eggs dying at 20+days

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by bumblebeehillschickenfarm, May 24, 2010.

  1. bumblebeehillschickenfarm

    bumblebeehillschickenfarm Songster

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    Mar 8, 2008
    maryland
    I have problems with hatching duck eggs. I had a bunch of mallard eggs and want to raise them to put on a friends pond. He already had mallard ducks their but has so many skunks,foxes,coons,and snakes that none ever make it to hatch day. So we took some of the eggs and tried to hatch them. I hatched mine in a dickies incubator and i let him use my hova bator. They all made it to about day 20 and then they almost all die. What could cause this because i had the same results last year. Thanks
     
  2. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    Are they being misted with warm water daily? They need to be misted and in addition cooled off, if you are using a still incubator. Only misting in a fan circulated incubator. That is the first thing that came to my mind. Oh wait are they laying on their sides or are the upright in an egg turner. Upright is usually not so good and kill them too. Also you may want to get another thermometer and confirm that the heat is correct.
    Katharina
     
  3. bumblebeehillschickenfarm

    bumblebeehillschickenfarm Songster

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    Mar 8, 2008
    maryland
    I am using a turner on both incubators and no i was not misting them,but keep hum. up high. I have no problem hatching out turkey eggs and chicken eggs with the temp. Both incubators have fans
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2010
  4. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    What do their air cells look like around Day 20? My experience has been that when I run the incubator at the recommended humidity levels, the air cells are underdeveloped and the ducks drown after pipping internally. They need a large air cell, about 1/3 the volume of the egg, so they don't have to hold their bill up so high in the egg after pipping internally.

    If it were me, I'd try running a batch with super low humidity--just don't add water at all. Misting the eggs will have a similar effect--I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but misting actually helps moisture to evaporate out of the shell--it has to do with polarity, how water is attracted to water, I think.

    I don't mist, nor cool--I just run my humidity super low, and my hatches average 80-90%. My most recent hatch was the worst I've had this year (about 63%), and I believe it's because my air cells were underdeveloped.

    If the temps are fine for chickens and other poultry, then you're quite right that it's fine. I'm betting the issue here is humidity. Good luck!
     
  5. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    Waterfowl is a little bit different when it comes to incubating. Holderread suggests misting daily until hatch. The misting does pull more moisture out of the egg making the air sack large and dry. I run 55%, and then 75% at lock down. You can easily convert the chicken rails into duck/goose rails by adding hardware cloth with small bolts and nuts. You will need to adjust the spacing for the raised sides. This usually means going from 6 rails to 4 in a hovabator turner. There were some studies suggesting that you loose up to 50% of the eggs when they are upright and not laying on the side. I think you may be battling a combination of those factors.
    Katharina
     
  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    I've actually had better results since I switched to hatching upright in cartons. But I can TOTALLY see how being on their sides might help if the air cell is underdeveloped--if they're upright, they have to hold their bill WAY up in the sac to get air--if they're on their side, they only have to hold the bill up a little to get air, even if the cell is small.

    I've always turned mine in turners. But again, everyone's experience is different, and if what you're doing now isn't working, something different might help.

    I think if you lower the humidity, you're likely to have better results. And I won't argue with hatching on their sides, either--doesn't help me, but it might help you. [​IMG]
     
  7. Scott

    Scott Ozark Bantams

    Apr 11, 2007
    Southeast Missouri
    Waterfowl eggs should be turned on their sides if you want successful hatch rates. I typically get a 85% - 95% hatch rate with call duck eggs. Temp: 99.5, Humidity: 55% during hatch, 70% during incubation. Turned on sides. I do not "mist" the eggs, and I do not intentionally cool them either.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2010
  8. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    Another thing to consider is where you live. You guys have tons of natural humidity on the east coast, so a lower humidity in the incubator can be ok. Lived in Maryland, so I know how humid it gets. You open the door and you are wet. [​IMG] I now live in the Oregon Mountains with a very dry climate. Our humidity is about 20%, and in summer it can go down to 10%. Portland of course has tons of it. What many don't know is that Oregon has sand dunes in the center of the state. We have such different climate zones out here. Plus the high elevation is drawing moisture, so I need to keep the humidity up. Thought I throw this in.
    Katharina
     
  9. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Yup--I completely agree that it depends on where you are, and probably other factors too. I know what works for me (my hatch rates are 85-95% generally), but that doesn't mean it will work for someone else. But if the problem is underdeveloped air cells, then one way to deal with that is to lower the humidity--maybe not as low as I run it (teens & lower 20s), but lower than it has been running.

    I disagree that waterfowl eggs *must* be turned on their sides. It seems that some folks get better hatch rates that way, but again, I am getting 85-95% in an auto turner. I've never done it by hand, so perhaps my rate would go up even more if I were to do it on their sides, but I'm pretty happy with my percentages. Again, this is just what works for me--and I've never tried to hatch call ducks, and I know they are very hard--so I'm glad you have a method that works for those and for you. Just wanted to clarify that it may not be necessary for everyone in every situation.

    To the OP--I hope whatever it is, you're able to sort it out soon and get a good hatch the next time. It's very disappointing to set eggs and get them almost there and then to lose them. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  10. Scott

    Scott Ozark Bantams

    Apr 11, 2007
    Southeast Missouri
    The original poster is not getting the hatch rates we are, so something is obviously different. If they have the correct temp and humidity, my guess is that it has to do with turning. CuriosityCat, it is possible that your auto-turner provides enough tilt/turn that if doesnt negatively effect your hatch rates, this may not be true for the original poster. Under ideal conditions (i.e. a broody hen), eggs are not turned vertically on their ends. Its not really a matter of personal preference. For optimum hatch rates, waterfowl eggs should be turned on their side. Again, I would suggest to the original poster that they ditch the auto-turner and begin turning eggs on their side.

    If you would like sources of experienced breeders/hatcheries (not backyard hobbyists) that advocate horizontal egg turning to achieve higher hatch rates, I'll be glad to provide them. It would also be helpful to know what kind of incubator you are using.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2010

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