PLEASE HELP I Think It's Dead


9 Years
Aug 28, 2010
Cedar Springs, Michigan
I think the duckling is dead, I just candled it. I know, I know I shouldn't have but the air sac does NOT look normal at all or bright and white like before. I heard it chirp yesterday, and now the air sac is more like horse shoe shape and not bright white like it was and possibly the rolling may have rupture the yolk or something I don't know. It isn't smelling but it's not moving when I put the light to it, and I don't hear scratching of any sort or chirping. Should I go ahead and see what is happening? The air sac isn't at the top like before. My hopes are gone for a live duckling, it's end of day 28 and seeing the air sac like that. My gut is telling me it didn't make it and possibly the chirping was it struggling.
Should I open the egg?? Does itg sound dead to you?>
Give it 2 days.. I used to open mine and it would be a mistake so I just started waiting a couple days and lots of times thay would hatch. I did a peacock egg once and that stop me I neve did anymore after that one boy it makes ya feel bad.

I can't tell you what is the *right* thing to do, but what I would do is to carefully poke a hole in the air sac end and have a look. If the duckling is fine, you won't do much harm this way (but make sure as soon as you see it moving to put it back where it's humid--you might want to raise the humidity even higher so it doesn't dry out), but if it's not, at least you can end the suspense. If you heard it chirping yesterday, then when you open a hole you should see its bill sticking into the air sac, and it should move in some way in response to your "intrusion." If you *don't* see that, then the news is not good. You can then at that point, carefully open it a little further--just a bit at a time--until you're quite confident you know it's dead.

But if you it *is* moving and the bill is in the air sac, take a good careful but quick look, and stick it in the humid incubator. Then report your findings here--if it's in trouble, you may be able to help it, but you want to be very careful because you can do more harm than good very easily.

Good luck, and don't beat yourself up. Nature is a harsh mistress, and ducklings die trying to hatch very very often. It's hard on us, and sad, but it's not your fault and it's not an extraordinary event--it's just the way life is sometimes.
How big of a hole?? I had it out listening to it with a stethoscope and it's hard to know if I was hearing a heart beat or my own or just nothing. But with all the stuff and stimulation, not a scratch or peep out of it. And it seemed to have cooled quicker then usual. How to I open a egg shell when there is absolutely no pip to go by? Should I candle it while I'm doing it so as to not poke it? I don't know, the air sac looked so bright and brillant, and now not so much so. The air sac shifted more to the side then up like it was. I really, really have a bad feeling about it. Now I know what and what not to do for the next batch that is scheduled for lock down on the 17th.
Start with a hole the size of a pencil eraser. Candle it so you can see the air sac as best you can, and very gently poke the hole. It's possible you're not seeing the air sac because the baby is all the way up in it, and filling the entire egg. In this case, you need to be especially careful not to poke it. You can tap it with a blunt instrument to cause the shell to dent in, and then carefully peel the shell with your fingers or tweezers.

Cooling quickly is not a good sign, but there's still hope. It's possible you're senses are registering what you expect rather than what's true. Keep posting...
I have never hatched an egg yet, we are on day 10 (almost 11) but I just wanted to say that your duckling is in my prayers. I hope for all the best and I pray you are wrong.... keep us posted.
With the help of my son, I can quickly candle it and take a picture of it and post it and then you can tell me. I think it may be all the way in the air sac because the head or whatever is at the very top, it is dark from the top and the way down and the area that is in question is on the side. It's hard to describe. But I thought that the air sac is always suppose to be bright and brillant and on top. I'm so scared to do this, it's a darn if I do, darn if I don't. I would have been happy just to hear scratching. But nothing, absolutely nothing!
Well, here are the pictures we tried the best we could. But it seems that it is cooling a lot quicker then before. I can't say cold, but I've lost a lot of hope. I hope you can give me some insight on what you see, but through all the fuss and light, not any movement at all. Usually with the lighting I'd always see movement.

1) side with the most light

2) another angle

the darker side where I see the most darkness as if the duckling shifted.

, this egg was a bit smaller, but not by much then the newer eggs that were laid. Seems like after the 12th egg, they started becoming a big larger. So maybe if it is dead, that played a factor, smaller and weaker. Who knows.
Yeah, in hatching it's always a "darned if you do darned if you don't" proposition. MOST of the time, it's better just to *don't* (even though I would have, lol).

And yes, a smaller egg is more likely to have trouble hatching for the reasons you cited and also the shape of the egg is less optimized and the parent's body hasn't quite perfected the egg-building process when they first start laying. I never set eggs until they reach full size, which can be several weeks. Better yet, I like to raise the babies in Spring and not start hatching from them until the following Spring, though I don't always follow my own excellent advice, lol.

I can't really tell anything useful from the pictures. There is still hope though. If you don't want to mess with it (and that's probably safest), just leave it alone for a few more days and hope. Maybe we'll get to see a new post soon "It's alive! Yay!"

Good luck!
Sometime keeps telling me to open it, I'm having a tug of war going on in my head, open it, don't open it. Another sign I forgot to mention that you probably read about in a previous post was the start of discoloration. It's not funny, but watch out of all 14 babies due to hatch on separate dates, momma will probably be successful in hatching her own then I did with the incubator. If anything, this has taught me what NOT to do when I put the 5 eggs into lock down next week, or out of the ones that are incubating the one that already got a crack/dent in the air sac will be the only survivor when it probably shouldn't have, because it's still alive and well. The egg that I'm trying to hatch is #10 out of approximately 30 eggs, and that is what I have found, the older eggs that she 1st started laying are smalling then the ones she's sitting on, those look more uniformed and true eggs, so the ones in the incubator could have the same problem to at lock down. Once I empty this hatcher, clean it, I'm moving it where I can't bump it and have them rolling. But what I don't understand is how I could hear it peep Friday morning, and now it's dead! Well, I can't confirm until I open it. And honestly, I think I will. I knew going into this the risk, and the heart break, yes I wanted it badly, but that is life. I also read last night that they can get stuck against the shell. Maybe that is what happened to, could be alive and need this assistance, barely hanging on and that is why i haven't heard it or seen it move. But, I guess we'll see. I will post one the deed is done. As Katharina said, or maybe you as well as others. Natures way of culling the weak. But it sucks!!

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