Incubating Chicken and Duck eggs in the same incubator

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by dawnh, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. dawnh

    dawnh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi there![​IMG]

    This is my first post so please be gentle! [​IMG] I'm fairly new to chicken keeping, and a complete noob at incubating.

    Firstly, I set 12 chicken eggs in my still air incy last night, humidity 34%, temp running between 101.3 and 101.5. For a start, someone set my mind at rest and tell me this is okay?!?!

    Secondly, today at the allotment a friend gave me 8 fertile duck eggs to try and hatch. He says they're Aylesbury(?). Would it be possible to put them in with the chicken eggs? I know ideally they should have been set 7 days before. My main concern would be when the chicken eggs go into lockdown, would the duck eggs cope with not being turned or misted?

    Thanks in advance for any help/advice given,

    Dawn [​IMG]
  2. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

    Oct 11, 2014
    Gouverneur, NY
    Your temps are good and humidity is good-for chicken eggs. (Still air between 101-102 taken near top of eggs-so you are spot on.) I do not know anything about duck egg needs, but I can tell you there's plenty of threads on here about hatching the two together, so it is doable. Hopefully one of the experienced chicken/duck hatchers will come along with the tricks and advice in that area.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
    2 people like this.
  3. dawnh

    dawnh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the reply [​IMG]

    It's reassuring to know I'm getting it right! I have read some (not all!) of the threads, but they seem to deal with setting the chicken eggs after the duck eggs so that they hatch at the same time. I really don't want to waste these lovely eggs [​IMG]
  4. dawnh

    dawnh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Any advice welcome! [​IMG]
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    What you are talking about is a staggered hatch. Starting the duck eggs first is the “ideal” situation but sometimes I have situations “I deal” with. Looks like you have one of those.

    Some duck eggs take 35 days to hatch but yours should take 28, just o there is no confusion about that. I’ve never hatched ducks, let alone ducks with chickens, so I don’t have any real experience with those.

    One main reasons you turn eggs is that turning helps the body parts form in the right spots. That doesn’t mean they won’t form in the right spots if you don’t turn them but that there is a real possibility they might not. Another reason to turn them is to keep the yolk or developing chick from coming into contact with the inside of the porous shell. If they do they can get stuck or dry out, which means the chick cannot move to hatch if it continues developing. I don’t know how fast this happens with duck eggs but by 14 days the body parts have all formed and a membrane has formed around the developing chick to protect it from contacting the inside of the shell. It doesn’t hurt to turn the eggs after 14 days but it’s not necessary. I wish I knew what day that was for your duck eggs but I don’t. Turning eggs early in incubation is very important but the later you go the less important it is. You probably won’t do any damage to those duck eggs if you stop turning them when you go into lockdown, but I don’t know that for certain.

    The reason you don’t want to open the incubator during lockdown is that there is a possibility the eggs could shrink-wrap if the humidity drops too low. That membrane that protects the chicks from coming into contact with the shell can dry out and shrink around the chick so tightly that it cannot move to hatch. That’s not very likely to happen before the eggs pip. The shell may be porous but unless you are incubating at humidities so low that the egg is practically dried out anyway, that’s just not going to happen until the chick pips and opens a hole for the moisture to escape faster. Even then, it doesn’t happen that often. It really doesn’t. Many people open the incubator regularly during lockdown and do not shrink wrap the chicks. Either they don’t know the risk, the rules don’t apply to them, or they have a good reason. It’s best practices to not open it but I’ll open the incubator at any time if I have a good reason. There is a risk but the risk is not huge.

    I don’t know what your incubator looks like. Are you turning by hand or do you have an automatic turner? If you are turning by hand, I think I’d continue turning and misting those duck eggs at least until I saw a pip on a chicken egg, then quit turning and misting.

