Hatching duck eggs – an artistic craft?
In general, hatching duck eggs is no different from hatching chicken eggs.
However, ducks are water fowl, so you can already guess that a lot of water is needed to hatch duck eggs.
You should first of all note that hatching eggs should of course be as fresh as possible.
It takes a wild duck 15 days to lay around 15 eggs. Only then does the actual hatching of the duck eggs begin.
The room temperature in which the incubator is installed should not be too cold or too warm.
You don’t need sun, heat or a refrigerator to hatch duck eggs.
When hatching duck eggs, however, it is important that no drafts can be felt in the brood chamber, as well as no major fluctuations in temperature.
However, it is essential to avoid direct exposure to the sun!
Here’s what you need to hatch duck eggs:
- Fertilized duck eggs
- An still air incubator or a forced air incubator
- A candling lamp
- Print out the hatching plan for duck eggs
You should use an extra digital thermometer if you want to be on the safe side when monitoring the temperature and your incubator does not have a fan that swirls the air in the incubator. Because without air turbulence, it is colder in the lower area than in the upper area of the machine.
A digital hygrometer if you want to measure the relative humidity and your incubator does not have such a function.
The incubation parameters when hatching duck eggs
The optimal temperature for hatching duck eggs is 99,5 °F
If you are using a forced air incubator to hatch duck eggs, the temperature should be set at 99,5 °F to 100 °F.
If, on the other hand, you use an still air incubator, then you should set this to approx. 100–101 °F.
Since there is no motorized fan built into the still air incubator, which is also responsible for the air turbulence, temperature differences arise in the lower and upper area of the incubator.
You should therefore install a separate thermometer at the height of the upper edge of the egg with an still air incubator during the incubation period. If possible, the thermometer should show 99,5 °F to a maximum of 100 °F in the area of the upper edge of the egg to ensure that the incubation temperature is neither too little nor too much.
If there are major temperature fluctuations during the incubation phase, this always has a negative effect on the incubation result.
If the temperature is too low, the incubation period will be extended, if the temperature is too high, the embryo will be damaged.
The particular sensitivity to fluctuations in temperature is particularly evident in the first 14 days when the duck eggs hatch.
The optimum humidity for hatching duck eggs is: 60–70 %
You should also ensure high humidity.
This should be between 60 and 70 percent at the beginning of the incubation period and should be increased more and more until the humidity between 85 and 90 percent is reached at the time of hatching.
If you want or need to increase the humidity briefly, you can spray the eggs.
Sponges are particularly suitable for increased humidity over a longer period of time.
Put this in a bowl of water and there is an increase in moisture.
At this point, however, it should be pointed out that your own experience when hatching duck eggs is essential, but the information given here is a good guide value!
Clean the duck eggs
In addition to all the other things, Mother Nature also takes care of cleaning the natural brood duck eggs.
The duck’s feathers on the eggs slide over the eggshell when it breathes. This is how the eggs are cleaned.
But why should you also clean the eggs when hatching duck eggs?
The inside of the egg is protected from germs and pathogens by the so-called cuticle during the incubation phase.
When duck eggs are artificially hatched, however, there are no duck feathers that naturally clean the eggs; humans have to do this here.
What do you do best for this?
Hydrochloric acid is very suitable here.
Approx. 18 % purified hydrochloric acid and a little lukewarm water are most suitable for cleaning.
Do not forget to wear protective gloves and respiratory protection when working with hydrochloric acid.
If you have to dilute the hydrochloric acid beforehand, use distilled water for this.
There is one tablespoon of 18 % hydrochloric acid for every 5 liters of water.
The eggs must now be placed in the solution until a small, fine ring of bubbles has formed.
This method can take up to 5 minutes, so please don’t get impatient.
Then wipe with a fine sponge (soft side).
The eggs are then rinsed with clear, lukewarm water and are then immediately ready to be placed in the already heated incubator.
Turning and chilling the duck eggs hatch
In general, turning the duck eggs is very important.
In nature, the mother duck does this by turning the eggs from the inside of the nest to the outside.
This is done to better compensate for temperature fluctuations and to prevent the embryo from sticking to the egg shell.
The eggs should be in the incubator from 3 to 21-22. Day (25–26. Day for warty ducks) Manuel can be turned by 180 degree by hand, at least three times a day.
This is because the hatching eggs are most sensitive to temperature fluctuations on the first few days. Which is why you shouldn’t turn the eggs by hand for the first 2 days.
Does your incubator have an automatic turning function, e.g. B. with a roller tray? Then the turning function can be switched on from day 1.
It is important that you are aware of what breed of duck the eggs are!
Smaller ducks breed for 25 to 26 days, large ducks for 26 to 28 days and warty ducks for around 35 days.
In nature, the eggs are cooled when the duck leaves the nest.
This should also be used for artificial brood.
From the 5th to the 23rd day, a cooling phase should be initiated in the evening for about 5 to a maximum of 20 minutes.
In addition, the eggs should be lightly sprayed with water and returned to the incubator.
Instructions for hatching duck eggs
Fertilized duck eggs and storage
- Find fertilized eggs; You can find fertilized duck eggs at the poultry farmer or on many farms, have a look around in your area.
- Pick up the duck eggs in person!
- Use the eggs within 7 days. If you want to keep and store the duck eggs, then at a temperature of 50 °F and a high humidity of 70–85 % (your vegetable compartment in the refrigerator may be suitable).
- Never store at more than 78,5 °F, the embryos start developing at this temperature. Never store the eggs below 39,2 °F.
