You’ve been on tenterhooks for several weeks now, anxiously waiting for your ducklings to hatch. Then one egg pips! You can see the tiny bill inside, moving and squirming. A few hours pass, and it hasn’t made much progress. Should you help it?

NO!

Do NOT help it!

Many beginners want to assist a hatching duckling far too early. Hatching takes a long time. A normal hatch takes at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours after pipping.

Here’s what the hatching process looks like and the schedule it normally follows:

  • Mallard-derived ducks often start hatching after 28 days. Muscovies take 35 days. However, a few days more or less is relatively common. Don’t freak out if you’re on day 29 and nothing has hatched.
  • The internal pip is the first step in hatching. This is when the duckling breaks into the air cell inside the egg. You will not see any outward signs of an internal pip, but you can often hear the duckling peeping at this stage. If you hold the egg up to your ear, you might hear tapping as the ducklings starts trying to pip. If you candle, you might see the dark shape of the bill protruding into the air cell.
  • Approximately 12-24 hours after the internal pip, the duckling pips externally. This is a small, kind of star-shaped crack or hole on the outside of the shell. It should be on the big end of the egg. It should not take any more than 24 hours between internal and external pip.
  • After the external pip, nothing happens…for hours…and hours…and hours. Very little, anyway. This is when people often get worried. However, this is a crucial period where the duckling learns to breath and absorbs the yolk sac. The membrane and blood vessels begin to dry. If you try to assist during this stage, you could cause bleeding and kill the duckling.
  • I repeat: you will NOT see progress for many hours after the external pip. THIS IS NORMAL.
  • At least 12 hours and up to 48 hours after the external pip, the duckling “zips,” or turns around in the shell and makes a crack all around. In other words, it’s 12-48 hours from pip to zip.
  • Zipping only takes a few hours, or even less than an hour. After zipping, the duckling pops the top off and is usually out and fully hatched within minutes.
  • If 48 HOURS have passed since the external pip and the duckling is not making progress, YOU PROBABLY NEED TO ASSIST.

As you can see, hatch time varies tremendously. Your duckling could be out in less than 24 hours after the internal pip, or three days after the internal pip. “Normal” varies a lot.

If you see blood vessels, DO NOT HELP!


I know it’s incredibly hard to watch nothing happen for so many hours. I know it’s so easy to be impatient. I know how tempting it is to just chip a bit of shell off! But please don’t help a duckling unless there is a good reason to. The duckling will hatch when it’s ready. If it’s been more than 48 hours, or if you have reason to believe something else has gone wrong, like if the duckling is shrink-wrapped, then there might be reason to help. However, the majority of ducklings don’t need help, and helping is more likely to cause harm than good. Remember, it can take more than 24 hours for a duckling to hatch, and that’s normal.

This egg has a good pip and is ready to hatch.
This egg has a good pip, but is probably NOT ready to hatch yet. It needs to sit and wait until it has absorbed the yolk sac and blood vessels.

Here is a list of abnormal hatching scenarios which may require assistance.

If it has been more than 24 hours since the internal pip, but the duckling has not pipped externally, you need to assist.

The internal pip is when the duckling breaks into the air cell and starts breathing. However, the air supply in the air cell won’t last much longer than 24 hours, so if 24 hours elapse after the internal pip and the duckling has not pipped externally, the duckling is at risk of running out of air and suffocating. You will need to manually create a breathing hole for the duckling. After this, put the egg back and wait.

If the duckling has pipped on the small end, you might need to assist.

The small end of the egg is narrow, so it’s difficult for a duckling to squeeze out of this end of the shell. A duckling that is hatching on the wrong end of the egg may need help (although not always), but remember that it’s not a time-sensitive emergency, so give the baby time to prepare first and be absolutely sure the blood vessels have receded before helping. There is no hurry to assist with this problem. I recommend waiting through the 48 hours first in case the duckling can indeed hatch by itself.

If the duckling is malpositioned, you might need to assist.

Pipping on the wrong end is one form of malposition, but there are others, such as head between the thighs and feet over head. This article describes common malpositions. Sometimes malpositions will kill the duckling, sometimes they will hatch anyway, and sometimes you will need to assist. If your duckling is malpositioned but still alive, keep a close eye on it and assist if it shows signs of distress or doesn’t hatch within the normal time frame.

If the duckling is trapped in its membrane, you need to assist.

This is often called “shrink-wrapping” or “sticky chick,” depending on whether it was caused by low incubation humidity, low hatching humidity, or high incubation humidity. (It’s very difficult to have too high hatching humidity.)

  1. Shrink-wrapping is caused by too low humidity during incubation and will result in the membrane drying and tightening around the duckling, thus trapping it. If this has happened, you will usually see that the outer membrane has turned dry and brownish or yellowish.
  2. “Sticky chick” is caused by a sudden drop in humidity during hatching. This causes the membrane to become sticky, which causes it to act like glue. THIS is why you should not open the incubator during hatching: it will cause the humidity to plummet. This is why lockdown is so important!
  3. Too high humidity can also cause a very wet membrane, which can drown the duckling or impede hatching.

