How to Hatch Duck Eggs & 5 Tips to Raise Ducklings

Just like chicken eggs, ducks eggs can also be artificially hatched without the presence of a mother duck. All you need is an appropriate incubator with proper temperature and humidity settings. You can even build a duck egg incubator at home. Any enclosed place or box that can maintain heat and humidity can be used as an incubator for hatching duck eggs. Otherwise, purchase an incubator that suits your hatching needs.

Some Tips for Incubation

Be careful when you are placing the duck eggs into the incubator, making sure that you scrupulously inspect each egg before setting it on the tray. If an egg is dirty, cracked or too large or small, do not place it in the incubator. Also, it’s best to set eggs in the incubator within one to three days from when they were laid. That’s because the likelihood of a loss increases with the storage time. Each egg should be placed in the setting tray with the small end facing down. Eggs that have been placed in a cooler for storage should be warmed to room temperature before incubating them.

The duck eggs that you choose for hatching must be clean, healthy and fertilized. They should not be cracked, deformed, or double yoked. Never use too small or extra-large eggs. Each breed of duck needs different arrangements for hatching and so it is better not to hatch eggs of different duck breeds together. It is also believed that the recently laid eggs have a higher propensity to hatch as compared to older ones. Hence, set the eggs to hatch within 1-3 days after they are laid.

Some basic requirements have to be met when hatching duck eggs in an incubator. The hatching of duck eggs requires the right temperature and humidity levels. Start the incubator one or two days before setting the hatching eggs. Keep the temperature at 99-99.5oF and humidity at 86% during the initial 25 days and then reduce temperature to 98.5 oF and increase the humidity to 94% for the next 3 days.

The duck incubators need larger setting trays as the duck eggs are bigger than chicken eggs. Place the eggs very carefully inside the incubator with their small ends facing down. Another important thing you have to do is to turn the eggs daily except for the last 3 days. This should be done about five to seven times a day manually but you can also purchase automatic equipment which will turn the eggs every hour.

Examine The Eggs After 7 Days

You can start candling after seven days of incubation. Candling involves the use of a bright light source to shine through the eggs to see if they are fertile. Remove the eggs that are found to be infertile from the egg incubator.

Never help ducklings to break the shell and get out of the egg; let them do it their own way. However, a duckling may need your help if it gets trapped inside the egg and is not able to make any progress for 12 hours after making a central hole in the shell.

Hatching Duck Eggs After 25 Days

After the 25-day mark, they will be ready for hatching. You’ll need to move the eggs to a tray or a hatcher. Again, candle the eggs, eliminating the eggs that contain dead embryos. The hatcher, at the time the eggs are transferred, should be adjusted to 99 oF or 37.2 oC. Set the moisture level at around 65%, increasing the level to around 80 percent as the hatching progresses. Toward the end of the hatching process, both the humidity and temperature should be reduced to around 70% and 97 oF (or 36oC) respectively. When most of the ducklings are dry, remove the birds from the hatcher.

5 Tips For Raising Ducks

Are you are thinking about raising ducks and you have no idea where to get started? I have come up with a few tips that will head you in the right direction. There are few things you need to know about ducks before you get started. Ducks can adapt to living almost anywhere, they are very economical and require little care once they become adults. When raising ducks, you can choose to buy ducklings and broods them like chicks or you can choose to buy duck eggs and hatch them artificially in an incubator. Some of the tips include:

  1. When breeding artificially in an incubator, the eggs must be kept in a cool place and mark each egg on each side with different letters. This will help you know which eggs you have turned. The eggs have to be turned every day to prevent the membrane from sticking to the shell. Some incubators turn the eggs automatically. The turning should stop three days before hatching. Run the incubator a day or two before putting the eggs to make sure the temperatures are even. You can determine if the eggs are fertile through a process called Candling
  2. The first hatch is when the duckling breaks through the membrane into the air sac at one end of the egg. Many people have asked whether it is good to help the duckling hatch. It is not ruled out especially to those practicing small-scale poultry farming. Helping the hatching process can be done by using tweezers to make small holes in the shell just right next to the air sac. This is a risky process and it is better to do it with a professional. You must keep an eye on them. The small hole can result in loss of humidity and the membrane may dry out. You can use a sprayer to spray warm water on the egg if this happens.
  3. Once they have hatched, the ducklings are moved to a brooder where they are kept under a heat lamp which prevents them from being cold. During the first three days, the ducklings are a bit unsteady. The floor should be kept dry to prevent them from slipping.
  4. When it comes to feeding them, the water should be kept in a drinker which is deep enough for the duckling to dip its beak and not completely submerge its head in the water. The duckling does not need food immediately after hatching but after 24 hours, it should be fed with starter crumbs which are bought from an agricultural shop. Weak ducklings can be fed hard-boiled yolk to give them more strength. The starter crumbs should be for about ten days then you can switch to growers pellets which are cheaper. After 15 weeks, feeding them the maintenance pellets should be okay as they are no longer ducklings.
  5. Ducks love grass and should be allowed to graze once in a while. They also catch insects in the process which gives them proteins. In harsh weather, they should be sheltered. You don’t need to have a pond as the ducks can swim in a plastic baby pool. The pool has to be refilled and kept clean. Raising ducks can be fun if you let it.

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