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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:58 pm 
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Hatchling
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Hi everyone - I have just joined the forum, this is my first post. I have just hatched out my first clutch of duck eggs in the incubator and had dismal results :-( The first two eggs pipped at 28 days at the wrong end - I did a lot of reading and since they could both breath l left them for over 24 hours (still no progress) so very slowly helped them out over a 24 hour period - both still had unabsorbed yolk sacks but eventually absorbed - 1 is now fluffed and well (but small) and 1 had something wrong with it's leg and a crooked neck and died this morning. During this 2 eggs hatched on their own correctly and 2 more pipped at the wrong end!! Which now I left 48 hours without touching (as to not make the same mistake again) and both died in their shells! :-( This morning 2 more had pipped at the wrong end, so i started intervining but neither are close to ready and they are now 4 days overdue.. they are still alive in their shells so i have just left them in the incubator- I guess now they will either survive or they won't? So from 8 eggs, I had 2 pip at the right end and 6 pip at the small end! So The eggs were on their sides in the incuator. I want to have another go, but i want to know what i can better do next time around and learn from my mistakes... would it be worth hatching them in egg trays or something to hold the big end up? Is this an incubator temp/ humidity issue or just egg positioning? Also is it usual they would be so different and would hatch over 4 days? What an unexpectedly stressful process this was.. :aaah!


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:33 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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I have been where you are for sure. My first hatch was also a disaster. My sympathies - it's so terribly disappointing.

One of the most important things to get right with any eggs, but especially tricky ones like duck eggs, is the size of the air cell at hatch. It needs be about 1/3 of the volume of the egg. So, it needs to be big! If the air cell is too small there is too much moisture in the egg, meaning:
- ducklings cannot turn properly (maybe why you got pips at the wrong end)
- ducklings can drown in the excess liquid
- absorption of the blood vessels and yolk is hindered
- the membrane just inside the shell is extremely tough and hard to break through.

So, when you candle the eggs, how big do the air cells look? If they are too small then you need to drop the humidity for your next hatch. This will increase the evaporation rate from the eggs and will lead to bigger air cells. I'd even run the incubator dry until the last three days (when you want at least 70% humidity).

Eggs early in the season or from young birds are less porous than later eggs and that can mean they don't lose enough moisture. So not hatching so early in the season can help too.

Other thoughts:
- Check your incubation temperature - get a good quality mercury thermometer and calibrate your incubator. Get it right and steady before you put any eggs in the incubator.
- Make sure hands are washed and clean before collecting or handling eggs.
- Feed your birds high quality layer food.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:35 pm 
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Also wash your incubator thoroughly between hatches, using water with detergent added. Dry it thoroughly afterwards (eg by running it with no water added to the reservoirs).

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:43 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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This diagram gives you an idea of how much air cell development you want to see at each point in time, measured in days from the start of incubation. It's not obvious in that pic but the air cell is developing at the fat end of the egg:

Image

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:06 pm 
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Hatchling
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Thank you so much Rach! It's a tad devastating really. It sounds very much like it was humidity - my eggs seem to have all those "symptoms" and air cells were about the 22 day line... I had it pretty consistent between 60% - 65% until lockdown and then upped it to between 70% - 75% at lockdown? It went up to about 80% when they started hatching and stayed there. I will try and get a photo of one of the eggs that was still moving at lockdown but must have quit... I really appreciate your help! Luckily for the kids at least we have 3 alive and fluffy but we started with 24 eggs (9 not fertile- i think just early in season here in Southern Vic - they had only been laying for 2 or 3 weeks) 2 quit by day 10 but all the rest happy at day 25.. urrggghh. Will pick myself back up if the floor and load her up again..


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:13 pm 
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Hatchling
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Ok, yes clearly too small - I only candles them at 10 and 25 days and I didn't mark them... but i will definitely do that this time and candle at days you have above to travk progress...