With these issues, the ducklings do need help as soon as possible, but remember that a duckling is still far more likely to die from you rupturing a blood vessel than from being trapped in the membrane. As long as the duckling can breath, don’t rush too much. Wait until the blood vessels have receded before assisting (as always).

If the duckling has stopped moving and peeping, you should investigate (but not necessarily assist).

This does not signify a problem necessarily, but pay attention if you notice this. It’s possible the duckling is just resting, but it could also hint to membrane problems or some other problem. If there has been no movement or sound for several hours, it might be time to very carefully investigate and see if something might be wrong.

If the duckling started zipping but didn’t finish, you might need to assist.

Zipping shouldn’t take long. If your duckling started zipping but hasn’t made progress for a few hours, you should probably intervene. The duckling will only start zipping after the blood vessels have receded, so assisting should be fairly safe, but be careful anyway, and stop if you do see bleeding.

If it has been more than 48 hours since the external pip, you might need to assist.

Whatever caused the delay, at this point, you will almost certainly need to assist the duckling.


Malposition - foot over head
The hatch is nearly over! Only minutes later, this duckling was free.

If the membrane looks good (white and papery), the duckling doesn’t seem to be malpositioned, and the duckling is moving and active, there is probably no reason to assist. If you read the comments below this article, you will see there is a comment by someone whose egg took 49 hours, but hatched successfully all by itself!

Watch this video of me helping a gosling that pipped on the wrong end of the egg and could not slip through the too-small opening:

If you have to help a duckling, be very careful and gentle. Peel the shell bit by bit. Tweezers help. Stop immediately if you see blood and try to gently remove the blood with a dry paper towel. Do a small bit at a time and wait plenty of time in between. And go slow!


This article has some more good information: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/step-by-step-guide-to-assisted-hatching. It’s mostly about chickens, but the same information applies to ducks.

Comment below if you have a question or need help with your hatch. I WILL reply to all questions as soon as I see them, usually within 24 hours.

218 Comments

      1. I have 4 Muscovy eggs that are fertilized, one is hatching, one is about to hatch and two look like they are 2-3 weeks behind, I still have them in incubator set to 37.3 Celsius for hatching, do I raise it back to 37.8 once both eggs have hatch to keep incubating the other two?

        Elysia Sciarra
        1. Hi Elysia,

          The humidity is probably a bigger issue than the temperature, as there is a much bigger difference between incubation and hatching humidity than incubation and hatching temperature. I don’t think the temperature matters as much, but yes, I think you should put the temperature back to 37.5 (I believe 37.5 is the correct temperature, not 37.8) after the other ducklings have finished hatching and are out of the incubator. It’s certainly not ideal to have eggs from different starting dates in the incubator, but I hope they all hatch well for you!

          Sincerely,
          Hannah Miller

          1. Hi and help! I have a duck egg that externally pipped on day 25. Unfortunately this egg was cracked during the incubation and it has got this far having used candle wax on the area, which also happens to be the air cell end.

            It’s now been 36 hours since the pip and I can see and think hear the little one moving but we are not progressing. They are not due to hatch for another 48 hours, do I interfere or wait a little longer?

            Many thanks

            Nikki
          2. Hi Nikki,

            It sounds like the duckling is doing okay. Check the membrane. If it’s dried up and brown, then the duckling is probably stuck and you should assist. If the membrane is fine, I would wait a little longer, but not much. After 48 hours have passed since the pip, you should probably help (as long as the blood vessels have dried up).

            Hope that helps!

            Sincerely,
            Hannah Miller

          3. My duck is out of shell but membrane around body i ser small micro bugs crawaling all over him. But hes breathing. What do i do. He still hasblood on membrane

            Mary Lane
          4. Hi Mary,

            If there’s blood on the membrane, just leave him alone for now. Has he absorbed the entire yolk sac? If not, definitely leave him alone. If so, and if he hasn’t managed to wriggle out of the membrane within maybe 12 hours, you can try very gently peeling it off.

            As for the bugs, I don’t know as I haven’t heard of that happening before.

            Hoping the best for you and the duckling!

            Sincerely,
            Hannah Miller

          5. Hi, I have 12 Ancona duckling eggs in the incubator , and were on day 28, there is movement in most a bit of rocking , but I suspect 2-3 to be deceased. One started chirping this morning and peeped, (Irish timezone) the membrane looks to be thick and flaky or dry, none of the other eggs have had some movement but no chirping or peeps? First time duck mom so a little be anxious.

            Leona
          6. Hi Leona,

            As long as there is either movement OR chirping/peeping, everything should be fine. Not all ducklings show both movement and sound. I think everything is going great. Even if a couple don’t hatch, that’s fairly normal. Even experienced hatchers rarely have a 100% hatch rate. As for the membrane, what color is it? It should be white, and it normally turns brown if it gets too dry. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a flaky membrane. I’m not quite sure if it’s okay or not since I can’t see it, but you can dab a bit of coconut oil on it if you think it’s dry.

