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How long will a female duck stay fertile? URGENT!

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I posted a long time ago in regards to a dog attacking my beloved birds, and a quick update: Pippin was my most precious friend, he was a tiny, shy, beautiful little Cayuga drake. His adoptive brother Merry was killed by dogs leaving him alongside Lily to recover which they did fully, thanks to the support and advice i recieved here, thanks to all! However, shortly after Lily laid her fery first egg she was killed by what we can only assume was a raccoon. Pippin went into a deep depression at her loss (i never realized how deeply a little duck could grieve it broke my heart) i poured all of my energy into making that sweet little duck happy again and finally succeeded in bringing little Penny into his life, they two were love at first sight! However, this past Tuesday a red tailed hawk landed in the backyard and Pippin challenged it, and though this act of bravery gave the hens and Penny a chance to hide, he ended up paying for it with his life.

I have poured so much love and emotion into this sweet little bird that i cannot bear to replace him so i have been frantically saving his and pennys eggs (which i know were fertilized) to try and keep him alove in legacy, but i have two questions.

One, if the eggs were refridgerated for any point of time, what is the maximum amount of time they could have been refrigerated and expect to still be alive (two was only in for about an hour but another two for at least a day maybe more, we didnt realize we were going to be hatching them) The four that were refeigerated have been incubating for two days at 99.5° and between 52-75% humidity, alongside two fresh ones added friday and this morning. (Is staggering the clutch a problem? Ive never done this before so any and all advice is hugely appreciated)

secondly how long will Penny stay fertile? I know that Pippin mated with her Tuesday morning (the day we lost him) so from that point how long can we expect to get fertile eggs (Penny lays usually one egg every night/early morning). I want to save as many of their lil babies as possible! smile.png
post #2 of 8

Oh my, I'm so very sorry for your losses. What a sad series of events. :(


Staggered hatches are not desirable because the older ducklings will most likely pick on the younger ones as they hatch and may need to be separated. So of course it's much easier and better for all if they all hatch at the same time and can be raised together from the start. Also, eggs at different stages need different conditions in the incubator (mostly when it comes to humidity levels), so that is very hard to provide if you have a staggered hatch and they all need different things.


You can hold eggs for up to 7 days without compromising their hatchability at all, so that's what most people do. Gather eggs for 7-10 days and then incubate them all together at the same time. After 10 days though, their hatchability diminishes quickly. 


A female can lay fertile eggs for at least a couple weeks after mating. Some have even reported having fertile eggs 3+ weeks after losing a male, but I don't believe that is very common. 


By all means, keep on collecting eggs from her and try to put a bigger batch in together at the same time. Good luck and please let us know how it goes! 


Oh, I forgot one thing: I know some people have incubated and successfully hatched eggs that were refrigerated, but I'm not sure how long they can be refrigerated for to still have a chance at hatching.  Yours were not in very long though, so I think they are good candidates for still developing for you. :)


Also, your humidity is pretty high. It should be more like 35% during incubation, then raised to around 55% for the last 3 days of incubation. 

Edited by Orca5094 - 11/14/15 at 8:44am
post #3 of 8
I'm so sorry for your rather manny losses for predators... My first concern is to secure the birds more first... Or the babies to hatch might end up like their parents... I don't know for sure how long do ducks keep viable sperm in their reproductive system for, but all birds in general can save sperm for at least more than a week or tow, in chickens it's about 2 even more weeks... So you can expect a dozen or more fertile eggs from her... I would google it for more answers though or wait out until more experienced people check in... For the eggs that were refrigerated they CAN hatch but putting eggs in the fridge quickly drops the hatchibilty overall.. So I recommend keeping any future hatching eggs at room temperature(more articles on BYC on how to store eggs)....
Keep us updated and remember to secure you birds a bit more....
post #4 of 8

I'm so sorry for all your losses.  :hugs Good luck with your hatch I hope they all hatch for you.  Please secure your ducks so this doesn't happen to your survivors.  God bless.



post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Penny is definitely secure, im not taking any chances and were in the process of renovating a new coop for them (both Penny and my brothers chickens) so quite soon they will have a very secure and safe run to avoid future attacks.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Update, i just candled the first 6 eggs today and theyre all dead :"( two never developed, 3 had the little blood rings and one was cracked and didnt develop (all of these the yolk moved around in the shell). There was a 7th but its only been in for a day and when i turned it the yolk did not move around. I planned to keep collecting until Wednesday (thats as late as my mom would let me collect) and i know that Penn was fertile, what am i doing wrong with the others? Both Pippin and Penny were healthy with no problems before we started setting them, and because of the blood rings i know that the eggs themselves must have been alive if even for an instant. Ive kept the temp at 99.5 and humidity between 45 and 50 relative,and have been turning them in an automatic turner, with the small end of the egg pointing down. is there something im missing? Do i just have bad luck ducks? :"( Pennys only issue and the reason she could never sit the eggs is because shes a rescue, and is half blind from high concentrated ammonia from her previous home, and she can never quite find where she laid her last egg. She should have one or two eggs from last night that i hoped to save but is there something else i should/should not be doing?
post #7 of 8
I believe I heard somewhere that a duck's eggs remain fertile for 18 days after mating. I would collect the next 7, maybe 10 eggs she lays and then put them all in the incubator at the same time. Putting an egg in the incubator each day, rather than putting them in all at once, will make it impossible to put the eggs in lockdown at the same time, and you might not end up with any hatchlings at all. And if they do hatch, their ages might be very different, and you may have some bullying happen.

Store the eggs you collect with the fat end (air cell end) up, at room temperature. A simple egg carton works well. Put all the eggs in the incubator at once, with the air cell end facing up, and if any are going to develop then you should see development within 4-7 days. So sorry for your loss and good luck!
So this is where my John Hancock goes? Oh wait, John Hancock?'s Herbie Hancock ;]
So this is where my John Hancock goes? Oh wait, John Hancock?'s Herbie Hancock ;]
post #8 of 8

Sounds like you're doing everything right, except again your humidity is a bit high. It should be more like 35% during incubation, but I wouldn't think it being a little high would kill your embryos so early in incubation.


It's possible being refrigerated first was too much for those particular eggs to survive, or there could be a genetic issue going on. Do you know how old Penny is? How have you been storing the eggs before incubating? What PotatoWaffles said above about storing them is how you should do it. Duck eggs should be candled on Day 7 to check for fertility, any earlier than that and you sometimes won't see development or it won't look quite right yet. I always keep duck eggs in until Day 10 to be sure, they can sometimes surprise you. 

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