Heat and drought and smoke effects on “naturally” incubated eggs

Zach123

Songster
Mar 10, 2012
147
149
161
Platteville, CO
I thought my body duck was sitting on a batch of defunct eggs. While I have no idea when exactly she started brooding, I feel like it has been longer than the normal 28 days (I’m pretty sure she started before we left to visit family out of state in mid-August, and she was definitely broody by the week of the 15th, while we were gone, because the guy who was watching the animals was asking me about her) so that would make it like week 5 this week.

Regardless, her eggs started to hatch either last night or this morning. One of them only got its head and shoulders out of the shell and I found it dead, I’m thinking the mother eventually kicked it out of the nest after it expired since I found it a few feet away this morning. Another duckling got mostly out but the membrane was extremely dry and stuck tight around the back “quarters” and one shoulder. I gingerly released the baby from the remains of the Shell (with the help of a wet sponge), who was still alive but I don’t have a lot of hope for it. Two or three other eggs have obviously fully formed chicks in them, I can see them through the shell at this point. I don’t know if they are just lagging a bit behind the other ones or if they are dead.

My question is not about “what should I do?” (I’m not actually going to do anything at this point, unless I find more partially hatched ducklings later today.)

It’s more of “what do you think happened?”

As many of you are experiencing has been excessively hot, dry, and smoky across the west for the past several months and I’m wondering if these factors have contributed to this event. I’m curious if the excessive wildfire smoke had any effect on “gas exchange” through the eggshell, making the hatch take longer than normal and I’m wondering if the low humidity throughout the incubation and especially during the actual hatch could simply not be compensated for enough by the hen’s body.

But I had another duck and three chickens successfully hatch their eggs this summer, this was the only “bad” one so maybe just “bad luck” on this one?
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
Sep 29, 2014
6,862
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New Zealand
If this is the first time this particular duck has been broody she may not have done a great job at sitting and wetting her feathers to provide humidity because she is still learning. Some are naturals, some take a few tries to get it right. If you've had other birds hatch successfully I'd say it's more of a 'bad luck' situation.
 

Zach123

Songster
Mar 10, 2012
147
149
161
Platteville, CO
Yeah, this was her first brood, definitely inexperienced. Better luck next time I suppose. It’s actually probably for the better, the weather will be getting cold (we already had a 70 degree drop in temperature last week, from over 90 on Monday to 25 on Tuesday, so having a bunch of downy babies on the cusp of winter wasn’t a fun prospect.
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
Sep 29, 2014
6,862
18,425
871
New Zealand
Yeah, this was her first brood, definitely inexperienced. Better luck next time I suppose. It’s actually probably for the better, the weather will be getting cold (we already had a 70 degree drop in temperature last week, from over 90 on Monday to 25 on Tuesday, so having a bunch of downy babies on the cusp of winter wasn’t a fun prospect.
Wow, that is a big drop in temperature. 🥶
 

Zach123

Songster
Mar 10, 2012
147
149
161
Platteville, CO
Yeah, back to 90 this week, gotta love the climate in high plains/Rocky Mountains 🙄

The duckling I saved yesterday is still alive, but not doing great. It’s mother gave up on it almost instantly, which is not surprising given it’s condition (can’t keep up with the flock, you get left behind) coupled with the hens inexperience probably plays a part too. I suppose we’ll do our best to keep it going in the house, despite my aversion to brooding chicks/ducklings indoors whenever possible (especially ducklings, SOOO messy and stinky!). It’s lucky it’s cute haha.
 

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