Umbilical infections are often one of the most common causes of moralities in chicks up to 2 weeks of age. Many of these infections result from over ambitious handling of hatching chicks, poor sanitation in the hatcher, or contamination of the umbilical area after hatching. Proper treatment of newly hatched chicks and proper hatching procedures can reduce losses due to these type of infections. See section on CARE OF NEWLY HATCHED CHICKS for procedures to deal with prevention of umbilical infections.

Yolk sac infections are generally due to the same problems as are umbilical infections. Many times the yolk sac becomes infected as a result of the umbilical area being infected. Proper care and handling of newly hatched chicks can minimize these infections.


The removal of the yolk sac in young chicks involves a surgical procedure that totally removes both the yolk sac and the umbilical stump. Although this procedure has been widely used to eliminate yolk sac infections in the past, it is not a common practice now and the overall results of this type of surgery may not be good.

The yolk sac of young chicks may not be absorbed during the proper time period and this can create a problem with the developing chick. Normally, the yolk sac is completely absorbed in ostrich by 18 to 20 days after hatching. If it is not, death may result. The condition is most notable around 10 day to 2 weeks after hatching when the chick appears distended, acts weak, and is less active than others.

The removal of the yolk sac should be a last effort since the yolk material is necessary for providing both nutrition and antibody to the young bird. The prevention of this problem by stimulating the chick to use this material is the most beneficial treatment. Consult with your veterinarian on how to manage young birds to insure better yolk absorption and to help diagnose those birds with yolk sac retention and infections.

Surgical procedure usually involves anesthetizing the bird with Isofluorane, Halothane or Metofane. The feathers on the entire abdomen are clipped and the area is surgically prepped. An incision of about 2 inches is made completely around the navel, completely removing it (Note that it is still attached to the yolk sac and care should be taken not to rupture the yolk sac). The yolk sac is then tied off next to the intestine and the yolk sac removed. The abdomen is sutured with gut and the skin with non-absorbable suture. Flushing the abdominal cavity with warm saline (PBS) is usually helpful in maintaining temperature and antibiotic therapy is recommended.

Chicks can be returned to their familiar surroundings as soon as recovered from the anesthesia.

Ostrich Book