Incubating Duck Eggs: Bad News in the Incubator
Out of our experience trying to incubate duck eggs comes the story of Lemon Drop the Duck. The incubation story is a bit sad, but Lemon Drop’s story is one full of miracles and joy.
Inside we had the incubator running trying to hatch out twenty-five duck eggs. Six were determined infertile within a few days. This left nineteen to hatch. When we candled the eggs we could see some growth. It was very exciting to see the progress of nineteen little ducklings in the eggs. This is where our excitement ends for this batch of eggs. The short version of this story is that none of the duck eggs hatched. We don’t know why.
Incubating Duck Eggs: Lemon Drop’s Amazing Story
Lemon Drop, however, was one of the seven eggs that were out in the coop under the broody Silkie hens. We thought it was good to hedge our bets by trying to raise some indoors and some out in the coop.
Around four days before these seven eggs were supposed to hatch we found one on the floor of the coop. It had been fractured from the fall from the nest. We’re not sure why the hens kicked this egg out. Perhaps it was an accident from several broody Silkie hens fighting for position on one nest. Once the egg was on the floor it appeared that the other chickens had pecked at the egg. This opened a large hole exposing poor little Lemon Drop before his was ready to hatch.
When I found the egg on the coop floor I was just going to toss it. I didn’t want ants or rats coming in for a free meal. I was surprised to see the little duckling move. This little guy was still alive!
We placed Lemon Drop in the incubator for the last four days of it’s incubation period. I didn’t think he had much chance, but I didn’t want to give up on him too early. He (or she, not sure yet) was at risk of drying out so we misted him several times a day in the incubator.
Lemon Drop is a fighter. He never gave up. We could see his little body moving and heaving from breathing. The misting was helping but it wasn’t keeping the eggs shell membrane from drying out and tightening up on his little body.
All of the eggs there were out in the coop were moved into the incubator to finish. We knew they were within twenty-four hours of hatching by the little cracks they make in the egg shell with their bills. We wanted to finish all of them inside so we could see what was going on.
Incubating Duck Eggs: Incubator Image Gallery
When the other ducklings started hatching we knew the timing was right for us to help Lemon Drop along. The egg membrane was dry and stuck to his feathers. He was not going to be able to come out of the egg without assistance so we lightly picked and peeled the membrane. It didn’t take much. Lemon Drop started kicking and pushing. He made it!
Check out the following video for the story and footage of Lemon Drop and other ducklings hatching.
Incubating Duck Eggs: Lemon Drop’s Amazing Story Video