A blood sampling technique for prehatched chicks

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Collecting blood from neonatal or prehatched chicks is sometimes necessary, requiring specialized blood collection techniques and skills. However, such sampling can be difficult and could potentially have adverse effects. I developed a method for collecting blood from chicks still in an egg. The technique involves enlarging the pipping hole, removing the chick's head to take blood from a jugular vein, and returning the chick into its original position in the egg to complete hatching back in the nest. I used this technique on Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii) chicks (N= 13), with no apparent adverse effects to growth or short-term survival. The amount of blood extracted (0.1-0.15 ml) was sufficient for a blood smear, hematocrit, and total white blood cell count. This method should be useful for eggs as small as 40 mm in length; eggs smaller than this would likely not be good candidates for this technique because eggshells may be too thin to safely handle. This technique may be useful for investigators studying the immunological and endocrinological transition between embryos and hatchlings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-411
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


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