Can't hatch duck eggs to save my life...


9 Years
Jun 28, 2010
I need help. Everyone but me has sucess hatching duck eggs or waterfowl eggs. I've set untold amounts of goose, muscovy, and Welsh Harlequin eggs this spring and none have hatched.

Earlier in the year when I was still in school, I can understand what went wrong - I didn't have time and often forgot to add water or turn... so of course they died.

However, this batch I've been turning 3x per day, and keeping humidity around the upper 50s - around 57% or so. It DOES vary slightly when it rains etc, and there's nothing I can do. Seems like this would be fairly normal with natural nests, too though. Temp stays steady at 99*. The incubator is in my basement where temps are fairly constant.

I started out with about a dozen welsh harlequin eggs in there. They died off sporadically, leaving me with just two that made it into the final week. I just candled them again and I strongly suspect that they are also dead.

FERTILITY is great, ability to live till hatch is very poor. With ALL waterfowl eggs - even muscovy, which when naturally hatched all 20 in a nest will hatch so I KNOW it's likely my skills. I have some Welsh Harlequin eggs underneath broody muscovies so we'll see how those do.

What do I need to change? I've tried spritzing clutches - that didn't help. I've tried higher humidity, that didn't help.
I've hatched 2 sets of duck eggs, my first was Pekins and 8 out of 9 hatched (1 died while hatching). My second hatch was rescued Mallard Eggs and 4 out of 6 eggs hatched (2 died while hatching). With the Mallard eggs it was a true miracle they even survived because they had been left in the cold without their Mother for 2 nights after she had been killed by a Fox. I was sure they were dead with how cold they were but on the ride home I turned the heat on and 2 minutes later they all were bopping around in the shell when I candled them! They were no more than a week and a half into incubation. After seeing that it seems anything is possible with duck eggs. Keep trying! I went into it not knowing anything about hatching but have had 2 pretty successful hatches.

I'm pretty sure I did a helpful tips thread on here a year or so ago. If you search my name it might come up.
I incubated a call egg one of my ducks had laid in the middle of the front yard. I literally stuck it in the incubator, and forgot about it. I've had a lot of things going on lately, so I just totally forgot the incubator was even running. Didn't check temp, or humidity, the incubator auto turns. I went to Florida for a week, and when I got in this morning at 4 am, I had an almost dry call duck baby.

Are you obsessing too much? I have incubated twice in my life. First it was the Emu, three of 4 eggs hatched, and this time. I set it, and got a duckling. What type of incubator are you using? I'm hatching in a Brinsea, and I'm guessing that's the reason I've done well. That, and I don't obsess over it.
Are you sure your thermometer is accurate? I don't know about your basement but mine is pretty drafty. Try switching to another room. I heard people say they like to incubate waterfowl in the bathroom so they can increase room humidity by turning on a hot shower for a minute or so. Other than that idk... I have a bunch of videos on youtube about goose egg incubation. The series ended up with 100% of fertile eggs hatching. Maybe something in my video series could help you. I am Edentia Farms on youtube. Good luck.
My basement is the most stable in temperature, drafts, and humidity in my entire house. It's a very non-drafty basement.

The incubator is an old model from the '50's, very large with 4 racks. It works great, holds temp perfectly. I have two digital thermometers/hygrometers running 24/7. Both read the same thing.

I candle once or twice.

I have TRIED forgetting about it, lol... that did NOT work out for the better.
Your humidity is to low. It needs to be anywhere from 75% to 85%. Upwards of 92% at time of hatching. Add water pan, wet cloths, and close all vent holes. I would also purchace a turner if possible, each time you open the incubator you are losing your humidity.

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We're talking relative humidity, right? If so, those digits are near impossible to hit. I have tried getting humidity that high (highest I could get was 80 something percent) and it was NOT working. I posted on here and found out that ideal relative humidity for hatching is 55%, higher during hatching.
Yes but you keep it 50 for the first 25 days then at lockdown you bump it up to 80. I find it easier to get the humidity up by adding a wash cloth and a bowl of water and it goes up to 80 no probs, the lowest its droped is to 75 but I just add more water thru the vent and it goes back up again. Its best to use warm water instead of hot as hot water cools very quick and drops the humidity.
Ugh! Really? That high throughout the whole thing?? My mallard eggs are down from 12 to 4 but one I'm almost positive is dead after internally pipping at day 22.Tomorrow is hatch day but I so far have only one pipped.My humidity in my bator is 72 %...
I probably killed them all

To the OP...this is my first far not looking good...but I'm gonna keep trying.
Maybe it has to do with the handling of the eggs before incubation?Are they stored at the right temps?How long do you collect before starting incubation.Hatchibility decreases if eggs are more than 5 days old...How healthy are the breeding stock?

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