The Great Duck Hatching Eggscape

This morning, I received a box of carefully packed fertile duck eggs from Julie Gauthier, an American Livestock Conservancy member who raises show-quality Saxony and Magpie ducks.

Julie is also a board certified vet, the co-author of Chicken Health for Dummies and an incredibly nice person.

And so begins my second duckling hatch.

This time in addition to top-quality eggs and the expertise of Ms. Gauthier, as well as my trusty Brinsea Mini Advance Incubator, I have the benefit of the Brinsea Ovaview Candler which works WAY better than a mini MagLite flashlight, which is what I had been using to candle the eggs.

I am LOVING this candler (scroll to the bottom to see both the candler and incubator)!

Armed with my arsenal of first-hand experience, top notch advisers, first-quality hatching eggs and materials, I am confident that this hatch will be just as successful as last year's hatch which I chronicled here at The Great Eggscape Too.  

(Please refer to this post for much more detail and a day by day, step by step guide to hatching duck eggs.)  

I am aiming for another 100% hatch rate here folks! But this year, I'm going to let myself relax a bit more, have fun and keep you all updated through this post on each new development as it happens.

The eggs arrived expertly packaged just two days after being put in the mail to me.  Not a single egg broke, and they were all incredibly clean - for ducks eggs especially. 

So far, so good. Included in the box were a few white Saxony eggs and pale green and white Magpie eggs.

After letting the eggs sit out for a few hours at room temperature to 'settle' from their journey, and while the incubator came up to temperature (99.3-99.6F), I carefully numbered each egg with a regular lead pencil, washing my hands first so as not to transmit any bacteria to the surface of the eggs.

Then I arranged the eggs in the incubator with the pointy end pointing out.

Since I'm going to be manually turning the eggs and not using the turning tray, I line the incubator with a piece of shelf liner so the eggs stay put as I am turning them.

I carefully filled half of the reservoir with room temperature water to add humidity to the incubator.

Then I put the lid on the incubator and said goodnight to my ducklings-to-be.

Talking softly to chicks once they hatch helps to calm them and allows them to get used to the sound of your voice, but I start talking to mine way earlier than that, so you can bet I said goodnight to each of them and wished them luck.

Day 4

~see link below to purchase the Brinsea OvaScope~
Day 4 and it's time to candle the eggs. To my sheer delight, seven of the eight seem to be developing nicely. The tell-take 'spider' of blood vessels and veins showed up wonderfully in all but one (lower left corner).

Day 9

Pro Tip for a Successful Duck Egg Hatch 

Each day around noon I leave the lid off the incubator for about 20 minutes then turn and mist the eggs with room temperature water and replace the cover.

Studies have shown that mimicking mother duck's daily routine of getting off the nest to eat and take a quick swim can aid in a more successful hatch.

Day 14

We're halfway there!  One egg turned out to be infertile and one wasn't developing so I am down to six eggs in the incubator but as you can see, they look great! 

Day 18

Ten days to go and the veining is pretty clear in the eggs!  I can even see movement in the eggs and body parts are pretty clear. 

Day 26
And we have a pip!

Day 27
And a second pip!  Still waiting on egg #5 ...

Day 28

And right on time, the first egg hatched! This is a little Saxony duckling. Five more eggs to go.  I think this is going to be a very long day during which I don't get very much done...

And now we have two ducklings! 

For those of you who follow me, this was Custard and her sister who hatched! I will let them dry off completely and rest up a bit before I move them to their brooder.

Thanks so much for joining me on my journey! Hatching your own chicks or ducklings is an experience that I would be hard pressed to rival. 

The feeling of assisting in creating new life is second to none.

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  1. Replies
    1. Welcome aboard Teresa! I'm very excited as you can probably tell!

  2. I hatched out two seperate batches of chicks in September. 100% hatch rate, on time, I cried for almost every one. It was awesome. My last hatch, I was more confident (maybe too confident) Out of seven eggs, I had four surviving chicks that were several days late. This second hatch of fertile eggs that I bought from a friend is two days late and not a single pip! I hope you have better luck than I'm having with your ducks. I don't know if it's the weather, my incubator, or the themometer but something isn't right with my latest hatches!!! Double check all your equipment. I'm soo sad about these two hatches. I don't want you to be sad too!

    1. Thank you Kelly! I too had a 100% hatch rate my first two hatches, one chicken, one duck. I am afraid it was beginner's luck, but I did everything by the book, and intend to this time as well, as fingers crossed....

    2. I hatched five chicks in my Brinsea mini advance last year... do you think it's big enough for six duck eggs? I'm not so sure, but I can't wait to watch.

    3. It sure is. I just fit 8 duck eggs - and two are pretty large saxony eggs- into mine.I like to fit as many as I can to allow for maybe one or two not being fertile or not developing, so I end up with maybe 5 or 6 that go the duration. I do hand turn so its no problem to have the turning tray out.

  3. I so would love ducks. We just get so much snow here. Maybe next year. I will be anxious to see the progress of yours.

  4. How exciting! OR should I say eggciting! Can't wait to see what happens!

  5. This is soooo exciting! No matter how many times you see it, new birth is always amazing!

  6. That sounds so exciting! Good luck hatching your duck eggs.

  7. Wow ~ I didn't have this insight before ... Please write a post when the ducklings arrive!

    1. I certainly will! I'll update this post along the way. I'll be candling the eggs on Monday morning and post some photos.

  8. Can't wait to see the results!

  9. What fun! I'd love to have some ducks...maybe next year :) Found your post on Farmgirl Friday and I would love to have you share this on The Creative HomeAcre Hop today!

  10. something I should like to do sometime soon....thank you for look into how it is done. Those egss sure are pretty.

  11. Thank you for coming by sharing your creative photography on Weekly Top Shot #72!

  12. Thanks for sharing your talent on The Creative HomeAcre Hop!
    Our next party goes live Sunday morning at:

    If you have a blog hop, please check out The Linky Love Party...a place to share your parties with other bloggers! Grab the button for an easy way to search for parties every week!

  13. Aww, I loved reading this post. I can't wait to see your new babies!

  14. I LOVE watching little babies hatch! I discovered your site in the Coop glad I did too!


  15. Hi Lisa,

    I am a avid follower of your blog and love your chicken feed recipe. I know you have a recipe posted for baby ducks, and was wondering if you have a feed recipe that you give your adult ducks, or do you give them the check feed recipe. We recently got some baby ducks and we adopted some adult ducks. I was curious on what to feed the adult ducks to make sure they are provided with all the nutrients they need. Thanks

    1. Our adult ducks are in with our chickens so they all eat the same mix. You certainly can feed the ducks the Breakfast of Champion Layers. I would skip the sunflower seeds tho. I have read that ducks have trouble digesting whole seeds, although I have never been able to 100% verify that.