    If you have an automatic turner, what does it look like? Can you take out sections? I can with mine. If you can remove some racks to create a clear space for the chicken eggs, I’d do that and craft a basket out of hardware cloth or something similar that would fit over the chickens eggs to contain the chicks when they hatch. Leave the duck eggs in a rack and turning. That basket would keep the chicks from crawling on the duck eggs and getting tangled up in the turner. You might want to make a basket or some type of fence to keep the hatched chicks from crawling on the duck eggs anyway, smearing them with goop from the hatch or pooping on them.

    When you take the chicks out you’ll want to clean the incubator anyway. Their poop and the refuse from hatching will start to stink in that wet environment inside the incubator. I’ve had a few hatches that drug out long enough that the smell was starting to be an issue. I can’t imagine waiting a full week further to clean it out.

    I think you can get around the turning issues. There will be some risks but I don’t think the risks are that huge. I’d be more concerned about the humidity during incubation. Duck eggs normally require higher humidity than chicken eggs, but I don’t have any hands on experience with that. Hopefully someone with duck/chicken mixed hatch will see this thread and chime in.

    Good luck! You have some challenges ahead of you but here’s hoping it works out.
    3 people like this.
  6. Yorkshire Coop

    Yorkshire Coop Moderator Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2014
    Yorkshire, UK
    My Coop
    Hi :welcome Dawn

    Excellent advice there for you from Ridgerunner and everything you need to know. I too am in Yorkshire but over in East Yorks. Good luck with your eggs hope you have a good hatch.

    Enjoy BYC :frow
  7. dawnh

    dawnh Chillin' With My Peeps

    WOW! Thank you so much Ridgerunner [​IMG] Fantastic advice! So, I guess I'll give them a go!

    Thanks for the welcome Yorkshire Coop, this place is brilliant, and so are the members!

    I'll keep updating to let you guys know how it's going. No doubt I'll have many more questions over the coming month [​IMG]

    Thanks again guys!
    1 person likes this.
  8. dawnh

    dawnh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Slight panic going on here! Since I added the duck eggs the humidity has jumped to 57% and temperature is fluctuating between 100 and 102.9.
    Can adding eggs cause such a jump in humidity and how do I bring it back down?
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2015
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    How are those temperatures acting? Is it a regular cycle over a fairly short time from 100 to 101.9 or are those peaks and valleys? Has the temperature stabilized? Did this temperature fluctuation start only after the duck eggs were added?

    Some temperature fluctuation isn’t a bad thing. The instantaneous temperature of the air isn’t what is important, it’s the temperature inside the egg. The egg is so much denser than air that it takes time for it to heat up and cool down. As long as the fluctuations are relatively short the average is what matters. If you have a forced air incubator that’s a little high but not dangerously so. If it is a forced air it depends on where you take the temperature inside the incubator. Since hot air rises the elevation you take the temperature is very important.

    Some things I’d consider. Do you really trust your thermometer? If it really is a regular fluctuation this is probably not t but many thermometers are not as reliable as many people think they should be. It could be something to do with your thermostat, settings, position in the incubator, or something else. Did you top off the water reservoirs with hot water and this was only a temporary change while the temperature stabilized? Incubators are made so they do not shed excess heat rapidly.

    You control humidity by surface area of the water. When you mist the duck eggs, add wet eggs, or get another surface wet, you have increased the water surface area so humidity will go up. It will stay up until that new surface area has dried, so it can take a while for the humidity to stabilize back to a lower level. That’s the issue I was hoping someone with experience doing duck and chicken eggs together would chime in on.
  10. dawnh

    dawnh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the reply Ridgerunner [​IMG]

    Have sorted the temp now, it happens every time I turn them, so I have to tweak the temperature control until it comes back into the 101/102 range.

    As for humidity, I have taken my hygrometer out to calibrate it, only an hour left to go! I now realise I should have done this before setting the eggs, rookie mistake number 1!

    I only added a small amount of water when I set the chicken eggs, and took most of it out when the humidity shot up.

    I'll check back in when calibration has finished and tell you how far out it is.

    Thanks again for all your help, and sorry for being a pest!

    Dawn [​IMG]

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