            Hoping the best for you and the ducklings!

            Sincerely,
            Hannah Miller

          1. Hi Kelly,

            There is nothing you can really do, in this case. The duckling must absorb the yolk sac before hatching, and will just lay there until this process is completed. It’s a long process that takes hours and hours. Assisting is only an option after the blood vessels and yolk sac have been absorbed.

            Sincerely,
            Hannah Miller

      2. Hi im incubating mallard eggs and two have cracked the egg but havent broken through yet. Its day 28 and they cracked yesterday. Its been 24hr.s with absolutley no progress. I can hear them inside. Im worried i may have had the humidity too high. Im so worried. Should i wait another day and see if theres progress? Or possibly help make a full pip hole in the egg for them and let them try the rest on their own?

        1. Hi Amanda,

          I think they’re still okay. They’re not supposed to make progress after they pip. If they’re still moving, that’s a good sign. Having too high humidity during early incubation can result in the babies “drowning” in the egg, but if they’re clearly still alive, I don’t think the high humidity was an issue. High humidity during hatching is well and good.

          I think you can still wait before deciding to help, but if you do assist, go very slowly and just chip the shell away bit by bit, and only continue if there is no blood.

          Hope that helps!

          Sincerely,
          Hannah Miller

    1. Hi. We found Mallard ducks abandoned for about 3 days (on May 21) and put them in an incubator that night. We have no idea what the actual day is at this point. But we are getting movement we can see three out of the 13 eggs with the beaks in the air side of the eggs. We need your help if there is someway I can FaceTime Or show you pictures as this is our FIRST time & of course we’re panicking a bit as 3 seem ready tonight. I don’t have the humidity up but am currently increasing it. Do we separate the ones that seem oldest?
      I have so many questions (sorry)!!

      Tania Rock
      1. Hi Tania,

        They were abandoned for three days? I’m surprised they’re still alive, but it’s awesome that they seem to have survived! If they did internally pip (it sounds like they did from you description), you should see a crack on the outside within 24 hours.

        There’s no need to separate the eggs. They are probably quite close together in age, even if three are a bit ahead.

        You can email pictures to me here: https://www.raising-ducks.com/contact/ (Or you can just reply to this email–you should get an email of this reply.)

        Feel free to ask if you have any other questions!

        Sincerely,
        Hannah Miller

        1. Hi. What should the temperature be at this point and where should the humidity be? I feel that the humidity is too low right now and I do not want them stuck inside of the egg. Should I poke a small breathing hole in the egg yet?

          Tania
          1. Hi Tania,

            The temperature should stay at 99.5 throughout the hatch, and the humidity should be at least 60% or higher. Exactly where it should be depends on who you ask. It seems there’s no consensus in the hatching world as to what humidity is best, but it does need to be pretty high for hatching.

            You can poke a breathing hole if it’s been 24 hours since the internal pip, since the air in the air cell only lasts around 24 hours. Have you heard any peeping? That would be a good sign that things are going well.

            Hoping for the best!
            Hannah

          2. Hi Tania,

            This article has good information on making a safety hole: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/guide-to-assisted-hatching-for-all-poultry.72886/ I am not sure if a pin would work. The article recommends using a screw or drill bit. It doesn’t need to be large, just big enough for air to enter the egg. In fact, if it’s too big, it can cause the membrane to dry out. It should be placed near the top of the air cell, approximately. Candle first so you know where the air cell is. Go ahead and make a safety hole as soon as you can. It is unlikely to hurt anything and is likely necessary at this point.

            Hannah

          3. I have been trying to upload pictures and videos but it will not let me. Is there someway for you to see and help me out on this? I appreciate all of your time so far.

            Tania
    2. My duck egg is pipping at wrong end and looks like yellowy / brown gel stuff is coming out from where it started pipping !what shall I do ?the duck is still alive but everything looks wrong ?

      Jess
      1. Hi Jess,

        That does not sound good. This substance could either be a too-wet membrane, or part of the yolk. The yolk sac is usually on the small end of the egg, so perhaps the duckling ruptured the yolk sac while trying to pip. Can he breathe well? Make sure he can breathe, because a wet membrane or ruptured yolk sac can easily result in drowning.

        There’s not much you can do about it, but be ready to help if it becomes necessary. There’s a chance the duckling will live, but unfortunately, there’s also a good chance it will not.

        Hoping for the best for you and the duckling!

        Sincerely,
        Hannah Miller

    3. Hi there we are hatching Pekin ducks for the first time. So exciting but scary too. We have 20 eggs in candled them on sat and things looked good. Last night was the start of day 28 a few have pipped externally but not much progress since yesterday morning. Lots of peeps but can’t tell which eggs make noise… help!
      Thanks so much
      Cheryl

      Cheryl Feltz
      1. Hi Cheryl,

        Everything sounds great to me! Try to be patient. After the external pip, there will be a period of many hours where you will see very little progress, so it all sounds normal. They may not all hatch at the same speed or at the same time. You should see more external pips soon, but not necessarily immediately. Peeping is a good sign and tells you that they have pipped internally.

