Here’s What Happens After a Chick Hatches

If you’ve ever wondered: What happens when a chick hatches? You’re definitely in the right place.

That’s why, today, we’ll be showing you exactly what happens when a chick hatches. We’ll be going over everything you need to know, so make sure that you pay close attention to each and every section.

So let’s dive right in, and take a look at what happens after a chick hatches.

The Timeline For What Happens After The Hatching Is Complete

After a chick hatches, it goes through several stages of development before becoming a fully grown chicken. Here’s a brief timeline of what typically happens.

First 24 Hours Post-Hatch: The chick usually remains in the incubator or nest for about 24 hours after hatching. During this time, it dries off and gains strength. The chick can survive without food or water during this period due to the nutrients absorbed from the egg yolk before hatching.

First Week: Chicks are placed in a brooder with a heat source, as they can’t regulate their body temperature yet. They start to eat chick starter feed and drink water. They are very active and grow quickly.

Weeks 2-5: The chick continues to grow rapidly. Feathers start to replace the down, and by week 5, they begin to look more like adult chickens. The temperature in the brooder is gradually reduced as they develop the ability to regulate their body heat.

Weeks 6-8: The chicks are now “pullets” (young females) or “cockerels” (young males). They have most of their feathers and can be transitioned to a chicken coop if the outside temperature is suitable.

Weeks 8-20: This is a period of continued growth and feather development. The birds are now on a grower feed. Sexual maturity is approaching, but they are not yet at laying age.

Around 18-24 Weeks: Chickens reach sexual maturity. Hens (females) start laying eggs, and roosters (males) fully develop their crow. The exact age can vary depending on the breed.

Adult Chicken: After reaching maturity, chickens will continue to lay eggs, with peak production typically in the first couple of years. Roosters will develop their full plumage and typical behaviors.

It’s important to note that these stages can vary somewhat based on the breed of the chicken, the environment, and the care provided.

How Long Does it Take a Chick to Break Out of Its Shell?

The whole process for a chick to hatch will take about 21 days. During this time, you won’t notice too much, but you should always make sure everything is going smoothly. Once day 21 comes, and you see that first crack, this is when the breaking out actually begins to happen. Keep in mind that this may take up to 24 days, so please be patient.

The process for a chick to break out of its shell, known as hatching, typically takes between 18 to 24 hours. This process starts with the chick pipping, which is the initial break in the shell made by the chick using its egg tooth.

The Pip

One thing that may cause a lot of concern is the first crack of the shell. This is referred to as the pip, and while it may be quick, sometimes this process can take quite a bit of time. So in this section, we’ll take a look at how long this process may take.

What’s the Average Pip Time?

In my experience, there really is no set average, because this process can sometimes be lengthy. Now, with that being said, this hatching process can actually be quite quick. This is due to the fact that some chicks can actually hatch within 6 hours of cracking the shell. So if you thought your chick hatched too fast, chances are everything is just fine.

When Should I Be Concerned?

Now, while 6 hours is on the quick side, this process can actually take an entire day. So if you’re reaching that 21-24 hour mark, don’t panic, because that chick may be on the way. Unfortunately, if it does happen to take more than 24 hours, it may be time to help out.

We know that you want this to happen fast. There is a lot of anxiety involved, but we recommend that you remain patient.

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How Do You Help a Chick Out of Its Shell?

As we mentioned earlier, if it starts to take more than a day for the chick to hatch, you’ll need to help out. Your instincts may be to reach in and crack the shell yourself, but this isn’t the right move.

This is due to the fact that you can damage the yolk, and in doing so you’ll harm the chick.

How do I know when to help?

A good rule of thumb to follow is 12 hours. If the chick has been trying to break the egg for longer, then it may be safe to intervene. Here are some quick signs to look out for:

Making erratic cracks at the shellThe chick is trying to break the shell, but is unable to open the crackThe chick has fallen still – even after the resting phase

What Should I Do?

This is going to be difficult, because you need to have a really careful hand. This is due to the fact that your help can cause harm. Here are some issues that improper hatching assistance can cause:

So you want to be careful with helping, because you don’t want to harm the chick. If you do decide to help, try to chip away at the shell once the chick absorbs the yolk. This will make sure the chick is healthy, and you’ll still allow the chick to hatch on it’s own.

