Diary of a Hatching Chick – contains real hatching photos.

This morning, I was fortunate enough to have another chick hatch while I was holding it. It’s always a special time, the beginning of life – and sadly with chicks, very often it’s the end of life too. Birthing is always the cusp between life and death, which is one reason it is so sacred, I think. However, I also thought I might be able to share it with you, as I was sitting reeeallly close to my camera. πŸ˜€

This is how it looked when I took it out of my incubator. It had made the air hole, and started to open the shell (this takes thousands of teeny pecks by the chick to do, they are incredibly strong animals). Sometimes they seem to peck a trapdoor, and they tend to be slow hatching. Ones that do the flip-top shell thing like this one didΒ can arrive in a big hurry. Perfect!

Once the shell is mostly pecked through, the chick starts pushing up with it’s head, to lever the top off.

You can see it’s wing poking out here…


And now it’s made a big enough gap that it has a wing out, and it’s foot. MUCH more leverage this way. You can also see that in the shell, there’s not a lot of space left, and it grows for the last week or so with it’s head tucked under it’s wing.

Then, pop! Top comes off, and its head and neck start to straighten. It’s a really good idea to be as hands-off as possible. I do tend to pick mine up once they are at the flip-top stage, but only for a few reasons: my incubator has no humidity, I get around this by squirting the eggs a few times a day when I turn them. In the last 3 days before hatching the eggs need about 80% humidity to hatch, and I try to replicate this roughly by wrapping a warm wet tissue around the shell, but ONLY when the airhole is present, and I keep about 1/4 unwrapped to try not to change the tensile pressure of the shell. So, once it’s at the stage in the first photo, if I can I take off the tissue and hold it to keep it warm and humid. (plus, you know, baby!)

Another important point: chicks are designed to have to fight their way out of the egg. It’s hard to watch, but necessary. They have a complicated network of blood vessels, and the fighting to hatch closes these off. I have read of horror stories of people trying to help a chick hatch, only to pull off a piece of shell and have the chick bleed to death. Yuck. Poor chick, poor people. You can see a vessel here, on the chicks back. This was severed by it wiggling while in my hand, and obviously a shut down one, anyway. Hard as it is to watch, let them be. πŸ™‚

blood vessel from the top of the shell to it’s back – this was fine, but its a VERY good idea to be as hands-off as possible. Lots of information on the net for the more curious πŸ™‚

Then, out of the bottom of the shell with one big kick, and there it is, in my hand. Hello, chick!


Hello, world.

(Important! I didn’t have my hand open for the duration, keeping birds warm is VITAL. I was being an honarary hen, and keeping it in the warm and dark of my cupped hands until I took a quick photo.)

Back in the incubator to fluff up and warm up a bit more… which also makes them look cuter πŸ˜€

And after 20 mins or so… it’s silver! This is my first silver chick – not sure of it’s parentage, dad is Blue Orpington, mum may be Light Sussex, but I’m not completely sure.

Then, my patented ‘being a mother hen and still having a life’ trick – I tuck the end of a bandana down my top, and fold the rest up and over the chick. So chick is now tucked up against the skin of my throat, warm and dark, and I can use both hands.

I know, taking a photo like this is dorky, but it’s for a good cause, right? And I didn’t go get dressed up for ya all, so you’ll have to take me as I am πŸ™‚

I make sure there is plenty of air for the chick though!

And then, once I’ve carted it around for a few hours it’s cute, strong, fluffy, steady on it’s legsΒ and ready to go under the heat lamp in the box with my other chicks that have no mother hen. Of which I have 12 now. Holy Moly. *quiet panic attack*

Have a lovely day
Ami πŸ™‚

Posted on November 17, 2012, in Sight, Touch, unCommon and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. So cute!

    This might sound like a daft question but do you keep hens or do you ‘foster’ these eggs?

    • hehehe I have 37 chickens, 35 of them are hens. A lot of my hens have hatched their own eggs, but some are bad mothers and just go broody then leave them, so I take the developing eggs and put them in the incubator to finish growing and hopefully hatch πŸ™‚

  2. what brilliant photos dude, ever so cute too.

  3. Aww they start out kinda gross but so cute so quickly :3

  4. So cool:), thanks for sharing!

  5. That must have felt so incredible! I may just be in a mushy mood, but it made me tear up! And may I say that I LOVE that you now wear chicks around your neck. You are such a mother hen!


    • hehehe it always feels incredible. Last year I ‘helped’ a few chicks hatch, but this year has been insane for the amount. It’s not that unusual for me to be sitting, 6am, on the computer with a egg hatching in my hand now. And it never gets anything less than amazing. I am a mother hen! Its terrible. My rep will be SHOT if anyone finds out πŸ˜€

  6. Great post and pics! I never knew about the whole blood vessel situation, that is really interesting.

    • Thank you! It was something I found out about during a frantic Google search when my first eggs were hatching – I’m a real hands-on, interfere, type person by nature – but it’s good to know what I should be doing. Even clipping an adult chickens primary feathers wrong can cause them to bleed to death – they are a strange mix of vulnerable and strong animals πŸ™‚

  7. What amazing pictures! Love the chick bandana!

  8. I was creeped out at first, but how adorable! lol. x

  9. LOVE this post! I grew up on a lifestyle block that my mum pretended was a full-blown farm, and we had a million animals – including heaps of chickens! I love em, just in small doses. The babies are adorable, but it cracks me up when they’re at that awkward, ugly teenage stage πŸ˜›

    • hahaha sounds nice,and funny too πŸ˜€ They are, and that in between stage where they mooch around, walk into stationery objects and look like vultures.. yeah, teenagehood is cruel for all species, apparantly πŸ˜€ Thanks for reading, Jessie! πŸ˜€

  10. awwww how cute ❀

  11. This is a great post! Thanks for sharing. We’re thinking about incubating soon. I have an old incubator from the 1960’s that I want to try out. Got it on the dump! Everything appears to be in working order.

    • Oooh, exciting! I don’t know if there’s anything quite as magical as incubating eggs – and I wish you all the best of luck. Let me know how it goes if you get the chance! πŸ˜€

  1. Pingback: Diary of a Hatching Chick – contains real hatching photos. | New England Fowl

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