I need help with duck eggs after tragic loss of Mama Duck

tammytuaw

Hatching
Jun 7, 2020
6
7
3
Oh Boy... I normally work with kittens, feral colonies, sick kittens until they can go to rescue and hopefully be adopted out to their forever homes after that. So this is totally new to me. I have always taken any rescued wildlife or animals I'm not equipped to handle to those that can. However, I am finding that anyone who does waterfowl has not had room for eggs and so I'm stuck. If any hatch and make it, places will take them right away, but not the eggs :-( I don't want to let these babies die.

Here it is, the backdrop:
The mama duck (mallard) was hit last Tuesday morning, June 2, and tragically killed. I found her nest about 4-8 hours later. It was a pretty hot day as well.
I had a basket with a towel and part of a blanket in it and parked in a ramp where the sun would not bake them in my car. I covered them with the thick towel as they felt cool to the touch. Later that day and night they were really warm, even in my house. I used a infrared thermometer just to get a feel for the temperature of the egg shell and it was 101-102 degrees. Granted, I'm not sure if that would be accurate with an egg shell, but... I had nothing else to work with at the time. I have been able to hold the temperature and turn them a few times a day until Friday, June 5 at which point, I finally saw some movement inside some of the eggs. I was worried they were too hot for a while. I was wetting my hands with warm water prior to turning them to try and get a little moisture on them while turning.

Most of the eggs have a good air sac and it looks to be around day 22 as of Friday (only based on a lot of internet pictures and reading). So I set them at a position in my basket at about a 30 - 45 degree angle with the air sac up and larger part of it facing up. I have been seeing shadows of movements inside the egg while candling (I'm not very good at it yet). I've only been able to keep the eggs at about 97-98 degrees since Thursday night/Friday.

Here are my questions:
1 - Will the fact that I only turned them a few times a day until Friday or if I stopped a couple days early because of my ignorance at aging the egg cause them the stick to the shell at hatching? or will they be okay because mama duck was doing it the first 18 days?

2 - What will the impact be of only keeping them at 97-98.5 degrees do to them for this last several days? Do you think the early days (day 18 or 19 guessing) of 101 to 102 degrees will do damage to their ability to hatch or if they will stick to shell? They were warm for about 10-12 hours and then back to 99.9. Then warm again, then back to 99 before they dipped to 97-98.5 degrees the last few days. They were under mama duck for first 18 days give or take.

3- I'm trying to find a way to keep them warm. I have zero space available as we have been out of our house due to a pipe burst and work going on at it, plus rescue kitties. So I am doing what I can, but I hate this. I am supposed to save little lives.... not idle and just watch, but I am limited and would like some suggestions on how to get these little guys through hatching so the rescue will take them.

4 - I've seen where people put safety holes after internal pipping is completed or??? Is that always a suggestion or just after they've internally pipped and stopped for a certain amount of time?

5 - How can I keep the shell at appropriate humidity if I do not have an incubator that does that and knowing the temp is a little lower than normal.

Any help is greatly appreciated. This is surely a learning experience. I'm just so bummed out there isn't anyone with experience that will take them in at this point. so again, whatever anyone can share with me, the better..

Thanks!
Tammy
 

Isaac 0

Enabler
Jul 19, 2016
23,998
97,878
1,321
Iowa
Welcome to BYC Tammy!

After reading, your post I did notice quite a few mistakes that you made, so I'm really questioning if they are even still alive or not, have you seen any movement that past few days, any veins? If it's hard for you to tell, you can surely post a candling picture here.
 

tammytuaw

Hatching
Jun 7, 2020
6
7
3
Welcome to BYC Tammy!

After reading, your post I did notice quite a few mistakes that you made, so I'm really questioning if they are even still alive or not, have you seen any movement that past few days, any veins? If it's hard for you to tell, you can surely post a candling picture here.
t
 

tammytuaw

Hatching
Jun 7, 2020
6
7
3
Yes, there were mistakes as this was totally an accident and I stepped in because nobody else would. I am working 16 hours a day during COVID and did what I could as I went. When I finally had a chance to really dig into this over the last 36 hours, I see where the issues are and am looking for some guidance on how to maybe save what I can. I have been carrying them with me every day so I could turn them until Friday.

8 out of the 10 are still moving..

I see three of them in what appears to be the air sac this morning and I don't know if they are trying to external pip or gasping for air or if their beak is just moving around trying to get through to the air sac. Their beak is moving around by the left (their right) outer edge of the air sac, but that is all I can see. How does one know if they actually went through the membrane and into the air sac or if they cannot get into the air sac. with their weird last 5 days, i'm worried that everything will be rubbery and they won't be able to get thru. That was why I was asking about how to move forward with temperatures and humidity. Also about the emergency hole placement and when/if that should be done.

And I am looking for an incubator but nobody has them without ordering....
Still trying to make due...

any guidance thru this process would be greatly appreciated...

thanks
 
Last edited:

tammytuaw

Hatching
Jun 7, 2020
6
7
3
Welcome to BYC Tammy!

After reading, your post I did notice quite a few mistakes that you made, so I'm really questioning if they are even still alive or not, have you seen any movement that past few days, any veins? If it's hard for you to tell, you can surely post a candling picture here.
Tonight I see all ten eggs have movement inside. 4 of them have the beaks/bills in the air sac. I'm worried one of them is not pipping very well. It has been like that all day and seems to only pip once in a while. I wonder if it is in a bad position or too big to move. or the eggs low humidity is not going to play a role.

I found an incubator and am trying to get it set up tonight and put them in it hopefully it will calibrate correctly and not make things worse...

If the eggs surface temperature has been 97.5 - 98.5 for a couple of days now, what temperature should I put the incubator on for them to hatch and what humidity since they have only been around 50% so far...? Should I put an emergency hole in the one?
 

tammytuaw

Hatching
Jun 7, 2020
6
7
3
Hi everyone. I am running out of time and I think I'm just going to put a safety hole tonight in a few of the eggs that have pipped early this morning.. A couple of the other eggs have not internally pipped and one appears to have a small air sac but it moved. I don't know if it is just very large or out of position.

I don't want to cause more problems by putting a safety hole in, but...?

All of this started by me picking up eggs from a nest where mom was about 8 feet from it hit by a car and very much dead.

I did finally find an incubator for the hatching portion of their journey, but not until many had internally pipped. I hope they are not shrink wrapped.
 

EverythingDucks

Couchin
Premium Feather Member
May 7, 2020
5,688
33,195
916
Bermuda Triangle
Hi everyone. I am running out of time and I think I'm just going to put a safety hole tonight in a few of the eggs that have pipped early this morning.. A couple of the other eggs have not internally pipped and one appears to have a small air sac but it moved. I don't know if it is just very large or out of position.

I don't want to cause more problems by putting a safety hole in, but...?

All of this started by me picking up eggs from a nest where mom was about 8 feet from it hit by a car and very much dead.

I did finally find an incubator for the hatching portion of their journey, but not until many had internally pipped. I hope they are not shrink wrapped.
How are they today? Did you put in a safety hole?
 

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