        Let me know if you have any other questions!

        Sincerely,
        Hannah Miller

    4. My Muscovy duckling was so glued I had to do something so I warmed some olive oil and put on his wings and legs and now I do not know what to do, any suggestions?

      Diana Cooksey
      1. Hi Diana,

        I’m not quite sure what’s going on…has this duckling hatched or not? What do you mean by glued? Is he hatched with the membrane still stuck to him, or is he still in the egg in a shrink-wrapped or sticky membrane?

        I’m sorry I can’t help you until I have a better idea what’s going on. What to do and how much to help is very dependent on what stage of the hatch the duckling is in.

        Sincerely,
        Hannah Miller

  1. I have 2 Peking duck eggs now on day 30 of incubation!! I have not heard them peep but I can see them move when candling and I see no blood vessels! Should I assist them with hatching? I’m afraid my humidity may have been low and the shell is to hard for them!

    Whitney
      1. As long as the ducklings are still moving and trying, it’s probably not necessary to intervene. However, do you know if they have internally pipped? Has their bill punctured the air cell? (You can see this when candling.) This is usually when you hear peeping, but not always. If they have internally pipped, and if has been more than 24 hours since the internal pip, then you might need to intervene by very carefully poking a breathing hole in the shell, right where the air cell is. At this stage, you can’t really assist any more than that.

        Oh, and you can’t see blood vessels from the outside, by candling. By the time the ducklings are ready to hatch, the egg will be almost completely dark. I meant seeing the blood vessels inside the egg AFTER the duckling has pipped.

        Hannah
        1. I have two ducklings that have broken all the way through the shell. They were moving and peeping but now I don’t see any movement or hear any peeps. Did they die? Do I need to do something?

          Terri
          1. Hi Terri,

            I’m not sure. How long has it been since you last saw action? If it’s been less than two hours, maybe they’re just resting. There will often be periods during hatching after the external pip during which they will just quietly rest. So this could be perfectly normal.

            Try tapping the shell and talking to them. If there is no response, you might try investigating a bit and trying to peer in. Do you think they might be shrink-wrapped? Shrink-wrapping is caused by too low humidity during incubation and causes the membrane to shrink and dry around the duckling, preventing them from moving and eventually killing them if they are not assisted. “Sticky chick” is a similar issue caused by a sudden humidity drop during hatching and will have a similar effect, causing the membrane to act like glue and trap the duckling.

            It’s really hard to say for sure what’s going on. They could just be resting and gaining the energy they’ll need for unzipping. They could be dead. Or they could need assistance. Do keep a close eye on them, and if you think they’re shrink wrapped, assist them as long as there are no blood vessels.

            Hoping the best for you and the ducklings!

            Sincerely,
            Hannah Miller

        2. Hi! Amazing blog! Very helpful! I do have a question though, I am hatching mallards for the first time (one egg is a few days “older” than the other) but the first one has started to hatch – however the zipping is taking a long time. There is progress, but it’s very slow – it started zipping around noon, and now it’s 4pm and it has only zipped 1/4 of the egg… Should I wait or should I assist it?

          Malou
          1. Hi Malou,

            Maybe. If it’s still making progress, even if it’s slow, I would still wait and see if the duckling can make it on its own. It’s not very common for a duckling to get stuck while zipping, but it can happen, and it can often mean that they will require assistance. I would suggest waiting until late evening, and if it hasn’t hatched by then, you can try helping a little, as long as it’s safe and there is no bleeding (there shouldn’t be, since normally they only start zipping when they’re fully ready to hatch).

            Sincerely,
            Hannah Miller

    1. Hi. We have 4 muscovy ducks in the incubator. 2 of them have pipped their external shell but haven’t broke their internal membrane. Should we assist in their hatching as they are wobbling?

      Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Michelle.

      Michelle Cullen
      1. No, I don’t think it’s time to assist yet. Wobbling is normal. It’s just due to the duckling moving in the egg or trying particularly hard to work on cracking the shell. A normal hatch can take up to about 48 hours to complete after the external pip, so until then, try not to get too worried. Hope that helps!

        1. Thank you, Hannah. This is our first time incubating muscovy eggs that were shipped. Box was delivered on its side. No “fragile, or This End UP” on it. But 33 days later, 2 out of the 6 have external pips. 24 hours in and they’re rocking back and forth, responding to our voices, but no more progress, yet. Thankfully, you’re here with the wisdom. 🙂

          Amelia
          1. Hi Susan,

            They need drinking water, of course, but bathing water is optional. The mom usually takes her babies for their first swim when they’re two or three days old, so if you want, you can set out some water for them to swim in after they’re active and out of the nest.

            Hope that helps!

