When to help hatch... A cautionary tale *WARNING- Graphic Imagery*

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by ChickenIzzy, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. ChickenIzzy

    ChickenIzzy Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 3, 2014
    Central GA
    I want to tell you guys about a hatch that I had yesterday that may help others out. I've had some issues with hatching in my homemade incubator, and at this point I'm fairly certain the bator is the problem. We have been also been overlapping hatches and I think that hasn't helped. All in all, I have a previous post where I was looking for help with whether I needed to assist a hatch and ended up with two healthy babies, but this one was a complicated hatch, and I took pictures as we went. When it all started I was sure we would lose the little chick, but I will go ahead and tell you this story has a happy ending! Hopefully it will help someone in a similar situation because I know most advice on here is 'leave it alone and let nature take it's course'.

    As I said, this started after several failed eggs. We had two succesful births before this one, but the morning of this hatch we had 4 due to hatch and 3 had passes away since the evening before (they were rocking the day before, but no pips). This little guy had pipped internally, but was not peeping like my only hatchers before and not really moving. Keep in mind when I say they were due, I mean day 22-23. None of mine ever hatch on day 21.

    So, I kept an eye on this little guy every couple of hours, and after 6 hours of no change (and at this point I had eggtopsied the others and was pretty sure they had drowned, so I knew there was a bator issue) I decided to assist. Yes, assisting should always be last resort, but that term has different meanings to different people. I started by etching a small hole into the air cell side, but couldn't see anything, so I expanded it. I could then see the beak, but nothing more, so I took off some more and pulled back the inner membrane some so that the chicken could breathe easily and I could see what was going on. This is what it looked like at this point :


    It still wasn't making any noise, but I could now see it's face and that it was breathing. I got a little blood, so I put her on a wet paper towel and back in the incubator. I was working with a space heater near by to keep her warm. After two hours, I checked on her again. I knew at this point that I would have to help her hatch the whole way, I slowly and patiently removed more and more shell and membrane each time until I saw anything concerning:
    At this point, 90% of the shell was off and about 50% of the membrane, you can see the ring of the inner membrane around her still at this point. This was when my heart stopped, because I turned her over examining our progress and saw that she still had not absorbed all of her yolk sack. This is the point in the egg when all of mine had been failing, but I didn't want to rush her since I could now visually monitor her. I put her just like this, back in a moist paper towel and back in the incubator and continued hourly checks. It wasn't till about an hour later that I thought to take a pic of the yolk sack, so it had gone down some, but this is what I could see a few hours into this:


    You can see the orange glob down there with plenty of veins. After several hours of checking, the yolk had shrunk enough that I could start trimming some of the remaining membrane. Before bed, she had absorbed the majority of the yolk and her tummy was just kind of 'soft', so I freed her from the membrane and trimmed around the yolk stem and took this picture. She's sleeping, but still doing pretty well and you can see the tummy progress:


    So I went to bed and said a little prayer and this is what I woke up to:



    So in conclusion, I want to say, that it probably was a bad decision on my part to help with this hatch, but my gut tells me he would have drowned if I had not. The absolute key if you feel that you MUST help a hatch is patience! You will see this time and again, but it's true! If I would have knicked that yolk sack or any of the major veins supporting it, this chick would not have made it! I do hope this helps and of you stressing chicken parents out there!
  2. spotsplus

    spotsplus Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 29, 2008
    Franklin, MA
    I am sure the chick would not have made it had you not helped. I would rather help the chick than lose it. Good job :)

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