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#88447 - 03/03/10 05:51 PM Why not help chicks finish hatching?
Art Ana Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 160
Loc: Montana
I did a search and couldn't find anything in the first 8 pages of results.

I couldn't think of a better place to ask about why wouldn't someone help a chick that has begun pecking its shell?

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#88452 - 03/03/10 10:00 PM Re: Why not help chicks finish hatching? [Re: Art Ana]
CJR Online   content
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8447
Loc: Montana
I DO and successfully, but only if the chick is full term, and has not made any progress in about 24 hours. By that time, with experience, you can determine if the chick is stuck to the shell and cannot turn and finish his escape. It is not a rush job.

To charge that the chick will never be robust and strong is just not true. Mother Nature works well, but all conditions during incubation and hatch are not equal for every egg. With care, all will mature and be the robust and strong birds that we want, and they will produce healthy offspring--nothing to do with a help at their start.

There are exceptions. but to just refuse to help a chick hatch is a personal choice--my choice and experience is to DO IT!

To have that chick unfold and roll out in your hand is a rare experience and not regretted! CJR

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#88454 - 03/04/10 04:38 AM Re: Why not help chicks finish hatching? [Re: Art Ana]
Richard in MA Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 01/23/07
Posts: 332
Loc: Massachusetts
I have posted this many times but it never seems to become out-dated:

I think the main reason people think it is okay to help hatch is that they believe that once the chick pips, it is ready to hatch and is just resting or waiting for some reason. This, of course, is not true and the chick may need another day or so before they can survive outside the egg. Although we are all well meaning, I think many people may not fully understand what is happening physiologically inside that egg before they "help" it out. Sometimes, it is thought that the chick suffocated when, in reality, it was most likely something else entirely that caused the chick to die. The fact of the matter is that there is a very specific chain of biological events that must take place for a chick to hatch and it is largely involuntary from the chicks perspective. Interfering with the process normally does far more damage than good. This was added by another person on a different board and it helps to explain the whole process:

Drawdown occurs when the air cell changes shape as the embryo, using the egg tooth, punctures the inner shell membrane and enters the air cell. The egg is designed to allow ease of exit from the egg, and the egg tooth is used to begin unzipping the eggshell in a circular manner, usually at the larger end of the egg.

The initiation of hatch occurs partially from the increased carbon dioxide level in the egg. This causes the embryo to begin twitching it's muscles, allowing the inner shell membrane to be punctured by the egg tooth. The chick then begins breathing the air in the air cell. As the carbon dioxide level begins to rise again, the muscularis complexus (the pipping muscle) at the back of the neck begins twitching again, facilitating the hatch. Abdominal muscles also begin twitching, which helps draw the yolk sac into the coelom. Leg muscle twitching helps strengthen the legs.

Assisting the hatch is a difficult decision, and in this author's experience, many aviculturists will do more harm than good by assisting the hatch. Normally the chick will hatch 24-48 hours after drawdown has occurred. By making a pin-hole in the egg shell over the air cell, the carbon dioxide level will drop, actually slowing the hatch. Making a pin-hole or opening the air cell end of the egg should only be done if the vocalization level of the hatching chick is decreasing or other signs indicating that the chick is in trouble are evident (for example, if the chick doe not pip into the air cell).

By helping chicks to hatch that would not otherwise may result in a perfectly appearing bird, however, by doing so we are constantly selecting for chicks that need help hatching (not in the case of drying out). This has been brought up many times on other boards, especially in the case of call ducks. I have never raised them but from what I have learned from reading is that they can have very poor hatchability due to the conformation of the bird and the short beak. Only the strongest chicks will survive and be able to hatch and it is only those birds breeders are looking to work with.

Now, with all of that being said, deciding to help or not is up to the keeper. However, I think that before you "help" hatching you should have a full and complete understanding of what is actually going on inside that shell on a physiological level. Otherwise, what you may think is a problem may very well not be and the decision you make will have disastrous effects. Only by understanding what is happening, and what your actions may cause, can you make a good decision on whether to proceed or not.

Jean, I know that you only use broodies and not an incubator so that precludes you from having to worry about what is happening to the rest of the chicks when you open it to help one hatch, however it can cause a great deal of problem to do so. All of the humidity is lost when you open it up and any chicks that have already pipped wil likely then need help due to drying. I have helped chicks out in the past but I know exactly when to do it and when not to. Many people just starting out do it far too soon and wind up with a chick with a yolk sac hanging off it's belly, gasping for air before it finally dies. I made that same mistake years ago, myself.

Richard

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#88455 - 03/04/10 05:40 AM Re: Why not help chicks finish hatching? [Re: Richard in MA]
D. Pollock Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 11/16/08
Posts: 400
Loc: USA
Wow, RichardMA. That's why I so enjoy The Coop.

dpollock

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#88475 - 03/05/10 09:02 PM Re: Why not help chicks finish hatching? [Re: D. Pollock]
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1257
Loc: Canada

I am a helper but only after a chick has started the process himself, and then I don't help him all the way. I like to pick him out a bit, maybe uncurl his neck out of the egg, but leave his legs and butt inside the lower half of the shell. I set him back in the incubator having done my part; he has to kick himself out from that position. If he cannot accomplish that, it doesn't look good.

