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How to Hatch Duck Eggs

Hatching duck eggs is not difficult and will likely be far more successful using these simple tools and methods.

This morning, I received a box of carefully packed fertile duck eggs from Julie Gauthier, an American Livestock Conservancy member who raises show-quality Saxony and Magpie ducks.

Julie is also a board certified vet, the co-author of Chicken Health for Dummies and an incredibly nice person.

And so begins my second duckling hatch.

This time in addition to top-quality eggs and the expertise of Ms. Gauthier, as well as my trusty Brinsea Mini Advance Incubator, I have the benefit of the Brinsea Ovaview Candler which works WAY better than a mini MagLite flashlight, which is what I had been using to candle the eggs.

I am LOVING this candler and incubator!

Armed with my arsenal of first-hand experience, top notch advisers, first-quality hatching eggs and materials, I am confident that this hatch will be just as successful as last year's hatch which I chronicled  HERE. 

(Please refer to this post for much more detail and a day-by-day guide to hatching duck eggs.)  

I am aiming for another 100% hatch rate here folks! But this year, I'm going to let myself relax a bit more, have fun and keep you all updated through this post on each new development as it happens.

How to Hatch Duck Eggs

The eggs arrived expertly packaged just two days after being put in the mail to me.  Not a single egg broke, and they were all incredibly clean - for ducks eggs especially. 

So far, so good. Included in the box were a few white Saxony eggs and pale green and white Magpie eggs.

After letting the eggs sit out for a few hours at room temperature to 'settle' from their journey, and while the incubator came up to temperature (99.3-99.6F), I carefully numbered each egg with a regular lead pencil, washing my hands first so as not to transmit any bacteria to the surface of the eggs.

Then I arranged the eggs in the incubator with the pointy end pointing out.

Since I'm going to be manually turning the eggs and not using the turning tray, I line the incubator with a piece of shelf liner so the eggs stay put as I am turning them.

I carefully filled half of the reservoir with room temperature water to add humidity to the incubator.

Then I put the lid on the incubator and said goodnight to my ducklings-to-be.

Talking softly to chicks once they hatch helps to calm them and allows them to get used to the sound of your voice, but I start talking to mine way earlier than that, so you can bet I said goodnight to each of them and wished them luck.

Day 4

Day 4 and it's time to candle the eggs. To my sheer delight, seven of the eight seem to be developing nicely. The tell-take 'spider' of blood vessels and veins showed up wonderfully in all but one (lower left corner).

Day 9

Pro Tip for a Successful Duck Egg Hatch 

Each day around noon I leave the lid off the incubator for about 20 minutes then turn and mist the eggs with room temperature water and replace the cover.

Studies have shown that mimicking mother duck's daily routine of getting off the nest to eat and take a quick swim can aid in a more successful hatch.

Day 14

We're halfway there!  One egg turned out to be infertile and one wasn't developing so I am down to six eggs in the incubator but as you can see, they look great! 

Day 18

Ten days to go and the veining is pretty clear in the eggs!  I can even see movement in the eggs and body parts are pretty clear. 

Day 26
And we have a pip!

Day 27
And a second pip!  Still waiting on egg #5 ...

Day 28

And right on time, the first egg hatched! This is a little Saxony duckling. Five more eggs to go.  I think this is going to be a very long day during which I don't get very much done...

And now we have two ducklings! 

For those of you who follow me, this was Custard and her sister who hatched! I will let them dry off completely and rest up a bit before I move them to their brooder.

Thanks so much for joining me on my journey! Hatching your own chicks or ducklings is an experience that I would be hard pressed to rival. 

The feeling of assisting in creating new life is second to none.

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