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Problems hatching call duck eggs

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Duck runners, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. Duck runners

    Duck runners Hatching

    Feb 2, 2014
    We used to custom hatch mostly waterfowl of all kinds plus chickens, geese, & whatever eggs that people brought for us to hatch. We hatched in two 400-egg redwood cabinet-style incubators like the ones that could be purchased from Sears or Montgomery Ward's stores at that time. We always had very good hatches of all the types of eggs that we hatched. We put them all in the same incubators at the same humidity & temperature. We had about 90% hatch every hatching.
    We had the eggs laying on their sides & hand-turned them 3 times a day.

    One of our customers brought us about 300 eggs every other week. He was very well pleased with the hatches that we got for him.

    We stopped hatching for a good many years & recently started hatching again since we are retired. We bought a custom-made incubator with a wooden cabinet that is designed basically like the old redwood incubators that we had years ago. It is a little bit smaller & holds about 300 chicken egg size eggs. We have egg turners that we can use to turn the eggs very slowly so that they are turned every few hours all day long or we can use the racks & turn the eggs by hand 3 or 4 times a day.

    When we started hatching again a few years ago, we went to a poultry show & bought some show stock call ducks. We had very few hatches from those ducks because the eggs weren't fertile. We asked a lot of people about the poor hatching of these call ducks & were told that, because of the inbreeding, many call ducks are sterile.

    Last year, we purchased some call ducks from a hatchery that sells call ducks. We thought we'd have better hatches. Most of the eggs are fertile with these ducks but we have trouble near & at hatching time. Most of these call duck babies develop most of the way to hatching. We candle them & we can see their beaks moving during the last 3 days before they are due to hatch. We can hear a few peep but very few of them pip the shell. They die in shell either before they pip or after pipping. Some pip the whole way around the shell & die. We help them hatch if we can catch them at the right time. Those few that can hatch by themselves are strong little ducks. We never sprinkled or sprayed the eggs for extra humidity when we hatched years ago & had excellent hatches from all eggs. Back then, about 75% of the eggs we hatched were from ducks & geese.

    We set about 40 call ducks every week from different pairs of call ducks. We had call ducks years before & we fed them & the ducks that we have now the same high-protein feed that we always used. We use the same humidity that we always did but, since we're having trouble with our hatches, we tried raising or lowering the humidity for each hatch to see if that would make any difference in our hatches. The change in the humidity made no difference in the hatches. I also thought that maybe the fans used in the incubators now could affect the air flow inside the incubator. The air flow could also affect the humidity inside the incubator.

    We have some wet bulb thermometers that I used years ago to measure the humidity inside the incubators & we also purchased some new ones when I started hatching again. We use the regular thermometers to measure the humidity & temperature. I rely on them more than the digital thermometers.

    We purchased a pair of Indian Runner ducks last summer. We are going to see how their eggs hatch for us. We tried to purchase eggs from other waterfowl to try to hatch but nobody in our local area had any of these eggs that we could purchase.

    We don't know if our problem is from the call duck stock from being inbred so much or if the incubator needs mosre adjustments. We have our books on breeding & hatching from our hatching years ago. We've been researching this problem online & asking any breeder that we come in contact with. If anyone has any advice for us, we would be appreciate hearing from you.


  2. cstronks

    cstronks Songster

    Mar 12, 2013
    New Jersey
    Interesting. It sounds like the incubator needs more adjusting. The issue seems to lie during the end of the hatch. Have any of the ducks that successfully hatched had any problems? If not, then I would doubt it is genetics. Are you sure the humidity during the hatch is correct? Something tells me that could be the problem. I like the idea of trying to hatch other eggs in the incubator. If you have no trouble with other eggs, then I would think that the problem lies in the incubator. Hopefully you can fix it soon so you can hatch more chicks!

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