Preparing the Incubator for duck eggs:
24 hours before you are ready, the incubator should be prepped. The incubator should be clean and sterile. Never use an incubator that has not been sterilized. The styrofoam type incubators are especially susceptible to fungus and molds. Incubators are run in hot humid areas where mold and fungus thrives, cleanliness is very important, I cannot stress it enough. Eggs are porous, they have little holes to breathe in and out. Bacteria thrive in the incubator from the high humidity and heat. If the incubator is contaminated, the eggs will become contaminated too. The bacteria will set inside of the egg and eat important vitamins and nutrients crucial to the Ducks’ growth. The bacteria is awful, it could easily become toxic and or make your duck eggs infertile among many other bad things.
Preparing the duck eggs for incubation:
The duck eggs should be room temperature before placing them inside of the incubator. This means leaving them at room temperature for at least 8 hours after removing them from the fridge. It’s time to inspect the duck eggs. Check your eggs for cracks, remove them and any abnormally large egg. Trust me, you do NOT want an egg to pop in the incubator. It stinks, it is gross and it will make a mess of your other eggs. Abnormally large eggs could mean multiple yolks and wouldn’t hatch anyway. Remove any dirt or feces from the eggs if you have not already. Egg shells act like a womb, they allow bad gases to escape and oxygen inside. Mud, feces or any other contaminants on the shell will clog the tiny holes that allow the duck egg to breathe. If you need to use water make it warm, cold contracts, heat expands. Warm water will push out bacteria from the holes while cold water will shrink the egg contents and suck in the bad stuff.
Place the duck eggs in the incubator.
Place the duck egg small end down in the incubator tray. Placing the eggs large end up is important. The egg has an air cell inside of it and letting it stay on the bigger side of the egg allows for less liquid evaporation and a higher hatchability rate. After placing the duck eggs in the incubator, setting the proper temperature and humidity, check the incubator is functioning properly a few times throughout the day for the first day and then periodically for the next few days and the duration of the incubation process. Even slight mishaps severely affect the hatchability, too much heat or too little moisture means fewer duckies. Different breeds vary in temperature and humidity settings but typically to start is 99.5 (84.5 deg Fahrenheit if you’re using a wet bulb) deg Fahrenheit and 55% relative humidity.
Remove bad eggs from the incubator.
Day 7 will be the day to candle the duck eggs and check for bad ones to remove. Remove any eggs that have “dead germ” or eggs that are infertile. Clear or cloudy eggs are the first sign of a rotten egg. On Day 7 you should see the embryo forming chick like features. Identifying bad eggs is very important, you do not want a broken or exploding egg mucking up the incubator and the good eggs. Check the eggs again at day 14 to make sure you have all good eggs. You should already know the best ducks for eggs.
Day 25 Move your Duck Eggs to the Hatcher.
A Hatcher is similar to the incubator except the eggs are not being turned anymore and there is enough room for the egg duckling to hatch. Whereas the incubator turns eggs and there is no room for the baby to hatch. Set the hatchers’ temperature to 98.5 degree’s Fahrenheit and increase the humidity to 94%. Over the next 2 to 5 days little ducklings will start popping out of their eggs. Once you see the egg cracking its normal to want to help them along and get them out, don’t do it. “Helping” the duckling along has many disastrous consequences, including causing the poor thing to bleed to death. It usually takes about 24 hours for your baby to fully hatch. So do not help it along unless you absolutely have too.
Once your duck eggs have incubated and hatched move them to the brooding box. The brooding box should be clean and have a heat source. Food and water aren’t necessary until 24 hours after it has hatched. The duck is still absorbing nutrients from the egg and needs time to adjust.