I don’t hatch ducks, just chickens and occasionally turkeys. The basics are the same but there are some humidity issues with ducks I’ll let others talk about if they wish.Do I need a circulated or still air incubator?
A lot if chicks, ducks, turkeys, quail and other birds are hatched in still air incubators but they are harder to use. With a forced air the temperature should be the same everywhere inside. In a still or thermal air, hot air rises. There can be quite a big difference in temperature inside depending on where you take that temperature. You have to take the temperature measurements at a specific height and have the eggs at a specific height. You can use a still air but to me a forced air is a lot easier. I have a forced air.Do I need a automatic egg turner?
Again, a whole lot of eggs are hatched using manual turning. If you commit to manual turning you have to set up a specific schedule and make sure you turn the eggs on that schedule. You may have to skip a kid’s ball game or music recital or not go see a movie with friends if you commit to automatic turning. If you work an irregular schedule you may have issues. If you use an automatic turner you can even leave town for a couple of days if you wish. The automatic turner is about your convenience. I have one and like it.
Forced air and automatic turners are mostly about your convenience and ease of use. They are not needed but they sure are nice.What all exactly do I need as far as thermometers and all..and what kind do I need?
First of all, don’t trust any thermometer that has not been calibrated. Due to manufacturing tolerances many thermometers aren’t that accurate. The ones that come with incubators and the ones you get to measure outside temperature are really bad about that. These might help you with your calibration.
Calibrate a Thermometer
Rebel’s Thermometer Calibration
Rebel’s Hygrometer Calibration
You want a thermometer that measures within 0.1 degree for accuracy, so you are probably looking at something digital. If you are using a still air incubator you need to be able to position that thermometer at a specific height inside. With a forced air that is not as important. It’s going to be fairly humid inside so you want one that can handle that. If you leave it in during lockdown, it will probably get pooped on by the chicks so you need to be able to clean it. I don’t have a specific make and model. Frankly, now that I have my incubator adjusted it holds temperature so well I hardly ever use my thermometr. But starting out they are important.What does "lock down" mean?
After a certain amount of time the eggs don’t need to be turned anymore. If you use an automatic turner take it out before hatch to make clean-up a lot easier, plus most automatic turners have sharp corners where little legs, wings, or necks can get trapped. If you are manual turning, you can stop turning.
Lockdown is mostly about moisture. During incubation the eggs need to lose a certain amount of moisture so the baby can hatch without being too wet or too dry. But during hatch, after external pip especially, it is possible for the membrane that develops around the chick or duckling to dry out and shrink around the baby, preventing it from hatching. This is called shrink-wrap. You manage this by raising the humidity inside the incubator and don’t open it to let moisture out. The incubator is essentially locked since you don’t open it. As I said, I’ll let others talk about duck egg humidities since I don’t have experience.
Shrink-wrap is something that can happen especially if you open the incubator after external pip and let the humidity out. There is a big difference in “can” happen and “will” happen. A lot of people regularly open the incubator when hatching chicks and don’t have problems, but some people do shrink-wrap chicks by opening the incubator. I consider it good practice and a reasonable precaution to not open the incubator during lockdown, but if I have an emergency inside the incubator I will open it and take that chance.How long do they stay in the incubator after hatching before moving them to a nest with a heat lamp?
Before they hatch the ducklings, chicks, poults, whatever absorb the yolk. They can live off of this without food or water for at least three days, sometimes as much as five days. This is why they can be shipped in the mail, they don’t need to eat or drink immediately.
Often my hatches are over within 24 hours of the first one hatching. I like these. Occasionally though the hatch will stretch out for more than two full days, on rare occasions three days. I personally limit it to three days in the incubator without taking them out. No need to over stress them.
For whatever reasons some people like to take the chicks out as they dry off. They have their own reasons so that is up to them. But for the chick’s sake you don’t NEED to take it out for at least three days.