I am going to keep the reason for Chick #5 being called Onion as brief as I can, however it was a bit of an Epic.
Those of you who have been following this blog, may be aware, Egg # 5 peeped in the early hours of Wednesday 1st September 2010. Some of the egg shell had from the peep hole had been knocked/pecked away by the first chick to hatch, aptly named Pookie. This, then meant that the two membranes within Egg # 5 were drying up which would cause the chicken to stick to the inner membrane and not be able to free itself. This also means that the yolk would not be able to be fully absorbed (the yolk is the equivalent to the placenta) the inner membrane is also laced with blood vessels feed the yolk until it is absorbed. I upped the humidity and placed a warm wet kitchen towel just under the egg and continually dabbed he exposed membrane with warm water to keep it moist. One of this appeared to help it unstuck itself. If the membrane had not been drying out we would have let nature take its course, as it can take 24 hours from peep to hatch, However Egg # 5 was getting weaker and was clearly stuck despite our efforts.
We made the decision rather than let it die we would help with the hatch. So warm wet kitchen towels were prepared, the heat lamp was on, cocktail stick sterilised and hands thoroughly washed. The idea is that you try and replicate what the chick would do with its egg tooth, which is to tap all around the shell to weaken it (zipping) ready to push out as soon as the blood has stopped flowing in the inner membrane and the yolk has been absorbed. It is the zipping that sends the message for this process to happen. We had listened to Egg # 5 prior to it peeping and thought at the time it was odd that we could not hear the rhythmical tapping. Anyway I lifted Egg # 5 out of the Incubator, placed him in my hand which was swathed in a blood temperature wet kitchen towel. I then moistened the peep hole, being careful not to get moisture into the chick’s beak. I then placed the point of the cocktail stick between the shell and outer membrane and started to zip the egg. At one point I pierced the outer membrane, causing a bleed, which I stemmed and wily placed the egg back in the Incubator for an hour before I repeated the process. I finally zipped the egg and made sure the membrane was moisturised then placed the egg back in the Incubator so that the chick could kick out. The chick appeared to weak to do this, so we removed the outer membrane and could see the yolk had not been fully absorbed, the blood had stopped flowing to membrane so we removed he inner membrane tentatively, making sure the unabsorbed yolk was preserved and then pace the egg back in the Incubator with a few prayers. Hence the name Onion, as it was like peeling back the layers of an Onion.
Onion remained laying on its side, scarcely moving and looking awful. At 05.00 in the morning I examined the chick and could she had a umbilical hernia and that the reason she was not moving was on one of her legs was the unabsorbed yolk and part of the umbilical cord was wrapped around it. This meant that every time she attempted to kick, the yolk sac would pull on the umbilicus, which further aggravated the hernia. The feathers were also stuck firmly to her body instead of fluffing out.
I had to remove Pookie, and put her into the Brooder as she was attempting to eat Onions yolk sac and umbilicus, and was treading on her. As the umbilicus was herniated and still attached to the yolk sack this would have meant instant death. It was clear that Onion cold not survive under those circumstances. I sterilised some cotton, scissors, and kitchen towel, carefully scooped onion out of the incubator and placed her on her back on the warm moist kitchen towel within a food container under the heat lamp. I then freed her leg and tied of her yolk sac, and umbilical cord in three places, cut the connection between the umbilicus and yolk sac, and used the back of my little finger to gently place the herniated umbilicus back into Onions stomach. That done, I rolled her onto her side and used the moisturised towel to rub and separate her feathers as these were stuck as were her wings and needed to be stimulated. With all that done I gave her a firm and gentle rub, dropped some water into her beak and gently placed her back in the Incubator with another prayer and my Rosary draped around it and went to let out our other chickens.
I am pleased to say that when I came back in Onion was chirping and had moved over to Egg# 2 that had stated to peep. I scooped her out a couple of times to moisten and separate her feathers and can now report she is chirping away happily in the Incubator and will be moved over to the Brooder at lunch time. I hope Egg # 2 is not going to present such challenges. I will take a better picture of her than the one on the right as she is sleeping, also the light from the incubator does not make for good photographs, then you can see the tremendous change from Onion, being nearly dead to a now a perky Chick, in such a small space of time. Well Done Onion. I love nature and I Love my Chickens