Our first dorkings of the year are chirping merrily away in their brooder. Almost all of them hatched on their own with absolutely no help which is the way I like it. About five chicks needed help. These stragglers took so long to get out of their eggs that the egg membrane died and stuck to them making it impossible for them to move.
It’s very easy to help a chick hatch. You just gently break the egg shell and remove it bit by bit. I put warm water on the dried membrane and rub it until it starts to loosen and come off the chick. Sometimes this can take a while if it’s really dry and sometimes you have to help the chick free its wings from its face or some other awkwardly glued position.
There is a lot of controversy about helping chicks hatch. Many people believe that only a weak chick won’t hatch on its own and therefore it should be allowed to die so that you don’t propagate bad genetics. This Nazi-ish attitude is actually very important for good animal breeding. A superior race should be established…at least with chickens… Well and really you don’t want one race (breed) of chickens, you want a huge diversity of breeds, but you want to breed the best within each breed.
I agree with the slow hatch = weak chick concept, but sometimes I think that handler error is also responsible for a slow hatch. Maybe the humidity was off or the temp was off or something else. Incubators aren’t as good at hatching out chicks as their mama is. So I help chicks hatch. Sometimes they don’t survive. One of the dorkings I helped hatch tonight will almost certainly be dead in the morning unless God performs a miracle. The others range from chirpingly energetic to very lethargic. My opinion is that the weak chicks won’t survive whether you help them hatch or not. But a perfectly healthy chick may get stuck in its egg simply from the unnatural process of artificial incubation so why not give it a chance?
*Update: Only one chick died. Yippee!