I posted this in New Members thread but wanted to share here... Duck content :)

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Lisaa, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. Lisaa

    Lisaa In the Brooder

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    Hi, Everyone. I've been lurking around for a couple of weeks and decided it was time to step out from the shadows. I'm trying to crash-educate myself about mallard egg incubation and so far have learned a great deal from you all!

    It's a long story, but if you don't mind a rather long-winded tale, here's what happened: My third grader found what I think is a mallard egg while she was walking home from school two weeks ago. It was sitting in a peculiar spot - on its end, on a tiny tree stump, with mud carefully packed around its base to keep it upright. The stump, only about 3 inches across, was right next to the sidewalk, in plain view. No idea how long the egg had been there or who put it there. The only thing I can figure is that a child might have found it somewhere and placed it there. Of course, I had no idea how old the egg was - might have been sitting in a classroom all year as a show and tell object for all we knew. There are no ponds close by, and I haven't ever seen mallards in the area. Quite mystifying!

    My daughter wanted to try and hatch it. We didn't have much to lose, though I was almost certain nothing would happen. So we left it wrapped in her jacket and set it on the computer desk, then drove to the local 4H offices and rented a hova-bator (I think it's called?) circulating air incubator. It's the kind they use in school classrooms for hatching chickens and quail. Within an hour of finding the egg, we had it warming in the 'bator. I candled it that night and it was clear inside, with the slightest shadow of the yolk floating around as best as I could tell. So, it didn't look spoiled.

    Five days later, I candled the egg again and about fell over. There were red veins radiating from the center of the egg, just like the photos here! Almost impossible to believe - but my daughter said, "I see it, too!"

    So, now the feverish research began! Proper humidity.... proper position.... temperature... misting.... cooling.... ack! :)

    We're now on Day 17. The little guy is kicking around, growing, and seems to be doing okay so far. I've got the temp reading 99.5F, and humidity reads about 40 percent, though the old gauge I'm using may not be reliable. The egg is on an automatic turner, large (air cell) end up.

    I have lots of questions for you guys, but I think the most pressing one at this point is the size of the air cell. Currently it's no larger in diameter than a nickel. It's centered at the top of the large end of the egg. The size hasn't really changed since Day 1. At about day 12, I removed all the cups of water except for one, but when the air cell still didn't appear to be growing I took it the last water cup out, too. Since the end of the first week, I've also been removing the egg for about 5 minutes each evening, misting and cooling it. Should I be doing anything else? Should all of the mist be evaporated before putting it back in the incubator? It's been pretty humid here, but I figured with the incubator being indoors where there's air conditioning, the air would be dryer.

    I'll stop here and try not to inundate you all with too many questions. And I'll keep reading - there is a load of great information here. Thanks for being here.
     
  2. country_girl011

    country_girl011 Songster

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    welcome to byc.
    sounds like you are doing a great job.
    what is your temp in the bator?
    do you have a hydrometer? (to measure humidity)
     
  3. Adriennesmom

    Adriennesmom Chirping

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    Hi Lisa! That is wonderful that the egg was fertile[​IMG] I just hatched, my first mallard egg, about two and a half months ago. My story is long as well. My mallard hen (Natasha) went broody shortly after our mallard drake passed away. She was very devoted to her eggs and it seemed like she was going to be a great mother. My husband and I candled the eggs, several times over the week, and discovered that they were not fertile. We were worried that Natasha would be heartbroken when they did not hatach. We decided to buy a few fertile eggs from the local duck farm. We placed them under her and all went well for a few days. We do not know if it because of her young age, or inexperience, Natasha suddenly lost interest in sitting on her eggs! She abondoned her nest and the eggs became cold. We brought the eggs inside, candled them, and discoverd that some were growing. We constructed a makeshift incubator in an empty plastic litter box, purchased a heat lamp and thermoter, and put a small jar of water inside. I had to look up all of this information online and BYC was a wonderful help as well[​IMG] I turned the eggs every few hours. I even woke up a couple of times a night to rotate the eggs. I was starting to feel like a mother duck! Only one egg continued to thrive. The veins grew, the body developed, the air sack became larger. I decided to sleep in my office on the day the egg was due to hatch. Five days went by without my duckling hatching . He continued to peep and make noises inside his egg. I was so worried. I was certain that he was stuck inside. On day 32, my little peep started to peck through his egg. He emerged within ten minutes! It was one of the most amazing experiences! I hope you have a very successful hatch. I have enclosed a couple of pictures of Baby Shamus[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]Looking forward to hearing more about the egg's progress!
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
  4. Lisaa

    Lisaa In the Brooder

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    Jun 1, 2012
    What a sweet baby! And what a long shot - having a successful hatch with a makeshift incubator. That is one lucky duck. Did you have any way to measure the humidity? Did you check the air cell regularly?

    That's my biggest concern right now - that the air cell isn't growing. I don't know how much to worry.
     
  5. Lisaa

    Lisaa In the Brooder

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    Thanks! The temperature (using the thermometer supplied by 4H) is as close to 99.5 as I can keep it. The hydrometer I have is very old, from 1954 in fact, and I'm just not sure how accurate it is. So I've been trying to monitor the size or the air cell as an indicator of the humidity... and that's why I'm worried, as the cell isn't much bigger than it was from the first day of incubation.
     
  6. Adriennesmom

    Adriennesmom Chirping

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    Thank you! We were really lucky to have the little guy make it in spite of the odds. [​IMG] I have never been more relieved in my life than the moment he started to hatch! It was a real nail biter. I tried to measure the humidity with a thermometer and shoestring. You take one end of a shoestring( cut each end so opening is hollow) and put it in a cup of water, in the incubator, the other end covers the end of thermometer. The string dries according to the humidity in the incubator. However, I never seemed to get the correct reading. I am not sure if I had set it up correctly. It was a real guessing game. The humidity level was one of my biggest concerns.. Shamus was not extremely wet when he hatched. He was just a little damp. I think my humidity was probably too low. My temperature would also drop in the evening. I think this attributed to his late hatching date. His air cell was significantly larger in the last week to ten days. You might want to check out the Metzer Farm website. They have photos of ducks developing throughout the incubating process. It will show you what the normal air cell looks like in each stage of development. I used this as a guide. I also purchased my egg from Metzer Farms and was very pleased with their services. I am looking forward to hearing how everything turns out![​IMG] Good luck!!
     
  7. Lisaa

    Lisaa In the Brooder

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    Your little guy is nothing short of a miracle baby! What a roller coaster ride that must have been. He looks perfectly healthy and happy. Wonderful! It's good to hear a success story.

    I've heard about the shoestring method of measuring humidity, but I'm just not sure I'd be able to figure it out. Had read that air cell size is a good indicator of humidity - too small means lower it and too large means raise it. That's all I know to go on at this point, and the diagrams of air cell size do seem to indicate the cell is too small on our egg.

    So with Shamus, do you know what size his air cell was before it got larger in the last week to ten days? Was it about the size the diagrams indicated it should be?

    Appreciate the info about Metzer Farms. I've checked them out a bit through doing google searches, but will go back and do more reading. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
  8. Adriennesmom

    Adriennesmom Chirping

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    Shamus is definitely a little miracle[​IMG] He has been getting bigger by the day and is very popular with his fellow poultry buddies! I believe the air cell was about the same size, if not slightly larger, than the diagrams. I could only make out shadows the last week or so of incubation. I did notice that his air cell seem fairly large. It took up about a third of the egg or so. It might have been slightly more. He was very vocal for several days up until his hatch day. Good luck with the incubation! It is a very exciting journey[​IMG]
     

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