I've recently been incubating some mandarin ducks eggs and thought I'd share my experience with others. I had originally told myself that I would leave mandarin egg incubation up to my hens, however I really wanted to give myself a chance at artificial incubation this season. As luck and bad planning would have it, my mandarin hens did not lay this breeding season (though I've not given up hope that they still might). At any rate, I had to acquire mandarin eggs from an outside source this season.
On May 3rd, I sat 11 white mandarin duck eggs in my Lyon Roll-X (RX2) incubator. My incubation conditions were the same as for when I hatch call duck eggs... temp: 99.5, humidity: 55%. The eggs are being turned on their sides each hour by the auto-turner. Within a few days, it was obvious that 5 of the eggs were not developing whereas 6 of them were. So, that's a 55% fertility rate. According to another person who got mandarin eggs from the same source, he was getting about a 48% fertility rate on eggs from this particular group of mandarins. I am told that this is a pretty good fertility rate for shipped mandarin eggs, but I don't know. I know its not so great in comparison to natural incubation. Last week, I moved the developing 6 eggs to my Brinsea Mini Advance, so that I can have one incubator dedicated to the mandarin eggs and also because it tends to hold a bit more constant temperature and humidity. At any rate, as of today (which is over two weeks after the eggs were set), all 6 eggs are continuing to develop. Needless to say, I am hoping for a 100% hatch rate from these six mandarin eggs. Time will tell. I plan to get lots of photos during the hatch and of the young ducklings as there aren't many photos of white mandarin ducklings on the internet. I'd like to share those on my web site and this forum. Plus, I'd like to raise them by hand (along with some call ducklings) so that they are as tame as possible.
I've also ordered 13 additional mandarin eggs from this particular source (9 regular and 4 white). They should arrive tomorrow. I am considering giving those 13 eggs to a couple of my broody cochin hens for them to incubate for the first week, then transfer those to one of my incubators to continue incubating them artificially. According to some experienced fowl breeders, this will improve hatch rates. I am curious to find out if I can get a better hatch rate than 55% using this method. I suspect (and hope) that I will.
As some of you may recall, I had a similar thread on incubating call duck eggs. There was some really good discussion going on there, and I know I learned a lot from others and hope others learned a bit from me. So once again, I thought some of you might be interested in learning along with me for these two particular mandarin duck egg hatches.
Edited by Scott - 5/18/10 at 10:48am