Should You Assist Chicks During Hatching?


chick assisted hatch

It's summer, and incubators are abuzz with activity as backyard chicken breeders are hatching batch after batch of chicks.

Day 21 of incubation is always an exciting time. You can hear cheeping and eggshells are cracking, and your new chicks are coming out one by one — except the ones that don't.

Raising chickens is a precarious journey of loss and rebound. You can do everything right and still lose birds, because that's life. There is rarely 100 percent success in egg hatching. It's expected, but still it's heart-wrenching when a chick breaks through the shell and then gets stuck. Then you, too, are stuck in a dilemma: should you help? Or should you let nature take its course?

Here's my take on this: By popping those eggs in the incubator, you have already strayed from nature's course. There are many reasons to use an incubator, including timing, quantity, and reliability, but no matter what, I have always found that hatching rates are better with a reliable broody that keeps perfect conditions of temperature and humidity.

In other words, if something goes amiss during hatching in the incubator, it's usually my "fault". Maybe the temperature was too low or the humidity not high enough. Either way, it's my responsibility to help all the chicks that possibly have a chance of making it.

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