            Sincerely,
            Hannah Miller

  2. I have a mallard that pipped 24 hours ago and has made very little progress. I might have had the humidity up to high – should I assist or just let it run it’s course?

    Coty
    1. I don’t think you need to assist yet. Hatches can take up to 48 hours after the external pip. This is the period during which they get used to breathing and absorb the yolk and all the blood vessels that act as a “placenta” while they are inside the egg.

      If, however, the duckling seems to be in distress, or stops moving and tapping at the shell for a long time, you might chip off a bit of the shell to help it out.

      1. I have call eggs just beginning to hatch after 35 days! I thought i had lost them and i did lose most of them but 6 still have movement and last night tiny cracks. Its been 12 hrs now no change and i thought something was wrong. What does lockdown mean? I want to candle them again to make sure what i have are still alive but im too nervous to open the incubator now.

        Elizabeth
        1. Lockdown means that you prepare the incubator for hatching by stopping turning the eggs, increasing the humidity and oxygen, and then staying out of the incubator. You shouldn’t open it much during lockdown, and candling might not help much anyway as you don’t see much if you candle at this stage.

          You won’t see much, if any change, for many hours after the external pip/crack. It’s normal. This is when they absorb the yolk sac and learn how to breath, so they won’t seem to be doing much. Hope that helps. 🙂

  3. I have one Pekin duck hatch.. it has been just laying on it’s side for around 8 hours, it kicks every so often and peeps. It also seems to be pecking at it’s feathers or maybe preening. Is it normal for it to lay so long, first time hatchery.

    Kimberly Burgess
    1. It sounds normal. They aren’t very active for the first 24 hours or so. By the time they’re completely dried out and fluffy, they’re usually ready to start drinking and becoming more active.

  4. I had three muscovy ducklings get abandoned by there mom she wont sit on the nest anymore. Three started hatching last night external pip but they haven’t made any progress. The membrane looks kinda dry. Do I help them or leave them?

    Meghan A Aisenbrey
    1. I think you should leave them for now. Right after the external pip is when they NEED to sit and wait while they absorb the yolk and learn how to breathe. Remember, the hatch can take up to 48 hours AFTER the external pip.

      The membrane is supposed to be relatively dry. If it turns brown, however, that signals a problem that might require your assistance.

  5. I have four Rouen ducks that hatched last night and this morning they are still attached to the egg by long thin vessels. The humidity is so high that they aren’t drying at all. Should I move them? Cut the umbilical cord? I never had a duckling attached this long to its egg.

    Kari
    1. No, definitely don’t cut the cord! It will probably kill them.

      Besides that, I’m not really sure. There’s probably not much you can do. Moving them to an area with lower humidity might help. But mostly I’m just going to suggest letting them wait.

  6. Hello, thanks for answering everyone’s questions here! We have 10 Welsh Harlequin and 5 domestic mallards that were set in a still air incubator together 27 days ago. Tonight will start day 28. We’ve been weighing the eggs and targeting 14% weight loss, which has proved tough as the mallards lose weight faster than the WH. Ran humidity at 45% with daily spraying. On day 24, I noticed a mallard had internally pipped while weighing, so started lockdown Day 24, RH 65%. On Day 25-26, noticed external pips on mallards. External pips on WH Day 27. No zipping of mallards, some WH trying to zip but not progressing since last night. After hearing tapping and peeping all night but seeing no progress, I took the mallards out this AM, Day 27, 36-48 hr after external pip. I feared that they were “shrink wrapped” or desiccated as the mallards has lost more weight than ideal. However, all five mallards were alive, positioned with bill at the pip (one on narrow end), tapped and cheeped back to me. I enlarged the pips a little and confirmed no membranes sticking to chicks. No blood vessels seen in membrane. Since the mallards have a shorter incubation time than the WH, could they be waiting for a signal from the WH to zip? I moistened the mallard membranes and raised humidity to 75%. Should I leave them or chip some shell a few times a day?

    Lisa Marwell
    1. “Could they be waiting for a signal from the WH to zip” – I don’t know, I’ve never heard of such a thing.

      I think it’s definitely time to intervene in this case. They shouldn’t take more than 48 hours after the external pip. Even if they are still capable of hatching without assistance, I doubt it will hurt to help since the blood vessels are gone. There’s a good chance they won’t make it if you don’t intervene, and there’s a low chance of hurting them by intervening. I say go for it!

      Definitely keep the membranes moist and the humidity high. And I think you might be right about the shrink wrapping. I can’t say I have any experience with it though, since we have ridiculously high humidity where I live.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Hi MS,

        That’s certainly not an optimal situation, but I don’t think it’s enough to kill the ducklings. Not turning will increase the likelihood of deformities and will probably lower the hatch rate. But if you’re only going to skip turning for two days, it might be okay. This thread might help you:

        https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/what-happens-if-i-dont-turn-the-eggs-in-the-incubator.387773/

        However, I would suggest buying an egg turner, if that’s an option for you. Egg turners aren’t expensive, but they’re so handy for incubation because they completely eliminate the hassle of turning manually.

