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 higher propensity to hatch as compared to older ones. Hence, set the eggs to hatch within 1-3 days after they are laid.
There are some basic requirements that have to be met when hatching duck eggs in an incubator. The hatching of duck eggs requires right temperature and humidity levels. Start the incubator one or two days prior to setting the hatching eggs. Keep the temperature at 99 to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity at 86% during the initial 25 days and then reduce temperature to 98.5 degrees Fahrenheit 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 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 to 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 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.2 degrees Celsius. Set the moisture level at around 65%, increasing the level to around 80 percent as the hatching progresses. Toward the end of hatching process, both the humidity and temperature should be reduced to around 70% and 97 degrees Fahrenheit (or 36 degrees Celsius) respectively. When most of the ducklings are dry, remove the birds from the hatcher.