Thursday, 7 February 2013

Hatching day!

The beak starts to appear
Hoorah! The first of my chicks has hatched and a couple more have chipped a hole in their shell. It can take a chick a number of hours of rotating, chipping and using their legs, neck, wing and breast muscles to force it’s way out of the shell. When they do, they are wet and exhausted. So it’s no surprise that my first chick to hatch has fallen asleep with it’s little head resting on another chick’s eggshell as a pillow...bless.

The two halves start to tear apart
The time span between the first to hatch and the last can be over 24 hours. It can be so tempting to help a slow hatcher out of the shell by pulling away small pieces to assist their progress. I do occasionally assist some chicks, though I know many breeders who do not. The problem with assisting too soon is that the pressure of the chick’s body against the blood vessels in the membrane, and the chick’s rotations, is what cuts off the blood flow here. So if you tear the membrane before this natural process is complete, then the chick will bleed profusely. 

The wing starts to poke out
Pushing and wriggling to get free
It's only the head left in the shell

As a result I tend to just keep an eye on them and remove any that have hatched as soon as they are dry. This leaves space for the hatching ones to break free without being used as a giant football by the rest! Once the chicks are all snuggled up in the brooder they will not need to eat for 24 hours as they are nourished by the yolk that they absorb before hatching. So, they can all have a well earned rest while I clean out the incubator ready for the next lot. Phew!

The chick takes a well-earned rest!


  1. These are the most fantastic series of photos Sue! It must be one of the advantages of hatching in an incubator. You never get to see this under a hen!

  2. Edward Jefferson8 February 2013 at 10:14

    That poor little chick does look knackered!

    1. It must be so exhausting for them which is why I do give a little helping hand to some that have taken a long time to hatch.

  3. It must be such fun to watch the eggs hatching. I bet the chicks get so tame, growing up in the kitchen!

  4. They normally would be in the utility room as in the pic above but as I have had to move them to a warmer spot they are getting used to the cats staring at them and me constantly chattering to them. The tamer that they get, the easier it is to handle them etc but it doses sometimes make them hard to part with later when I come to sell them.


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