Star Milling

Should I Help My Chick Hatch?

Poultry Help Hatching

Fertilized eggs take about 21 days of incubation to develop and hatch. The chicks will ultimately decide when they are ready to make their big debut in to the world.

Sometime around day 21 (give or take a couple days), the chicks will create a small crack on the surface of the eggshell called a “pip hole.” You may be able to see the tip of their beak also coming through. At this point, the chick will quietly rest, breathe oxygen, and wrap up the final stages of its development. Some novice poultry keepers get nervous after seeing a pip hole and no progress. Don’t panic, BE PATIENT! You can harm the chick if you interfere with the natural process and start to pick at the shell.

The time between a pip hole and final hatching can easily be 12 to 24 hours. As long as the pip hole is there, the chick can breathe and is not in any danger. Remember, the egg has been a comfy cozy home for your chick for 3 weeks—don’t rush to evict them!

The chick will start hatching in earnest when it’s good and ready (called “zipping”). It will make tiny cracks around the egg in a counter-clockwise direction until it is able to push itself out of the shell.

Unzipping usually happens fairly quickly, although again, BE PATIENT.

Some people assist their chicks with hatching. That is risky. It should only be attempted in unique circumstances, and if you have extensive understanding of chick development and the hatching process. Trust in Mother Nature and the chicks’ natural instincts. More harm than good can come from assisted hatching and chicks can easily be lost.

Visit our Simple Tips for Thriving Chicks page to learn how to care for your new peeping balls of fluff.