It's time to vote on our 2017 photo contest! Vote for your favorite photos of the year here!

Eggs not hatching

Tabor, SD(Zone 4b)

Please give me some advise as to what I'm doing wrong. I have duck eggs in the incubator and they are dying in the shell before they hatch. I candle them and see movement, but either they start pecking and die or else just die in the egg without even pecking. I have hatched eggs before and haven't ever had this much trouble. They usually just pop out of the shell, but this year if I get one or two out of twenty, that's about it. I turn and mist them twice a day and have lots of humidity, just like previous years. I set eggs three times and my first batch hatched one out of 15. A friend hatched some eggs in school and he got six to hatch out of 18. My next batch is almost ready and this morning I found one pecked so I thought when I got home, there would be a live little duck, but it died in the shell. I'm really frustrated. There are about 15 more in that batch and when I candled them a little while ago, there was movement in about 7 of them. Any ideas??

(Zone 6b)

Hi Ruth,

I wanted to buy some duck eggs from a man this last month and he talked to me about how his duck eggs had trouble hatching. He said he has to help his out of the shell just about every single time. He didn't want to sell me any to hatch for myself because he was afraid they would die. What he did was gently take a bit of the shell off every 30 minutes or every hour or so, until it was cracked all the way around.

His situation though was that he had an incubator that would hold 100 duck eggs. He was constantly opening and closing the incubator putting in more eggs every day, and sometimes twice a day, even while the other babies were hatching. I suggested he buy a smaller incubator just for the ducks to hatch out in.

We talked about the humidity too. Most of what I know I learned here, so if I am wrong, blame DGers. The humidity the last 3 days should be as high as you can get it, around 70%, if you can get it up there and keep it up there. Some people put wet sponges inside during that time. You aren't supposed to open the incubator at all. They call it lockdown. The theory is, that if they don't have high enough humidity they get shrink wrapped inside there. That the membrane dries out and cements them in where they can't turn and can't peck their way around. Somebody correct me if I am wrong. I think the chick, or duck, turns inself inside the egg and pecks around until it cracks the egg, then kicks it's way out. If they are shrink wrapped, they can't turn after they peck a hole. I'm not even sure if this makes sense, since a hen sitting on eggs would not have that kind of humidity from her body would she?

Anyway, that is the theory, and really all I know. You aren't supposed to turn them or move them or open the incubator for the last three days while they are hatching.

Since you have hatched eggs before, and did well, I don't really know. Could be that you have some type of duck that this just happens to. This man said his ducks were like that too. He had to be really careful or they would die during the hatch.

Araucana chickens have a gene that causes them to do the same type of thing.

Hope things get better for the little ducks.

Tabor, SD(Zone 4b)

Thanks for the reply.
I just helped one out of the shell this morning. I had one pecked the other day and it ended up dying as I wasn't at home to monitor it. I keep the humiditiy around 70% all the time so I didn't think that was the problem. Someone else thought that it might be that my ducks are too closely related. I got a bunch of duck eggs from a friend last year and kept my breeders from that bunch, so maybe I picked some that were siblings. Maybe that made them weak? I don't know. It's a guessing game.
My chicks seem to just pop right out of the shell, but the ducks are having problems. My son tried to hatch some quail eggs in his small incubator and he didn't have much luck either.
I also have a large incubator but it never seemed to bother the eggs previously that I opened it up twice a day to turn and mist. I will try the sponge thing. Maybe that will help.
I learn so much from everyone on this site and appreciate all the advice that I get. Thank you.

(Zone 6b)

I was doing a short search on google for his problem. One woman said to make sure you have ventilation, as they may not be getting enough oxygen after they break the shell. You don't want to keep the vent completely shut.

Wish someone else would chime in. I feel helpless.

Richmond, TX

I've been following along, but I don't incubate eggs of any sort so I am no help.

Tabor, SD(Zone 4b)

I will try to open up the vents a little more. I have them about half open. Maybe that is my problem. I had two hatch this weekend out of 14 eggs, so not a good percentage. I had to also help a little goose out ouf his shell. I have another batch to hatch this weekend, so maybe they will hatch better if I open the vents.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.