Thoughts on a bad hatch?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by JessicaGrant, Jun 6, 2010.

  1. JessicaGrant

    JessicaGrant Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I made an incubator out of an old freezer and bought some fertile eggs--6 chicken and 6 duck. I candled them a while back and it looked like 3 of each were developing. Last weekend the chicks hatched and have been hopping around peeping and growing all week.

    This weekend I was looking forward to the same happening with the ducks, but so far I have been disappointed. One pipped on Friday but died (I can see his bill sticking out the one little hole he made.) Another started pipping around the same time and this morning I peeked in to see that he had made cracks almost all the way around the egg but that he is dead, too. There is one who has just started pipping and I can still hear activity in there but the egg is just barely cracked.

    Does anyone here know if ducks just have a harder time hatching than chicks...or if there was something I could have done differently? The conditions in the incubator have been reasonably stable for a homemade job, but there has definitely been fluctuations in the temperature. But why would they develop beautifully and then die hatching?

    And what I really want to know...is there anything I can do to help the guy still struggling? Thanks!!!
     
  2. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

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    Ducks eggs need a higher humidity to hatch- A mother duck will often want to swim and get wet the last few days before hatching. What do the membranes on the ducks eggs look like?? Are they white and thick looking- or fairly clear???
     
  3. JessicaGrant

    JessicaGrant Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Thank you! The membrane on the egg that almost made it is pretty much clear. I did spritz the eggs whenever I opened the incubator but I didn't want to do that too often. I just ran down with damp paper towels and put them by the egg that is still alive. Could that help?
     
  4. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

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    I guess being the last egg...its pretty special...I can see you have young kids from your avartar- ..... So maybe a little assistance can be warranted in this case... I sometimes peel the shell a little on ones struggling to hatch- only a little at a time- and carefully so as not to disturb the membrane as it can bleed if there is still blood in the veins.

    Leave it for a few hours and see how it goes- If you start to hear different tones to its peeping - More frequent- means means more desperate to hatch...Slower less frequent means a weakening baby. If its not making much progress after a few hours- or seems to be weakening- carefullly pick off a little shell- Its easy to do where the air cell was- as the membrane is not attached to the egg- you can then spritz the membrane directly with warm water if needed- rather than the whole egg. That may be all the help it needs- But if you need to pick of any other shell- only do a small amount every two hours or so- Its still important that the duckling tries to do some of the work itself to gain some strength. I have some hatching myself at the moment- so will be up for a few hours - By then there should be alot more members on who can help as well if the little one is not going well.
     
  5. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would definitely help at this point. It's so hard to lose them right at the end.

    As for what happened, it's really hard to say--can you open the dead ones and take a look? Are they really wet inside the air cell (outside the membrane)? It's believed by many that a higher humidity is required during incubation for duck eggs, but that has not been my experience. When I run higher humidity, the eggs end up with small air cells and the ducklings have a hard time keeping their bills in the air cell after their internal pip, and they can end up drowning. The fact that one of yours has its bill sticking out through the initial pip indicates to me that he may have been working really hard to get his bill up high. In my experience, ducks with right-sized air cells will rest for 24-36 hours after pipping before beginning to zip. If they moved faster than that, they may have been desperately trying to stay above the water line in the shell.

    But the only way to really know if this is the problem is to candle *before* you lock them down--this will show you how large your air cell is. It should be close to 1/3 the total volume of the egg at lockdown. If it's smaller, then you will have more babies die either right before or right after pipping.

    I'm awfully sorry to hear about your difficult hatch. I hope the last little guy makes it. Good luck. [​IMG]
     
  6. JessicaGrant

    JessicaGrant Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OK, I did peel off a little bit of shell and saw that the membrane was white and thick. I could see the little guy pushing against it, so I made a little hole in the membrane and then closed the incubator back up. I never put a window in or I would be down in the basement watching!

    My kids have learned to accept the deaths of our birds...we had a lot of predation a while back...but yes, they will be sad if all the ducks die. Of course, I am not sure what I will do with just one duck, either! I had planned to brood the ducks and chicks separately, but if this one does make it won't he be lonely?
     
  7. Boggy Bottom Bantams

    Boggy Bottom Bantams Overrun With Chickens

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    all are good points so far, but I have raised migratory waterfowl of nearly every available species for decades, they do need around 60-70% to hatch otherwise they will stick, if they arent stuck in the shell, you will be fine with that. For piped or last week deaths, it is usually a bacterial infection of sorts that will kill them. After every hatch it is best to spray the incubator down with bleach to sterilize it. Also if you have a lot of late hatch deaths, try putting a teaspoon full of bleach in your water trays every 2 weeks or so, This will keep the bacteria killed off and causes no harm whatsoever to the chicks. I have been doing this for a while after another old timer breeder told me of it. And to be honest, rarely ever loose a fully developed chick of any sorts any more.
    Those temp fluctuations need to be dealt with too, they can cause improper development of the chicks if the get too extreme or erratic. Also proper turning is a must from proper development. Try to watch all those things and keep it sterilized and you will be better off.
    Good luck
     
  8. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oops--I wasn't clear. Yes, during the hatch you definitely need a higher humidity. I run mine as high as it can go with very good success. I was talking about the 25 days prior to lockdown that I run a very low humidity. Sorry for the confusion!
     
  9. Boggy Bottom Bantams

    Boggy Bottom Bantams Overrun With Chickens

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    yep, during the main incubation 50% is fine, give or take
     
  10. JessicaGrant

    JessicaGrant Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This has gone from bad to worse. The little guy didn't make much progress yesterday, and I went to bed expecting him to be gone this morning, stuck in his egg like the others. I had picked off a bit of shell, enough to be able to moisten the membrane and see his bill. Anyway, I woke up this morning (at 4:30 which isn't usual around here!) to check on him and he is out of his shell but I have never seen a more pathetic creature. The yolk is not completely absorbed, but is hanging out of his belly. I can't say if it has started to absorb or not, since I have never seen this before. It is the size of a hen yolk, I guess, but not full, if that makes sense. He is all wet (he was lying on soaking paper towels since I was trying so hard yesterday to keep everything damp!) and shaking quite a bit. He is still peeping and is livelier than you might expect. I moved him to dry paper towels and l guess I just wait and hope... Can he continue to absorb his yolk now he is out of his shell?
     

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