Operation hatch: A helping hand

The three chicks in our brooder were getting on famously when we returned home last night. Warming themselves under the lamp, eating tiny pieces of boiled egg, drinking independently and dashing around trying out their legs – it’s amazing how capable they are at just a day old. This was a delight to see and over in the incubator there was even more action. Two of the latest deliveries were becoming stronger and had fluffed up beautifully, so we placed them in the brooder with their older siblings. The most recent hatchling remained in the incubator as he wasn’t yet strong enough to socialise with the others.

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Staggeringly, three days after they were due to hatch, two more eggs were showing all the signs of an attempted escape. Whether you assist or not is a contentious topic – last time we incubated, back in 2010, we helped a tiny chick out if its shell and he lived for only a week, sadly. Yesterday, we talked through the pros and cons as we looked on at their efforts and eventually decided that, if left, they would probably die in the shell, being such late comers, so it was best we take the risk. I held the incubator lid hovering over the box so as to protect the eggs and the tiny chick (who had hatched but wasn’t yet strong enough to go into the brooder) from draughts and maintain maximum humidity and heat while James did a brilliant job in very carefully taking away the shell and dampening the membrane beneath, eventually releasing each small, bedraggled and very tired hatchling. They were both a little bloody and showed some abnormality around their vents, but we wanted to give them a chance. When we headed to bed, the two latest deliveries were looking unlikely to make it. This morning, however, they are fluffier (see below) and hopefully going to be healthy, but we will take a view this evening – we don’t want them to suffer if their organs aren’t fully formed. But their slightly older brother may well be ready to join the other gang tonight. To be continued…

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One thought on “Operation hatch: A helping hand

  1. O I hate it when that happens, and I’ve done both, sometimes the’re fine, and just needed a hand, and other times the’res a reason. But you never know, unless you try.Good luck with the latecomers Nic x

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