What does pipped egg mean?

A pipped egg refers to an egg that has been pecked out by a baby chick. When chicks break through their membrane, and then the eggshell itself, they start pecking little shell pieces out. The chick will be fully out of the egg within 24 hours of pipping. They keep pecking until eventually, they manage to form large cracks in the shell.

They keep pecking and they keep pecking until finally, at last, bits of eggshell begin to fall down. They do this until they are finally able to climb on out of their embryo and their egg. It is a lot of work for a little chick, but it must be done.


How long does an egg take to hatch after pipping?

Pipping can take a few hours before the chick finally manages to push its way through. After three to four hours, there will likely be some very obvious cracks and holes in the shell.

Large shells may start coming off more quickly now. It can take up to a full day, twenty-four hours, before the chick manages to finally peck and push his way out of the shell completely and is able to move around the outside world for the first time.

Don’t panic if it seems your new chick is taking a long time to make his way out of the shell. He will get there eventually. If there is pipping, the chick has managed to get through the embryo enough that he won’t get stuck. Make sure you leave him to make his own way out.

Only if it has been well over 24 hours should you even think about giving him a helping hand.


How do you know if an unhatched egg is alive?

There is a technique called candling you can do during the incubation process to check how well an egg is doing, whether it is alive or not, or rotten. What you should do, is pick up the egg and take it to a dark room. Once in the darkroom, take a flashlight and shine it directly through the egg.

The eggshell is not completely opaque, so the direct light from the torch will allow you to see directly into the egg, first, you should check if the egg is rotten. This will be very obvious for you to see. If you can see veins running through the egg, that means the egg is still alive.

You should make sure to put it back in the incubator or give it back to the mother hen immediately, so it can stay warm. This process is called candling because it used to be done by farmers with a candle as the source of light, rather than a modern-day torch.


What happens if eggs don’t hatch in 21 days?

Not all eggs hatch, unfortunately. Some don’t hatch because they went rotten, some were never fertile in the first place, and some just need a little help. If 21 days have passed and your eggs haven’t hatched, they haven’t even started to pip, it’s time for some investigative work.

First, you want to gently crack the top of the egg off with a sharp knife. Make sure you take it from the very top, and not too deep, or you may disturb the embryo inside. Second, you want to have a look in there and see what’s going on.

Always do this outside, as if one is rotten you don’t want that smell inside your home. There are really only four scenarios you will bump into.


If the egg is rotten

The first, and more likely, the scenario is that the eggs have gone rotten. You may have missed this when you were candling, or maybe you chose not to candle at all. This egg should be thrown away and kept away from the other chicks, and the mother hen if you have one.

Sometimes eggs just go bad, it is no one’s fault it’s just a fact of life.


If the egg is unfertilized

The second most likely scenario is that the egg just wasn’t fertilized, this is easy to tell because there will be no embryos at all, even partially developed ones.

Not all eggs get fertilized, these eggs should also be thrown away before they too start to rot.


The chick sadly died

Sometimes the chick can stop developing and die. This can be caused by drastic changes in temperature or a very thick embryo sack. When the sack is too thick, the chicks try to peck their way out but are unable. They will sadly die if this happens.

This egg too must be thrown out before it begins rotting.


The chick couldn’t breakthrough

Very occasionally, the chick is unable to peck through the embryo sack, but is still alive in the egg, if this is the case, you must gently cut open the embryo to get the chick out before it dies.

When deciding whether to do this, you need to make sure the chick is actually alive and ready to come out. The chick will be moving around, so it shouldn’t be too hard to tell. If it is alive, you can help him out of this embryo and he will be just fine. If he is not yet ready, you will have to leave him a little bit longer in an incubator.

Taking the chick out of the embryo too early is going to end up killing him, so make sure you leave him to develop fully.



The birth of your new chicks is a really special moment, it’s natural to worry that they are doing okay and if you are making the right decisions. It just shows that you care. If you want to check up on your eggs regularly so you can get out ahead of any potential problems, the most important thing to do is candling.

By candling the eggs every 7 days you will be able to monitor their progress and remove any problem eggs before they go rotten.

Patience during the hatching process is important, 99 per cent of the time the chicks are capable of hatching themself. It is only the 1 per cent that might need a little helping hand from you.

If you use this information here to help you, you should have an easy time caring for your new chicks on their journey to being born.