When can you help a chicken egg hatch?
Do NOT help your chicken out of its shell!!! It needs to do it by itself! If you help a chicken out of its shell then it could get sick or even die. The chicken knows what to do. Some people think that its ok but don't listen to them! Its not ok! It will normally take a chicken almost the whole day to come out of its shell after you have heard it pip! If it takes longer than that then you can help the chicken out of its shell because theres nothing else you can do except hope it will live!
A good indicator of when to help (besides the peeping and moving lessening) is if you see that the pipped area has a very very white membrane showing through at the edges. Most intervention is required because of humidity issues.
When the chick pips its beak externally the drying process of the membrane really kicks in. And drying makes it nearly impossible for the chick to move around to "zip" the rest of the shell.
Here's what you need:
Have WARM water handy
Really Really WET WARM washcloth
DULL tweezers-not sharp and pointy
An eyedropper, or q-tips, or medicine dropper
Here's what you do:
Remove your egg from bator keeping in mind to turn off any air cconditioning and fans. You want your room as warm as you can stand. (Do not worry about the chick cooling off too much if the room is fairly warm. I have had mine out of the bator for up to 1/2 hour working on the shell and membrane-and the chicks are alive and healthy today). And do NOT be afraid to open and close the incubator-just keep adding wet cloths to the bator to keep humidity up.
Using your dull tipped tweezers, carefully start at the pip already created and lift ONLY the shell (like a boiled egg-but try hard to NOT include any membrane in your peeling of the shell) and to work around the shell. The best process is to take a bit in the tweezers and PINCH the shell and it will break in very small pieces gradually creating a neat little "zip". The key is to pinch small areas at a time and not remove huge sections. Your goal is to imitate what the chick would do under normal circumstances.
Zip the shell around the end where the chick started pipping-it should be at the large end of the egg, but sometimes they will pip at the small pointy end or even in the middle.
As you help zip the shell carefully take your warm water dropper etc. and "bathe" the membrane occassionally to start softening it up. Be very very carefull not to drop water or soak the area of the beak. You do not want to drop water in the nostrils and drown the chick.
If for any reason you see blood from the membrane-STOP. Put the egg back in the bator, and wrap the very wet, warm washcloth around the exposed zip you have created. Be careful to not completely cover the beak, but cover as much of the exposed membrane as you can to soften it up. Lay the pipped BEAK area on its side or facing up-not facing down-keep in mind the chick is breathing AIR at this point and will need to have an open uncovered access to breathe.
Leave the baby in the bator for an hour or two longer. Then try repeating the process until you have zipped entirely around the egg. The MOST important object is to get the membrane very soft like it should have been for the chick to make its way out by softening it in the warm washcloth.
In VERY difficult cases, over a period of hours, you can, in steps, do this process and remove almost ALL of the shell and soak the membrane in the wet washcloth in the incubator. You also can (using your judgment) decide to help remove the membrane itself, but do not do that too early in the shell removing process (you can email me for more directions on the membrane).
All in all, you need to be very confident to intervene like this. If you are too scared or iffy about it, you may want to just wait it out. But honestly, if you wait and the chick gets quieter and stiller, chances are you will loose it without doing some intervention.
So you know it really does work, I have hatched out MANY like this myself. Once they make the pip and can't zip, the membrane rapidly dehydrates. Also, some chicks are just WAY to big for their shells and cannot physically move around to do the zipping and then they die in one spot having been unable to rotate. I found that several difficult chciks are actually the largest ones-the smaller "runt" chicks have literally kicked their way out like they were kickboxing.
I "gave birth" to, or hatched 2 chicks out COMPLETELY in my hand by using this method above AND removing the membrane (email or ask for those membrane directions). And I have also helped way more zip using the above method. They are alive and thriving as I speak-so it can be done! I am not a person who is willing to sit and listen to my bator get quieter and quieter as the chicks die in their shells. But, as I stated, you must choose what you feel is best for your situation, and be sure and ask if you are not sure when to intervene-there are many here on the BYC that have a wealth of info.