        Hope that helps!

        Sincerely,
        Hannah Miller

  7. Hello, I have mallard duck eggs in the incubater and one egg is starting to pip this morning. Some of the other eggs have turned a light black on the pointy side of the egg. This is my first time incubating. Does that mean that those eggs are bad? Our duck start laying when there was still snow outside and she never nested. Do you think those eggs got too cold? It’s day 29 today.

    Venancia
    1. Yes, those eggs are probably dead. If the egg was alive and ready to hatch, you would hear occasional peeping, and if you hold the egg up to your ear, you should hear the ducklings tapping against the shell trying to pip.

      Glad at least one of them is hatching! 🙂

  8. I have some Indian runner ducks and the mother has been on the nest I noticed almost everyone on the post incubates I just let Mom do her thing but for eggs have hatched and there are five unhatched she has left the nest to tend to the four what should I do with the rest of the eggs I do not have an incubator any help is appreciated thanks

    Steven C Ushman
    1. I suspect that the five are not going to hatch anyway. Do you know if they are alive? If they are, you should be able to hear the duckling peeping or tapping against the egg, trying to hatch, if you hold the egg up to your ear. If the egg was laid much later than the rest and isn’t ready to hatch, then you would see signs of life from candling.

      There are ways to improvise when you don’t have an incubator. Heat is the main requirement. A quick Google search will give you a number of ideas and tips on making a homemade incubator.

    1. I think so. He should be fine with in a few hours or at least within a day or two. If he’s still walking on one leg after a couple days, though, then something is wrong beyond just an ant sting.

  9. I am a first time hatching duck eggs, my I incubator says 103 degrees for duck eggs other places I seen 99.5 degrees, was wondering what should I go by, then also I hatched a couple of duck eyes and one was pipping and I was told once you see the pip marks your supposedly help to get the head free or should you wait?

    Anna
    1. I can’t believe they say 103 degrees. That’s probably going to kill them. 99.5 is the ideal temperature.

      It normally takes over 24 hours to hatch AFTER the external pip, and up to 48 hours. So no, you should never help a duckling that has just pipped because at that point it hasn’t yet absorbed the yolk sac and blood vessels. Right after the pip is way too early to even think about helping.

      Hope that answers your questions!

    1. I think it’s fine for now, as long as it’s alive. They aren’t always active. I’ve found that mine are rarely active during the night, which is nine hours or more.

      What does the membrane look like? If it turns brown and dry, kind of like singed paper, then the duckling may require assistance. If it’s extremely sticky and gooey, it could harden and trap the duckling, in which case it also needs assistance. It’s supposed to be white and relatively dry.

      If the membrane is fine, the rule of thumb is to not assist until 40-48 hours after the external pip.

  10. I have rescued some mallard ducklings and eggs that were removed from a roof top at the most vulnerable time of the hatch. 3 ducklings were fully hatched, but 6 eggs remaind of which 4 had pip holes. They were left uncovered by the hen for up to 1 hour. When they got home with me I put the ducklings under a heat lamp and put the eggs in a static air incubator. They have been at 99.5 and 80% for a couple of hours, but I haven’t seen movement, however it is night time.

    Here are my questions:

    Will they survive? Do I give them 48 hours and see what happens?

    If I returned the ducklings in the morning will the hen take them back?

    If I raise the ducklings can I release them to the wild? If so at what age?

    Thanks!

    Chris Verkerk
    1. Oh boy…all these questions are iffy.

      #1: do you know for sure if they’re still alive? If they are, then I think they have a good chance. I’ve had eggs that survived even after relatively long periods of being left unattended. Also, I don’t think I’d wait the full 48 hours for the ones that have already pipped, because they could have pipped hours ago.

      #2: Maybe. Sorry for the unhelpful answer, but there’s no way to really know. If she’s still sitting on the nest, then she’s likely to take them, especially if you slip them under her during the night. She’s less likely to fuss about it if you do it during the night.

      #3: It might be possible, but it’s difficult and requires rehabilitation to teach them to find their own food and live by themselves. If you do, then the time would be when they’re fully adult and ready to fly. However, I think a better option, if the mother duck doesn’t take them back, would be to find a wildlife rehab/rescue agency. Also, it probably depends on where you live, but in some areas it’s illegal to release ANY animal that has been held in captivity, even if they were originally wild.

      I hope that helps you, and good luck!

  11. I have 3 mallard eggs that have pipped and I thought the one needed help. I feel so bad but I think I was wrong and caused him to be premature. He came part of the way out of the egg but then I put him back in the incubator to rest and come out when he was ready. When I checked on him he had pushed himself the rest of the way out and there was blood inside the egg shell. He is still alive 4 hours later and no further bleeding. I have him wrapped in a towel and in a brooder. He isn’t standing and his head is wobbly. My questions are is there ever residual blood in the shell? Is it normal for a newly hatched duckling to not be able to stand? Have you seen any survive this way? For the other eggs, does the external pip and the 24-48 hour period have to be a hole in the shell or just the star shaped cracking? I don’t want to intervene and potentially injure them too! Thank you!

