It’s natural for any animal owner to want to learn more about the process of how their pets mate and are born.
Chickens are no exception, especially if you’ve had the joy of hatching some new adorable chicks on your own.
But in looking into it, you may have come across some information on chicks and umbilical cords.
If you’re like me, this threw you off, so I decided to research and help you out with the definitive answer to the question: do chickens have umbilical cords?
Chickens do have umbilical cords when they’re gestating inside their eggs. The cord is more of a vein, in this instance, and serves to help the chick intake nutrients from the yolk while it grows. The cord typically breaks off before hatching and leaves only a small scar that heals quickly.
Not what you’d expect, right?
Read on to hear a little more about umbilical cords on chicks and other related questions.
Table of Contents
Do Chicks Have An Umbilical Cord?
One of the main ways to tell if an egg has a chick inside is to hold a light underneath it.
Then, you’ll be able to see a silhouette of the chick.
But you’ll also see some thick veins, one of which is thicker than the rest.
This is the umbilical cord.
Just like with humans, chickens have cords pre-birth to help them absorb nutrients.
Unlike humans who absorb nutrients from their mother, chicks absorb theirs from the yolk of the egg.
Do Chicks Get Umbilical Hernias?
If chicks have umbilical cords, can they get hernias?
Maybe this wasn’t your first thought, but it was one of mine.
All three of my sons had umbilical hernias, and if you’ve never seen one, they look alarming.
They typically present as a bulge around the “belly button” area, and it happens when the tissue around the connection is loose, and the interior fluid pushes out.
In humans, it’s not alarming at all.
What about chicks?
Chicks can get umbilical hernias too, but there’s not much to do about it.
If there’s no blood, there’s nothing you need to do. Just wait and see.
If you see blood, you have two choices:
- Put the chick down.
- Work to prevent infection.
It’s up to you, and it also depends on how much of the area is open.
If you decide to fight infection, use a chlorohexidine solution.
Put a bit on a cotton swab and gently brush the area 1-2 times per day.
There’s no guarantee it’ll work, but it gives them a chance.
Do All Birds Have Umbilical Cords?
All birds need a way to gain nutrition while in the egg, and it comes in the form of the umbilical cord.
All birds have these umbilical cords in their eggs.
The size, prominence, and usefulness of the cord vary based on species, but in almost every case, the cord will have broken off before it even hatches.
Unlike humans and other live birth mammals who still have the umbilical attached after birth, birds won’t have this.
This is why most people can go their whole lives and never realize what it takes for our winged friends to grow.
Using light, we can look inside the egg and see the shape of the baby bird, and you’ll notice the thicker vein of the umbilical cord.
This cord shows up before the silhouette of the bird’s body does!
It’s what most experts look for when determining if an egg is fertilized and viable.
What Does A Baby Chick’s Umbilical Cord Look Like?
A chick’s umbilical cord looks like a thin string coming out of their belly region.
Before hatching, it’s thicker to allow for better nutrient absorption.
But as the chick prepares to hatch, the cord thins, dries up and falls off.
Most of the time, you won’t even see it, but on occasion, it’ll remain attached to the chick for a brief period.
What To Do With The Umbilical Cord?
If the umbilical cord is still on the chick after it has hatched, it may be tempting to remove it yourself.
Resist the urge! Leave the umbilical alone.
If it is still somehow attached to the inside of the chick’s organs, ripping it off early could leave an open sore, which could get infected and kill your chick.
The best thing to do is leave it be.
When the connecting tissue is sealed up, the cord will dry up and fall off, safely and naturally.
Do Chicks Have A Belly Button?
Unlike humans and many other mammals, chickens don’t have a traditional belly button.
If you look at their stomachs right after the umbilical falls off, they may have scar tissue where the healing is happening.
It’ll be so small you may not even see it.
This is the closest thing they have to a belly button.
Most of the time, this scar will be healed (or almost completely healed) before it even hatches.
Some people consider this to be a belly button, and it does serve a similar function as a leftover piece of where the umbilical cord connection used to be.
But in every other aspect, it’s not. The scar won’t remain, and there is no divot where it used to be.
Read more about chicken birth in our article on chicken milk.