hatched before and I find myself feeling a little differently when it comes down to it.

    Also, exactly HOW does one help a chick out without doing further damage??

    Thanks so much for your patience with questions that have likely been asked a billion times before!

  2. secuono

    secuono Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2010
    Hum, tough Q! It depends on how far they have gone and for how long. If they zipped, no blood in the membrane, you see them trying but just can't pop through and they have absorbed the yolk, better chances.
    But if they just piped, wet and have lots of blood filled veins, yolk might not be absorbed, very dangerous. One tiny nick on even a minor vein and it can be all over! I'd wait as long as possible and then a bit more.
    It's extremely easy to do a massive amount of damage with the slightest hole or tear.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2011
  3. stickers

    stickers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2010
    Hi, I don't like to let them go more than 24 hrs if they have pipped and are not making any progress. I use a small metal cocktail stick to gently extend the pip. I just helped a Black Copper out of its shell this moring. It had been pipped for about 18 hrs and no progress. The poor little guy was shrink wrapped so would not have made it out by himself. He was the 1st to pip yesterday and since then 6 more have pipped and hatched just fine. It is normal for a chick to take all day to hatch so don't be in too much of a hurry as it's easy to do more harm than good. If you do risk opening the incubator have a warm wet sponge ready to throw in incubator. The sponge will help keep bator humid. Sometimes you don't even have to take the chick out of shell, just give it a little extra help ( only if no progress made ) and it will do the rest. The longer it has pipped and not made progress the drier its membrane ( under the shell ) can get. If it gets too dry it will shrink wrap around the chick and it will have difficulty getting out. Experience is the best teacher!
  4. fishnchix

    fishnchix Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 20, 2011
    I am a relative newby, but here is where I draw the line: If they break that first hole, and are still alive 24 hours later but not making progress, I will chip the outer shell away in a 360 ring from where they poked through. If I get any resistance between shell and membrane I stop, and put the egg back for another few hours. I do not break the membrane at all if I can help it. I use the tip of my fingernail and just carefully flip away from the egg.
  5. perolane

    perolane Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2010
    Everyone is going to have a different opinion on this....this is mine. If an egg has pipped/zipped & has not progressed in 12 hours, especially if peeping is getting weaker...I intervene.

    Wrap the egg in damp warm paper toweling leaving the beak area exposed. I begin to gently break off tiny pieces of the shell & white outer membrane around the beak area with tweezers. I've had chicks that were just large & couldn't maneuver inside to zip around the egg. Once I've freed the head area & gave it some wiggle room, I return the egg to the bator to let it complete the process on it's own.

    If the chick seems weak, by all means free it gently from the shell ...then put chick back in the bator until dry & stronger.

    If at any time there is bleeding...stop...return the egg to the incubator wrapped in the damp towel & start again about an hour later.

    Again...this is what I do. I would have lost lots of chicks by doing nothing. None of the chicks I've helped were defective in any way....most were silkies & showgirls with high vaulted skulls that sometimes makes it hard for them to position inside the egg.

    Good luck! [​IMG]
  6. chickpeaz

    chickpeaz Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 26, 2009
    Central PA
    I just wanted to toss out the hopeful possibililty that it might be a non-issue for you -- I've hatched half a dozen 'bators full and I've never had to help a chick out of the shell. All of mine have pipped, zipped and out in 24 hours or less. I've never had an egg pip and not progress. So while I commend you for preparing your son for the worst, I will send good hatching vibes your way and hope you don't have to worry about it at all!
  7. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    Its really up to you - BUT - if you have other eggs that have pipped it will be trouble for them all!

    We call it shrink wrapping. The membrane inside the egg carries the blood to the shell where it gets oxygen for the chick. When they pip this tells the membrane the chick is breating on its own & the blood supply is SLOWLY cut off. Thats why the eggs sit for a day after they pip. If they bust out too soon they bleed to death!

    So - if you help a chick too early after it pipps you can kill it.

    Back to shrink wrapping. The humidity needs to be 70%ish for lock down. For the chick to unzip the egg she needs to spin inside the egg. Her head is not on a swivel & she cant do it all from 1 spot. So the inside of the membrane needs to be wet & slick or she cant turn.

    When the humidity drops suddenly the membrane becomes sticky. The chick then cant spin around to unzip. It will eventually die.

    When you open the incubator even for a brief time the humidity will drop suddenly. ANY eggs that have pipped can then become shrink wrapped. You wont often see the effects until its too late. So DONT OPEN THE INCUBATOR (for your son! [​IMG] ) if an egg is pipped! its bad for them.

    If you have one - or some - that get in trouble. Start by bringing the humidity way up! steamy water added etc. It gives a quick shot of wet. That can be enough to do it sometimes.

    If that doesn't work & you need to go in - just be gentile & break open the egg at the top (big end) enough to let the chick's head get out. Then sit it back down to pull itself out. You can break the membrane if there is no blood.

    Let the chick pull itself out of the shell because the yolk sac will be attached with an umbilical cord. If you bust this too soon - well - its not good either.

    Worst case - the chick is actually stuck! because the incubator was opened too much. When you take it out of the shell a lot of feathers will come off too. In my experience these birds live only a couple uncomfortable days. You can help this some with hot water bath's etc. but its really a shock to the system.

    Its best just to understand that God gave us so many eggs because he knows many will not make it. Prepare for the worst & be glad when it doesn't happen.
  8. WhetzelMomma

    WhetzelMomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 8, 2009
    I just finished a hatch. 27 eggs out of 30 hatched. I had to help a few. I made sure the first pip actually broke through the membrane, because we miss calculated hatch dates, and missed the extra humidity... I don't think they would have made it if I hadn't made sure they had air. A few of them never started the zipping process... even after sitting overnight, so I did that, and took the top of their shell off (as another poster mentioned) and allowed them to get out the rest of the way on their own. All of the ones that came out of their shells hatched. I missed one that pipped and didn't break it's membrane. By the time I broke the membrane, I think it had already suffocated. It didn't make it out at all. Two never pipped.
  9. Buck Creek Chickens

    Buck Creek Chickens Have Incubator, Will Hatch

    Nov 26, 2008
    Neenah, WI
    I don't help. in the 6 years I've hatched, it only caused problem in the long run, weak chicks that get sick and die, young stock that is more prone to diseases, generally unthriftiness, twisted toes feet limbs and poor hatch rates as breeding adults with the next generation needing help. the only help that doesn't seam to cause problems is lifting a dried piece of membrane, unsticking it then placing the egg back in the 'bator
  10. mckenzie

    mckenzie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 20, 2011
    Douglas, GA
    I feel like you need to give everything a chance. Thats why i help my baby chicks and ducks when they cant do it on there own. If there has been no developement since the last time i will help it out. I usually wait 24 hours to help any.

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