Seeing a chicken egg crack is a fantastic experience. But do you know, exactly, when a chick should come out of its shell once it is cracked? I will guide you through all the procedures you need to know “from pip to chick” to increase your success rate and get healthy chicks.
As a general rule, it takes 5 to 7 hours for a chick to entirely hatch after the first crack or pip appears on the egg. In some cases, it can take up to 24 hours, and it’s concerning when eggs remain unhatched for 40-60 hours after cracking, as chick health will greatly suffer.
A healthy hatch is a must for getting high-quality chicks, so keep reading further to know more about egg hatching and provide your poultry business a valuable boost.
How Long After An Egg Has Pipped Should It Hatch?
A pipped egg should hatch in about 24 hours. But normally, they hatch in a 12 to 18 hours time period and at the most may take up to 48 hours.
But what exactly is a pipped egg?
When an embryo starts tapping the eggshell from inside and makes a hole in the shell, this egg is now called a pipped egg. Pipping is of two types:
- Internal pipping: As oxygen demand increases, the embryo puts its head under the right-wing and makes a hole in the inner membrane that separates egg contents from the air cell, and starts breathing.
- External pipping: As air cell oxygen is consumed, the embryo starts tapping the eggshell from inside, gradually breaking it.
As the embryo grows old, demand for oxygen and nutrition increases with it. Until a stage comes when it cannot sustain itself inside the egg as the resources are limited.
Around about 18 days yolk sac starts to reduce which is the main source of nutrition for the embryo inside the egg. At the same time, the gaseous exchange which was happening through diffusion from the chorioallantoic membrane also known as CAM cannot fulfill the needs of the embryo.
This triggers the embryo to start using its lungs for breathing, which it does by internal pipping to reach the air cell. As oxygen in the air cell also exhausts, the embryo goes for external pipping, resulting in hatching.
I will not recommend you to assist a chick while it’s hatching. Normally, when a chick hatches, blood vessels surrounding the chick get dry. But you never know if all of them are dried or not, so by pulling the shell ahead of time you may damage a major blood vessel which may be lethal to the chick.
Helping a chick that cannot hatch on its own may not be rewarding as these chicks mostly die, even if they live they are weak and prone to disease, if you are running a poultry business I will suggest discarding such chicks in a humane way.
Hatching a pipped egg is not an easy task, so keep reading to know more, so you can get better results.
If it’s been more than 3 days since the egg pipped, but no movement is observed, then you should step in, but with great care.
Some indications that the chick may not hatch itself and needs your help are,
- If a pipped egg is not moving for several hours, more than 48 hours, mostly.
- If the membranes around the chick seem to get dry.
- Membranes may contract around the chick if humidity is not proper.
You can spray some water on the egg to increase humidity and soften the membranes, but if it doesn’t work, you should help the chick manually.
Work patiently around the chick by slowly pulling the shell back. Take great care, not to pull any blood vessel with the shell. Remove the shell in small pieces.
If membranes seem tough gently rupture them without damaging the chick. All these procedures may not always be rewarding.
I will tell you some simple ways from which you can easily judge if your chicken eggs are near to hatching or not.
- Peeping sounds or clicking sounds that embryos produce are good indicators that eggs are going to hatch soon. If the environment is quiet, you can listen to these sounds.
- Internal pipping is also a good indicator that eggs will hatch soon. You may need a candler or a torch to observe internal pipping.
A chicken egg weighs about 50 to 70 grams and a day-old chick weighs about 35 to 42 grams, so under normal circumstances eggs, don’t get heavier before they hatch.
Eggs have microscopic pores on the surface that allow some moisture from the egg to evaporate, and eggs tend to get lighter as the embryo grows. Weight loss due to evaporation during the incubation stage is about 12%.
More or less, it takes 12 to 24 hours for the external pip or cracks to appear on the egg’s surface following the internal pip. But how does a chick able to crack such a hard shell?
Chicks have a special structure on their beak know as an “egg tooth”. This is a temporary structure. Chicks use this egg tooth for tapping and chipping the shell from inside, resulting in a crack. Chick cracking out of egg also uses a special muscle present in its neck known as “pipping muscle”, which provides the necessary strength required for pipping.
This video is worth a long explanation:
After pipping comes zipping, it is when a chick rotates inside the egg, chipping the shell in a circle. When it is rotated ¾ of the circle, it will stretch its legs and move its wings to crack open the egg completely.
I will tell you some tips so your chicken’s eggs can hatch soon after they crack.
- Shift the eggs to the hatcher in the last 2 to 3 days. If you don’t have a hatcher, there is nothing to worry about, you can use hatching baskets. A cloth or a rough paper may also be useful as alternatives.
- Cloth or paper should be kept away from the heating source and should not cover the vents.
- Reduce the temperature by 1°F when the eggs are in the hatcher.
- Relative humidity should be between 65-70%.
- If you don’t have a humidifier you can place wet towels or wet cotton balls around the eggs but make sure they do not touch the eggs.
- Stop turning chicken eggs on day 18th of the incubation.
Keeping the surroundings quiet around hatching eggs will result in the early hatch because the embryos as they get near to hatching they start making sounds known as peeping or clicking sounds. If surroundings are quiet and hatching eggs are kept close to each other embryos can listen to these sounds and may even communicate. This provides a hatching stimulus to the embryos they start the movement. Although less is known about this phenomenon.
In a nutshell
- From pip to chick it takes 5 to 7 hours normally, but can be up to 24 hours.
- External pipping causes the crack or pip to form on the shell.
- The egg tooth is used by the chick to crack the eggshell.
- Chick uses its lungs for breathing after internal pip for the first time.
- Never help a hatching chick until or unless it’s more than 48 hours.
- If running a poultry business, discard chicks that can’t hatch on their own in a humane way, as they will not perform in the future.
- Humidity plays a key role in early hatching.
- A silent environment definitely helps for an early hatch.
- Duck eggs take more time to hatch than chicken eggs after the first pip.
- If your help is required for hatching, then be gentle and patient.
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