Friday, March 11, 2011

How to Improve Your Duck Egg and Goose Egg Hatch Rate

Originally posted by John Metzer on Thu, Jun 10, 2010 @ 06:34 PM

Modern hatcheries are now adopting the ways of Mother Nature. Only one age of eggs are put in an incubator – just like a hen sitting on eggs in a nest is sitting on only one age of eggs. This is a radical change as the tradition for the past 100 years has been to have multiple ages of eggs in one incubator. If you set duck eggs once a week, for example, you will have some eggs less than one week, some less than two weeks, some less than three weeks and some less than four weeks. This was done so the heat generated by the older eggs was helping heat the younger eggs.


Temperature:  But it has now been learned that by filling an incubator with only one age of eggs, you can provide a much better environment for their development.  Instead of providing a steady temperature of 99.5 degrees for the entire incubation, you can start at a warmer temperature (100.3 for our duck eggs) and gradually drop down to a much lower temperature at hatching (97.0 for duck eggs).
  
Carbon Dioxide:  To me, the most interesting change with Single Stage Incubation is that carbon dioxide levels are considered very important – and the higher the better at certain points!  The air you are breathing right now is about 300-500 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide.  For single state incubation, all vents are closed the first 14 days and levels of up to 8000 ppm are desirable!  

Consequences:  With our new Jamesway incubators installed the spring of 2009, we are experiencing improved hatches of 2-15% of fertile eggs!  In addition, the birds are slightly heavier at hatch (less weight is lost during incubation) and they hatch within a smaller “hatch window”.  This allows us to mail a slightly heavier bird that has hatched more recently.

What does this mean to you? This means you can probably do single stage incubation in your incubator with your duck and goose eggs!  Start with a slightly warmer temperature and then gradually drop it during incubation.  Close all vents the first 14 days then gradually open them.  Toward the end of incubation (days 22-28) you will need the vents more open than if you have multiple ages in the incubator as all the eggs will be generating extra heat.

For more detailed information on Single Stage Incubation and how you might be able to use the concepts for your incubation, please visit our website at http://www.metzerfarms.com/Articles/SingleStageIncubation.pdf

20 comments:

  1. It is late March here in Wisconsin and the temps have been really warm for this time of the year. My question is; When will my Embden geese start laying? I have not had a single agg and the pair mates nearly daily. I have several places she could lay but nothing yet.

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  2. I would have expected eggs, too. Ours start in early February but we have a warmer climate. Could a varmint be stealing the eggs? Could she be laying them in a body of water (rare but possible)? Is she getting a balanced breeder/layer type of feed?

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  3. i have 30 eggs i hatched from several breeds of ducks. i need to sex them to seperate them for i have too many males. they are blue swedish (looking), rouen, Khaki, pekin and buff
    mixed. Also i thought when they try to breed to mark them someway with a colorant of some kind, any idea what would be good to use? the curly feathers are only on the pekin, rouen, and maybe the Welsh but the swedish do not have them. and they are just getting their regular feathers in for the color that they are. i know that the darker headed birds with the ring necks should be males (from the rouen/welsh birds) i have some that look like Rouens and some are brown with the dark heads too.
    question too - do the female ducks try to mate the other ducks? some breeds they all look like they are trying to mate even the females to females (cows for instance do this) do ducks do this?


    once i get this done, i can leg band them. the swedish have yellow and black bills. i think on the males and females.

    thanks for any words of wisdom

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    Replies
    1. You can always sex by voice. The males will have the deep, raspy, squeaky quack and the females will have the loud QUACK! This differentiation occurs at about 7-8 weeks. No, I have never seen a female duck trying to mount a female duck.

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  4. i had several birds hatch with a leg joint that looked like rubber bands and no bone joint. it was the end of the incubabion cycle. i used an incubator with a fan and had the thermometer (digital with humidity on it also) in the incubater. i did not know that the eggs would give off heat so the last few days or last week got too warm. but i had 30 of 40 eggs hatch with 3 of the babies with the leg issue. one duck i had to help out of the shell. the others i did not even inspect.

    what issues would cause this leg deformity. they never walked on the feet just on the joint behind the leg. i had a duck get toxic on something and he went from upright to walking on that joint now also.

    maybe the heat caused some nerve damage?