I will break into unhatched and silent eggs once I believe that ample time has been given for hatching to have happened. These eggs all are pretty much 100% dead. Those that are peeping and tapping I let continue until the sounds begin to fade. But the longer a chick bumps around, the more ready he is to hatch. It seems activity helps pull the yolk into the gut, and this is critical to his survival. Yolk out chicks just don't make it.

So if they pip, give them at least 24 hours to make progress. If they are peeping but haven't pipped, don't go in until they are fading. At least that's my approach.




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#88491 - 03/07/10 01:51 PM Re: Why not help chicks finish hatching? [Re: Uno]
Art Ana Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 160
Loc: Montana
Thanks all.

How long does one wait after the "due date"?

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#88494 - 03/07/10 05:21 PM Re: Why not help chicks finish hatching? [Re: Art Ana]
Wieslaw Offline
Moderator
Classroom Professor

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 3428
Loc: Denmark
I use both incubators and broody hens for hatching (at the same time, so I put chicks from the incubators for adoption). I only help to hatch eggs from broody hens in case of mechanical damage to the shell. Last year I found an egg with a completely crushed shell, but the membrane was intact, so the chick looked like a peeping Egyptian mummy.

Some years ago I helped one that was 2 days overdue but peeping very loudly. It grew up to have a giant hump on the back and a wry tail. I stopped helping chicks that didn't make more effort than making the initial hole because I found out that usually there is a reason for this, like a yolk sack not pulled in or other.

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#88501 - 03/07/10 10:48 PM Re: Why not help chicks finish hatching? [Re: Wieslaw]
CJR Online   content
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8447
Loc: Montana
This process is best learned by experience, I believe. Certainly all chicks should not be "helped" to hatch!!!!!!!!How long to wait after "due time'? Sorry, this you have to learn--- to "read" the eggs. Best if no help is ever required!!

In most cases, I do not believe that helping in critical times, leads to a weakness in the breeding flock. A successfully assisted chick is far more likely to have had humidity problem-- too dry during hatch, stuck to the shell unable to turn--or tired, probably nutrition of the hen that laid the egg, nothing hereditary about that. Sometimes a tired chick just needs to have time to rest and will chip its way out by itselfesjpecially, if chipped half way--and, indeed, let it finish and slide out of the lower part by itself, little wet rag of a chick..... PATIENCE.

I never help a chick that does not have a good hole started--and no progress for another day, often longer, before chipping a little further to see if the difficulty can be determined. If bleeding--the chick is not "done yet". STOP, pull the membrane with the vein over the edge of the shell--it will stop bleeding. Leave that egg another 12-24 hours--sometimes the chick will finish hatching on its own.

Late hatch chicks sometimes have crooked legs/toes from being tucked in that sphere too long--bone is not hardened completely at normal hatch time. If late and the bone has hardened--forget it. Easy to fix most Splays/Toes, if done right after hatch. May not be hereditary at all--know your breeding birds and feed them well. Again, this is not hereditary--hen needed better nutrition. Since I switched to Game Bird Breeder, no more chicks with Splay legs. I feed Cod Liver Oil during winter laying time, as Vit A,D, are often no longer fresh in our feeds, and in the North where I live, chickens rarely outside, there is little sun--it makes a world of difference in reliable hatching eggs and strong chicks.. Those of you who live in areas where birds can be outside and on green grass, etc. may not have this part to your poultry projects.

Do not weep for eggs(chicks) that cheep,but do not hatch--or for the chick you tried to help, but didn't make it--Mother Nature is not always kind, and we cannot substitute for Mother Nature, just watch, learn and appreciate the marvelous process!

So much of our small hatch projects cannot be leaned from books or just reading a post--we need to feel it--have hands on experience. And there is never an end to learning. I have appreciated new information on the COOP--thanks to all who share! CJR

Commercial Hatcheries is another experience. I grew up near one of the largest Leghorn Farms in Oregon==YEARS ago--can still recall the special smell of the hatchery room--huge incubators, doors from floor to ceiling and trays of eggs, later trays of 1000s of chicks! Guess that is when I was innoculated with poultry??

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#89102 - 04/26/10 08:57 AM Re: Why not help chicks finish hatching? [Re: Art Ana]
Mot Offline
New Egg

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 1
Loc: Wales
I just incubated six eggs. One hatched and is doing well. The other five had not absorbed their yolk. Was it something I was doing wrong, incubator not working properly, or just the way it goes? Any advice please.

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#89103 - 04/26/10 09:48 AM Re: Why not help chicks finish hatching? [Re: Mot]
Wieslaw Offline
Moderator
Classroom Professor

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 3428
Loc: Denmark
I'm trying to understand correctly. Did they come out of the shell by themselves with unabsorbed yolk? Were they alive and you pulled them out before they were ready? At any rate, it's not just the way it goes (not in that ratio).

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