Helping Quail Chicks

Do you have any advice on helping quail chicks hatch out? There is a lot of debate about whether you should help a quail chick or any chick out of their shell. I believe it is up to the individual to assess their own situation and decide if they are going to intervene or not. We have had an email about helping a quail out of the shell.

Hi, I have just had to help a Quail chick out of it’s shell. It had cracked a hole and I could see it’s beak, but then nothing else happened for a good 3-4 hours, and normally quail don’t take that long to hatch. I was worried it would dry out inside the shell so I carefully peeled back only half the shell, then it managed to wriggle out of the rest. It is now not walking properly and it’s feet are curled round, it is just lying on it’s side trying to move.

Have I caused this or will it get better?
Thanks Nicole x

Hi Nicole,
I hope that your quail chick is ok. It sounds like the chick could just be exhausted.
Chicks often wriggle about trying to move when they have been helped out. Let me know if
the chicks feet are still curled as you can help to uncurl them. Did any other chicks
Just to let  you know that I have a free forum with a section on quail and incubating where members can chat and ask questions.
Hope all well with the chick.
Keep me posted.
Kind regards
sara @ farmingfriends

All the books and research says that you shouldn’t help chicks out of the shell and that opening the incubator can affect the rest of the eggs hatching.

I have not had to help quail hatch as they managed to all hatch at the same time and relatively easily.

I have however had to help many a guinea fowl and more recently ducks out of their shell. In fact I have 7 ducklings that are now 4 weeks old and if I hadn’t have helped them out of their shells then I would only have one. All the ducklings are growing well and are healthy.
From experience I have found that if a chick has not hatched itself within a few hours then I have found that they often die in the shell as the heat in the incubator dries up the shell and membrane and makes it difficult for the chicks to hatch.
If you do decide to help the chick out, remove the egg from the incubator quickly and cupping the egg in your hand to keep it warm carefully start to pick off the shell from where the egg has pipped as this is where the chicks beak is.

I have always had to work quickly although you have to be very careful that the blood vessels in the shell don?t bleed as this can kill the chick.

When I help a chick out I try to pick the shell off the head part first and work my way down. I never take all the shell off as the chick is attached to the shell at the base.

I usually take the top off and try to make sure that the chicks head, wings and body are free.

It is important to make sure that the chick can move about because once it goes back in the incubator the membrane and shell dry out and can get stuck to the chick.

I then put the chick and attached shell back in the incubator and let the chick wriggle free in it’s own time.
Sometimes the guinea fowl keets have made it and sometimes they have still died.
Another thing to consider is once you have opened the incubator the temperature and humidity will be affected and this could stop other chicks from hatching.
If you decide that you are going to open the incubator I would just check that you can see movement from the chick otherwise you will have affected the incubator conditions and the chick could already be dead.

Let us know if you have any tips for helping quail chicks out of the shell.
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