Photograph by em connell mccarty
Whether you are buying duck eggs to incubate at home or whether your duck is nesting, you may want to know how long it will be before you can see some fluffy, little ducklings. How long it takes for duck eggs to hatch varies by duck breed, but is generally a short wait. If you are incubating them yourself, there are a couple other settings, as in temperatures, humidity and time, to keep in mind.
You can incubate and hatch duck eggs yourself or you can allow a broody duck (or even a broody hen) to lay on them to incubate and hatch the eggs. Mallard duck eggs hatch after about 27 days of incubation. Muscovy duck eggs take 35 days to hatch. Pekin duck eggs and most other duck eggs hatch after 28 days of incubation.
If the eggs are old or if the incubator is not warm enough, incubation may take longer. If the incubator is too warm, incubation happens more quickly. However, several hours of too high or too low of a temperature can be dangerous for the egg. Too high of a temperature is more dangerous and requires that the incubator be allowed to cool off.
After an egg is laid, it can be held for up to a week before being incubated. Three days or less of holding is ideal for an egg and 12.8 to 15.6 degrees Celsius is the ideal temperature for eggs to be held before being incubated.
Assuming a 28-day incubation before hatchlings appear, you need to have the eggs at 37.5 degrees Celsius with 86 per cent humidity for the first 25 days. Eggs should be turned frequently during this period of time. Whether you turn them three times a day or seven times a day, make sure it is an odd number of turns to ensure the duckling "sleeps" on a different side each night as advised by experts.
The final three days of a 28-day incubation is the hatching period. At this time, the eggs should be kept at 36.9 degrees Celsius and the humidity should be 94 per cent. You no longer need to turn the eggs during the hatching period. Your ducklings should start to appear on the 28th day. Unless a duckling has not made progress for 12 hours after making a hole, do not worry about helping it out of the eggshell. Let it emerge on its own.
- Photograph by em connell mccarty