The Incubator – Incubator Preparation and Location
- The incubator should ideally be used at a room temperature of 59 °F. However, a room temperature of 68–73,5 °F is not bad either, you should just NOT store the duck eggs there!
- Be sure that the incubator is working properly and, of course, is clean!
- Warm up the incubator: Forced air incubator temperature: 99,5 °F – still air incubator temperature: 101 °F max
- Humidity: initially 60 – 70 %, by the time the duck eggs hatch 85-90 %
- Nevertheless, pay attention to the information on the incubation temperature and humidity of the manufacturer of your respective incubator. However, the information given here is a very good guide to hatching duck eggs.
- Now place the marked hatching eggs sideways in the hatching machine / incubator. With reversible trays, place the eggs on the top of the egg in the reversible tray
The duck eggs hatch
- Eggs and duck eggs dry out during incubation. The dehydration is only an indication of the breeding process. You can represent it by weighing the eggs every 7 days, but I advise against weighing them during the process!
- Keep the humidity relatively high, it increases the breeding success. As already mentioned, start with around 60 % moisture and increase slowly until just before hatching in order to counteract the aforementioned dehydration.
- Never too low humidity. Avoid fluctuations by not trying to influence the incubator (e.g. opening the incubator more often).
- Use lukewarm water to increase the humidity.
- IMPORTANT! Do not let the duck eggs come into permanent contact with the water!
- Maintain a constant temperature of 99,5–100 °F while the duck eggs are hatching.
- Very brief over- or under-temperatures in the brood chamber are not the end of the world.
- Provide adequate air circulation so that enough oxygen can enter the egg and carbon dioxide is excreted. (Mostly dependent on incubators and can hardly be influenced), but no drafts!
Breeding season of duck eggs
Small ducks = 25-26 days
Big ducks = 26-28 days
“Warty ducks” = up to 35 days
Turning the duck eggs
- Turn the duck eggs at least three times a day. The more often the better. I advise you to use an odd number at least. 3 times – morning / noon / evening – to avoid sticking of the embryo in the duck egg.
- If you turn the eggs by hand, you will occasionally change positions in the incubator to compensate for temperature fluctuations.
- Flip the eggs by hand from 3rd to 21-22. Day. After that no more. For wart ducks, turn the eggs by 25-27. Day. A good and general guideline is: do not turn around 4 days before hatching. Do you have a fully automatic incubator? Then the turning function can already run from day 1. Switch them off 4 days before the start of hatching!
- If you want, you can install cooling times during the turning as described in the text, which saves effort.
Check the duck eggs for fertilization
If you want, you can check the eggs for fertilization from day 6 onwards.
You can do the whole thing with a candling lamp.
Since duck eggs can withstand chilling times of 5 to 15 minutes a day, given the right conditions, you don’t need to worry.
Nevertheless, you must be careful with the duck egg and absolutely avoid hypothermia.
Because the germ begins to develop from day 3-4. A critical time.
If you do not see anything while candling or if you are unsure. Then repeat the sheering 2 days later.
Please sort out unfertilized eggs!
The ducks hatch – After the ducklings hatch
Don’t be surprised if the chicks peck a hole in the egg and then rest and roll around in the egg. Because hatching from an egg can be quite exhausting!
If the eggshell has been blown by the chick, then it’s almost there!
Give them some time. When most of the chicks have hatched, turn the temperature down a bit, I recommend 95 °F to dry the fluff.
Provide some air!
After the fluff is dry, put the chicks in their new home, which hopefully you have furnished! ☻
e.g. Rearing box / brooder for ducklings with 95 °F, food and drink.
Brooder for ducklings
Would you like to build a brooder for ducklings yourself? You don’t need a lot for that! You need a container with sufficient space.
Depending on how many chicks you expect after hatching, I recommend at least 1550 in² area for a maximum of 20 ducklings for the first 2 weeks.
For example, you can build something yourself out of wood, use a pet habitat cage or simply one or more large moving boxes.
However, you can also use kitchen paper up to the first week, under which it is worthwhile to lay out newspaper. After the first week, the chicks are usually much more active and completely defecate. Which is why you can switch to sawdust after the first week!
Use a heating plate for chicks as a heat source.
The ducklings then go to the hot plate on their own if necessary.
You can use the duck starter feed from Manna Pro as feed for the ducklings.
Some Chicks Don’t Hatch – What To Do If Chicks Don’t Hatch?
Some Chicks Don’t Hatch – What To Do If Chicks Don’t Hatch?
Should the chicks not hatch or be very late or you have the feeling that it just doesn’t come.
Then please do not unpack, the chicks pull the yolk sac from the egg into the inside of the body, this is absolutely essential for survival.
You can use tweezers to help where the egg received its first pokes from the inside and enlarge the air hole to about 7 mm so that the chick can breathe better.
Otherwise it is best not to do anything. If one or the other chick doesn’t make it, then unfortunately it is.
If a chick is frustrated with struggling while hatching, it is always your decision in the end whether or not to help.
You shouldn’t let the ducks suffer either, be prepared to give the weak a sad but quick end, before they just torment themselves and die after 1 to 2 weeks, unsuitable for life.
If too many eggs fail, please reconsider your attention during incubation and preparation.
Clean the incubator
Use hatching plan for duck eggs
An incubation plan can help to keep track of the breeding process.
In addition to all of the above factors, your own experience is essential when hatching duck eggs – so here too: practice makes perfect.
So I wish you a lot of fun and successful hatching of duck eggs!