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    Replies
    1. My first thought would be a nutritional problem. One time we had ducklings that hatched from imported eggs diagnosed with rickets at about three days of age. Our only guess was the breeders were low on Vitamin D or Calcium. Yes, the higher heat might have done some damage but I don't know if it would affect the nerves like that. I would just make sure the breeders and ducklings are getting sufficient Vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus and niacin.

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    2. Will opening the incubator and candling the eggs at 7 days defeat the purpose of the high CO2 environment? Or do I not open it at all until day 14 and candle them then.

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    3. Though candling temporarily drops the CO2 level, we have found it better to candle early instead of later. And the CO2 level climbs back up fairly quickly after the candling.

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  5. I have Pilgrim and Buff geese that had been outside in open during this winter until I saw that they started to mate.I have separated into pairs and placed them into pens inside a building. The males spend moer time trying to get out of the pen than mating. The females have all set up nests and have laid eggs. I pulled about ten of the eggs out of the Buff nests at the start to hold them but they are all infertile. I just did a check of all the nests: one Pilgrim female has been sitting diligently on her ten eggs, lined the nest with her feathers, but when I checked them, they all were clear without any noticeable embryos. On the other Pilgrim nest, the female sits now and then on about ten eggs, and again there seems to be no embryos. On the Buff next that is being used by two females, there are about ten eggs there and again no embryos. I will most likely pull all these eggs out and see if the females start laying again. I wonder if keeping them in pens has caused the males to stop mating, thus causing infertile eggs?

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    Replies
    1. How much room do they have in their pens and how many birds in each pen?
      It could also be that the Buff male became attached to the Pilgrim females and the male Pilgrim with the female Buff. If that happened, you may not solve this problem until next spring. If you keep them separated, they will give up on their chosen and accept the other female(s).

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    2. Although it looks like this is a problem for some of my pairs, I did have one pair of Pilgrim geese succesfully hatch seven of ten goslings this morning. I am excited to see how the pair raise them.

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  6. There seems to be one dominant Pilgrim male who the Buff females do seem to favor. He is not with them now but they do see him. The Buff male had been fairly plucked of feathers by this Pilgrim male. He got out of his pen one day and went right over to the Buff pen and was ready to take the Buff male on through the fence. I had all of them on pasture together prior to this mating season and they all got along for the most part. I suppose that in the future I should keep them on separate pastures.

    Thank you.

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  7. I am about to hatch some pheasant eggs and plan to use the one-stage technique, which I used for some ducks recently with excellent results. This was after reading your articles on the topic. With the duck eggs, I have to admit to some trepidation in leaving the vents closed for all of 14 days and began opening them at day 10. My question is, what is the recommended time to leave the vents closed for pheasnt eggs? They are a mixture of Goldens and Ring Necks. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. As pheasant take 21 days to hatch and ducks 28, I would multiply the times by .75 to convert from ducks to pheasant. So instead of 14 days, I would keep it closed for only 10 days (14x.75).

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    2. As a follow-up, would I use the same formula to determine the temperature regime? But, do I go as low as 97F at hatching for pheasants?

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  8. Yes, I would use the same temperatures - just at earlier times and shorter durations due to the reduced incubation time.

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  9. i am incubating mallard eggs and am on day 25. Should I remove the egg turner and lay them on the wire base of the incubater, or leave them in the turner.
    Thank you

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  10. Yes, I would remove the turner. You don't want the turner to injure the newly hatched birds.

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  11. We purchased 21 mixed eggs from you. On day 25 we candled 13 that appeared to be progressing as they should. Last Friday they started hatching. We had only 5 hatch - one of which died shortly after. 2 of the others have what people are calling "wry neck" and the third seems to be having trouble walking. Only one of the 4 surviving appears to be "normal." Can you give us a clue as to what may have caused this very sad occurrence?

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  12. It is extremely rare for us to see wry necks in newly hatched birds so if 15% of your fertile eggs hatched wry necks, something strange is happening. But as it is so rare for us, I did not have an answer so I contacted a hatchery manager that has been responsible for hatching hundreds of millions of poults. His thought was that there was a problem with the hatching environment which stressed the ducklings and prevented their hatching smoothly and on time. Birds that remain in the egg too long and need assistance often emerge with health issues. Maybe the humidity was too low and this caused the membranes to be too dry and difficult to break through to hatch. Did you break open the fertile eggs that did not hatch? Did the other fertile eggs go to full term but did not hatch?Our average fertility is about 85% and about 82% of our fertile eggs hatch. Something strange happened with your eggs during incubation.

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