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Hand Turning vs Auto Turning Duck Eggs-A Hypothesis

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Snipes, May 17, 2010.

  1. Snipes

    Snipes Songster

    May 15, 2010
    All right, I am going to be incubating my first eggs-mallard eggs in a little over a week now. I have been researching the subject and I have a Hovabator with an automatic turner coming, but from what I have read, hand turning is a better method, at least with the hovabator. I am wondering why hatch rate seems to be better for hand turning. I have a hypothesis that I would like to throw around, but keep in mind, I am completely new to this so I might be way off.
    I have read of a 10-15 minute cooling period, which I think I am not going to do, followed by spritzing, can be helpful with waterfowl. I am hypothesizing that the reason why hand turning duck eggs may produce better results is not that eggs should be on their side, but because when you open the bator to turn, you are cooling the eggs down a bit, which might be very beneficial. With an automatic turner, you don't have to open it and the eggs don't get cooled.
    Anyone have any insight to my hypothesis? Are there any good falsifying experiments? Anyone interested enough to try to test it?
  2. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

    Jan 11, 2010
    I have tried a few different things with my eggs. I tried one hatch - with half the eggs in the turner, and half hand turned. There was a much better hatch from the eggs that were hand turned. All were misted every few days as well - and they were shipped eggs. I do not buy eggs now, as I have my breeding stock all worked out- And since I have found what works best for me with my incubator..I dont experiment anymore.
  3. Snipes

    Snipes Songster

    May 15, 2010
    Thanks for your reply, but I don't think you quite understand-I am proposing a hypothesis to answer WHY hand turning might be more beneficial than auto turning that may be tested in a scientific manner by those with the resources and curiosity to try it or propose and attempt to falsify other hypotheses. Perhaps I should add more. Here is my train of thought, presented in basically the scientific method.

    1) Relevant "observations" from readings
    -People have found success with cooling and then misting duck eggs
    -Hand turning seems to get better results than auto turning
    -Mother ducks leave the nest when brooding for short amounts of time, so presumable, the eggs will get cooled

    2) I have hatched my hypothesis that turning by hand results in better hatch rates because opening the incubator allows air to cool the eggs when you turn them. The hypothesis also asuumes that auto turned eggs aren't opened as much.

    3) I predict that if you were to put them on a auto turner and open the bator as if you were going to turn them a bit, you would see better results.

    4) Testing idea
    All eggs are from the same mother in each pair setup, and assume that they should be equally fertile.
    4a) Do a control group of auto turning, and in the separate but same model incubator, try eggs that are auto turned, but approximately 3x a day, or however many times you would turn the eggs, open the bator for approximately the same amount of time you would if you were turning the eggs by hand, only you leave them alone. Repeat several times to get a suitable number to have numbers good enough to pull at least some statistical tests (in other words, do it, say 5-10 times).
    4b) Do a second control group of hand turned eggs, and then again, have same kind of incubator concurrently taking care of other eggs being hand turned, but for the latter group, modify that incubator so you can somehow turn the eggs without actually opening the bator, say with some clever use of glue, long tweezers, and something that would work like an inverted sock so you can stick the tweezers in and turn the eggs so that the seal of heat is not broken.
    Note that in both these tests, you have to control for temps, humitity, incubator type, and such so that they are the same in each pair (4a is one pair, 4b is the other pair) so that the results will not be skewed by, say, temperature differences between the two.

    5) Falsify, falsify, falsify. It is essential to remember that science is about rigorously finding the best possible answer to the question with the technology we have, so you don't want to support the hypothesis, you want to try to falsify it. You can think about it easily this way: if you want to test if types of building material should be used in buildings in earthquake prone buildings, you expose the materials to intense physical shaking and trauma and basically test its mettle to the max. If none can withstand it, you modify the ones that lasted the longest, or you start over if none lasted very well, until you get one that can withstand the 8.0 force you are giving them.

    Oh...long wordy, sciency post, sorry about that. Well anywhoo, what do you think?
  4. nivtup

    nivtup Songster

    Apr 24, 2008
    Shelton Washington
    Your experiment need to look into the fact that hand turned are on their sides, and auto turned are generally are oriented point down.

    One of our incubators autoturns on the side and does very well.

