Are you wondering; do chickens have umbilical cords?
This is an interesting question.
Some people ask out of curiosity. Some people ask when they hatch a chick at home and see what looks like an umbilical cord hanging from their midsection.
Basically, chicks do have something very similar to an umbilical cord, as I can explain:
Do Chicks Need an Umbilical Cord?
Birds develop in a self-contained shell with a life-support system already in place. They don’t require an umbilical cord to carry nutrients from their mothers as they develop as we do.
So, from a biological perspective, they don’t need an umbilical cord. At least, not in the same way we and other mammals do.
There is a cord that attaches the embryo to the yolk sac so it can get the nutrients from inside the egg. That’s how the embryo is able to develop at the right pace with the required warmth from being incubated.
What’s That Cord on Baby Chicks?
Sometimes – not always – you’ll see a cord that looks like a piece of string attached to a chicks midriff after they hatch.
This is their “umbilical cord”. It’s what attaches the embryo to the yolk sac and passes all the nutrients to the developing chick.
More often than not, and this is certainly the case in my experience, the chick will also absorb the cord before hatching.
Sometimes it will still be visible on the chick though. I’ve heard it can take a day or two to dry up and drop off if it’s still attached when they hatch.
Related – Interested in how chicks hatch? Check out what is an egg tooth?
What Do You Do With a Chicks Umbilical Cord?
If the cord is still attached when they hatch do not touch it.
It will dry up and fall off on its own within a day or two. Pulling at it yourself might injure the chick, you have to let nature take its course here.
The only issue to be aware of is if the other chicks peck at it. If this is the case, you will have to separate the little one to ensure their safety.
It’s important you allow it to fall off when it’s ready. Removing it earlier could cause bleeding, an infection, or worse.
Does This Mean Chickens Have Belly Buttons?
No, not really.
Chicks will have a yolk sac scar instead of an umbilical cord scar. This is because they do have a cord as I’ve explained, but it’s different from an umbilical cord.
It looks like a small black dot if you look closely. However, it all but disappears within days and is not visible at all as a chick grows up.
Don’t get this confused with their vent if you’re checking yourself. A chicken’s vent is what they use to produce waste and lay eggs when they’re older.
The vent and belly button as I’ll call it are very close together and do look similar for those first days though. The vent is located lower down though.
Hopefully, that’s answered the question, “do chickens have umbilical cords?”
As well as clearing up why chicks sometimes have a cord attached when they hatch if you’ve witnessed this.
How a chick develops inside an egg really is a miracle. A lot goes on inside that egg for the 21 days it takes for a chick to develop and hatch!
It makes sense that they also have a cord that provides all the nutrients they need to develop. Even if it is all enclosed inside the egg as a self-sufficient system.
Related – Has your chick pipped but not yet zipped and hatched? Read this.
Image credits – Header image by Jason Leung and chick image in body by Ramiro Martinez on Unsplash