If you’ve hatched duck eggs before, then you know how addicting it can be. And if you haven’t hatched eggs? Well, let me tell you, you are in for a real treat! It can be a very rewarding experience, if all the right elements are in place.
I’ve been hatching eggs since I was in the 4th grade. An epic science project that got me hooked for life!
All I’ve ever used is my homemade incubator. I really do believe my incubator is the best, if only because it has allowed me to have a hands on experience that has always produced great results. If you would like to see the incubator I use and even print out the instructions on how to build it, please feel to check it out: How to Build “The Best” Incubator.
Let’s start by discussing the differences in hatching chicken and duck eggs. The biggest difference is that chicken eggs hatch in 21 days and duck eggs hatch in 28 days. Besides this, the same principles that apply to hatching chicken eggs can be applied to duck eggs.
With the last batch of 18 duck eggs I incubated, 12 hatched, 1 died sometime in the last week of incubation for unknown reasons, and 5 were clear eggs. I didn’t candle the eggs, so I didn’t remove the clear eggs. This was a 66% hatch rate.
So what does it take to have a good hatch rate?
Here are the key elements to a successful hatch:
- Fertile eggs. Okay, I know this is a “duh” but really, it makes all the difference.
- Excellent incubator. An incubator can make or break the deal!
- Temperature. Any fluctuations in temperature can be highly detrimental. Consistent temperature and monitoring of the temperature is key!
- Humidity. Without proper humidity levels, especially during the hatching period, chickens and ducks can get stuck in the egg as they hatch. But humidity levels that are too high throughout the incubation period will cause the chicks or ducks to not lose enough moisture and the air pocket will not be large enough to sustain them after they pip.
These are the steps I’ve taken to have very successful hatch rates.
Even with the best care and attention, hatching eggs can also cause some consternation as well. Before proclaiming yourself a failure because of your hatch rates, know that a 50% hatch rate is considered very good. There are so many factors that come into play and some things are just out of our control. And when you have done all you can do with your part of the process, then you can congratulate yourself on a job well done.
And you will be a hatching addict for life!
* The following video may not be suitable for all audiences.
Sad things happen, but sometimes you can make a positive out of a negative. A fight broke out in the chicken coop and this duck egg got broken. It was enough that it wouldn’t last the final week and a half before hatch time. The opportunity this gave us is the chance to see a living duckling part way through incubation. What you are seeing beside the yolk sac is the beak “breathing.”