Miracle Chick poses with Bluesy.
This is Miracle Chick, a chicken with a story to tell. He was hatched in late September of last year, and he had a hard time getting out of his egg. After many of the other eggs had hatched, he was still trapped in his eggshell. Chicks are supposed to pip a hole in their egg with their beak, and then “unzip” the eggshell by turning and pecking until the eggshell breaks in half and the chick simply leaves the eggshell behind by hopping away (newly-hatched chicks can’t walk properly yet).
But this didn’t happen with Miracle Chick. He had pecked a big hole in the side of the egg and stuck his head out, pathetically peeping and refusing to move. We watched in horror, not sure what to do about it. Two days passed without him making any progress, as other chicks hatched around him.
Finally the incubator water wells had evaporated so much that the eggshell’s membrane was becoming dry, and he still hadn’t attempted to get out of the egg further. He was stuck. At a loss of anything else to do, we refilled the wells, and wrapped his egg in a wet paper towel. Hours passed without progress. It was a high-stakes hatch, because chicks are supposed to eat after three days, and he had been stuck in the egg for four. Finally, we dropped a bit of water into the eggshell, and he was able to hatch.
But the battle wasn’t over yet. It was clear that he was a healthy chick with no deformities, but he wandered around aimlessly, apparently not recognizing food or water. And he was as thin as a stick.
As a last-chance effort, we put him under a broody hen who had hatched one other chick. Due to his behavior, his chances of survival looked small. But the hen did something to calm him, fluff up his chick down, and get him to drink and eat. He was transformed from a thin, confused chick into a confident and happy one. He has grown up into a fine, healthy bird, and is king of the flock–hence the name “Miracle Chick.”
It still hasn’t been determined what caused his difficulty hatching. Too-low incubator humidity and temperature changes is a suspect. The hatching issue does not appear to be genetic, since his chicks (hatched this year) had relatively easy hatches, and are doing great.
Miracle Chick’s baby picture with his mother hen, Blackbeak.