    Nancy
    1. Actually, this sounds completely normal. There’s usually a little bit of blood residue at the bottom of the eggshell. If you had a picture I could tell you for sure whether it was normal, but don’t worry about it too much. And yes, they will be very wobbly for a while. Normally they don’t start standing up much until after they are fully dried out and fluffy.

      Come to think of it, I don’t think I mentioned that in the article. This article is due for an overhaul in the near future, so I’ll be sure to cover that. I’ll try to get pictures next time I hatch, too.

      For the second question, the up to 48 hours is after the intial crack or pip. If you look at the last picture in this article, two eggs have this pip (it’s not necessarily star-shaped), one has a hole, and then there is the one that is almost hatched. Right after they make that crack, they get their first oxygen in their lungs and that is when they usually absorb the blood vessels and learn how to breath. That’s when you’ll see the least movement and that part can take about 24 hours. After that, they start making a hole and then unzipping.

      Hoping the best for the little ones! 😃

      1. The first little guy, who we named Lucky, seems to be thriving! He has eaten, had some water and has left me a couple of duck poo presents! My other two have holes but haven’t done much else just yet. I’m hoping they join Lucky soon because he’s quite vocal when left alone. Thank you so much for your info and help!

        Nancy
  12. My 3rd duckling has hatched but is weak and can’t seem to get the egg to drop away. It’s little feet are funny and it can’t effectively move to drop the shell. Whaat should I do? He’s been that way overnight but I am worried I need to do something to help the feet so they aren’t malpositioned for life! Should I do something with the egg still attached? What should I do if it’s time to help? Also, should I treat this as spraddle leg?

    Nancy
  13. The 3rd has lost the shell, dried and seems fine except for the legs/feet. Is there a way to send s pic to know if this is a debilitating handicap or fixable? I don’t know what to do. There is an excellent bird rehab locally but I’m afraid they’ll euthanize him. Maybe that’s what is best? I just don’t know! Thanks.

    Nancy
    1. Yes, please send me a pic. I can’t guarantee I’ll know what to do since I don’t really have experience with foot problems, but if I don’t, I can refer you to someone who should be able to help you. Here’s my email address:
      address

  14. Hey there! I recently found some abandoned duck eggs and we’ve attempted to raise them. Several hairlinecracks are appearing on the eggs and I’m not sure if that’s a pre-piping thing or what? If the ducklings are in trouble, I’d like to be able to help them but I can’t quite tell if they are. Also, if they do hatch how should I raise them? Like feed and shelter and when they’re independent and all that

    confused duck lover
  15. We rescued 8 duck eggs from an abandoned nest. When we candeled them (well, held it up to a iPhone flashlight) we could see clear veins and redness. Some websites we saw said that if they have clear veins showing they’re alive so I’m 90% sure they are. We improvised a incubator out of a heat lamp, a thermometer, and a spray bottle. We think the eggs are in the early to mid 20 days of life, and there are clear dark splotches from the inside of the egg that I think are the down of the duckling. A couple hairline fractures are appearing on some of the eggs. Help!!
    Questions:
    Are the hairline fractures a sign they’re beginning to hatch?
    One egg had a yellowish liquid on the outside that smelled kinda weird. Is it dead?
    The fracture is almost circular around the eggs circumference. Is that normal?
    Overall, help. We want these to live so bad.

    confused duck lover
    1. How do you know the nest was abandoned? Was there a mama duck sitting and then she vanished? Also, just because she leaves the nest doesn’t mean she’s abandoning it. She has to eat, of course. They normally leave their nests every day, for up to half an hour. And she may not have even been ready to sit on them. Ducks only start sitting when their clutch is full, so until then, the eggs might look abandoned.

      The reason I’m wondering is because it makes a big difference whether they had already been sat on, or whether she had never started sitting on them. If she had already started sitting, then the chances of survival are low because, unless you took the eggs less than an hour after she left, they probably got cold and died.

      When did you candle them, right after you took them from the nest or what?

      There’s quite a few factors here, so I’m not exactly sure what’s going on.

      Hairline fractures aren’t really supposed to be there. I’m not sure what causes them exactly, maybe a weak shell, or rough handling. They can let bacteria into the egg and cause other problems. But if I remember right, I’m pretty sure I successfully hatched an egg with hairline fractures on it. They CAN hatch, but they are more likely to have something go wrong.

      The yellowish liquid–the only possible explanation I can think of is that the hairline fracture is actually a crack and some of the internal liquid is oozing out. I don’t know if that necessarily means instant death, but I doubt that egg will hatch.

      The first sign of hatching is the internal pip, which you can’t see from the outside but can see from candling (and you will usually be able to hear the duckling peeping at this point). Then the external pip, which is a crack in the shell, often shaped a bit like a star.

