One of the most memorable and mesmerizing parts of any chicken raiser’s journey is the first crack or pip of a baby chick’s egg.
I still remember the growing anticipation, checking the chick’s progress every five minutes!
But, anyone who’s done this before will tell you, you simply have to be patient!
Still, as a chicken-raising newbie, it’s totally normal to ask yourself: just how long does it take for a chick to hatch after the first crack or pip?!
Here’s exactly what you need to know to calm your nerves, and some other tips to help a successful and healthy hatch.
How Long Does It Take for A Chick To Hatch After the First Crack?
There’s no point checking on your baby chicks’ progress hatching out of their egg every five minutes. It’s a much more lengthy process for these little creatures.
After all, the hatching of a baby chick from an egg is the first test that it’s healthy and strong enough to enter the outer world.
In fact, it’s completely normal for a chick to hatch after 6 – 8 hours from the first crack, or “pip”.
Some chicks may hatch in less time, but it’s also not out of the question for it to take up to 24 hours either – it all depends on the strength of the chick and the composition of the eggshell.
Chick Having Trouble Cracking Their Egg?
It’s always a good sign to see a pip or crack in the egg of one of your hatching chicks.
Generally, this is the hardest point of the egg-hatching process, as the baby chicks have to hit the inner eggshell enough with their egg tooth to make an opening.
From here, they will normally try to make a zipper-like crack, referred to as the zip.
If your chick has been stuck on the same egg-hatching stage for a few hours, don’t worry. It’s a long process and baby chicks may simply be regaining their energy and preparing for the next stage.
At the final stage, with its remaining energy, the chick will make a final push with its feet and burst out of the egg.
Should You Help Baby Chicks Hatch Out Of Their Egg?
Although it’s quite a heated topic in the community, there’s a general consensus that you should NOT help baby chicks hatch out of their egg.
Baby chicks hatching from their eggs is a very normal process and should be easily manageable for them. Baby chicks should have the energy, strength, willingness, and equipment (egg tooth) to do so.
If a baby chick cannot break out of its eggshell, then it’s highly likely it won’t be strong enough to make it any further in life.
However, like anything, every situation is different.
As a chicken raiser, it is your decision as to whether you want to assist any struggling chicks. However, it’s highly recommended to simply let the baby chick make it on their own.
How To Help A Baby Chick Hatch Out Of Their Egg Safely
There are some circumstances where it can be considered OK to assist a baby chick in its hatching.
As a general rule, this should only be done if the chick has made it to the final stages of hatching, having already pipped open the egg and made significant cracks too.
In this situation, if you wish to proceed with assisted hatching, you can help a chick out of its egg safely by:
- Dipping a clean washcloth in warm water, squeezing out all excess moisture.
- Wrapping the egg in the damp washcloth to soften the shell membrane. Do not pull any bits of the egg off the chick as it can easily cause damage.
- Instead, gently remove any surrounding bits of the shell. If the egg doesn’t crack easily, it means it’s still too dry and you’ll have to repeat steps 1-2 to break down the shell’s integrity.
- Using your fingers or tweezers, peel away bits of moistened membrane away from the chick.
- Once you get a live chick out of the egg, wrap it in a dry cotton cloth.
- Put the chick back in the incubator so it can rest and get warm.
Note: never try to help a baby chick out of its egg that hasn’t already pipped or cracked the shell. At this stage of the hatching process, it’s a certainty that the baby chick isn’t ready or hasn’t finished developing.
Do All Chicks Hatch After The First Crack?
Most of the time, if a baby chick is able to develop to the pipping stage and make the first crack, it’s healthy and strong enough to hatch on its own.
It’s very rare that a chick will not hatch out of its egg if it’s made the first crack, but it is entirely possible.
This can be due to incubator adjustments, the position of the egg (if it’s being blocked all around), or an inherent problem with the baby chick itself.
Unfortunately, this is the way of life, and as a chicken owner, you need to accept the possibility of a loss in the flock, whether they are babies or adults.
Celebrate those that make it and honor those who don’t.
The good news is the vast majority of baby chicks that manage to make their first pip or crack in the egg will go on to hatch healthily.
However, the process from the first pip to a complete hatch can take anywhere from 6 – 8 hours. It very often can take a shorter time than this, but it’s just as likely that it can take up to about 24 hours!
Don’t feel the urge to try to assist any chicks in hatching, as the hatching process it’s natures own way of ensuring the baby chicks are strong and healthy enough to take on the outside environment.
However, if one of your chicks has made it to the final stages and seems to have gotten stuck, then you can either be a little more patient or carefully assist.
Happy chicken raising!