Helping a chick hatch is dangerous, but if you use a careful hand you’ll be fine. Just make sure that you don’t rush the process.

What Do You Do After Chicken Eggs Hatch?

So now that you’ve made it past the hard part, you’ll probably be wondering what to do next. You might feel like it’s time to let the chicks roam free, but this is not exactly the case. So let’s take a look.

Leave Them In the Incubator

It may be tempting to remove hatched chicks from their incubator, but you need to be patient. This is due to the fact that chicks take some time to dry off. Now, while being damp may not seem dangerous, if you let them roam around like that they may end up chilled and hurt.

So, before you let them out, be sure to wait about 4 to 6 hours. Also, leaving them in the incubator will encourage the other chicks to hatch.

Transfer Chicks To a Brooder

Once the chicks dry off, you’ll want to transfer them to the brooder. It’s best to wait until all of your chicks have hatched, so be a bit patient with this phase. Then, once the hatching is finished, it’s time to move them to the brooder. Also, before you transfer the chicks, make sure that you warm the brooder first.

Raising baby backyard chickens is great fun

Make Sure the Chicks Have Water

Chicks can last without food – which we’ll touch on later – but that’s not true for water. This means that you need to put some water in front of them, and direct them to drink some. You shouldn’t force them to, but give chicks a nudge in the right direction.

Having a chick hatch can be very overwhelming. You’ll have a lot going through your head, but it’s best to let nature run its course.

How Long Can I Leave a Chick In the Incubator?

This is a question that a lot of people ask, and the answer really depends on how long the hatch takes. The timer for this really begins once all of the chicks hatch, because it’s best to keep them together. So let’s take a look.

What’s the Average Time?

The average time will vary – depending on the chicks – but once the last chick hatches 2 days is the max. You’ll want to get them out after about 24 hours, but waiting 48 hours will not do any extra damage. If you do happen to wait longer, the chicks can quickly become malnourished.

Leaving a chick in the incubator may seem scary, but they’re built to last. Plus, to be blunt, it’s not a good idea to rush things.

How Soon Can You Take a Chick Out of The Incubator?

As we mentioned in the previous section, leaving a chick in the incubator is a natural process. You don’t need to rush this, and you’ll have plenty of time to move them to the brooder. Now, on the other hand, if you want to move them quickly we have a good rule to follow.

How Soon is Too Soon?

Some chicks will hatch faster than others, but that doesn’t mean that they’re ready to come out yet. This is due to the fact that chicks can encourage each other to hatch, and can last days without food. So you might want to wait until the other hatch, but if you can’t, wait at least 6 hours. Chicks need time to dry after they hatch, because otherwise they may freeze.

When Is the Right Time?

If you have to move the chick right away, it’s possible, but be sure to wait at least 4 hours. Even 4 hours is pushing it, so we recommend at least 6 hours in the incubator. We can’t stress this enough; you don’t want the chick to freeze.

We know that you want to take the chicks out ASAP, but please be patient. You don’t want to take them out too soon due to health issues it can cause.

How Long Can a Newly Hatched Chick Go Without Food?

The interesting thing about chicks is that they’re very resilient. You’d be surprised by how long they can last without food, so if a whole day has gone by, there is no need to panic. It takes a lot of time for all the chicks to hatch, but you must let nature run its course.

I don’t recommend that you push a chick to its limits, but it will be nice to know that time is on your side. This is because chicks can last up to 3 days without food. So if one chick hatches faster than the others, there is no need to rush it to the brooder quite yet.

3 days is a long time without food, but this is quite normal for chicks. So if you get nervous after a full day, please be patient.


We know that we went over a lot, so feel free to refer back here as a guide. We know how much anxiety comes with chicks, so we’re here to help. This should be a great moment, so don’t let fear come between you and the chicks.

So what happens when a chick hatches? Quite a bit. This will be a long process, but one that’s rewarding. While you may want to intervene, please be sure to let nature run its course.

Now that you know the facts, we hope your next hatch is a great one.

Get Chick Hatching Success

Click to See Our Complete Checklist and Guide to Getting Strong and Healthy Chicks

… avoid the beginner mistakes?