Broody . . but no Babies


In the Brooder
7 Years
Oct 23, 2012
For two years now I have let my ducks sit their nests. At no time have they ever hatched any eggs. Last year, they got close. I actually found 3 shattered eggs with what looked like perfectly formed ducks in the pen. One was still breathing and I tried to hatch it, but it died hours later.

This year, I let the girls have a nest. And they sit. They sit and they sit. They are GREAT brooders. . Sometimes as many as 3 of them will sit in on the nest and yet, no ducklings. They are sucky hatchers I have had better luck incubating and hatching eggs than the mommas!!!

What are they doing wrong????
I allowed some ducks to set a nest for the first time this year, and had many of the same questions as you. I'm quite experienced with CHICKEN broodies, but not ducks.

First, it's not a good idea to allow more than one duck to sit on a nest. As they are jockeying for position (arguing over who will sit, so to speak), it can equate to more time with the eggs being UNcovered than you want. Also, they tend to squabble right on top of the nest (I had the same situation), and eggs are rolled about and sometimes end up out of the nest...that's just too much movement for them to develop properly, sometimes.

I also had the situation you describe of finding an egg squashed with a late-term duckling inside, and lost the duckling. I was so upset about it! That happened in my case because the wall I had set up to temporarily separate the broody duck from the rest of the flock was not quite high enough. It was 3' high, but another duck flew over the top & landed on the nest, squashing the egg.

My experience is which just ONE nest, but I thought I'd throw my own experience out there for you.
Thanks for your input! I've never noticed the girls fussing over the eggs. They're seen very docile but then I'm not with them 24/7. Maybe I will try to isolate one hen and the nest next time. It just totally bewilders me!
Because the nights had turned cooler, and because I thought the eggs in the nest should've hatched LAST weekend (and we'd gone from 8 eggs to just two in the nest) I took the two remaining egg. I candled one and it was definitely a "no". The second one, was fairly dark with just a small air pocket, but I thought I'd put it in the incubator, for a week. I would give it a week.

Last night, I checked it, and the air pocket was MUCH bigger and you can see the duck moving in there. What the heck?? lol The hubby says I "saved" it . . . but I can't help but wonder if the momma duck wouldn't have hatched it if I had left it alone. She doesn't exactly have a great track record though..

Oh well. I love incubating and hatching. Now I'm gonna have to hunt someone down that has ducklings. Can't have a lonely baby duck.

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