Helping Hatching chicks

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Sometimes a hatching chicken egg seems to have problems, and you may feel you ought to help. Professional breeders usually advise against intervention, saying a chick should be strong enough to hatch on its own, and weaklings deserve to die.
While this may be valid for a professional, amateur incubation conditions may leave a healthy chick unable to emerge, but just needing a little help.
Here is what to do
1) Don`t panic! After pipping (making a diamond shaped hole in the egg) a chick may have a long rest, up to 24hrs. The chick can breathe and will be comfortable.While you are waiting consider making an emergency brooder from a box with a lamp and some damp sponges or paper towels for humidity.
2) If after the wait the chick still looks stuck, then carefully pick at the edge of the shell using only your finger nail. WORK TOWARDS THE BLUNT END of the egg, picking away the shell. Going towards the blunt end is moving away from the chick`s vitals.
3) When you have picked away the end 1/3 of the shell , put the egg in the warm ,humid, emergency brooder for a rest and warm up.
Sometimes this is all the chick needs, and it will  kick its way out alone.
4) Underneath the shell is a white  skin. This may have dried  and gone leathery trapping the chick. Moisten with a little tepid water (keep away from the beak), then gently tear this skin TOWARDS THE BLUNT END.
Stop if you see any bleeding because underneath is another membrane containing blood vessels. Put back in the brooder, and the chick may well do the rest. It is best if the chick does break the inner membrane because the blood vessels will cauterise themselves.
5) A chick stuck to the shell  may need yet more help. slowly tear the inner membrane TOWARDS THE BLUNT END. and removing more shell. Then roll the inner membrane back over the chicks body, freeing its head, and moisten the rest.The warm water will unstick the body. Back in the brooder.
6) The chick is now free, but attached by its navel to the blood vessels in the remaining 1/2 shell . Don`t intervene further but let the chick release itself.
You can injure the chick by interfering with the navel, which is why I`ve emphasised  always working to the blunt end of the egg The chick should decide when it can pull free from the umbillical blood supply..Rush it, and you risk hurting the chick.
7) If the chick has a bloody or raw navel, then keep it in the brooder way from the others till the navel has dried. The other chicks will often peck a raw navel with fatal results. Some say a red light helps avoid this.
The chick you have helped will most likely grow  healthy, and be indistinguishable from the others. Review and test your incubator temperature, humidity and turning, because these factors cause the problems. It is rarely the chick`s fault.
Better still, get a pure breed like a Cochin or Silky because these can be relied on to go broody and do all the work for you!
I hope this guide is helpful. With care, there will be no distress to the chick.
Rick


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