Muscovy Momma: The Duckling of Death?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by JennaT, Sep 30, 2016.

  1. JennaT

    JennaT In the Brooder

    Apr 3, 2016
    NSW, Australia
    Hi everyone,

    First time Muscovy duck enthusiast and first time anything with ducklings.

    We currently have an 18-month-old Muscovy mother sitting on two remaining eggs on a total of four (we restricted her) that I’m confident won’t survive - unless anyone has any brilliant intervention suggestions!

    This is her first time and I’m curious if this whole episode has simply been a perfect storm of inexperience…

    Momma duck religiously sat on this nest (up high in a nest box) and, in the first two weeks, would cover them up and furiously eat/drink and bathe every second day. Then, in the final 3-4 weeks she would cover them, but only eat and drink - no bathing. We also discovered that the eggs are sitting directly on the wood floor of the nest box so they easily roll around. Even when I inspected them today, she gladly rolled them around!! Argh!

    We seem to be getting a different cause of death each time...

    First Duckling
    The first duckling arrived on time. There were signs of a beak peeking out, chirping etc… we left it alone with momma duck, expecting a baby duckling the next morning. Instead we found a body underneath her that made it half way out of the egg and whose face was half sealed by dry membrane. It also didn’t help that she was standing on its head!

    Second Duckling
    The second duckling arrived on time as well. We spotted it during early signs of external piping, but after 12hrs momma duck lovingly shifted it to the side of the nest - still under her but by no means keeping it warm. By the time we intervened the egg was quite cold and no progress had been made since the day before. We managed to warm it back up and the duckling seemed much more active with occasional chirping. I made a bigger opening in the air sac and it eventually stumbled out and collapsed after a few hours. But, it too died about two hours later. We noticed with this one still had a bit of membrane/veins in the shell however all of the egg sac was gone. There was also dried, clotted blood stuck to it. There was evidence of what looked like green poop inside the shell and its butt also contained this green/white goo. I tried to wash it off but it too was pretty glued on there. Once hatched, the little duckling struggled to raise its head - not sure if this means anything.

    With two eggs left, I inspected them to see what the next two disasters will bring and noticed one is now 75-80% black inside while the other seems “normal". I’m not sure whether to remove these two eggs and place them under a light or something and I have no incubator or access to one...

    Any suggestions or should I dig two more graves and wait?


  2. JennaT

    JennaT In the Brooder

    Apr 3, 2016
    NSW, Australia

    Looks like both eggs are turning black now. The darkest one is developing what looks like (complete guess) the membrane having dried inside and now separating from the shell. It literally looks like waves in a desert, like this:


    Looking at other posts on here, I'm not seeing a nice air sac in the darkest one.

    We were expecting to lose a couple of eggs, but to three different problems!? What a disaster!!
  3. JennaT

    JennaT In the Brooder

    Apr 3, 2016
    NSW, Australia
    Okay... so no one on here could help me.
  4. quackers619

    quackers619 Songster

    Aug 21, 2015
    Hi sorry no one has helped you. i know nothing about hatching eggs maybe try changing the title of your thread........good luck
  5. Bills vs Beaks

    Bills vs Beaks Duck Obsessed Premium Member

    Aug 31, 2016
    NJ USA
    My Coop
    I was keeping tabs on this but I know nothing about eggs so I would have been no help [​IMG] Sorry

  6. FoodFreedomNow

    FoodFreedomNow Songster

    I'm also a Muscovy enthusiast, and have incubated eggs as well as having broodies hatch their own clutches this year. Both of the broodies were first-time moms, and we only let them sit on 9 and 10 eggs, respectively. Our ducks were attentive, devoted mothers and each hatched all but 1 egg successfully (we had one co-brooding situation that caused 2 eggs to break during fighting over the nest, so we don't allow that anymore). We had very hot weather during these broody incubations, but both girls knew how to manage the eggs, sometimes leaving them for longer periods on the hottest days or bathing more often (and dampening them).

    In my opinion, the challenges you've experienced with the hatch may, at least in part, be due to the broody's inexperience. If you're seeing dried membranes/shrinkwrapping, that's a humidity problem. You said she didn't bathe in the last month, and that sounds odd to me. Would there have been any reason she wouldn't have wanted to go for a swim - did anything change in her environment? In (artificial) incubation, misting the eggs daily is a key component of successful hatching - particularly important with tough Muscovy egg shells.

    Could there have been any nutritional issues? If there were dietary deficiencies, that could have put the eggs at a disadvantage from the start.

    I know how disappointing it is to have a bad hatch. As with many animals, sometimes first-time mothers just have a difficult time and do much better the next time, if inexperience really was primarily the cause.
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by