How Long Does a Chick Take to Unzip?

The hatching process can be anxiety-provoking since you are never sure the eggs will hatch into those cute little chicks you look forward to.

As nerve-wracking as this process is, nothing makes a chicken owner happier than knowing that the chicks inside the eggs are unzipping. It’s a magical moment because you are almost sure you will get some adorable baby chicks.

Chicks can unzip any time after the 19th day of hatching.

What is the Chick Unzipping Process?

Chick unzipping is when a chick starts to make a larger hole in the eggshell. Finally, the whole is large enough for the chicken to come out of the shell.

Unzipping is vital to the hatching process because it is the only way a chick can break away from the eggshell.

Factors That Can Affect the Unzipping Process

Many factors have pronounced effects on the unzipping process. Most of these factors will affect not only the unzipping process’s success but also the success of the entire hatching process.

These are the key factors that can affect the unzipping process:

– Egg Size and Shape

Large eggs with hard shells and tough membranes somewhat derail the unzipping process. Smaller eggs have a high chance of unzipping, while larger eggs have minimal chances of unzipping.

Chicken eggs with good-quality shells unzip better than those with poor-quality shells. Large oval eggs also don’t hatch better than medium-sized or small-sized round eggs.

Large oval eggs have thicker membranes which the chicks inside have difficulty breaking through, ultimately lowering egg hatchability.

– Eggshell Thickness

The thickness of the eggshell also affects the unzipping process. Thicker eggshells are less likely to unzip because the tiny chicks inside will have difficulty piercing through the shells with their fragile beaks.

That’s why eggs with thick shells have a poor hatchability rate, unlike those with thinner shells.

Thinner eggshells are easier for chicks to break through, so eggs with thinner shells have a high chance of unzipping.

– Environmental Conditions

Environmental factors like temperature, ventilation, and humidity can affect the unzipping process and the entire hatching process.

For instance, hatching eggs under the wrong temperatures can affect the unzipping process. Ideally, unzipping occurs when you incubate eggs within a temperature range of between 35 and 40.5 degrees Celsius.

Chicks will never unzip if you try incubating the eggs below or above the optimal hatching temperatures. Instead of unzipping, the chicks may die inside the eggs.

High humidity is crucial for the unzipping process because it makes it easier for the chicks to break through the membrane and the shells.


Stages of Hatching

The hatching process is a long process that doesn’t happen overnight. Hatching eggs have to go through a couple of stages before hatching into those cute baby chicks.

These are the three main stages of hatching:

– Pipping

chicken pipping not hatching

Pipping stage is when the chick embryos start breaking through the inner membranes before breaking through the shells.

Pipping occurs when the eggs are ready to hatch. The chicks use their tiny beaks to punch the membranes and eggshells.

There are two types of pipping, namely internal and external pipping. Internal pipping is when chick embryos start lung ventilation.

The chick embryos use their beaks to pierce through the inner membranes to start lung ventilation. Internal pipping occurs around the 18th day of hatching.

– Zipping

baby chick early hatching

The zipping process occurs shortly after the pipping stage. During this process, the chick embryos start moving around inside the eggs making circular movements while pecking the shells to make holes they can use to get out of the shell.

After zipping, the chicks will embark on the unzipping process, making the holes large enough to get out of the eggshells.

Pipping is a perfect moment since it shows that the chicks inside are alive. Chicks will usually chirp when zipping.

– External Pipping

External pipping is when chick embryos start piercing through the shells to make holes that bring oxygen into the shells.

External pipping usually occurs hours after the zipping and unzipping stages. You can notice when the eggs in the incubator are pipping externally because you will see cracks on their surface.

– Emergence

chicken egg hatching problems

This is the final hatching stage. The chicks can break free from the shells at this stage and start chirping and flapping their wings.

Hatching is only successful when the chicks emerge from their shells. Dead chicks won’t emerge from the shells, which is the most apparent sign of an unsuccessful hatch.

Most chicks struggle to get to this stage, especially those unable to break through the shells.

How to Assist a Struggling Chick

The consensus among chicken raisers is that one should refrain from assisting a struggling chick during hatching.

