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Caring for Duck Eggs

Maintaining the proper temperature and humidity is important when incubating eggs. This guide is about caring for duck eggs.

A duckling being hatched.
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June 23, 2016 Flag
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We had a mallard put a nest by our back door. She has been nesting. It is now almost time for the eggs to hatch and something killed her last night. How can we save the eggs/chicks? We know they are fertilized as one egg did break a week or so back and we could see the tiny orange feet. Thank you.

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    June 27, 20161 found this helpful

    To quickly improvise an incubator, you need a large carton or styrofoam box, two wired light bulbs one of 40 W and one of 100 W and a thermometer and if possible an hygrometer. Cut a square in one of the side of the box and glue or stick a piece of clear plastic so that you can see clearly inside the box without having to open it

    too often. Cut three sides only of another square in the middle of the top of the box that you will use for airing the box and to regulate the temperature. Put the box next to an electric plug. Put two saucers filled with water inside the box to provide humidity (55% of humidity is needed). Get the wires of the light bulbs through the top of the box and put the two lamps on until the temperature inside the box reaches 98.6 °F. Very carefully and moving the eggs very slowly write the figures 1,2,3,4 at equal distance on the flat side of each egg. Put the eggs inside the box on a layer of hay or a blanket, or anything that will help keep the warmth. The light bulbs must be 40 centimeters away from the eggs. Lay the thermometer on the eggs in a position that let you read it through the plastic screen you made on the side of the box. The temperature must stay around 98.5 to 99.5 but never above. To regulate the temperature, use the two lamps by turning on the 40 W light only, during daytime if the general temperature is warm enough and turning the 100 W light during night time.

    Refill the saucers with warm water so that it will evaporate quicker. Humidity is very important. Twice a day very carefully give half a turn to the eggs (use the figures you wrote to check that you turn all of them and to the right side). Stop turning the eggs during the two last days of incubation (incubation is 28 days ) but put more water or a third saucer of water for the humidity to reach 65 % during this two last days of incubation. You can eveen spray the eggs a little bit. Do not put the box in a place where it will not be steady or near a machine that will produce vibrations. I really hope this will work and help you !

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    June 27, 20161 found this helpful

    We did actually find a farmer who has ducks and chickens and is a retired wildlife rehabilitator and one has already hatched :)

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    March 29, 2016 Flag
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    Yesterday my little brother and I were at a local park with a lake/pond. Well there's geese and ducks there and my little brother was feeding the ducks while they were laying down, he got too close and they jumped into the water. After they swam away he found an egg in shallow water. We grabbed the egg and took it home and put it in blankets and under a lamp that lets off a lot of heat. It also has small crack. I need to know what I need to do. Also when I candle the egg, you can see the embryo at the top.

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      April 8, 20160 found this helpful

      With the small crack the egg will not hatch. It is best to discard it before it begins to rot and smell really bad.

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      April 16, 20160 found this helpful

      Do you know if a duck egg will survive after 24 hrs without the heat of their mother at 45 degrees temperature? A fox ate the duck mother yesterday. I didn't realize there were eggs left in the next till today. I've place a Lamp, and a warm water bottle to the 4 eggs, in the same next the mama duck had built. The eggs were cold. I don't know if they have a chance to survive. Can't find any info if they have a chance or not.

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      April 10, 2016 Flag
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      I found a cold egg in a park and I family visited. It had been there for about 5-6 hours. I've been keeping the egg fairly warm and still. The egg had been laid that day and I'm not sure if it has even been fertilized, but now my siblings and I are so exited to maybe have a little duckling.

       Duck Egg
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        April 10, 20160 found this helpful

        If the egg has been cold for several hours, any inhabitant was most probably dead long before you found it. Also, even if there was a living embryo inside when found, it would have died as the embryo requires specific temperature and humidity over time to survive.

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        September 6, 2015 Flag
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        I found an egg the size of a chicken egg lying in a creek today. I was wondering if anyone knew what kind of egg it is and how to look after it. It was really cold so I ran it under some warm water. I hope it's okay. Now I just have it in a blanket under a lamp.
        I don't know what to do next!