    Just a thought.
  5. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

    Jan 11, 2010
    I did understand what you were getting at - I was merely stating that I had experimented myself when I had started incubating and had settled on what I had found worked best in my model of incubator. - based on my own hatching experiences and the advise given to me by many others who have experimented themselves.

    I believe there are too many variables in incubation to be able to use four groups of eggs from a single pair of adults to draw any kind of accurate conclusion from the hatch results. Genetics do play a large part- you would need a few hundred eggs to seriously test your theory which would all have to be incubated at the same time - which is not possible from a single pair. You would have to use a large number of breeding pairs and put equal number of eggs from each, into each group. You could aslo not assume that they were equally fertile- Separte records would need to be kept as to which eggs were actually fertile and sarted developing - or strated but did not get past a few days of developement.

    I further believe that there is more than just one factor as to why hand turning often results in better hatches. Turning my eggs takes less than 1 minute. The core of the egg is not effected in any way by the temporary drop in temperature.
  6. chickboss

    chickboss Songster

    Mar 23, 2010
    Newbie here to! Figured I'd throw in my two cents for fun.
    I don't think that the period of time it takes to hand turn eggs, still in the incubator presumably with the incubator running, or at least giving off residual heat, would reduce the core temp. of the eggs to the degree that a 10-15 min. cool down would, or to the degree that they would cool with a momma leaving the nest. The eggs I bought were being hatched successfully with a cool down period, so that's what I'm doing. I remove the eggs from the incubator, turn the unit off, and let them set out at room temp for 10-15min. When I put them back into they unit the shells have cooled, and I then turn the incubator back on so that it can be brought back up to temp. When I open the incubator to hand turn, I leave it running, turn, and the eggs are still quite warm. I think if you want hand turning time to equal a cool down time, you are either going to have to buy a significant amount of eggs so that you are spending quite a bit of time turning in order to have a reduction in the core temp of the eggs in order for it to resemble a cool down period akin to momma leaving the nest to eat/poop/ect. Now, I would imagine, that momma sitting on the nest, having to turn her eggs on her own, may allow for a significant drop in the core temp. of the eggs given that she is outside with out significant ambient heat to keep up the temp. Of corse, that would also depend on the season and the size of the clutch. So, this makes me think that the cooling resulting in hand turning is not significant enough to justify better hatches just because of the small temp fluctuation while doing it. It makes me think that there is a different factor all together going on with having the eggs on their sides, such as it being the natural position that eggs were evolved to develope in.

    Gosh, I hope that all made sense. I am really sick and the old brain just doesn't want to function right now.....Ha, Ha, need more coffee!!!
  7. chickboss

    chickboss Songster

    Mar 23, 2010
    I further believe that there is more than just one factor as to why hand turning often results in better hatches. Turning my eggs takes less than 1 minute. The core of the egg is not effected in any way by the temporary drop in temperature.

    LOL, so all that rambling and duckyfromoz said it in 3 sentences while I was posting. LOL. [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 17, 2010
  8. highcountrychickens

    highcountrychickens Head Rooster Jouster

    Aug 28, 2008
    Jackson Hole
    Quote:Interesting hypothesis, Snipes... keep posted here with your results

    ...(note to self when reading Snipes signature line... don't go there to pick up or drop off ducklings...)
  9. duckluck

    duckluck Dulcimyrh Ducks

    Oct 22, 2009
    Like Chickboss said, I think the size of the clutch matters too...when I have several trays of eggs to turn, I am sure they cool down more with the hand-turning than with just a couple of eggs. Personally, I think Call eggs need the stimulation of the cooling and hand turning.
  10. CityChicker

    CityChicker Songster

    Mar 21, 2009
    Nivtup briefly touched on what I think the real issue is- the placement of the eggs, not the turning method per se. Eggs that are placed directly in the incubator tray, not in a turner, are generally layed on their sides (horizontal). Most auto turners put the eggs on end, vertical.

    There are a number of incubators with auto turners that roll the eggs, similar to how eggs that are being hard-turned would lay on their sides. These incubators, in my experience, typically are MUCH better at hatching waterfowl eggs and would not be opened any more than any other incubator with auto-turner. Of course, this is not to say that a cool down period may not also help. It very well might.

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