March 30, 2016

Hatching Muscovy Eggs


They wouldn't move. Usually when I clean the duck coop, my pair of Muscovy ducks moves from the coop to the big dog cage without too much trouble. But this time they just wouldn't leave.


Hubby was helping me clean the coop and move it to a higher place in the yard. We both tried to shoo the birds out of the coop door and through the cage door. Hubby opened the nest box door and found two off-white eggs. Well, mystery solved. They didn't want to leave the eggs.

Male Muscovy duck
Papa Duck

I hadn't realized the female was laying yet. I had checked the nest box a couple of days ago and found it empty.

Female Muscovy duck
Mama Duck

We planned to put about half of her eggs in the incubator this time. She laid three clutches of eggs last year but only two ducklings hatched. One was dead when I found it, and several days later the duckling hatched that lived for a month and then died. I know the eggs are fertile; I can see the little black and yellow babies inside the eggs after a couple of weeks. So we're going to try helping this time, but she's a dedicated "setter" and I don't want to take all her eggs away.

A nest of Muscovy duck eggs
Last spring's clutch of eggs

Our Styrofoam incubator has been in storage for a few years so we need to get it out, clean it up and make sure it and the auto-turner still work correctly. In the meantime hubby bought a digital, auto-turn, forced air incubator. It only holds nine duck eggs, but that's about how many we wanted to hatch this time anyway. Last year she laid 17, then 16, then 17 eggs.

Muscovy duck and duckling
Last year's single duckling

I keep hatching eggs in a cool place until they're put in the incubator. I put them small end down in an egg carton and "turn" the eggs several times a day by elevating the carton on one end, then the other.

The incubator temperature is displayed digitally in degrees Celsius.

Depending on the species of bird, eggs are incubated at different temperatures and humidity. I'm using Incubating and Hatching Muscovy Eggs at Backyard Chickens as my reference. Since we have a forced-air incubator, we set the temperature at 99.5°F -- or rather, I used an online converter to figure out the equivalent temperature in Celsius (which is 37.5°C).

Do-it-yourself egg candler
Homemade egg candler, shown with a chicken egg

Once the temperature was stable, I candled the eggs before placing them in the incubator. We don't have a candler but it's easy to make a DIY version. I set our spotlight on end so the light shone upwards, and set a roll of toilet tissue on top. The hole in the middle was perfect to hold a duck egg with the pointed end down. If you're candling chicken eggs, you might need to crimp the cardboard tube to make the hole smaller.

Muscovy duck eggs in an incubator

Using this in our dark hallway made it easy to see the size of the air pocket on top of the eggs. I used a pencil to trace the edges of the air pocket. I also drew an X on one side of each egg so I can make sure each one is being turned over completely each day.

We're on Day Eight today. On Day Ten I'll candle them again to monitor the air pocket size, and begin misting and cooling the eggs daily.

I'm hopeful that we might have a few ducklings hatch this time. They're sure cute when they're little.



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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12 comments:

  1. What a fascinating process! I've only had chickens, and none of them were successful at hatching eggs.

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    1. Jamie, broodiness has been bred out of most chicken breeds so that they'll lay more eggs. I've only ever had one hen hatch eggs.

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  2. I've thought about getting ducks and didn't realize the process that goes into hatching eggs. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Sarah, I hope you will get ducks, I think you will enjoy them. Chicken eggs are easier to hatch if I remember right; it's been several years since we've done it.

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  3. What an interesting post! I really hope you do get some ducklings. I didn't realise all there was to incubating eggs. I found the egg candler particularly interesting. Thank you so much for sharing with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop, Kathi.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, April.

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  4. Very interesting!! I posted a blog post about hatching chicken eggs a while back but I have never hatched turkey eggs!!

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  5. Well, I've never raise a duck yet, but after reading this post I think I should buy some duck eggs, put it in my incubator, then wait for them to hatch and raise them up. Thanks for such an inspiring article.

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    1. From your name I assume you've hatched a lot of chicks. :-) Give ducks a try, I really enjoy having them around the homestead.

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  6. I've raised many chickens before, but this is the first time I see someone raise ducks. Howerver, I guess I'll try hatching and raising ducks, because your ducks are really lovely. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Carrie. Thank you, ducks are a lot of fun.

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