As spring is just around the corner our local feed store just announced that they have chicks!! If you are from a small town like me chicks at the feed store are exciting!! You walk in to the sound of chirping babies and stock tanks lined up with heat lamps!! My kids love to walk the isles and pick out chicks every year and get excited about their new fluffy friends!
In the spirit of trying something new last year instead of buying chicks I decided how cool it would be to incubate our own! A the time we didn’t have a rooster so incubating chicken eggs was off the table to start so I started with duck eggs. I am told that they are harder than chicken eggs but thought how hard can it be!!
Now just like every thing, there are a million different incubators out there and everyone swears that theirs is the best . When I was overwhelmed at all the different options I had to quiet myself for a min and get back to the basics. I had to remind myself that This process happens naturally in nature under cold temperatures with no fans or moisture controls so is it really something that has to be fussed about . Do I really need to buy the top of the line incubator when its done naturally outside? The type of ducks I have are great layers but not sitters so the probability of it happening naturally wasn’t in my favor as to why I choose to incubate.
Now of course in Brittni fashion I had to go with the unusual looking ducks ones when we first got ducks from our local feed store and was fortunate enough to get one male and one female so I could incubate . This type of duck is a crested white Peking duck and you cant help but smile when you see them waddling across the grass with their crazy hair do’s!
After reading up on a few things i decided to give it a go . I let our female ducks clutch ( pile of eggs ) add up to 8 and decided that I would give it a shot. Its important to not wash the eggs as mush as you wish you could because they will be dirty you can not wash them . I read my instruction manual on my incubator , warmed it up and placed them in their. After a few days of being in the incubator I candled them to make sure they have an embryo. Candling is a process where you shine light through the egg to see if you can spot an active embryo so you can determine if the egg is viable to hatch out a baby.
Thankfully the incubator I chose had a candling feature build in to it but if yours does not you can just use a flash light. So when you put your eggs in the incubator you have to maintain the moisture levels especially with ducks and they need to be turned as well . Again my incubator has the turning feature so that made it very easy. It has temperature gauges as well as moisture gauges so you have to watch those to make sure they are where your instructions on the incubator indicates they should be for the type of egg you are incubating. I’m not to go in to specific details on how to do every step as the type of incubator you have may be different but I do stress that you read it before you start the process.
We had such a fun time watching them hatch and was a much longer process than I though. It does take them a while to fully emerge from the eggs but when they do its so fun to watch them go from wet to a ball of fluff!!
I was also very surprised at the after birth if you will. My naive self just thought that they come out cute and cuddly but that is not the case. There is blood vessels’ and after birth left in the egg that I wasn’t aware of but totally makes sense.
All in all the process of incubating duck eggs was so much fun and something that I will be doing every spring. Spring on the farm is not the same with out baby ducks running around and one of my favorite parts about it !! I did have the chance to get fertilized chicken eggs as well from the neighbor and it was a great experience as well. I have a great deal of chickens this year so I wont be doing any chicken eggs but will be definitely doing ducks again!! If you are curious about incubating duck or chicken eggs and want to give it a go I hope this blog post helped in some way. I do stress to make sure you read your incubator front to back and make sure you follow instructions. Go to the web and to experienced people sharing knowledge to make sure you know all the details before getting started. I also want to stress that not all the eggs will make it . Its a sad and risky thing bringing life in to the world so be sure to have your expectations right and be prepared for a little sad as well. Its part of the process and something going in to it you need to make sure you are prepared for. I don’t want to leave you on a sad note so here is acute picture to brighten your day!!
until next time,