We had 2 eggs in the incubator for 21 days, little bantam eggs. Candling at day 5 proved that they were both viable, with tiny heart beats visible through the shell. After 21 days they were ready to hatch. We only have a cheap incubator, something which I plan to replace with a much better model next year. Keeping temperature and humidity at the recommended levels was proving hard throughout the incubation process. I don’t think the temperature readings were accurate at all, and there was no way of measuring humidity so the whole incubation felt like guess work. We previously hatched Quail in a different incubator, and it felt much easier then.
On day 20 one of the eggs had started to pip (where the beak of the bird starts to poke a hole), but I very quickly noticed a problem. Normally the baby bird starts to pip from the bigger end of the egg where the air cell is found, but this baby had decided to come out from the pointy end. Something I blame on the totally inaccurate incubator. After nearly 2 days of no more progress from the baby chicken I decided to call my dad for help. He knows his stuff when it comes to poultry (well all birds actually) and he advised me that the chicken would need some help arriving.
If I was to leave the egg it was pretty much guaranteed that the bird would die from exhaustion. I had to at least try and help the poor thing out of its shell, but with intervention can also come death, from stress of being handled and being out of the incubator while help is being given. The chick can be born too quickly and active blood vessels (which are sealed off during a normal hatch) could be torn causing the chick to bleed to death. So, NO PRESSURE THEN.
The slow and nerve wracking process began by removing tiny chips of the shell giving the baby more space to breathe and work its way out. After removing some of the shell I could see that the baby was in a really strange position and there wasn’t much chance of the chick making itself out with only a small amount of help. Fast forwards a few nervous hours and the horrible sight of a bleeding chick (one of those little veins tore, but we managed to stop the bleeding) the baby bird finally flopped out into my hand. The baby needed complete assistance and I did not have high hopes of it surviving. The whole experience felt like trauma, to us and the bird.
I placed the baby back into the incubator and I felt sick with nerves. I had delivered this tiny thing and I was certain death was around the corner. But after an hour it was trying to stand, after 2 hours it was cheaping loudly, and after 3 hours it was a super active bundle of fluff.
The baby has now been moved into a crate with a Brooder Hen plate (a hot plate on legs which the chick hides under for warmth) and we are now on day 4 of life. So far it is doing well. It’s noisy, it’s fluffy, it’s cute. Of course, things can change and such fragile birds can go downhill quickly, but we have high hopes for this little dude.
Welcome Bantam Mc Bantam-face, the breech C-section baby who really was one lucky chick!
While our baby was a success, I DO NOT recommended ever helping a chick during the hatching process unless you really know what you are doing, have sought professional advice and you are 100% sure intervention is needed.