Incubator Questions

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by obsidianembrace, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. obsidianembrace

    obsidianembrace Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have two call ducks, Bonnie and Clyde that we've had for about a year now. Bonnie recently laid about 10 eggs in a week and a half (she really gets down to it when we feed her peas, haha) and we put them all in a bucket that had a heating pad on the bottom. We put a small bowl of water in it and covered it with a towel to try and maintain some humidity (we weren't very prepared, as you can tell). They were in that for about a week. The first egg that was in that was candled and found to have nothing in it. So now we have nine in this new incubator we made using these guidelines:
    http://www.cyberquail.com/incubators.html
    They've been in that for maybe two weeks. We haven't candled any of the rest. I wasn't here when my sister did the first one, but I'm not sure if she really knew how (I don't really, either, tips?). But my question is, the incubator was above an air conditioning vent, which we didn't realize. So the temperature almost constantly fluctuated between 98.4 degrees and 104 degrees. So I'm pretty sure that would have killed the eggs, right? We figured that out though, and moved it to where there's no vents around and now it's holding steady at 98.4 and 20% humidity (does the humidity need to be higher?). We have holes punched in it and we cover/uncover holes with duct tape to try and control the temperature, so I covered one of the holes a little to try and raise the temp to 99.5. I am going to try and candle the eggs that are in there soon (once I find a flashlight and I'm sure that I know what I'm looking for) but I'm pretty sure that there's not going to be anything in there. But Bonnie's outside with a little egg butt going on, so I think, once we get the incubator more steady, we'll try and get her to lay those eggs and start with a new batch. So what do you guys think I should do? This is our first go at hatching some eggs, if you can't tell.

    Note: Bonnie will sit on the eggs for 4-5 hours, but then she'll get off of them like she's bored and never go back to them. I read that call ducks are supposed to be good mothers, but I don't think Bonnie has a very strong mothering instinct. What do you guys think?

    General question: Do the number of duck eggs in the incubator affect the temperature of the incubator? I would think that more eggs would raise the temperature, what do you think?
     
  2. Sweetfolly

    Sweetfolly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, the first thing I'd do is candle those eggs. Here's a great website, with pictures of what you're looking for: http://www.minkhollow.ca/mhf/doku.php?id=farm:candling:day_14

    If
    the eggs don't have any development when you candle them, you might also want to crack open some fresh eggs and just verify that they're fertile: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=16008

    When
    you say that Bonnie won't sit on the eggs, you're letting her accumulate a full clutch, right? She won't sit on them until she's satisfied that she has a nest full. How long/how many eggs have you let her accumulate without intervening?

    Okay, my other advice you're not going to like, a lot of people will disagree with it, and I'm sure someone else will give you answers that you'll be much happier with, so just bear with me for the moment: If you want to incubate her eggs artificially, go buy a proper incubator. [​IMG]

    Don't get me wrong, homemade incubators can be great, and I have a halfway finished one of my own sitting in the kitchen right now. But Call duck eggs are notoriously hard to incubate unless you do everything perfectly with them. And lets face it: there's a very small chance that everything's going to be perfect in the first run of a homemade incubator. It's heartbreaking to put a month into incubating a batch of eggs and then not getting any ducklings out of it. I'd suggest getting a Brinsea Mini or Mini Advance incubator, that is, if you want to have a good hatch - a user here on BYC, Scott, has had phenomenal hatch rates with Call duck eggs in the Brinsea Mini Advance: http://www.brinsea.com/prod-Mini_Advance_fully_digital_7_egg_incubator-230.aspx

    Yes
    , it's pricey - but, if you want to hatch lots of fluffy little White Call Ducks, I really think that's the way to go. Hopefully someone else will chime in and give you some advice on doing it in a homemade incubator - but don't expect great results in it the first time (or the second time, or even after numerous alterations and upgrades...) [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2010
  3. NajmoNests

    NajmoNests Chillin' With My Peeps

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    calls will NOT sit steady until they are satisfied that they have as many as they intend to brood. This may be 12, 18, 24. The first eggs in the spring are usually not fertile... the drake hasn't been told of her family plans yet. They should be incubated at 99.5 AT THE TOP of the egg. Over 100 and can cook them; lower usually delays hatch but they may if fertile. To candle an egg: cup your thumb & index finger...Hold flashlite behind this circle, hold egg in front. Duck eggs have thick shells and are difficult to candle.
     
