Our first attempt at incubating duck eggs was a disappointing bust, but the girls have started laying confirmed fertile eggs, so we’re ready to try again. No sense letting that fancy incubator sit idle.
This time, we set a total of 11 eggs. Some were old, possibly as old as two weeks. One was added the day after the original group was set, since Piper laid a cute olive egg – we had to set it. Two days after the initial set, we added two more freshly-laid eggs. When we candled them tonight, all looked good except for two: one was a clear (infertile) and one looked like it had started development and stopped (blood ring). That leaves nine still in the incubator, including Piper’s small egg.
Speaking of Piper, the naughty girl has apparently decided she doesn’t like us taking her eggs from the coop and has stopped laying there.We suspect she’s laying in a large brush pile, since we saw her mysteriously vanish into it yesterday. She’s also taken to disappearing in the evening when it’s time to go into the coop and reappearing in the morning. She’s not sitting on her eggs – she hangs out with Ty and the other ducks all day – so she spent the day in the duck enclosure, to Coraline’s chagrin. Maybe a few days in lockup will help reinforce that she should be laying her eggs there and returning there at night. Then again, maybe not.
Coraline has also been sitting on eight eggs for the past three weeks. She’s been extremely dedicated, proving that broody Muscovies are naturally excellent mothers. She instinctively knows how to turn, cool, and dampen the eggs, something we’re trying to manually replicate with the eggs in the incubator. While a very protective mother, she still lets us feed her worms and bits of bread while she’s on the nest, with only a little obligatory hissing, peeping, and puffing up to remind us she’s protecting the eggs.
We’re not using the autoturner with the incubator eggs; instead, we turn them by hand three times a day. Hand-turning is easier said than done – those shells are smooth, making them slippery. No one wants to accidentally crack an egg in the incubator! At day 10 (today), we started short daily cooling sessions, accompanied by misting with water to mimic a broody duck that’s just bathed.
Between Coraline and the incubator, we should have a nice group of ducklings next month. Muscovy eggs take a whopping five weeks to hatch, so Coraline’s should hatch around 4/30 and the incubated eggs around 5/10. Since Piper’s starting to act broody, maybe she’ll take a turn at hatching eggs once Coraline’s are done. Welcome, spring ducklings!