Hatching Ducks

About 9 days ago, 4 precious duck eggs somehow happened to gently “fall” into my incubator.  By gently, I mean I tenderly placed them there, and by fall, I mean I put them there.  Guilty!  I’m a hatchaholic.  I love hatching my own birds; it’s such a fun process to see life grow so quickly and join the world in 21-28 short days.  It never gets old and I’m always amazed every single time.

This is my first time hatching ducks.  I took four eggs that had been sitting on my counter (pointy side down, of course, because I’m always storing eggs ready to hatch at any given moment HA), and decided to try and hatch them with my husbands blessing.  He loves the ducks he just doesn’t want to admit it.  I always am super crazy when I start incubating, especially something new.  I check my temps several times a day when I’m home, make sure humidity is perfect, and now since they’re ducks I’ve been misting the eggs twice a day to simulate what the mama duck would do after she takes a swim.

I’ve been treating my duck eggs slightly different than the chickens and guineas.  I do what is known as “dry incubation” for the chickens and guineas.  This is where humidity is basically ignored until lockdown (3 days prior to hatching) when I increase it.  As long as the humidity is near 20-30% I don’t worry a whole lot about it.  With the ducks, I’ve had my humidity pump hooked up since day one.  I figured since they’re waterfowl they may need more humidity for the growth stage in the egg, so I’ve got my incubator programmed at 40%.  I’ve been candling to make sure there’s been enough water-loss and a big enough air cell.  It’s basically all guessing.  And so far, all four of the duckling embryos are viable, pink, and lively!

And now, some pictures of my future duck-kids!

 Day 2 of incubation, 99.5-99.7*F and 32% RH.  Not able to see a whole lot unless compared to initial pre-incubator candling which I didn’t take a picture of.  I noticed some darkening of the upper half of the egg in comparison.

 

Day 4 of incubation, 99.5-99.7*F and 40% RH.  Definite embryo growth.  Approx 50% of the egg has darkened and looks a healthy, viable pink color on the candler.

 

Day 7 of incubation, 99.5-99.7*F and 41% RH.  This is usually when I candle for the first time, but since it was my first set of duck eggs, I candle more frequently for record and learning purposes.  Here, you can definitively see veins and the dark, pea-sized duckling embryo growing.  I also saw 2 out of 4 ducklings dancing around in their shells!  Sure sign of life!

 

Day 9 of incubation, 99.5-99.8*F and 40% RH.  The babies have grown again.  I also took a cool video of egg #1 dancing around in their shell and posted to instagram.  So amazing!  The veins have increased in size and the egg is a more dark red/pink color.  And the black, pea size embryo spot has almost doubled in size!

It’s amazing how quickly they grow!

I’m keeping records on what I do so once the ducklings hatch I can share with everyone exactly what I did and what did/didn’t work so well.  Good record keeping, in my opinion, includes pictures, temperature, and RH.  I always take pictures of the eggs when I candle to compare to the next time just in case I’m unsure about an egg.  I number all my eggs and take pictures in that order.  I also record the current temp and RH level at candling to record variations within the incubator.  T- 19 days-ish til HATCH!!

Any duck hatching info would be very much appreciated.  I love to hear how everyone else incubates to tweak my current processes.  Thanks in advance!

-Ruby, self-appointed Crazy Duck Lady

 

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