Last month the Bird family decided we were going to try something new and that something was to hatch some birds, I am not talking about another Big Bird or Little Bird I am talking about the feathered variety. I have always wanted to hatch chicks at home and just before Easter we decided to get an incubator so we could try and do it ourselves.
I have always wanted to hatch chicks but Mr M talked me into going for duck, so ducks it was! I bought an incubator and a heat lamb and then all I needed was the eggs. I bought some fertile Call Duck eggs and we couldn’t wait to put them in the incubator and start turning them.
I won’t go into to much about the process we went through right now as it is an incredibly long story and I want to write a post that will help others who would like to try it. When we were going through this process I came across a few sites on the web that helped us through it so I hope by writing our story it might help someone else. We have learnt so much in the last two months about hatching duck eggs and getting ready for our little ones so I will share our knowledge.
Last weekend Mr M and myself should of been outside in the garden enjoying the weather but no we were sat indoors by the incubator waiting for our ducks to arrive. We had heard that we might need to help the ducks get out of the eggs because it is difficult for them to get out because they have rounded beaks and not pointed like chickens so we needed to be on stand by to jump in at the right time.
We started off with 16 eggs but a week before the hatch we were down to five eggs that were still alive and doing well. When the first duck pipped its shell we realised one of our eggs was struggling so we decided to try and intervene, unfortunately the duckling was already struggling and he died, so that left us with four.
Duckling number one pipped late on Friday night but it didn’t really change over the next 24 hours. When we woke up Sunday morning it had been very active in the night and was slowly breaking down its shell. By lunchtime we realised this duckling was struggling so we got the egg out of the incubator and started to lightly break the shell. We popped him back in the incubator and he manged to push himself out.
So number one arrived at 2.45pm and was named instantly as Nutjob, it was meant to be a temporary name but a week later and it has stuck. Why did we call him Nutjob? simple …. the little fella went crazy when he took his first breath, he stumbled around the incubator, tripping over and nudging the other eggs out of the way. We left him in the incubator for 15 hours and then on Monday morning we moved him into the brooder box. He is a lively duckling that is full of character, he’s bold, brave and we all love him.
At the same time Nutjob hatched we had another egg that was struggling, we decided to help it out but unfortunately it was the wrong time and he was not fully ready so we lost him, he put up a good fight but it was not meant to be. We were desperate to get at least one more duckling just so we had company for Nutjob because we didn’t want him to be lonely .
With Nutjob out that left two eggs in the incubator, they had been pushed and kicked about the incubator for quite a while and we didn’t even know if they were still alive. We shined a torch through the incubator and they were both really active and trying to get out, it looked like we were going to get Nutjob a friend.
Number two arrived at 11.15am on Monday Morning and was the text book hatch, he did it all on his own by unzipping the egg and nudging out when he was ready. He was fast at the end and made it look so easy, a few days later we gave him the name Billie. I keep saying he or him to all of my ducklings but truth is we do not know if they are male or female but we will find out in a few months. We chose all of our names so they would suit either sex of the ducklings.
Last but not least we had duckling number three he was trying so hard to get out of the egg but was not progressing. I was giving Mr M regular updates whilst he was at work but it got tricky at one point and he ended up coming home half an hour early to help the duckling out. We decided all the way along that whatever we chose to do we would do together so thats why he came home so I was not doing it on my own. Mr M took the last egg out and started to break the shell to try and help number three out and then we placed him back in the incubator for the next 2hours. By 7pm our last duckling was tired and struggling and it looked like he was tucked up tightly in the egg unable to get out by himself. Alot of ducklings die at this stage so we decided to help him out because it looked like the right time.
Number 3 who we have named Pip came into the world at 8.15pm, he was lively when he came out but he was still attached to the egg by a vein from the shell to his bottom. If the veins have not absorbed all the blood the duckling can die and this still had one attached so we were unsure if this one would make it. He was very lively from the off and with about an hour battle with the attached vein it eventually came free and he was ok. Pip is a fluffy yellow duckling with an orange beak, we think he is going to be a white call duck with an orange beak when he is older.
Early on Tuesday morning we moved Billie in with Nutjob and he was happy to have a friend but we needed to leave Pip in for another few hours before he was ready to be moved. By 9am Tuesday morning we had all three ducklings together and they seemed happy and content. It looks like when all the ducklings grow up they will all be a different colour, we like that because it will make it easier to tell them apart.
We were wondering when to introduce water to the duckling because we had heard that some people do it straight away but others leave it. We introduced it on Wednesday morning as all the ducks kept trying to sit in their water bowl. We used a painting roller tray for their first bath because is has a built in slop and the ducks can get out easily by themselves. As soon as we put the bath in they all went crazy and jumped in. The really did take to it like a duck to water.
The ducklings are now one week old and doing really well, we tried not to handle them to much at first because we knew they would imprint on us. We are now handling them alot more, they do not like being stroked but they do like sitting in our hands and going to sleep, we are slowly trying to get them used to being stroked and handled. The ducklings have had a busy week and its all been about visitors, water, food and poop.
We look forward to watching them grow!!!
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