Posted by: savayla | July 31, 2010

How to get a chicken out of an egg

Yes, that is what happened to us.  After waiting the required 21 days, the egg was still sitting there .  The normal lightbulb had burnt out two days before it was due, so we put another, strong one, but rigged it up so that the heat was perfect.  But, we realised that we had messed up twice with the heat. It is meant to stay at a constant 38 degrees and have some water for moisture.  Once it went up to 42 degrees and one night Savannah had sleptwalked and opened the lid, and it went down to 32 degrees.   So we thought that it had either been fried or died from the cold.  Of course, we kept these thoughts to ourselves.  But were preparing Savannah for the eventuality that it would not hatch, and things do go wrong in the egg.

Day 24.  Time: 10:30 pm.  Place:  In bed reading.

We were just about to switch off our bedside lamps, and go to sleep when we heard a distinctive “cheep” and a small cracking sound.  We both froze, looked at the box, looked at each other, and dived out of bed.  Opening up the incubator (which is a home-made one ) we saw the little crack.  In chicken people’s language, it had pipped.   I ran downstairs to wake up the girls.  They would not believe me.  I had to force them upstairs.   We then pulled out the trundle bed, they got their pillows and we all settled down to wait for the chicken to hatch.  And we waited, and waited.  We went onto the internet, we paced, we eventually went to sleep.  Seriously, by 1:30 nothing had happened and we read that it can take between 3-24 hours from when it has pipped, to hatch.

Next morning, nothing.  Lunch time, nothing.  Dinnertime , nothing.

The egg once it had pipped

Back onto the internet.  It should have started cracking more of its shell.  It should have done more than just the original pip.  We knew it was still alive, as we would occassionally hear a “cheep” and if not for a while, I would lightly flutter my fingertips over the egg and it would cheep a few times.  We read that often a chick is too weak, or too big, or that the membrane is not soft enough due to not enough moisture .  But you should never interfere as it needs to do it by itself as it strengthens them.

After dinner, 8:30 pm and we knew that we had to make a decision.  All the sites except one, said there is nothing to do, not to even think about trying to take a chick out of its egg as there are 3 membranes, and the last one is connected to the chicks blood vessels.  If you tear it, then it can bleed to death if the chick has not cut off this flow yet.   But we could not just sit there and leave it to die.  We told Savannah that either we interfere and it lives, interfere and it dies, or leave it and it dies.  She said to go for it.

I sterlized the flat tipped tweezers, and had warm water and an earbud.  I was ready.

By grabbing a bit of the loose shell and pulling it away, I eventually had a small hole where we could see its beak.  Then I carefully grabbed an edge of the shell and pressed down to crush it , and went on slowly like that, small piece by small piece.  After 10 minutes, a large hole, I put it back into the nest, and waited for it to try again.  Nothing.  It seemed to be exhausted.  I had identified the 3 layers, the shell being the first.  There was a little trickle of watery blood once, and I stopped immediately.  But that was all.  As I was doing this, I would also keep the second membrane wet with the warm water and earbud.

Me carefully chipping away at the egg

I did as much as I thought I should, and its head, wing and one foot was free.  So put it back into the warm incubator, and once again we waited with baited breath.

Removing more of the shell

Waiting to see if it can make the final break from the egg.

It was just too exhausted after trying to get out for 20 hours.  It just lay there, breathing heavily.  And so I decided to have another go.

Here is most of it. I left the back part of the shell still on. The chick just lay there. Luckily it had absorbed the egg yolk, as you can see by its large abdomen.

I then picked it up again.  I must admit I was getting tired and would not make a  good surgeon. You can’t really stop in the middle of an operation and go home to sleep.  And then it just plopped out of the last piece of shell , totally exhausted.

an exhausted sleep after the whole ordeal.

Well, we did not know if it would survive after this.  It seemed to not be able to walk, its head was floppy, and it would just close its eyes.  We hung around for 2 more hours, transferred it from the incubator into the brooding box, and then all went to bed.  Kyle and I woke up about 3 times during the night to check on it.  The next morning it was still alive, but still not walking properly.  When we picked it up, its head would flop over.  We wondered if it was brain damaged.  But it was cute and fluffy.

Fast asleep snuggled up to its teddy bear.

After 24 hours, it did not seem to improve much, and we were like zombies, waking up a few times during the night to check on the temperature.  The temperature must be taken down a degree a day for the first week.  And one night, as we were about to go to sleep, the electricity went off.  Kyle spent the whole night until 3am awake, changing hot water bottles for the chick to keep warm.  By the 3rd day, it seemed to suddenly get a new wind, and started walking properly without flopping down, and keeping its head up.

I am happy to say, that it is now a feisty litter critter who loves Savannah, its new mama.  She walks around with it snuggled up under her neck with  a scarf.  Hopefully our zombie like state will improve too.

Chippie running up Ayla's arm

A happy mama

At the dinner table

So now you know it can be done.  Here is the link for how to do it properly

And now we have to work out how it is going to go camping with us in December !!!



  1. LOL, leave it up to you to make hatching out a chick so entertaining!!

    I love that Savannah has had the opportunity to live out her dream of hatching and raising her own chick. Looks like that’s going to wind up being the world’s most spoiled chicken! 🙂

    • I know you do this all the time, so you must have thought it funny. I told Savannah that the next eggs are either under a chicken, or we get them already hatched. Too nerve wracking !!!

      • or should that have been too nerve- cracking!!! What a wonderful way to see how a chicken is born. Those girls will never forget that experience.

  2. just wanted to sign up to get email updates on the blog as I am working enki into my home as well.


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