Duck egg hatching process

Duck egg hatching process

Incubating and Hatching Duck Eggs

The incubation and hatching of duck and goose eggs is not a difficult experience and can be very rewarding. Besides the information below, there is valuable incubation information elsewhere on our website. If you candle your eggs, you can compare their progress with the pictures we have of duck eggs for every day of incubation in our Egg Candling Series.

When incubating eggs, it is important you use an accurate incubator. Incubators are made to handle anywhere from 2-50, 000 eggs.

For smaller sized incubators, contact one of the following:
Murray McMurray Hatchery 1 800-798-3280
Strombergs 1 800 720-1134
Meyer Hatchery, OH 419-945-2651
Randall Burkey, TX 800-531-1097
Dunlap Hatchery, ID 208-459-9088
Belt Hatchery, CA 559-264-2090

You will have two decisions to make in your purchase:
1) Do you want a fan? For the smallest incubators, this is not important.
2) Do you want an automatic turner? If you expect to use the machine many times, this would be advisable.
Once you obtain an incubator, it is important you follow all directions supplied with the machine.

We sell duck eggs for one half the cost of the duckling. In other words, if the duckling costs $4.00, the hatching egg costs $2.00. We can tell you our current fertility (normally 85-93%) but we cannot guarantee hatchability. We guarantee that at least 80% of the eggs you purchase will be alive at the first candling (after about 7 days of incubation). If you find your fertility is less than 80%, and would like a refund, you need to contact us within 14 days of the shipping date of the eggs. No refunds are possible after that date. We cannot guarantee hatchability as that is very dependent on the care of the eggs and the incubator.

In our large commercial incubators, we normally hatch 70-75% of all eggs set. There is a box charge of $5.00 for every 20 eggs ordered and postage for 20 eggs is $7.00 – $11.00. The minimum charge for the eggs is $24.00. We do not sell goose hatching eggs as they are difficult to ship and do not hatch as well as duck eggs.

Following are the conditions recommended for incubation and hatching:

Incubation Hatching
Day 1 – 25 Day 26 – 28
Temperature 99.5 98.5
Humidity 86 94
Turns Per Day 3 – 7

If your incubator does not have a fan, measure the temperature half way up the side of the egg. Without a fan, the warm air rises and you will get a false reading if you place your thermometer on top of the eggs.

The humidity reading is by wet bulb. You can make your own wet bulb by placing the end of a short, hollow shoestring over the end of a thermometer. Place the other end in a container of water and put it all in the incubator. As the water evaporates from the cloth, the thermometer is cooled. If the air is very dry, much water evaporates from the cloth, cooling the thermometer. If the air is very humid, less evaporates which cools the thermometer less and a higher temperature is recorded. You can adjust the humidity by increasing the amount of water in the incubator or reducing ventilation.

Turning is most critical the first week of incubation. The more often you do it, the better. Commercial incubators do it every hour. If you do not have an automatic turner, it is important you turn the eggs an odd number of times each day. This is important so you do not leave the eggs in the same position each night which is the longest period of time they go without turning each day. Just draw a line on the eggs. When you turn the eggs, the line should either be on the top or the bottom of the egg. Most eggs are incubated on their sides in small incubators. If they are raised at all, it is important that the large end with the air sac be up.

Sometimes a regime of cooling and spraying duck and goose eggs results in better hatchability. Start after about 10 days of incubation. Open the incubator or remove the eggs so they cool. If you have an infrared temperature gun, cool the eggs until the shell surface reaches 86 degrees. If you do not have a way to accurately read the temperature, hold the egg to your eyelid. If it feels warm it needs more cooling, if it feels neutral you are done cooling, if it feels cool you have cooled too long. Then you can spray the eggs with room temperature water and return them to the incubator. The incubator should be able to warm up in about the same amount of time it took to cool the eggs. Do not spray and cool after day 25. The actual consequences of spraying is interesting. One consequence is it changes the membrane of the egg so a greater percentage of moisture is lost during incubation. Ideally a duck egg loses about 13% of its weight between the time it is laid and day 25 of incubation. Losing significantly more or less than this reduces hatchability.


Photo by Freysteinn G. Jonsson on Unsplash