Best humidity for hatching duck eggs

wolfinator

Songster
6 Years
Aug 28, 2015
252
498
182
Mountains of Fayette County, WV
Over the summer after having a broody Runner duck abandon eggs once 4 hatched (sold 3 of 4). I had removed ducklings to encourage her to sit on remaining 5 eggs. However, several days later, she abandoned them and my chickens destroyed all but 1 egg which was partially crushed. Duckling didn't survive sadly.

However, a month later I used a small (7 egg) incubator to attempt to finish hatching 4 more duck eggs a broody hen abandoned after 12 days. I ended up buying a much larger one (15-20 duck eggs) with a self turner but had trouble regulating temperature and humidity. My unit seems to be off 3-5 degrees F and humidity seemed close, within 1-3% of what was recommended per instructions. I had bought several small digital thermometer/hydrometers to place in incubator. That's when I noticed the differences. The eggs hatched 3-6 days beyond the 28 days with all 4 surviving.

Runner ducks are hard to find in the local farm supply stores and I've even had someone try to buy my entire flock of them. I get inquiries asking to buy ducklings but being winter is fast approaching, I'm waiting until next spring to do a hatch. I've had people drive 2 hours to get my ducklings.

I'm planning to incubate the maximum eggs the unit can hold but need to be sure of best temperature and the right humidity levels. I know the humidity changes towards the end but when and up to what amount. The incubator will be kept in a room without a.c., only a fan and the window open at times (a.c. off). I don't have central air and use a single room unit with fans to circulate throughout a 640sqft. home. I used a towel (raise temperature) and a fan (lower temperature) as needed which helped once i realized the unit was off on readings.

Here's a stock photo of the unit purchased, it came out June 2021. I got it due to capacity and you can set it in Fahrenheit or Celsius.
20211031_091056.jpg


Thanks.
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Sep 29, 2014
8,124
24,529
951
New Zealand
Make sure you regularly move the eggs around to different positions in the incubator as this helps to even out hotter and cooler spots.

Humidity for lockdown can be around 70%. I like it on the high side so that I can open the incubator if necessary without it dropping too much so I can have it as high as 80% with no worries. Just be aware that if there is a big temperature difference between the incubator and the ambient room temperature you are more likely to get condensation forming inside which you don't want dripping on your eggs.

You'll probably want 30-40% humidity during incubation, but that can depend on your climate, set-up, incubator, so just keep an eye on the air cells to make sure they aren't growing too quickly or looking too small (so candling the eggs regularly is important).

Have you got a calibrated independent thermometer? Rely on that over what your incubator is telling you the temperature is as they are often wrong. You can even use a medical 'under the tongue' digital thermometer to spot check. Just leave it in place turned off for about half an hour, then turn it on, shut the incubator lid and see what it reads.

Runner ducks are so cute. Good luck with hatching next season.
 

wolfinator

Songster
6 Years
Aug 28, 2015
252
498
182
Mountains of Fayette County, WV
Make sure you regularly move the eggs around to different positions in the incubator as this helps to even out hotter and cooler spots.

Humidity for lockdown can be around 70%. I like it on the high side so that I can open the incubator if necessary without it dropping too much so I can have it as high as 80% with no worries. Just be aware that if there is a big temperature difference between the incubator and the ambient room temperature you are more likely to get condensation forming inside which you don't want dripping on your eggs.

You'll probably want 30-40% humidity during incubation, but that can depend on your climate, set-up, incubator, so just keep an eye on the air cells to make sure they aren't growing too quickly or looking too small (so candling the eggs regularly is important).

Have you got a calibrated independent thermometer? Rely on that over what your incubator is telling you the temperature is as they are often wrong. You can even use a medical 'under the tongue' digital thermometer to spot check. Just leave it in place turned off for about half an hour, then turn it on, shut the incubator lid and see what it reads.

Runner ducks are so cute. Good luck with hatching next season.
Thanks.

I learned earlier this year not to rely on the incubator thermometer as it was up to 5 degrees off. I use several thermometer/hydrometers inside unit to keep check on temperature/humidity levels. I'll have it set up on my bedroom dresser as that room stays the warmest in colder weather. I hatched eggs for the first time with a group of 4 duck eggs early summer with a new unit. It was definitely a beautiful experience. They stayed in the bedroom until the night before I sold them. I thought my boyfriend was going to cry when I told him they were sold. He'd fall asleep listening to them every night.

These 4 were from my 1st incubator hatch. They hatched between July 11th and 13th, this was on the 15th. I used a small incubator bottom, blower part, for warmth. Most the time they were away from it. The container was partially covered to keep heat in. I miss them.
20210715_162706.jpg


This is the Runner duckling I kept from the first and only natural hatch. She's a blue/chocolate mix and has a very loud voice, bossy too.
20210910_152738.jpg


These are her parents, blue drake n chocolate duck. Both are quite and docile unlike their daughter.
20210910_151532.jpg
 

HollowOfWisps

Previously AstroDuck
Aug 28, 2020
1,563
3,278
336
Iowa
Every hatch I weigh my eggs to see how much weight they are losing and use this information to adjust my humidity from there however, I have found that my eggs were always right on target weight by keeping the humidity between 40-50% during incubation. I actually do not increase it much during lockdown my reason being is the mother hen doesn't so why do we? Yes I know everyone says it's to prevent shrink wrap, but you actually run a higher risk of having it happen when your incubator humidity is much higher then your ambient and you have to open the incubator. If the ambient humidity is close to that of the incubator your chances of shrink wrap are almost non-existent. My hatches have been much better by maintaining the 40-50% during incubation and only numbing it up to 55% at lockdown. I also hatch a breed that hatcheries stopped carrying due to their low hatch rates so I am well aware of everything that can go wrong while incubating (they had a 60% average hatch rate). I document EVERYTHING when I incubate each hatch so I can learn and improve the next and these have been my findings thus far. I have been able to bump the 60% hatch rate average up to 80-90% and if you only count the eggs that go into lockdown that make it I've had a 100% hatch rate this year.

Edit: I wanted to add that I did have one lower rate hatch this year, but that was only because a new incubator wasn't maintaining temp and humidity so I switched them to one of my old ones with no losses after that.
 

Knighstar679

Crowing
Jun 12, 2018
2,364
6,266
421
Seneca Falls, NY
I have noticed that different times of year that the incubator does better at different humidity. For winter I run around 30% and during the summer I have found running a bit higher works better 38-42%.

this year was a bad year for hatching duck eggs after summer hit in full swing.
 
Jul 26, 2021
302
532
176
Victoria Australia
I have the temperature at 37.5C and humidity about 67% for the first 25 days then the temperature drops to 36.5C and I put the humidity up to 77%.
We've just hatched one with the others pipping and zipping. I'm about to upload the actual hatch of the first one.
Please don't tell me the humidity is too high... it works.
 

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