When There Is No Happy Ending: Eggtopsy (Warning-Graphic Images)

Watch Eli (age 9) explain about losing a baby chicken before it hatches. WARNING: Graphic images. Not for the faint of heart.

It’s a sad fact of raising chickens that sometimes bad things happen. I guess all of life is that way, but it’s closer to the surface when raising livestock. Earlier this week, our new mama hatched out three… five… six new babies… from seven viable eggs. A day before the hatch, we saw the seventh one moving in the shell, knew that it was alive and well… but it never made it out.

Once we were confident it wasn’t going to hatch, we opened a small hole in the air cell end in order to confirm our suspicion that it was dead.

With that done, we opened the egg the rest of the way for the eggtopsy. Here is what it looked like with the top of the egg removed:



Poor little bugger never broke through the inner membrane into the air cell to breathe. Eli wanted to explore further. Here you can see it tucked neatly into the correct position for hatching:

Unhatched Chick


We still aren’t sure what happened, but after reviewing the video above, I think I was wrong about it being perfectly formed. If you look carefully, you can see that the beak is crossed:

Dead chick

This likely made it difficult for the chick to get the leverage it needed to poke a hole through that membrane.

The other six are doing well, though the one we had to help out is still struggling a little. Her mama moved her nest shortly after I tucked her back in, and she couldn’t follow. When I went to check on her, she was cold to touch but still living. I warmed her up a bit, then put her in under another silkie who was sitting on infertile eggs. The new mama took to her right away and she warmed up nicely. She’s doing better, but still poorly coordinated for her age. We’re hopeful she’ll pull through, though you never know.

Keep ya posted.

5 responses to “When There Is No Happy Ending: Eggtopsy (Warning-Graphic Images)

  1. I have a dark sense of humor, so when he announced that it was dead I started chuckling. He’s adorable! (Your son, not the dead chick.)

    • Ha! Yes. I got a chuckle when he started warning the viewers that “some people would be disturbed by this” about twenty seconds after I’ve zoomed in on the dead body.

    • Thanks! I knew I was on the right track exposing this one to biology (via raising chickens) when he was seven and I accidentally knocked a dent in an egg we were incubating and he said, “It’s okay, though, right Mommy, because you didn’t break the outer membrane.”

      • The great thing with kids is they take things at face value, so don’t tend to freak out if exposed young enough! You never know, he could become a great surgeon one day!

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