  4. Sweetfolly

    Sweetfolly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:That was one of my first thoughts too when I read that Bonnie won't sit on her eggs. [​IMG]

    I definately believe that letting Bonnie sit on them and hatch them herself will be more successful than trying to incubate them artificially, and it'll probably produce healthier, stronger ducklings (I'm not sure if there's a scientific basis for that or not, but I think natural incubation has to be better).

    Anyways - candle those eggs, obsidianembrace - at two weeks of development, it should be very obvious whether there's an embryo in there or not. I use bright LED flashlights that you can get for as little as $5 for candling - they give off sort of a cool, blue-tinged light and they don't get too hot while you're candling (if you make your own candler out of...say, a lamp and a cardboard box, you can actually fry the little embryo from the concentrated heat of the light while you're candling!). And if you don't see anything in the eggs, crack open some fresh ones and see if they're even fertile. Just don't crack open the ones that you've been incubating while they're still warm - the yolk will go everywhere. [​IMG]

    Now, if they ARE fertile - let Bonnie accumulate them in a nest (she does have a nice little nesting area, right?) and don't touch them. Like NajmoNests said, she might lay 25 eggs before she decides to sit on them full time. I don't know how in the world she thinks she'll be able to cover that many, but just don't collect the eggs for awhile and see what happens before you jump into artificial incubation. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2010
  5. obsidianembrace

    obsidianembrace Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She's had as many as five under her at a time but she got off of them for about five hours before we went in a took them. How long can the mama be off of them before she probably won't go back? When she got off she just went and slept somewhere else, it wasn't like she got off to eat. I'll let her stay on the next batch for as long as she wants (we've never chased her off of them or anything) but when should I bring the eggs in if ever?

    I want to build a nesting box off their house like this ( starting at about :20), do you think it would be functional and be worth it? Right now she tends to lay her eggs in a nest she dug under our raspberry bush. The leaves are very thick, so would that be safe for her and the eggs?

    I'll also look in to that incubator, it seems like a very good option if she doesn't stay on the eggs.
     
  6. obsidianembrace

    obsidianembrace Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm working on candling the eggs and I think that I'm just going to post pictures of all of them and have you guys help me.

    What's safe for me to use to write on the eggs and number them??

    p.s. in one of the eggs, there's definitely something moving. i'm assuming that's good?
     
  7. Sweetfolly

    Sweetfolly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:You know, I started a duck egg candling thread ages ago, and I finally stopped updating it - the pictures on there might help too, but they're only useful up to about day 9 of incubation (after that, they got too dark to see anything properly): https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=304863

    You
    can write on the eggs with a pencil (I mark all of mine with the breed and date the egg was laid with a pencil when I'm collecting them)...some people use Sharpies too - when I'm candling eggs and I find a dud, I put a big X on it with a red sharpie.

    Movement is good! You should definately be seeing movement. [​IMG]
    It's best to candle from the top of the egg, through the air cell. How big do the air cells look? 20% is really low for humidity with duck eggs - 55% is what's generally recommended, but I do mine a little lower, at 35-40%.

    Here's a chart from poplarfarmcottage.com showing approximately how large the air cell should be in a duck egg at various stages of incubation (the numbers represent the day - so, you said they've been incubating for about 2 weeks, so you want them to be around Day 15 on this chart):
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2010
  8. obsidianembrace

    obsidianembrace Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, so we saw definite movement in three of the eggs and we have one that's not moving but looks like there's an embryo, we think it's younger (all of the eggs were probably about 1-4 weeks old) we threw out six eggs and kept four. We're trying to boost humidity by putting two small bowls in the incubator with hot water. The humidity jumped to 32% but now it's at 28%. I put a thin cloth on the top to try and let excess temperature through without letting a lot of the humidity out (I think the fan blows a lot of it out through the holes). The temp is at 98.4 right now.
     
  9. obsidianembrace

    obsidianembrace Chillin' With My Peeps

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    temp's the same, but humidity is right back to 20%. how do i keep the humidity steady?? the humidity in my house is 20% (i live it utah, it's very dry) but how do i get the humidity higher?
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2010
  10. obsidianembrace

    obsidianembrace Chillin' With My Peeps

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    *bump*

    Anyone? I really need to get the humidity steady and a lot higher, but I don't know how. It's still holding at 20% with temp at 98.4
     

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