I have been incubating some duck eggs and after missing my quail hatching a few years ago was determined not to miss the hatch this time round! I started out with six eggs, three turned out to be infertile or died very early and one sadly died in the shell later on. But I have two happy little ducklings chirping away in my kitchen, here’s their story.
Eggs just set in the incubator – 06/05/12
I first candled the eggs after six days revealing what looked like four fertile and two infertile eggs. I checked those two again a few days later but still nothing. Here you can see the network of blood vessels beginning to form.
Fertile egg at 6 days after incubation began
And again at 14 days – half way through incubation
Fertile egg candled at 14 days
I tried to candle the eggs later but was unable to get clear pictures much after as the ducklings grew and filled the egg. On Friday 1st June two had their beaks in the eggs air sac which is a good indication that they will hatch soon – most likely within 48 hours. I could also hear them chirping from inside the egg. On Saturday morning a tiny crack had appeared in one egg so they were definitely on their way.
1st duckling pips at approximately 10:30pm on 2nd June
By 11pm there was a clear hole
Then everything went quiet so time to get some sleep
Woke up and checked again at 1:30am and could see a little beak poking out
1:47am 3nd June
Waited for a bit and then back to bed for me until 5:30am when the 1st duckling had broken the shell end away
5:30am 3rd June
And out it came about 5 minutes later
1st duckling hatches
I was a bit worried about how lifeless it appeared at first. I knew they would be from the work of getting out of the egg but it was worse then I expected. But it’s heartbeat looked good and strong. I noticed now that the second egg had pipped. Opening the incubator now would of risked chilling the baby and also drop the humidity in there making it harder for the others to hatch if it became to dry.
2nd duckling – 8:34am 3rd June
By 8:30 am the second duckling had broken away most of the end of the egg and you can see it’s beak.
2nd duckling at 09:06am 3rd June
By 09:10am it was almost out and shortly after the first duckling, still very wobbly and hardly able to stand, struggled over to help the other by pushing it around and breaking away the shell with its beak. Amazing!
2nd duckling out – 09:10am 3rd June
2nd duckling – 5:23pm 3rd June
At this point I saw that the third egg had a large crack along its side. At first I thought the chick was in the wrong position and was trying to come out wrong but now I think maybe it got cracked by the other two moving around. Will never know as the little guy didn’t make it. I candled the egg later when removing the two ducklings and it had died. Though I have no way of knowing when, it looked to be quite late as most of the eggs was filled with dark feathers. It is now buried at the end of my garden.
The incubator was still very steamed up and humid so the ducklings were not drying out so I quickly removed the ducklings and put the top over them on the side while I emptied the water container and dried everything off. Made the world of difference as they were looking much drier and fluffier within a few hours.The first to hatch carried on cleaning and picked some bits of stuck shell of the other while cuddling up to it.
Fluffy babies – 8:50pm 3th June