Handling Hatching Emergencies

| 2/21/2017 9:30:00 AM


Spring is approaching fast, and baby chick season with it. This is an exciting time for every owner of a self-reproducing flock, whether you hatch chicks in an incubator or let your broodies do the job.

As much as we all want the setting and hatching process to go smoothly, it is not for the faint-hearted. Chicks are delicate creatures, and if you hatch any amount of them you are bound to lose some. It is essential to be mentally prepared, as the disappointment can be heart-wrenching, especially if we are talking about pure-bred specimens you have fought tooth and nail to breed, or rare eggs you had barely been able to get your hands on.

In some cases, there is nothing to do but stand back and let nature take its course. Here, however, is a short list of common hatching emergencies which we have encountered over the years as chicken owners, and have been able to solve:

Broody abandons some of the eggs in the final stages of hatching. It may happen that one or two eggs hatch later than the others, either because they were added to the clutch later or because they have received, on average, less body heat than their counterparts, which may somewhat slow the hatching process. In this case the broody will sometimes get up from her nest and walk away with the already-hatched chicks, leaving the rest of the eggs to their fate.

It may also be that those eggs are late to hatch because they contain weak or deformed chicks, but if you candle them and see a viable chick, it is worth trying to give them a chance. Your options are:

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