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Hatching Posted Fertile Duck Eggs In An Incubator

Hatching Posted Fertile Duck Eggs In An Incubator

Every spring in we inundated with requests for fertile duck eggs, and people regularly purchase our duck hatching eggs online from our home-reared flocks of ducks, including our Cayuga, Muscovy, Khaki Campbell and Call Ducks. As duck eggs are tricky to hatch yourself, I have written these tops tips on how to hatch these duck hatching eggs in an incubator, (there is different advice for using a broody duck). 

Today, I'm here to guide you through the process of successfully hatching duck eggs, with a particular focus on those that have travelled to you via post. Hatching duck eggs yourself is hard, but having spent years working with a variety ducks and waterfowl I've gathered a wealth of knowledge and experience that I'm happy to share with you. Let's explore the art of hatching fertile posted duck eggs, ensuring they get the best start in their new home.

Understanding the Postal Journey

Firstly, let’s be realistic - a duck lays a lot of eggs before she sits, and partly that is becuase she knows that not all of them will be viable, or grow to hatching. So first things first - lower your expectations on how many are going to hatch. Consider what happens to duck eggs during their postal journey. The transit through the postal system, with its array of machines and sorting processes, can be a rough ride for your eggs. Vibrations, particularly from sorting machines, may jostle the air sac within the egg, which is essential for a duckling’s development. So, don't think you are going to get 6 out of 6 hatching, you might (!) but don't expect… Follow my top tips for succesfully hatching duck eggs, and if you are lucky you may get more than 50% hatching. 

Essential First Steps After Receiving Your Fertile Duck Eggs

Once your duck eggs have arrived, there’s an important initial step: allow them to rest for 24 hours with the broader end upwards. This isn’t just a waiting period; it's a critical time that allows the air sac, possibly disturbed during shipment, to re-stabilise. This step significantly enhances your chances of a successful hatch.

Setting Up for Hatching

Whether you're using an incubator or a broody duck, consistency is key. For incubator use, maintain a steady environment at about 37.5°C and keep humidity very high, replicating what a mother duck would naturally provide, we often set out humidity at 80%, especially when hatching call duck and muscovy duck eggs which like it very damp. 

Candling and Egg Viability

Around days 14, it's time for candling. This process, where you shine a light into the egg, isn’t just for identifying viable eggs; it also offers a glimpse into the remarkable development of life. Remove any duck eggs that clearly show non-viability, such as being overly transparent or having blood rings. This requires a keen eye and patience, the Cayuga hatching eggs can be the hardest to see, but our Khaki Campbells are easy. 

The Home Stretch - Lockdown Phase

As you approach day 26, it's time to enter the 'lockdown' phase. Now, you stop turning the eggs and increase humidity to about 90%. This is crucial for the ducklings as they prepare to hatch, ensuring they have the right conditions for this critical stage. It's akin to preparing for the grand finale in the hatching saga!

As your ducks are hatching DO NOT OPEN THE INCUBATOR - they do not need your help. The struggling you see is getting their bones and muscles stronger, their lungs are starting to work, and this all take time. Just like us humans can have long labours, so can the ducks hatching. 24 hours is not uncommon, so don't rush them. 

In Summary

Achieving a 50% hatch rate is considered a great success, especially with posted eggs. Remember, not every egg is destined to hatch, which is why ducks lay so many. But with careful attention and following these steps, you’re giving your hatching eggs the best chance possible. If you ever need advice or have questions, remember, I’m here to help, along with the rest of the team at East Sussex Smallholders. We’re not just about providing you with high-quality fertile hatching eggs; we’re about cultivating a community of knowledgeable, passionate poultry keepers – we are the crazy duck ladies and gents!

Best of luck with your duck egg hatching adventures - and drop us a text if you need help. 

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Comments(1)

I have 4 Cayuga females and 1 jumbo Pekin male(not intentionally). They have been mating and I recently found an egg w/an embryo, now my curiosity is peaked and I want to incubate some eggs. My females have not been very motherly as they leave the nesting house all day. I have purchased a small incubator but was wondering if you have any thoughts, tips and/or advice that might be helpful?