"Its A Hard Knock Life"

This baby chick has just been born...!

We watched the entire process. It takes hours to break through it's shell.

The baby chi...
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This baby chick has just been born...!

We watched the entire process. It takes hours to break through it's shell.

The baby chicks are totally exhausted, as you can very well see from this photo. That is why I named this photo "its a Hard Knock Life."

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

When a chicken egg is incubated, the egg tooth begins to develop on the seventh day. As hatching time approaches the egg tooth becomes sharp and hard. Approximately three days before the chick hatches, it uses the egg tooth to break through the inner membrane at the blunt end of the egg.

Until that point, the chick embryo has been absorbing oxygen through the shell pores. As hatching time nears, the chick needs more oxygen then it can get through the shells pores, so it breaks into the air cell at the blunt end of the egg, a process called internal pipping.

The air cell between the inner membrane and the shell provides the chick with additional oxygen, while allowing it to begin exercising its nascent respiratory system. The oxygen in the air cell is just enough to keep the chick going until it can punch a hole through the brittle shell into the outside world.

At this point, the chick's beak and claws have not yet grown strong enough to be of any help in breaking through the tough shell. That amazing feat can be accomplished only with the help of the egg tooth.

The first tiny hole through the shell, or external pip, occurs approximately three days after the chick broke into the air cell. An enlarged pipping muscle at the back of the chick's neck begins to spasm, giving the chick enough impetus to pip through the shell's outer membrane, then through the shell itself. This task is so exhausting that, once the chick has punched an initial hole through the shell, it rests for up to 8 hours.

Once rested, the chick rotates counter clockwise while using its egg tooth to chip at the inside of the egg shell thousands of times, until it has broken the shell about three-quarters of the way all around on the inside of its shell, creating a shell cap (most times) at the blunt end of the egg. This is called zipping the egg shell just before it is to be hatched. This effort can take as long as 5 hours.

Trying to straighten its neck and break free, the chick pushes its head against the shell cap. After about 40 minutes of hard work, the chick gets the egg shell cap free. It then takes a short rest before making one mighty kick to get out of the shell completely. Wet and exhausted from its prodigious effort, the chick takes a nice long nap!

This is exactly when I took this photograph.
Its a hard knock life...

A chick normally hatches within 24 hours of the first external pip. After the hatch, the chick's beak continues to grow and strengthen. But the egg tooth is no longer needed and eventually dries up and falls off. Some chicks lose their egg tooth shortly after hatch. Other chicks may retain their egg tooth for 4 days or longer.
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8 Comments | Report
leckie45 PRO+
leckie45 September 13, 2017
AAAAWWWW!! Cute ... :)
SandraStewartPhotgraphy September 13, 2017
Thank you. = )
JefferyDavison September 13, 2017
A very tired young bird
SandraStewartPhotgraphy September 14, 2017
Yes, it is very hard work to break out of its shell...! We watched the entire process. It takes hours and the baby chicks are exhausted after the are completely out, as you an very well see. That is why I called this photo "It's a Hard Knock Life" It is so very true... LOL
SusanBurroughs September 22, 2017
What a miracle to watch. Great capture.
SandraStewartPhotgraphy September 22, 2017
Aaaaaah yes...!
SandraStewartPhotgraphy September 22, 2017
Thank you...!
MuskyHawk October 05, 2017
This is so adorable....!