        Kind Regards.

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          September 8, 20150 found this helpful

          Sadly, I agree with the previous posters. I think it is very likely that the embryo in that egg is dead. If it was in water and very cold, that would kill it. I have hatched chicken eggs in an incubator in a school science lab, and they need a constant warm temp, a fairly high humidity, and need to be turned twice a day. It takes about 22 days, if I remember correctly, maybe longer.

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          February 10, 20160 found this helpful

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          June 2, 2016 Flag
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          This guide is about incubating duck eggs. If you don't have a broody mother duck, an incubator can help you hatch poultry eggs.

          Baby ducks hatching in an incubator

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          March 24, 2011 Flag
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          I noticed this morning that a mallard hen made a nest in my backyard. This afternoon I had a yard service put mulch down. When I got home the duck was gone and the eggs were covered with mulch. I uncovered them and I really hope she'll come back! Do you think she will return? How long will the eggs be OK without her setting on the nest?

          By Monte from Overland Park, KS

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          March 26, 20110 found this helpful

          I agree, please contact your local fish and wildlife office, they may have some ideas. Good luck

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          June 23, 20160 found this helpful

          I found an egg at lake side in a tree I took it home put it in a blanket under an heater and I'm wondering what should I do and is it still alive

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          March 14, 2012 Flag
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          Yesterday I found 4 duck eggs and I have been watching them. The mother hasn't come back, so I took them into my house and I am keeping them warm. I need to know when they are going to hatch, which then leads me to needing to know how old they are. Does anyone know how to tell how old an egg is?

          By Gracie

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          March 16, 20120 found this helpful

          Hold them up to a light and see if there's any development going on, that's called candling! This site is for doing chicken eggs, but, will give you an idea!

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          March 18, 20120 found this helpful

          Take a toilet paper core, the egg and a flashlight into a dark closet. Egg in one end flashlight at the bottom and you will see if there is a youngster developing in there. Call wildlife rescue in your area as there are all sorts of things that are needed for developing eggs. They have to have proper temperature, proper moisture, proper turning.

          Should they hatch, do not help them by peeling shell away. That kills them as they bleed very easily. Please call wildlife rescue if you want them to live. Ask at your local feed store if they know someone to help you.

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          March 13, 2014 Flag
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          My 6 year old son found an egg, a duck egg. He brought it home. We have it under a light. But we want to know how long would it take for it to hatch?

          By Anthony D.

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          March 16, 20140 found this helpful

          If you just have it under a light, it most likely will not hatch. They have to be kept at a stead 99.5 degrees and with a humidity of 55%. They also have to be turned at least 4 times a day. Then, if all conditions are just right, most breeds hatch in about 28 days. The humidity sometimes needs to be changed as well, depending on the duck breed.

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          June 23, 2011 Flag
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          We live on a golf course, and a few weeks ago a duck laid its eggs in a neighbor's empty clay flower pot filled with some dirt on her front porch. She has been sitting on them, but today it rained all afternoon, and when we went over to check, the eggs were floating in water in the pot. We removed the eggs, put in fresh warm potting soil and moved the pot under the porch awning where the pot would stay dry.

          At first the mother would not come under the porch. She stayed where the pot had been in the rain. i showed her the pot with the eggs, and she immediately hissed at me and jumped in the pot and my husband moved it back under the porch. She stayed in the pot while he moved it, of course hissing and trying to bite the whole time.

          Will she continue to lay on these eggs even though the pot has been moved? We have checked from a distance several times, and she is still there.

          By Leslie S

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          June 23, 20110 found this helpful

          I found this online, hope it helps!

          If the nest is in potentially dangerous location:

          "Guess" when the eggs will hatch based on observations. How long has the female been seen on her nest full time? It is important to have a general idea of when the ducklings will hatch.

