Our second duckling hatch resulted in a disappointing hatch rate. Of 9 eggs that made it to lockdown, only 5 survived the hatch. Several possible factors include a power failure during incubation, fluctuating humidity (due to weather), and a crappy hatcher that caused us a lot of grief with large, inexplicable temperature swings. We used a great incubator by a well-known brand for the actual incubation and then moved the eggs to the hatcher (incubator) at lockdown. The eggs were only in the hatcher for the final 3 days, but it certainly didn’t help. The #%*!! hatcher was sent back and a more expensive incubator with a digital thermostat will arrive shortly.
Sadly, there were several ducklings that didn’t hatch successfully but gave it a mighty effort. The duckling in the first egg to pip (a day early) struggled to get out, making a large hole, but succumbed before fully hatching. The egg was filled with brownish goop, so we suspect the duckling ruptured its yolk sac. Another egg contained a duckling that tapped, but couldn’t break out before expiring. A third duckling was tapping but hadn’t fully absorbed its yolk sac. The last egg contained a duckling that had just died in shell, never pipping.
Two of the ducklings that did hatch were able to get out on their own. Three were assisted in zipping but pushed out of the remaining shell on their own. Muscovy eggs have a very hard shell and a tough outer membrane…it’s like an Olympic event for the hatchlings.
All five are active, talkative, and very cute. They knew to drink from the waterer and eat the chick crumbles all by themselves. We’ve found that ducklings will generally just stay under the brooder plate for the first couple of days, out of sight but talkative, and then spend more time out and about on the third day. Soon after, they’ll begin to come out from under the brooder plate when you call to them and then run around and peep excitedly. We may even be able to “train” this group, too (ha).
The ducklings go everywhere in their brooder tub together, tightly grouped – they look like a tiny gang. As with all our ducklings, we look forward to watching them grow and discover the delights of eating bugs, nibbling grass, and dabbling in mud.