Yesterday was the 20th day of incubation for the Muscovy eggs in our incubator. We’ve been turning them 3 times a day by hand (even though the incubator has an autoturner), manually cooling once a day (even though the machine has an autocooling feature customizable for waterfowl), and misting with water daily. Are you wondering why we would choose the manual route when the incubator could do everything except the misting for us?
The short answer is baggage. The last time we tried incubating Muscovy eggs, we used the autoturning and cooling features of the incubator. The eggs started to develop, most appeared to get to full development, and then none hatched. Not a pip, not a sound. The experience left us sadder but arguably wiser.
Of course, those were shipped eggs that had the misfortune of unseasonably cold weather, a unfathomably lengthy and circuitous shipping route, and possible (likely) rough handling and maybe even x-raying en route. Insurmountable challenges, it could be said. Nonetheless, we couldn’t help but wonder if going full auto with the incubator contributed, so we’re more hands-on this time.
In addition, we know these eggs were relatively fresh (a couple may have been as old as two weeks, since the ducks weren’t laying that regularly back then), handled carefully, and we’re trying to provide an environment for their development that more closely mirrors what a broody duck creates. Will different equal better? Only time will tell.
Candling revealed that all 9 of the eggs in the incubator are still developing. We saw good blood vessel networks, normal air cells, and – best of all – embryos that wiggled in response to the candling light. The only concern was that the smallest egg looked a little different inside, a little less well-defined perhaps, than the others, but we’ll leave it in until the next candling in a week.
The incubated eggs still have about 2 weeks to go, but Coraline’s eggs should start hatching in about a week. We really hope she has a good hatch – she’s put in far more work protecting, warming, cooling, and dampening them than we have. She hasn’t been able to forage for the bugs and greens that the rest of her group have, and we’ve only seen her come off the nest once or twice a day. That’s dedication. She deserves to have a clutch of healthy ducklings to parade around soon!