› Days 20 and 21


Chick hatching pictures :
the Big Day has arrived!


After nearly three weeks of waiting and watching, you're about to see your chick hatching - hooray!

You'll soon be meeting your chick for the first time.  Are you ready?


Here's what to expect during the very final stages of the hatching process.  All the pictures are of my own Wheaten Marans chick, Buffy, hatching.  She has featured on this series from day 1 all the way through to here - just a few minutes after she'd hatched.

Hatched chick, day 21

Welcome, Buffy!

The final stages - pipping to hatching.

This is it - the moment you've been waiting for!  Don't expect it all to happen quickly, or exactly 'on time' though - the chick will decide for herself when she's ready.

Chicken embryo days 20 and 21


What's going on behind the shell?

On day 20 the yolk finishes being absorbed fully into the chick.  This is what makes it possible for hatchlings to be able to survive without food or water for several hours. 

Here's the final view of what the embryo would look like if you opened the egg now. 

The beak is poised to start pecking through the shell and, apart from the air cell, the embryo is completely filling the egg. 

Inside a hatching egg day 20

As the 'egg tooth' starts to penetrate the membrane, the lungs are fully working and breathe in that all-important air from the air cell.

It's at this point that you may start to see a hole in the shell as the chick begins to break through with its egg tooth - which will fall of a couple of days after hatching.

Day 21 - for the most part - is hatch day, although some chicks hold on and don't hatch exactly on time.  Don't worry too much about this, and don't try to open the shell.  Doing so before the yolk is completely absorbed will kill the embryo.

If all is going to plan, the chick now begins to do some serious 'pipping', or breaking through.  It uses its wing as a guide and its legs to propel it, working in a circular motion to create a hole which will eventually be large enough for it to squeeze its legs through and push!


What can we see during these final two days?

Day 20 : Let pipping begin!  

The egg hasn't been candled now for three days in order to allow the chick move into the proper position for hatching, so the first outward sign we see will be a tiny crack on the surface of the eggshell.

It's exciting!

Chick hatching : first pip


But wait - is this chick hatching upside down??

When I first saw the 'pip' on this egg facing the bottom of the incubator, I nearly collapsed with anxiety.  What should I do?  Would the chick hatching be able to breathe?  Would it be able to take the weight of the egg on top of it?  How would it cope?

Chick hatching upside down!


I needn't have worried - and neither should you.  The chick knows what it's doing.  It is facing the right way, whatever that way might be, and it will hatch without any help from you.

So - do nothing.  Allow nature to take its course and all will be fine.


And then there's a chick?

Not often as quickly as that!

Imagine if you were the chick.  You've been sitting quite comfortably in your egg for the past three weeks when suddenly, you have to do some very hard work!

It's a tiring process and there will be a lot of rest periods before it finally hatches.  The average length of time between pipping and chick hatching is between twelve and eighteen hours - in some cases longer. 

Again - don't worry.  Let nature take its course.


Day 21 : from pip to chick.

I was nearly beside myself with worry by this stage.  The first pip had been eighteen hours before.  What had happened to the chick?  Had it died?  Had I got the temperature or the humidity levels completely wrong?  Had I candled too often?  Should I open the incubator and have a look?

And then, all of a sudden - this happened.

Hatching eggs : second pip

The chick had started to work in earnest.  The hole began to increase bit by bit.

More anxiety - was it going the right way?  Was the humidity in the incubator too high?  Too low?  I had to force myself to remember the saying : "Let nature take its course".  The chick knew exactly what it was doing.

15 minutes in the life of a hatching chick

So although the chick needed to rest a little in between pipping, she was almost completely hatched within the next fifteen minutes.  She then needed another rest, this time for several minutes, before the final push.


And then ...

Watching this final stage of the chick hatching is fascinating.  She won't necessarily 'unzip' any further, but will use her body and her legs to push the shell apart.

It's very, very tempting to want to help out - but this is an absolute no-no.  She knows what she's doing - just be patient!

Hatching chick day 21 : the chick is nearly out of the egg


8.28 - Hatched!

Wet, exhausted and looking almost bald, the chick has arrived. 

Hatching chick, a few minutes after coming out of her shell

How long the chick should stay in the incubator is a matter of personal judgement.  This chick and her sister, who hatched almost at the same time, were more than happy to rest and sleep.  They didn't move around much for several hours, so they were left for about 24 hours before being moved to the brooder.

And - by the way - the little black chick here came safely out of the egg which started to pip upside down - see the pic here.

Hatching is tiring work!

And that's it!  You've hatched chicks successfully, and you've been able to follow what was going on inside the egg.  Congratulations!


Where would you like to go now?

If you want to have another look at this chick hatching, this link will take you back to the top of the page.

Or, if you've missed the first three stages of the hatch process, click on any of these pictures to go to the relevant page.

Click to return to days 1 - 7 of the hatching process
Hatch patterns link days 8 to 13
Hatch patterns link to days 14 to 19

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Link to Raising Happy Chickens home page.