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:15 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Hi Littlesteavenson farm and welcome to the forum.
What a disappointment - been there too. Good advice from Rach, she is an experienced duck person.
Just a query - the overdue/not ready? What breed/breeds are your ducks?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:32 pm 
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Hatchling
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Thanks Old Mother Goose - they are Silver Appleyards. I think that's that bit that has me most confused because 2 came out perfectly on time and they all went in at the same time. I think perhaps next time I will alter the humidity as Rach suggested and then do absolutely nothing but remove fluffy duckings.. I only had success with helping one anyway and it was long and stressful... and now he/she is very small..No doubt I made it more traumatic than it needed to be. I think I'm best to just lock them down and ignore them, and if they hatch they hatch...


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:44 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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Sounds like a good plan.

80% humidity at hatch is good - can't be too high then really. But I'd definitely lower it a lot for the first 25 days. Try around 30% (the background humidity in the room will probably give you that).

I really do understand how you feel. It's awful, and so tough to see the ducklings trying so hard and not making it. It is great to get three though, from a first attempt, even though it doesn't feel like it at the moment.

I've found that broody hens do a great job with duck eggs. Much better than an incubator. So if you have that option open to you give it a go as well. Take the ducklings away from the hen at or before 3 weeks of age though as hens can start to peck at emerging wing feathers.

Enjoy the ones that have hatched. They are delightful :) Though when you see how much they poo (once they really start growing) you'll be glad you didn't end up with 24!! ;)

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:01 pm 
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Great Game
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Yep it can be very frustrating.

I must say I had my best results with both duck and goose eggs keeping the humidity high from day one.

I followed the advice of rnbs waterfowl in this thread and had really good hatch rates viewtopic.php?f=16&t=8009924&p=550155&hilit=duck+eggs+humidity#p550155

Good luck with your next lot.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:30 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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Egg porosity has a lot to do with it.... Some birds' eggs don't have enough porosity to lose enough moisture with the typically recommended humidity levels. The key is to monitor the air cell and adjust as needed.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:56 am 
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Junior Champion Bird
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I've not hatched ducks, but I know with chickens, I get more malpositions if I incubate on their sides, rather than in a tray pointy end down. It's rare to get a malpositioned chick when I incubate them vertically and tilt, rather than on their sides and turn 180 degrees.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:59 pm 
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Duck and chicken egg incubation are different kettles of fish. Chicken eggs have been selected over thousands of years for their ability to hatch under artificial incubation conditions, including with the fat end up. Duck eggs have not. Duck eggs are definitely best lying on their sides.

Chicken eggs are very forgiving and are quite easy to hatch in an incubator compared to duck eggs. With duck eggs it's best to try to replicate nature as closely as possible.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:24 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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70%cocoa wrote:
Duck and chicken egg incubation are different kettles of fish. Chicken eggs have been selected over thousands of years for their ability to hatch under artificial incubation conditions, including with the fat end up. Duck eggs have not. Duck eggs are definitely best lying on their sides.

Chicken eggs are very forgiving and are quite easy to hatch in an incubator compared to duck eggs. With duck eggs it's best to try to replicate nature as closely as possible.

Cool, and very interesting!

Do you think commercially developed meat duck breeds would be more like chicken eggs in that regard? I can't imagine they have gone through quite the selective breeding process that chickens have over the years, but it seems logical that through selection of ducks for commercial production, that a similar thing might occur. Purely speculating though, I've never incubated duck eggs, nor seen what commercial duck hatcheries do, lol.

Really interesting topic though, and definitely something I'm noting, if I ever hatch ducks (which I want to do at time point, but still haven't gotten around to it).


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:45 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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I am pretty sure that large commercial hatcheries do hatch duck eggs will the fat end up as that's how the really huge incubators work. The big operators have incubation down to a fine art (as every unhatched egg is a financial loss) and would collect a lot of data and refine every tiny parameter. Selection pressure (for eggs that can make it in the vertical orientation) probably plays a bit of a role too.

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