Our chicks are almost ready to hatch! The action should start tomorrow, Thursday, July 20th, though it’s possible some chicks may start hatching earlier or later. We’ll have someone here from Drumlin Farm tomorrow at 10:30 am to explain more about the process of hatching, which can take a chick up to 36 hours!
Can’t make it tomorrow? Don’t worry! We’ve set up a livestream of the incubator so that we can all check on their progress from home. Read on for more information about the process of hatching.
From Pip to Zip to Chick
The first step of hatching is called “pipping.” First, the chicks will pip into the air sacs within the eggs – we won’t see anything on the outside at this point, but we might be able to hear some chirping. Our chicks are likely already internally pipped, taking their first breaths of oxygen through the air sacs.
Next, the chicks will pip their egg shells – this is when we’ll see cracks in the eggs for the first time. The chicks crack the eggs using an “egg tooth,” a tiny horn-like projection at the tip of the beak that falls off shortly after hatching.
The first external pip is so exhausting for the baby chicks that they need to rest for up to 8 hours afterward! Once rested, the chicks will then rotate themselves within the eggs, using their egg teeth to chip the shells thousands of times, creating a “shell cap.” This part, known as “zipping,” can take the chicks up to 5 hours!
Once their shell caps have been created, the chicks will attempt to straighten their necks and break free from their shells by pushing against the shell caps. This usually takes about 40 minutes for the chicks to do. Again, the chicks will be tired after all of that hard work! After a short rest, they will then use their head and feet to push their way out of the shells.
When the chicks first emerge from their shells they will be wet and exhausted, again requiring more rest. They’ll rest in the incubator for another day or so until they dry off and their feathers fluff up. Then they’ll be moved to their pen here in the library, where they’ll stay for about two weeks before they return to the farm.
We hope you’ve been enjoying the chick-hatching process at the library as much as we have! We’ll keep the camera on the chicks while they’re here, so you’ll be able to see them grow over the two weeks. Stay tuned!