Will I kill my other chicks if I open my bator??
This is where I argue that philosophy. Conservative hatchers have made it where new hatchers are scared to even add water because they've heard that "opening that bator will cause certain death". It's true, I've heard it-ok, seen it with my own eyes and I am here to say.."Take a darn chill pill and back off." OMG, how things get blown out of proportion.
The trueth: opening the incubator during hatch potentially lowers your humidity. You need an adequate amount of humidity for chicks to be able to hatch. If a pipper/zipper does not have adequate humidity the membranes could start drying out. What does this mean for the chicks? With a low enough drop or dry enough air it could theoretically cause the membranes to dry and shrink around the chick causing the chick to shrink wrap in the shell. I don't believe that half the people that claimed they've had chicks shrink wrapped have. Not because they are intentionally fabricating, but because they do not know what shrink wrapped chicks really look like. It is my belief that half if not more f these cases isn't a matter of "shrink wrapped" chicks, but a matter of glued chicks. Something that I highly believe is more apt to happen in dry/sudden loss of humidity.
A chick's membrane can become glued to the chick due to a loss of moisture to the exposed membrane or a prolonged exposed membrane can dry out. When the membrane starts to dry it becomes sticky and can become glued to the chick. This "glueing" can cause the chick to be unable to turn or continue the hatching process. This is more likely to happen than shrinkwrapping.
So, it sounds as though I'm agreeing with those conservative hatchers huh? No, I am only acknowledging that the phenomenon can happen. Just like when I get into my car I can have an accident. The more I am in my car the higher the chances are. It doesn't mean I will. Day after day I get in the car and day after day I make it home safe.
Every time that I get into my car, I take precautions. I put my seat belt on. If it's dusk or dark I turn my lights on. In the rain I use my windshield wipers and I always try to stay alert and watch for problems that can occur. It's the same for hatching and opening the incubator. You take precautions and you pay attention.
Adequate humidity those are the key words. If you are running your hatch at 60% humidity then it is safer to leave that incubator closed. 60% humidity at hatch is for hands off hatchers, because a drop from 60% can be risky. The normally recommended perecentage for hatch is 65%. That is saying that your bator needs to hold 65% for the duration of hatch to have the optimal hatching environment.
So, if you are going to be opening the bator it is IMPORTANT that you have a higher percentage of humidity so that a slight drop in the humidity is not going to put you in a danger zone. I'm not saying, "Hey, it's cool to open your bator every ten minutes." No, that would be foolish advice. The more you open the more humidity you loose the higher risk you create. What I am saying is that if need to open the bator or you prefer to remove chicks or shells or in worst case scenerio need to do an assist, then as long as your humidity is at a safe level, do it. Have a wet sponge/cloth or water near by to replinish the humidity when/if it does start to decline. If my bator drops to 68% during a hatch I pull out one of my sponges and add water.
But when should I remove chicks?
My last hatch hatched 33 our of 36 that made it to lockdown. I opened the bator periodically through the hatch WITHOUT causing ill will to any other hatchers. I have never had a chick start to pip or zip and die in the shell. I take precautions and keep my humidity up and I stay alert to what is going on in my bator.
The experienced hatchers and many resources will tell you that a chick can go up to THREE days in the incubator w/o food or water because of the absorption of the yolk. (They believe you do not remove chicks until the hatch is complete.) The yolk "will sustain them until your hatch is done." And while physiologically this may be correct I don't think an animal SHOULD have to go that long if it is not neccessary. Think about it. How many days CAN the human body go without food after we had a meal. We certainly do not HAVE to eat everyday. We would not die if we went a day or two without eating, but would you want to have food withheld from you just because you CAN go without eating?
Within hours of my chicks hatching and going to the brooder they are eating and drinking. Obviously they are hungry if they are ingesting food and thirsty if they are drinking. That is my philosophy.