One can use the same technique of incubating and hatching chicken eggs to hatch and incubate duck eggs. However, you should ensure you first know the differences between the two eggs. Duck species like the Pekins take about twenty-eight days to hatch. On the other hand, Muscovy takes about thirty-five days.
There is natural incubation and artificial incubation. It would be best to have the tips to ensure you have a successful artificial incubation. If your duck has laid eggs, here are the steps to incubate the duck eggs.
How To Incubate Duck Eggs?
The equipment and the fundamentals for incubating chicken eggs are almost the same as for incubating duck eggs. When incubating duck eggs, the vital things you should keep under control are the temperature and humidity.
Duck Egg Incubating Basics
Understanding the incubating basics will increase your chances of having a successful artificial incubation. You need to understand the differences between duck and chicken eggs. You should also know why the differences exist and how they come into play during duck egg incubation.
It would be best to consider having a bigger incubator when incubating duck eggs because duck eggs are bigger. If you want to house your duck eggs firmly, you should use an incubator with individual egg holders. However, you should ensure that you skip an opening in between each egg. It will prevent the eggs from rubbing against each other and prevent eggs from cracking or falling.
You can also use an incubator with open trays with firm walls. The incubator has adjustable dividers to accommodate both small and large eggs. You should know that the number of eggs an incubator can hold depends on the size of the egg.
The Incubation Time For Duck Eggs
The incubation time of a duck egg depends on the breed of the duck. Most species like the Pekin take an average incubation time of twenty-eight days for it to hatch. However, the Muscovy breed is an exception. It can take an incubation time of up to thirty-five days.
Recommended Time To Start Incubating Your Duck Eggs
It would be best if you began incubating your eggs as soon as your duck lays eggs. Therefore, you must search and collect eggs daily. Do not risk to wait for a duck to first sit on its eggs after laying.
Most ducks will sit on their eggs, but they might later give up, and they will stop hence exposing the egg to cold. Even though you try to save the egg by incubating it, the chances of producing a duckling are very minimal. When a duck egg gets exposed to cold and damp weather, the odds of a successful hatch are not in its favor. Therefore, ensure that you immediately incubate your eggs after the ducks lay them to increase the chances of hatching.
Tips For Artificial Incubation
Unlike natural incubation, artificial incubation depends on human effort for it to be successful. Therefore, you should know about it if you want a successful incubation process. These are some of the tips that you can exercise to ensure that you have a successful incubation process.
Buy An Incubator With Automatic Turning Arms
Duck eggs are more vulnerable to even the slightest change in humidity levels. Therefore, it is not advisable to open the incubator machine severally every day. An automatic turning arm incubator will automatically turn the eggs without you having to open the device. Therefore, it results in increased chances of a successful incubation and hatching.
A slight temperature fluctuation can bring problems during the hatching process. Therefore, you must mark your egg with an ‘X.’ It will help you keep track of the turning of the eggs throughout the day. The minimum number of turns should be four times a day if you want the best results.
Follow Your Duck’s Lead When Collecting The Eggs
After ducks lay eggs, they first store them in their nest. They cover them with feathers to protect them and provide warmth to the eggs. Ducks will never take an egg that has less chance of hatching in the nest. Most people use the criteria of collecting only clean eggs, and they end up failing to hatch.
Therefore, collect the eggs that your duck has deemed worthy of putting into the nest. The eggs that you will find in the nest are most likely to have the best shells. It is hard to find a misshaped egg in the duck’s nest. You should ensure the eggs you collect for incubation are wider at one end and narrower at the other. Moreover, do not collect cracked eggs or eggs with excess calcium deposits.
Humidity Is The Key
Humidity is a vital factor in determining the success of your incubation. A slight change in humidity level might result in unsuccessful incubation. The humidity levels of incubating levels duck eggs are slightly higher than chicken eggs.
The starting humidity level when incubating duck eggs should be fifty-five to sixty percent. During the last days of incubation, raise the humidity levels to eighty percent. Maintaining such humidity levels in an incubator can be challenging.
Therefore, you should run a humidifier adjacent to your incubator so that the air in the incubator also becomes humid. You can also spray cool water on your eggs once a day.
How To Incubate Duck Eggs
Most people try to incubate duck eggs, but they end up failing. The following are some of the steps you can follow to incubate your duck eggs successfully.
Set Up The Incubator
Before setting your eggs in your incubator, you should first stabilize the temperature and humidity for about two days. The temperature should be at 37.5 degrees Celsius, while the relative humidity should be at 55%. It would be best to buy an incubator with an automatic turning arm to lead to a successful incubation. The minimum turning should be four times a day.
Inspect And Candle The Eggs Before Setting Them
You should ensure that you inspect and candle your eggs for proper selection before setting them on the tray. You should not choose eggs with cracks or double yolks. The eggs should also be clean and in the right shape and size.
If you want to get the best results, you should set your eggs within one to three days after being laid. When you place your eggs in an incubator seven days after the ducks lays them, an average of 3% hatchability is lost. When it is after fourteen days, a whole 10% hatchability is lost.
After choosing the best eggs for incubation, you can set them in the incubator and close the doors. It would be best to let the incubator first reach the operating temperature. You should also ensure that you consistently check the incubator to confirm that it is working correctly.
During the first weeks, ensure that you turn your eggs. You can put a mark on the egg to make things easier for you during the rotations. It will help the egg not to rest on one side continuously. You should also check and confirm that the temperature conditions and humidity levels are in their required state.
After seven days, ensure you candle the eggs and remove any infertile eggs or those with a deadly germ. You can start spraying your eggs about ten to fourteen days into incubation.
On the 25th day of incubation, transfer the eggs to the hatching trays. Ensure that you maintain a temperature of 37.2 degrees Celsius and a humidity level of 65%. However, ensure you increase the humidity levels and the ventilation openings as the hatching process progresses. The humidity level should be at 80%, and you should raise the ventilation openings by about 50%.
When the hatching process is about to end, lower the temperature to 36.1 degrees Celsius and the humidity level to 70%. Moreover, open the vents to their maximum setting. You will see that the ducklings will start pipping and unfurl from the shell.
What Do You Do After The Hatching Process?
Once the hatching process is complete, ensure you leave the ducklings in the incubator until all hatchlings are dry. It might take approximately 30 hours for all the hatchlings to dry. However, it might take longer if the incubator had problems with humidity issues and low temperatures.
Why Do Many People Prefer Duck Eggs Than Chicken Eggs?
Duck eggs differ from chicken eggs, and one notable difference is their size. A duck egg is larger when compared to a chicken egg. Moreover, duck eggs also have higher nutritional value as they are rich in vitamins and proteins. In addition, the duck eggshell is harder to crack compared to that of a chicken.
The success rate of incubating chicken eggs is higher than that of duck eggs. If you are a first-timer, the chances of having a successful incubation are about fifty percent. It would be best not to beat yourself down since even the experienced person has a seventy-five percent success rate. However, if you grasp the above tips and steps, you will increase your success rate. Despite the challenges, incubating your duck egg can be a fascinating experience.