Thank you all for answering the call
Thank you all for answering the call
Thank you all very much for your suggestions and support. I will try to get a picture tonight.
As stated above, I washed the eggs in very slightly soapy water with a slight amount of bleach (rinsing immediately) to reduce the bloom so that more moisture could get out through the shell. I reduced the humidity to about 50%. Over several days this seemed to have very little effect. On Saturday (day 21) I weighed all my eggs. My four "good" eggs had dehydrated about 4-6 % (by weight), which is too low. The "non-dehydrating egg" had dehydrated only about 2%. While washing the eggs I noticed that the bloom was thick and did not fully get removed by the washing. I figured that it is clogging the pores.
For the one egg that wasn't dehydrated at all I gently used fine sandpaper to take away the bloom that I guessed was blocking the pores of the egg. As soon as I removed the outermost covering (starting within a few minutes and finishing within about an hour) the air sack grew a small but significant amount (about 1/8 of an inch). This supports my guess that the pores were blocked, particularly on the air sack end. There was a negative pressure inside the egg, because the air sack could not fill as the rest of the egg dehydrated - this stopped dehydration. As soon as the pores were opened air entered the air sack and it grew a bit. After about an hour the pressure clearly stabilized (the air sack stopped growing) and since then the egg has resumed very slowly dehydrating. The duckling inside is still alive, sometimes showing movement, though now it's late enough in the development to be really hard to see. My incubator is extremely clean, as it is new and as the eggs were cleaned, so I don't anticipate issues with bacteria in spite of having removed the bloom.
At this point I'm guessing that my duck was too good at coating her eggs with bloom - and that this prevented them from dehydrating properly. With the lower humidity and the removal of the coating on the non-dehydrating egg, all five eggs are now dehydrating at a rate that probably would have been proper had they done so from day 1. Since there are only four days till lockdown, I know the eggs won't have reached the proper 12% or so dehydration. My optimistic guess is that they will be at 7-10%, with the non-dehydrating egg perhaps reaching 5%, with luck.
After that I will have to increase humidity for lockdown - particularly if one has pipped.
Any suggestions? (Other than "hands off"?)
If you have time, check out her thread:
Here is the eggceptional undehydrating egg.
1- The first, round line is the air cell at the start of incubation.
2- The second line is the end of week 1.
3- The third line is Saturday at the end of week 2 and continued unchanged all of that week for seven days till Saturday at the end of week 3 with NO change, in spite of washing and lowered humidity!!! No difference at all in seven days, exact same line.
4- The fourth line is a single day later, after I lightly sanded the bloom off the air cell end of the egg and also a little bit in a few other spots. Now it has been two days since then and the egg has only dehydrated a small, normal extra amount since I drew that fourth line (I'll draw one last line on day 26, just before they go into lockdown).
I think the pores of the egg were sufficiently blocked so that air could not get into the air cell. I also think that this, in turn, created a negative pressure inside the egg, which prevented the egg from dehydrating normally.
There was still enough air exchange in the duckling part of the egg, because the duckling is still alive and moving around! Just in case, though, I did sand a few spots lightly to make sure the duckling would continue to have enough oxygen.
Overall, the egg is still behind the others in dehydration, but it is now more within what might be a natural variation around the expected weight. I therefore hope that this duckling will be born healthy. I will update with the dehydration percentage of my eggs on lockdown day - day 26, right?
I want to say a big thank you for everyone who has supported me in this thread. I haven't finished reading the latest references, though I have read all the prior ones. I appreciate all your help!
Two eggs have pipped internally!
My two best-dehydrated eggs have pipped internally. The other three are waiting a bit longer, which is perfect. All five are moving!
You can watch the duckling beak inside one of these two eggs on:
That is so cool..
I was right... and wrong... to worry. The duckling did need to reach air. But the size of the air sack didn't matter, because the duckling was up-side-down in the egg!!! It could not reach the air sack no matter its size. So the smart duckling did the right thing and found air through the shell!
This egg was incubated correctly with the air sack right-side-up in an automatic-turning incubator.
You will all be proud of me. When I got home and found the shell cracked, the only thing I did was to put the egg back in the incubator, in the hatching section (flat instead of top-up). After a while a few pieces of shell came off, but the membrane had no hole. Again, I sat on my hands.
Now, the next morning, the beak is out! Hurrah!!! This is day 26. A bit early. So I will continue to sit on my hands, as I understand the duckling may just need air and may not be ready to actually come out yet.
Yayyyyyy! Hurrahhhhh! Go duckling go!!!!!
Tried to "leave it alone." Checked that it could breathe and then left it to try to exit the egg on its own. Found it dead in the incubator. I think if I had helped it out it would have made it.
Went to look at the first of two "internally pipped" eggs that I was also "leaving alone." Although it was fine an hour before, it, too, was clearly dead. They had internally pipped 48 hours ago.
I picked up my second "internally pipped" egg. Saw the beak of the duckling clearly distressed (obviously gasping for breath) and unable to break out. As it was clearly about to die, I decided I wasn't going to make things worse by helping. I broke through the air sack end of the shell. It immediately seemed to do better, so I left it for an hour.
My daughter helped me perform an eggtopsy. The two dead ducklings were large and well-formed. There was a clear to yellowish jelly-like substance (runny but thick) outside the envelope the ducklings were in. (NOT the yolk, something else). So the ducklings came out clean but the eggshells were disgusting with that stuff in them. The dead externally pipped duckling was ready to hatch with yolk sack fully inside. I think it just got trapped in the egg and I didn't know enough to help it out. The dead internally pipped duckling was not really ready to hatch and still had a good sized (about like a quarter) yolk sack attached. I don't know why they weren't strong enough to hatch on their own, but I believe this one ran out of air.
I decided that making an air hole wasn't enough help, as the first duckling - who had access to fresh air - had died. So I broke more of the shell, let it rest for an hour, repeat, repeat. I broke away enough shell and helped out the head. Saw the duckling was still attached to the egg and left the bottom of the duckling in its egg. By midnight the duckling had hatched itself out of its bottom part of the egg. This morning the duckling was still weak, but resting comfortably. It has improved somewhat throughout the day, and now chirps and stands for brief moments before sleeping again.
I know this duckling would have died without intervention. Not sure if it will make it, but hoping. Now I have two more in the incubator that have not pipped, either internally or externally. Wonder what I'll find when I get home.
- The mother was fed on Purina Layer pellets, some free range (South Carolina, but still not much out there in winter), and treats of green peas and/or dog food.
- I used a Hovabator incubator with outstanding temperature and humidity control. Incubation temperature started at factory setting of 100.5 for the first week, but was eventually lowered to read 99.5 as it seemed to me to be too high (other thermometers suggested it might be a bit higher than stated, perhaps by half a degree or a degree. Humidity was mostly between 50% and 60%.
- This duck lays unusually large eggs. My other duck averages 55 grams, this one averages 65 + grams on her eggs.)
Anyone know why the ducklings might be having trouble like this? And especially - what can I do in the future to avoid late-stage dead ducklings?