How to Raise Duck Eggs

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Proper care of duck eggs leads to healthy ducklings
Proper care of duck eggs leads to healthy ducklings (Image: Mother With Ducklings 2 image by C C M from Fotolia.com)

Less commonly raised than chickens, domestic ducks are useful as pets and as agricultural products. According to Melvin L. Hamre of the University of Minnesota's Department of Animal Science, around 22 million ducks are raised every year in the United States (See References 1). More resistant to common avian diseases than chickens, ducks can be raised for food, eggs, or even kept as pets that control insect populations. W. Stanley Coates and Ralph A. Ernst list a number of commonly raised duck breeds in their article "Raising Ducks in Small Flocks" (See References 2). Among them are the common Mallard, the Muscovy, the Pekin, the Mandarin, and the Indian Runner. Whichever breed you select, the process for raising the duck eggs is similar.

Things You'll Need

  • Quiet room equipped with thermostat
  • Humidifier
  • Incubator
  • Nest, 12 inches long, 14 inches wide, 12 inches high
  • Clean rice hull bedding
  • Sandpaper to clean eggs
  • Warm water

Select a quiet, secluded area (equipped with a thermostat) to serve as the incubation room.

Set the thermostat to a temperature between 50 and 75 degrees F. Duck eggs are sensitive to temperature fluctuations.

Adjust the humidifier to keep the atmospheric humidity at about 75 percent. If the air is too dry the eggs will not incubate properly.

Turn on the incubator, and make sure that the temperature underneath the incubator is close to 100 degrees F.

Place the 12- inches-long, 14-inches-wide and 12-inches-high nest under the incubator to house the duck eggs.

Fill the nest with the clean rice hulls to cushion the eggs.

Gently scrub clean each duck egg with sandpaper to smooth out the surface.

Place the duck eggs horizontally in the nest.

Eggs need to be placed horizontally
Eggs need to be placed horizontally (Image: eggs image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com)

Each day, sprinkle warm water onto the eggs. This will keep them from getting too dry.

Turn the eggs 180 degrees on the long axis an odd number of times at least three times a day until the eggs hatch.

Tips & Warnings

  • Control of temperature and humidity is very important during incubation. The temperature should never exceed 103 degrees F under the incubation lamp, and the relative humidity should be between 60-65 percent.
  • Have food and water ready for the ducklings' consumption immediately after hatching.
  • Consult a local agricultural extension to optimize incubation conditions for a particular breed of duck eggs.
  • Keep household pets, small children and outside predators away from the hatching room. Eggs will be very vulnerable while incubating and sensitive to any environmental change or rough handling.
  • Follow all local laws and ordinances when raising duck eggs. Be sure that raising duck eggs is legal in the community.

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