Day 21, 14th July. 3 Weeks – not long to go…! & Help! Problems!

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July 15, 2012 by janem213

At 3 weeks (14th July) there’s little point in candling the eggs because the ducklings are now huge and almost fill the inside of the egg apart from the air sack which has got bigger and bigger as time has gone on.

I should have said two things about Call ducks:

1) Duck eggs usually take approx 28 days to hatch; Call ducks take around only 26. I have been told the BEI, being also bantams will also take only about 26. i.e., they should be hatching sometime around Thursday 19th July. 3 days before they are due to hatch the eggs are stopped from being turned – that’s Monday 16th July (tomorrow, as I write.)

2) They are notoriously difficult to hatch due partly to their short necks and short bills (e.g., some friends had only one duckling from six eggs, though that might have been down to where they got them from.) In the third week I read that Black East Indies are also difficult to hatch. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh! This week though, amongst all the reading of books & on the internet I’ve done, I found some good news too…

A Normal Hatch – the duckling breaks into the air sack at the non-pointy end of the egg, which gives him or her enough air to breathe and time to make a hole through the shell so it has air, going cheep! cheep! cheep! as it does. This is all called pipping. Making the initial hole is so tiring that the duckling collapses in a heap for a bit before he or she starts to break out of the egg. This can take a day or even two.

Here are some of the things that can go wrong with ducklings that are potentially healthy:

  •  The duckling doesn’t get it’s head into the air sack – One of the things I’ve read this week advocates that the not-pointy end of the egg is higher than the pointy end. One of mine certainly hadn’t been. Better still that they are put in the incubator pointy end down which seems to make sense as they’d have hopefully got themselves the right way round and be able to use gravity to stretch up into the air sack at the right time.
  • The duckling gives up before it has made an air hole and dies.
  • As the duckling struggles to get out/gets out it can roll around or bang into other eggs that aren’t hatched and disturb them that they give up and die…

Like with any pregnancy/birth, human or animal, the process is fraught – but it is nature. Almost every source says that ducks should not be helped to hatch — they need to fight the good fight to be healthy, plus it’s nature’s way of weeding out sick ducklings. This week however I found a website that advocated helping them in little ways that might make a difference (e.g. if the duckling hasn’t made a hole and it’s cheeping for ages and beginning to sound tiring, to make a tiny hole to help it breathe). I discovered one thing that I’d definately do differently if I ever do this again:

Ducks may be put in an incubator on their side (I’d done that) or pointy end down (I wish I’d done that). The eggs are turned automatically by the incubator that rolls from side to side over an hour, or turned by hand. Initially separators are put in to hold the eggs in place and stop them rolling about. 3 days before the hatch date the separators are removed and the eggs hatch. Is the plan.

Reading from this website and other books advocating pointy end down, I moved the eggs over a couple of days so they are all now pointy end down:

Hopefully I haven’t messed them around too much – if they were being incubated by their mother she would of course be moving them about a lot. At the end of the day, what will happen will happen…

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