I received 6 Khaki Campbell ducklings for my birthday last year and they have grown into full size adults. The hens have been laying so well. I get 3-4 eggs nearly everyday. Their eggs are best in baking. I made my best cake, cream puffs, and pudding when I used these duck eggs. Mmmm..mmm.
So about a month ago my mom thought hatching some would be fun. (of course I thought it would be fun too but it was her idea.) We purchased an incubator so it is now becoming a poultry generator. (the barnyard is full. But really, can you ever have too much poultry?)
Hatching Khaki Campbell Ducklings
This list is what we did to have a successful hatch.
Incubator Type: Genesis Hovabator 1588 with egg turner
Set Temp: 99.5 degrees F.
Humidity: 55% humidity
Days Till Hatch: 26 *note: Ours started hatching 3 days earlier then the due date.
Temp: 99.5 F.
Blue kiddy pool
Puppy pee pads
Plastic gallon chick waterer
Metal food trough
No corn no soy broiler grower
Mama hen brooder heat plate (excellent for chicks and ducklings. No heat lamp needed. Uses less electricity, easy to use, and much safer for the babies)
*My ducklings don’t sleep under the plate for some reason. They prefer piling on top of it to sleep.
The hatch rate was surprisingly good. Most things I have read about hatching ducks is the hatch rates are 30-50%. We got about a 70%. We started 31 or 32 eggs, 30 were fertile. 21 hatched. 20 lived. I’d say a pretty good hatch.
Because our hatch was 3 days earlier then the due date, the ducklings started hatching in the egg turner. Normally, you would take the tuner out before the date but we weren’t expecting them to hatch so early. The danger is the chicks can hatch and get stuck in the turner. Unplug the turner if this happens.
THIS IS WHAT WE DID
We were afraid of them getting stuck so we took a chance. We found and cut egg cartons into sections of six. Quickly, we removed the lid of the incubator and placed eggs in the cartons.
If anyone is familiar with hatching eggs in an incubator, you know the dangers of taking the lid off. The pipped eggs can be shrink wrapped in the membrane, the heat may leave the incubator and the eggs could get cold, and the humidity can drop really low causing other problems. Of course we all knew this but we both decided to risk it. It was a 50/50 chance anyway.
I placed a hot wet rag over the pipped eggs as my mom handed me egg after egg. She took out the egg turner then we carefully placed the eggs back into the hovabator in their cartons. ( the cartons keep the eggs from rolling around and knocking into each other)
Sorry the picture is foggy.
Throughout the hatching we had the humidity up to 75-81 % humidity. It was really wet in there.
(ducklings do seem to take longer to hatch then chicks. When they do hatch though, they are vigorous and adorable when dry.)
We had one duckling perish in the shell after pipping and another died a day after hatching from unknown causes. It happens and as a farmer you have to learn to deal with it and move on to the next thing. (that doesn’t mean you can’t have a small funeral with flowers though. I admit it has been done on my end.)
We did help several of the ducklings who had pipped and been sitting overnight without any progress. The membrane dries and they get stuck inside. We used tweezers, warm water, and hot rags to help. All of them are doing great so far.
There are dangers to helping partially hatched babies. They need the strength of breaking out of the shells themselves or they may die from weakness later.
So far though ours have been thriving. (they are stinky though!) I change out the puppy pads every morning and refresh their food and water. Keep their area clean and check for stopped up vents.