However, many chicken keepers help their struggling chicks during hatching when incubation doesn’t go well.

You can successfully assist a struggling chick despite the reasons why some chicks struggle to hatch.

Here is how you can help a struggling chick during hatching:

  • Wait for the pipping stage– Don’t lend assistance until the eggshells start piping. A weak or undeveloped chick is unlikely to survive, so you can’t help such a chick hatch.
  • Chip the eggshell away-A chick can continue struggling after pipping. So you should figure out how to help the chick survive. You can gently chip the eggshell away using tweezers. The chick should be able to emerge from the eggshell after chipping away the eggshell unless it’s too weak or deformed. Kindly stop chipping the eggshell if you notice some blood because the chick could be bleeding. Moreover, don’t chip away eggshells that are too hard or too dry because you can kill the baby chicks.
  • Warm up the chick– Finally, the struggling chick is free from the eggshell. However, the fragile bird could be too cold to survive. You can warm up the chick by placing it in the incubator. Allow the bird to rest to boost its chances of surviving.

Caring for Chicks After Hatching

Eggs are ready for hatching after a couple of weeks of incubation. You can’t keep the newly hatched in the incubator for too long because they are delicate and can succumb to high temperatures in the incubator.

It’s, therefore, time to care for the newly hatched chicks to boost their survival.

These are some crucial things you should do to care for your newly hatched chicks:

  • Place the chicks in a warm place– Most newly hatched chicks die days after hatching due to cold. Remember, newly hatched chicks don’t have feathers, and thus they have a challenge keeping warm. Place the little chicks in a warm place, especially in a brooder with a reliable heat source.
  • Keep the chicks in a protected and safe area– Newly hatched baby chicks are more vulnerable to potential predators than adult chickens. If you are keeping the chicks in a brooder, ensure the brooder is away from predators. You can place the brooder somewhere convenient where you access the chicks.
  • Give the newly hatched chicks good nutrition– The diet you introduce to your newly hatched little birds can boost or ruin their chances of survival. So it would help if you start giving the chicks a quality diet immediately. Newly hatched baby chicks need quality starter feed because they can’t consume solid foods, unlike adult chooks. The best feed for your chicks should have more protein because protein will help kickstart their growth and development. The feed should also have other nutrients and minerals, including vitamins and calcium.
  • Observe proper sanitation– Newly hatched baby chicks can contract many diseases due to poor sanitation. So it’s imperative to observe appropriate sanitation when handling newly hatched chicks. Clean the brooder regularly to prevent diseases.
  • Provide them with space-Your chicks will start moving around after a couple of days as they explore their new world. They will need space to move around, especially when they come out of the brooder. Provide every chick with at least six to twelve inches of space.

Common Problems During Hatching

Here are some common problems that may arise during the hatching process:

  • Unsuitable incubation temperatures, either too high or too low temperatures
  • Incorrect ventilation in the brooder
  • Wrong egg positioning
  • Low humidity in the incubator
  • Unfertile eggs that won’t hatch

Incubation Tips for Successful Hatching

These tips below will increase your odds of having a successful hatch:

  • Choosing the right incubator-Choose the right incubator to ensure you get a successful hatch. Avoid going for cheap incubators because they are defective and won’t successfully hatch eggs.
  • Maintaining proper temperature and humidity- One cause of unsuccessful hatches is failure to maintain the appropriate temperature and humidity levels. You can avoid this problem by maintaining proper incubation temperatures of between 35 and 40.5 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, ensure there is high humidity in the incubator to prevent the eggs from drying out.
  • Turning the eggs regularly-Placing the eggs in an incubator isn’t enough. It will help if you keep turning the eggs to get a successful hatch. Ideally, you should turn the eggs twice a day. However, avoid turning them too frequently because you might interfere with embryo development or cause deformity in the chicks inside.


Chick unzipping is a glorious moment because you are almost sure you will have a successful hatch within days.

So, you should ensure you meet all the hatching requirements to help chicks unzip, or else the adorable little birds will die in the eggshells.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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