Should You Help Hatching Quail Out Of Their Shell?

There is alot 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.

I received a comment from Dave today asking if he should help the quail chick that had pipped the shell to hatch out.


I am hatching some chinese painted quails in an incubator. The chick has broken the egg and its beek is peeking out, it’s been like this for about 12 hours… Should i help it out of the egg?

(isle of man)

Hi Dave,
Thanks for visiting the farmingfriends website and leaving this question.
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 appear to be 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.
You say that the chick has been like this for 12 hours. 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.
I hope this information helps you make the right decision for you and that your chick is ok.
Kind regards
Sara @ farmingfriends

I am pleased to say that I have heard from Dave and the news is good.

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for the e-mail.

The advice was good. I now have a young Chinese painted quail running
around the brooder. He’s the only one from 3 eggs (2 weren’t fertile) so
we’ve called him Uno.

I still got more eggs to hatch hopefully this weekend so he’ll have some
friends soon I hope.

Thanks again

Do you have an opinion about whether we should help to hatch out chicks then please leave a comment.