Incubating Muscovy duck eggs-- where did we go wrong?

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


11 Years
Jul 31, 2008
Yuma, Arizona
Posted in the duck section before, but I thought maybe this forum would have more help about incubating eggs. I've hatched chicks before with very good success.

We started with some mallard/rouen/pekin cross eggs and had good success (all five fertile eggs survived), so we decided to try muscovies to keep (instead of sell). We bought a large batch and ended up with 25 (in our still-air hovabator), because we heard they were hard to hatch. I was very surprised that all were fertile when I checked with my cheap LED light every couple days. I watched the air sac for humidity, kept the temperature at about 100 degrees, and turned them by hand frequently (except for one of the weekends). We lost one or two here and there, but at the third week we still had 18 that were clearly alive. However, in the middle of that week, I started seeing problems. I wasn't sure, but it looked like only 7 were still alive. I left them all together just in case. We stopped turning on day 28, and on day 30 we moved them to a hatcher where the temperature and humidity were much less regulated (a bad decision in retrospect, but before then we hadn't lost a single duckling in that hatcher. Well, none hatched--not a single one. I've egg-topsied all but five (I still had a tiny bit of hope for them after candling, but I'll egg-topsy tomorrow), and most of those had died back in that third week, like I thought. One, however, was perfectly formed except for a small yolk sack, and I'm guessing the ones I haven't done yet will be at the same stage.

So, if/when we try again, how can we keep this from happening again? I'm pretty sure that the six that were mostly formed died because we weren't careful enough with the hatcher, but I'm not sure about the others. Maybe I had them too close to one another--I didn't realize they needed to not be touching, so maybe they overheated each other? Any other ideas?

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