          If the nest is in a residential area mom and ducklings can be chaperoned on their walk back to the water if there is a concern about vehicular traffic in the neighborhood. Use the guesstimated date to plan for this walk. Also get the assistance of a couple of neighbors, but discourage bringing children along because the mother duck may view them as a potential predator.

          If the nest is separated from the water body by a major road, the following should be done:

          Find out what body of water the female utilizes. Try to observe her as she leaves the nest for her early morning or late evening feedings. If intervention is needed, taking mom and ducklings to the wrong water body will only make matters worse. In other words, you can not guess (you must know where she is headed). Once she begins incubating, the female can be seen flying to the water source where her mate is waiting (once or twice a day - early morning or late afternoon), for food and water. The water body is usually within 200 yards of the nest site. Even if the exact location is not know, the direction which she usually heads is needed.

          Based on the "guesstimate" of when the eggs should hatch, approximately one week before the due date erect a 12-24 inch tall wire or mess fence around the nesting site. The openings should not be larger than 1 inch, otherwise the ducklings can escape, but the diameter should be wide enough to allow mom to fly in and out. This fence will prevent a mom from moving the ducklings until assistance can be provided. However, this only be done if the nest is in a location where someone is observing it daily and the move can occur on the same day (otherwise the ducklings could die from dehydration, starvation, or predation).

          Once the ducklings hatch, they can be moved into an escape-proof pet carrier and walked to the water body. Only one person should do the "walk"; a crowd of people or too much activity will deter mom from staying nearby. Mom must be able to hear and preferably see the ducklings throughout the move so she does not get too discouraged and abandons them. If mom flies away, set the carrier down until she returns (usually within a matter of minutes) then resume the "walk". Once you arrive at the water body, set the carrier down then back away and let mom and babies vocalize with one another for a minute or two. If you open the carrier before they have identified their mom, they will scatter.

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          June 28, 20110 found this helpful

          We get ducks nesting in the yard often, and I believe she will continue to sit on them. I am very surprised she sat in the pot while your hubby moved it. LOL. That must have been a sight. When the babies hatch, she will most likely have them moved before you will ever get a good look at them. That's usually what happens to me. They always seem to hatch while I'm at work. :(

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          June 16, 2013 Flag
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          About 6 hours ago, we found 9 duck eggs in front of our house in our flower bed under our bush. When we opened the front door the duck mom left, she did not come back. We are worried. I have a small basket and I've put a soft blanket underneath and we've put all 9 eggs in the basket. I covered them with a tea towel and two soft table cloths. The basket is now in the garage. Our questions:
          What do we do now?
          How do we take care of the eggs?
          Will the mom come back?
          Do we put the eggs back?
          Please give us some answers, it is urgent.

          By Victoria

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          June 25, 20130 found this helpful

          I would suggest putting the eggs back where they were. The mama may come back to them. Do not leave the blanket or anything with the eggs! If she doesn't come back in the next day or so,put the eggs back in the basket with the blanket. You will need to hang a light of some kind (for warmth) about a foot or so from them.

          Also, turn the eggs over at least twice a day.That's what we did when we found our duck dead.We had about 12 eggs in all. All of them hatched out in about two weeks, except for one. We gave them away to our farmer friend. LOL

          There is a chance that the mama will come back! Give her a chance first before you do anything else. Good Luck, Kathy

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          May 3, 2012 Flag
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          We had a mallard hen lay 11 eggs, 1 was broken. She sat and hardly ever left. We thought they would start hatching about the 4th. We've been checking off and on. She was there Monday! Today she is not there and 3 shells are broken there is down in the nest.

          By Teri

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          May 18, 20120 found this helpful

          I don't know for sure, but I get Birds and Blooms Magazine and read it cover to cover every time. If I remember correctly, one of the articles said that they do come back. She may be coming back at night and leaving in the morning to eat. You can try taking one egg and try hatching it yourself but these efforts usually do not come to fruitation unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing. So if you try it, don't be too disappointed if the egg does not hatch.

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          March 30, 2007 Flag
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          I found a duck egg. I don't know how to tell if it's still alive. Any suggestions?

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