How chicks are born:

from egg to peeping fluff

Chicks start life inside an egg

First, a mommy chicken grows tiny eggs inside her body. We call her a hen. 

Hens can lay eggs all year long, but something special happens if a rooster is around. A rooster is a daddy chicken. 

When a rooster and a hen cuddle for a while, her eggs could become fertilized. 

What is a “fertilized” egg?

All living beings, like animals and vegetables, are made up of cells. 

When two cells come together and become one, we call it “fertilization.” The rooster’s special cell pairs with the hen’s egg cell. That makes it a “fertilized” egg. 

Inside the egg, the tiny fused cell starts to multiply, creating a baby chick little by little.

The eggs we eat could never grow into chicks. Farmers are careful to keep the rooster away from the hen, so those eggs don’t get fertilized. Phew!

After laying her eggs, mommy hen keeps them warm 

She sits on the eggs almost all day and night, until they hatch. This is called “incubation” and it’s super important for the chicks to grow. Mommy hen uses her body heat to keep the eggs at just the right temperature.

The hen’s soft feathers make a cushion that lets her sit on the eggs without harming them.

Once in a while, she turns the eggs with her beak to keep them warm on every side. She only takes quick breaks to nibble on food and sip water. 

What happens inside the egg?

For the next 3 weeks, a baby chick takes form. 

It begins as a speck, smaller than a seed, floating in a liquid that looks like water. That liquid is the egg white!

Soon, little tubes connect the baby and the yolk, the yellow part of the egg.

Both the egg white and the yolk give the chick food.

Slowly, the chick grows eyes, a beak, tiny wings, and tiny legs. Day by day, the chick hears mommy hen’s soft clucks and learns to recognize her voice.

The day before hatching, the baby pecks a hole in a bubble of air inside the egg. Then, it takes its very first breath!

From the nest, mommy hen hears the first “Cheep! Cheep!” and answers “Cluck, cluck.” 

The big day has arrived!

The chick is ready to break free and say hello to the world.

It starts by poking a hole in the eggshell using the pointy bump on its beak, called an egg tooth. With lots of wiggling and pushing, the chick cracks the egg open. Then, with a final push, the chick pops out, all fluffy and cute!

Mommy hen nestles her chicks under her wings to keep them safe and warm. 

And just like that, a new life begins.

For the first few weeks, the little peeping fluff balls stay close to mom, learning how to find yummy bugs and seeds, and how to be chickens.

Chicks grow fast! They double in size after two weeks. Girl chickens start laying their own eggs after about six months.   

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