When is it time to assist with hatching?


6 Years
Feb 16, 2017
Falkland BC
We are on day 23. Last night about 12 hours ago I candled/floated the remaining eggs in the incubator. One egg was chirping so I didn't float it. I could see it with the light that it had pipped internally.
Another one I floated because I did not hear sound and did not see movement. It bobbed slightly, I waited to see that I was not hallucinating and the other eggs stopped, this one was bobbing.
I put these two eggs back into the incubator.

I am worried now about assisting the hatch. I read the document at least 20 times now. Last night I lost a chick that hatched with a yolk sack and I am still stressed over this batch. If there is a chance I want to have these last 2 hatch.

There were 8 eggs at lock down. 3 hatched on day 21. One hatched on day 22 with yolk, it died after 20 hours. 2 eggs were malpositioned and died (one with the head in the small end, the other had the head on top of the right wing). So 6 eggs are done, 2 more left in the incubator.

I am not sure when the internal pip happened, but I heard it 12 hours ago. Should I still wait until it is 24 hours? Or is it time to check if it is still chirping, given that it is day 23 already and I don't know how long it was already pipped. I was involved with the one premature chicken and I had to open the incubator from time to time.

Temp is still 99-100, humidity is 60-70%. I am constantly monitoring and feels like I am standing there all day watching but nothing is happening.

Lady of McCamley

Free Ranging
12 Years
Mar 19, 2011
NW Oregon
If they were all set at the same time, then these eggs are indeed late if you are confident your incubator was keeping appropriate temperature and humidity (as that can cause hatching delays).

It now becomes your philosophy towards hatching. To help or not.

One line of thought concludes that if they don't make it out on their own, they will not survive on their own. Assisting serves no purpose then because if they do survive assisted, they likely will be weaker birds which ultimately act as vectors of illness to your flock. (Been there. Done that). So if your goal is long term sustainability, only work with chicks that hatch and thrive on their own.

If these are very valuable birds, or pets, that in your mind warrant any and all intervention, you may wish to intercede soon. Be aware that they will likely have issues after hatching that will require continued care, perhaps life long, but I have occasionally saved a bird that grew up to a strong adult especially if the late hatching was due to some incubation interruption.

I also suspicion you've been tinkering too much with your incubation. Lock down means lock down. No opening or closing while the process is occurring. Every time you open up the incubator, you cause an immediate change in temp and humidity that can interfere with the hatching process.

My thoughts.


Humidity Queen
5 Years
Oct 11, 2014
Gouverneur, NY
I'm a hands on hatcher. I assist. I'm not a big fan of going into an unpipped egg. I definitely wouldn't even consider doing a "safety hole" into an internally pipped egg unless I knew for sure it had been internally pipped for 24 hours. And then only a tiny hole.

The reason and timing of an assist will greatly play a part in how successful an assist will most likely be. An assist on a hatcher that has started on time, having problems because of positioning or drying of membranes are usually (if done right and only after the vascular system between egg and chick has shut down and yolk absorbed,) very successful assists that go on to become healthy mature birds.

A late hatcher that needs assisting because it's weak, developmentally delayed has a much lower chance of being a successful assist that will thrive and grow into a healthy mature bird.

Of course an assist on a chick that has a deformity at any point has much lower chances.

I will assist regardless of when, but if I were to assist a late chick, past day 22 of incubation, I would have much lower expectations.

With your others being on time, I would venture to guess these last couple were in a cool spot thus delayed, genetically weaker, or bad positioning. Question is, are you prepared to loose the chick after hatch or be able to cull if needed? You may not have to, but those are situations you have to be prepared for when assisting, especially late hatchers.


6 Years
Feb 16, 2017
Falkland BC
The 18 days were perfect this time. Yes there is no denying there was a lot of tinkering yesterday, that's the perfect word, after the first three hatched. This incubator was not prepared for emergencies and we did have a few at lockdown. They were resolved. We are not sure why there is such a difference in hatching times. Given that the previous dead bird is probably dead because we interfered, it was rocking in the same spot for more than 24 hours and we did not see progress. We turned the egg around so we could see the pip when we removed the dry fluffed up chicks and it hatched very quickly after that. We should have left it, it would have struggled more, but we would not have had to deal with an unabsorbed yolk. Either it would have died anyway, or it could have hatched when it was time.

I am not going to touch these eggs. The chirping egg is still chirping, and it has started to rock so that is reassuring. It kind of feels like de ja vu, because the dead chick's egg rocked the same way. The pip must be on the bottom where we can't see it. The other one is still not showing any sign of life but we will wait it out.

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