Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On My Watch - Chicks Hatching

As soon as the aviary light come on (6:30 AM), I provide fresh food for the parents to feed their chicks. A couple of hours later I make my rounds and look at each nest that is due to hatch. This chick is doing a fine job. Notices how sharp the egg edges are where he nibble away to gain his freedom.

He uses his neck muscles to raise the head and the shell, like a hinge, opens up and his head is free!

Out at last, this whole drama only took a few seconds!! It is important now to remove the old shells as you do not want them to cover any of the other two eggs that will be hatching soon.

I also turned him over and added a couple of plastic eggs for support.

In another nest, trouble was brewing!! Note the edges are not sharp but rather dented in and dry. This chick is trapped and without intervention this egg will never hatch!!

First I moistened the dry dented area and then gentle went slowly around the shell breaking the same middle area just like a normal chick would do.

Hopefully, the chick is ready but only trapped. If you see blood, it is not ready and if that happens I stop and put the egg back and hope that it will get the blood in the membrane absorbed and safe to help out later. In this case the blood had been absorbed and the chick was ready to hatch.

If any part of the shell is stuck to the chick, moisten with a little water before removing to avoid damaging the fragile chick.

If the egg yolk is not absorbed (called a yolker), the chick is premature and will likely die. This chick has absorbed the yolk and once back in the nest developed normally.

Don't you just love happy endings!!


Rich said...

Hi Linda, any idea what might cause chicks to die at four to five days old with green stomachs? Rich

Linda Hogan said...

Are the chicks normal color when hatched or are the yellowish? Do you notice a small spot on the abdomen when they hatch?Do you think it is "black spot"? Does the green color start in the liver area?

Peter said...

Why are so many chicks die this year in the nest? 5 to 8 days old.

The hens just sits on them and hardly ever gets off.

In the next cage there are 4 or 5 in the nest and just doing fine.

Are there deceases around I don't know about?


Linda Hogan said...


If you are losing chicks at that age, it is likely bacterial infection or too rich of diet.

Drop the protein. No plain hard boiled egg which should not be given straight after banding. Check the skin tone, is it red. Check the vents on the chicks and wash with water and open gently to be sure they are not sealed shut. Dilute the nestling food with more dry nestling food (ABBA Green 92, orlux etc). Feed greens and thawed frozen peas and corn.Put KD Powder in the water. If there is a foul smell you need antibiotics to treat E. coli.

If the hen is reluctant to get off the nest, use KD powder (Dr. Rob Marshall, ladygouldianfinch.com) in the water. Also give the hen privacy. Give two or three supplement feedings each day with Kaytee Exact all bird hand feeding formula.

I have been very fortunate and not lost any chicks this year. Quite a few got the KD Treamtent in the water.

Rich said...

Are the chicks normal color when hatched or are the yellowish? Do you notice a small spot on the abdomen when they hatch?Do you think it is "black spot"? Does the green color start in the liver area?

Hi Linda. The chicks were pink and looked fine until they died on the fourth or fifth day. They were nice and fuzzy until I came home from work to find them dead in the nest with a bright green spot that actually looked like a pea in thier stomach. It wasn't a black spot and didn't show up when hatched. I started using the organic aple cider vinegar in the water at a rate of three teasoons to a gallon of water and it seems to bew working with the new chicks. Rich

Linda Hogan said...


The organic (with sediment) apple cider vinegar is an effective way to acidify the crop which might just do the trick.

Where on the abdomen is the green spot located?

Anonymous said...

Those are two utterly stunning series of photographs and I for one am incredibly grateful to you for making the time to take them (you must have had six hands as well as incredible multitasking ability while those events were going on!) This year is my first try at breeding canaries and you've done a great job here of showing how to look carefully at what's going on. Thank you so much!

Rich said...

Where on the abdomen is the green spot located?

Linda, the gren spot appeared in the center of the stomach of the chicks. The new clutches of chicks that have hatched appear to be doing well. Rich