Duck Eggs

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by GoPacas58, May 10, 2009.

  1. GoPacas58

    GoPacas58 New Egg

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    May 10, 2009
    Hi,

    I know the name of this site is backyard CHICKENS, but I was hoping that it would be alright if I asked a duck question.
    About a month ago, my female pekin duck started setting on her eggs (I have a drake pekin duck too, so we assumed they were fertile). A few days ago, I discovered a fully-formed dead duckling in the pen. At first I thought that its egg had accidently been cracked and he just wasn't quite ready to come out yet. But today I had even more just like this. Some are completely out of their shell, and others are still in the shell but the shell's like it's just been smashed open.
    I don't think that any of the ducks have actually hatched on their own, because they're all still in the shape of the egg. In other words, I don't think they were ever really "alive" (at least not in the sense of living and breathing in the world outside their shell). Right now, we only have four left and I want to try to keep them from the same fate.
    Do you think that the female is accidently cracking/smashing the eggs open? Do you think they are hatching and then one of the adults is killing them? The drake is still in the same pen, so could he be the one killing them? Are drakes known to do this? Or could it be that the shells are too hard (like possibly she hasn't been keeping them wet enough) and the ducklings are dying in the eggs because they can't get out? But if that's the case, then why are we discovering them outside of their shells?

    I just don't know what to think. Any advice or input would be very appreciated!!!!
     
  2. Chickie Mamma

    Chickie Mamma Farmer at Heart

    Apr 20, 2008
    Sherman, CT
    Hello, and [​IMG].. I am no expert, but it can be possible the Drake is crushing the eggs. My Pekin Drake is huge and heavy. I think the female knows better than to harm the eggs. Is there a way to separate him for a while? If it happens again, then you know its not him. Is it just the 2 of them together? [​IMG]
     
  3. GoPacas58

    GoPacas58 New Egg

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    May 10, 2009
    Thanks for your quick reply, Chickie Mamma! Yes, it is just the two of them together. I have another pen I could put him in, but my concern is that it would only make her upset and she would stop setting. I guess it's worth a try, though. Like you say - if it happens again, we know it's not him.

    One more question - even if the eggs do get cracked open, why can't the ducklings live if they're far enough along? Like I mentioned earlier, these really do look like they're 100% ready to hatch. So is it really just impossible for them to survive unless they're the ones that decide it's time?

    Hmmm . . . .

    (BTW . . . I love the picture of your duck wearing the bandana!!!!!:[​IMG])
     
  4. Chickie Mamma

    Chickie Mamma Farmer at Heart

    Apr 20, 2008
    Sherman, CT
    Do you notice if they absorbed the yolk sac? That would give you a better idea on how far along they are. They need to hatch on their own, as I have found out the hard way when I started incubating. Could they be hatching and getting trampled? Or did mother duck get off the nest and allow them to get chilled for too long? There are so many different possibilities, you really need to keep an eye on it. 1st step is to separate the Drake, wait a few days and if none are crushed then you know you have to remove him when the female is ready to set on the eggs. I was thinking the same thing with my duck eggs at one point. She would lay 4 or 5 eggs, start sitting on them and I found eggs broken. I couldn't figure out if it was her or the drake, but it was one of my 3 hens I have housed with them. The hen was pecking the eggs. See, so you have to play "detective". [​IMG]
    Oh, thats Miss Sunshine in my avatar. She is the sweetest duck ever.. she is 1 year old and the drake is now almost 4 months old. We are waiting for him to mature, her eggs are still not fertile, but he has the hang of mating.. She has been trying to sit on infertile eggs. I have been taking them away because I feel she will be disappointed none will hatch after all that sitting. I know I would not be too happy [​IMG]
    But the hens are separated from where she has her nest now and no more broken eggs..
     
  5. GoPacas58

    GoPacas58 New Egg

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    May 10, 2009
    Hi,

    Update: This morning, we went out and rolled over one egg and found that one little duckling had poked through with his bill. We watched him for a while, but he was really, really, really struggling, so we helped him (which I know you are never, never supposed to do, but we couldn't stand to just watch him struggle and die, especially after seeing the same thing happen to the others). The inside white membrane seemed really rubbery and the shell even seemed really hard . . . I think maybe the others died not because they were cracked open prematurely but simply because they had to work too hard to get out. Is this possible?
    Anyhow . . . assuming we didn't screw him up too bad and he survives, what do we do now? I put him in a box under a heat lamp in my feedroom. Should we just put him back with his parents once he's up and walking around? Or is it ok to keep him separate? I'm afraid his parents don't know how to take care of him and he'll get too cold.

    Also . . . how can you tell if they absorbed the yolk sac? Sorry for all the questions, I just don't know anything.
     
  6. Webfoot

    Webfoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 7, 2009
    Central TX
    Put him back in the nest, but make sure the drake can't get to him. Drakes do kill ducklings.

    Duck eggs do have hard shells and the membranes are supposed to be rubbery. It takes a duckling up to 48 hours to hatch once they start.

    Webfoot
     
  7. Luvducks

    Luvducks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2009
    Colorado
    WELCOME, to BYC. This is also a GREAT site for Duck people. Sometimes you must help ducks hatch. Some of the threads on here say never help but there is also great advice on HOW to help if necessary.

    I am no expert but would probably keep the duckling seperated from big ducks in this situation. Do you have any others to be hatched?
     
  8. GoPacas58

    GoPacas58 New Egg

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    May 10, 2009
    Thanks for your help, guys!!! He's doing good - up and walking around awkwardly!!![​IMG] I love him too much already.[​IMG] I think we've decided to keep him separated for now, since she's still setting. Also, although a have another pen to put the drake into, I think it would be more stressful for her, so she would probably be more concerend about her man than her kid.

    Luvducks,
    Whew. I'm relieved we didn't completely screw him up. Could you point me to any of those threads?

    Thanks!
     

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