On the eve of yet another, possibly our biggest ever, hatch of baby chicks, I find myself so wound up by the whole process that I have made the executive decision to fly my geek flag and fling some baby chicken trivia your way. Enjoy! ;)
*Chicks start to peep before they even hatch!
Mine have just begun doing so, with less than 24 hours to go in their gestation.
*Hatchlings do not need to eat or drink for as many as 2-3 days after hatching.
The yolk that fueled their development within the egg continues to provide the baby with sustenance until the babes learn to find and consume food and water, with the help of their Mama.
We never wait that long. They get food and water just as soon as they make the move from the incubator to the brooder.
*Baby chickens (and turkeys too) need to be taught how to drink.
The babies are born with a particular attraction to "shiny" things, which helps them seek out water. However, a Mama bird or surrogate Mama like me needs to actually show them how to dip to get a beak full of water, then extend their neck up and back to let the water run down their throat. They don't so much gulp liquid as they do scoop it and "knock it back". ;)
*The nearness of voices (chicken or human) encourage a chick to hatch.
The babies, if sat upon by their Mama hen, would have been listening for her clucks and bocks, as well as those of their fellow nestmates, as a sort of "all's well" sign that encourages them to hatch. In the case of my babies, since they've been hearing human voices for the past three weeks, will go from dead silent to a peeping frenzy upon hearing my greeting - even while still in the egg!
This is also one of the reasons that we leave the hatched babies in the incubator alongside the unhatched eggs for about 24 hours. All eggs that are going to hatch, should do so within that period, and the encouraging peeps of their siblings, as well as the occasional helpful peck, improve the hatch rate of a given clutch, in my experience.