      What you see when candling depends on when you do it. The veins and redness are definitely a sign of life, as long as they are in a spiderweb structure. If they have collapsed into what is called a blood ring, then it means the baby started developing and then died. And egg that is in the later stages of growth will appear almost completely black when candled, because you can’t see through the baby.

      So…there’s still a chance they’re alive and will survive, but I’m not exactly sure, at least not without a few more details.

      Hoping for the best! 🙂

      1. We candeled them immediately after we found them. The mama had vanished for over a day (the nest was outside my house so we checked every hour of the mom was there.) when we did candle them they had spiderweb veins so they were definitely alive. Over the past week we’ve had them the egg has become more and more dark internally. Also, the eggs were still warm due to the fact that Texas is constantly hot and humid.

        confused duck lover
  16. AHH HELP. the egg has a crack completely circling it now and it ends in a star crack. The yellow liquid is dripping from several places,and the star crack is externally open but there’s still a white layer blocking the outside to the actual egg itself. Do I help it??

    Confused duck lover
    1. Oh boy. Yellow liquid (probably yolk?), as far as I know, never drops from an egg that is ready to hatch, because they have absorbed it all before they hatch (which is at about 28 days). Try smelling the egg. Rotting eggs often crack.

      I don’t really think you should help because there’s nothing you really can do that would help, and if there really is a live baby inside, it’s probably just going to make it worse, if it’s not ready to hatch quite yet.

      Can you send me pictures? It might be helpful to see exactly what this crack looks like.

      address

  17. So this is my first time incubating eggs and I am a worried wreck!!! Tuesday was day 28 and still nothing!! (Rouens)I can hear them, few eggs rocking around, looks like a few spots wanting to crack, but still no external pipping!!! I’m so worried about them!!!

    Erika ( one very worried duck mom)
  18. My egg is wabbling for two days now with no pip. How long is supposed to move around for. It’s been in the hatching tray for 6 days and we’re around day 33

    Allison Gumpel
  19. lol. I walked out to our pond to ck on the duck food and behold ,
    There was a egg , thinking nothing of it I picked it up and it was moving a a tiny hole. It was pretty much active
    My ducks has never sit in them they are from our pond to the nxt door neighbors pond , but a friend told me to put a heat lamp and a room with little air flow ! I do not have a incubator. I don’t know if I disturbed it or not. But I put a regular light bulb in the heat lamp so it won’t be to hot and a warm towel, and just leave my bath room light on ! I had to bring it in somewhere cause I have cats ! do I need to do anything. It seems like it’s not as active
    If I’m not mistaken I heard a small small chirp if it’s suppose to do this.
    Idk lol. But I want to save it if I can
    I would love to see this baby make it
    I will be so PROUD ! Plz help ASAP I wished I can send a pic so u know what it looks like to you if I can on here I don’t know how or see anything where I would be able too
    Thank you so much

    Deborah Shrader
  20. I”ve had 3 pip, 3 days after they were due to hatch but the rest haven’t pipped yet. Should I intervene with the ones that haven’t pipped at all yet? I candled them all probably 10 days ago and they were all alive. Also I have one that pipped 3 days ago, is it time to help that one out?

    Mandy
    1. Yes, I think it’s time to help the one that pipped three days ago…as long as the blood vessels have receded. You should be able to see whether they have or not by looking through the pip or peeling off a tiny piece of shell and looking at the membrane. Do you know if the duckling is still alive right now? Do you hear peeping or tapping? Do you see the egg moving or feel the duckling squirming? Is it trying to do anything?

      Don’t do anything with an egg that hasn’t yet pipped. Either they’re dead, or they’re not ready to hatch. Breaking the shell yourself will probably kill the duckling, because the blood vessels will still be surrounding it and they won’t have absorbed the yolk sac yet.

      Since they’re all so late, I’m guessing there was some sort of problem or imbalance of temperature or humidity during the incubation process. I hope at least some of the ducklings hatch successfully anyway! Good luck! 🙂

  21. Hi there i have a muscovy duckling under a hen that was due on tuesday. It is now the following monday and the internal pip happened on saturday morning. It has not yet pipped the shell. Ive never known them to be this over due nor take so long to break the shell. I can still hear it moving around so its still alive. Im going to work now and will check when i get back. At what point should i assist ? I only keep them for pets i do not breed for selling or the pot so im not bothered about helping
    Thanks

    Jacz Irving
    1. I’m not sure. This is such a delayed hatch that I would certainly be getting worried. I might try to help now. HOWEVER…only slightly crack the shell. Don’t do anything else. The duckling needs to learn to breath and absorb the yolk sac and blood vessels before it fully hatches. Once you no longer see any blood vessels, you may continue helping if it seems necessary.

    1. It depends. If by “started hatching,” you mean the external pip, the little kind of star-shaped crack that you can see from the outside, it will usually be up to 24 hours after the external pip until the duckling completely hatches, and possibly up to 48 hours.

  22. I have 5 welsh harlequin eggs that are on day 27 today. At the very end of day 25 I noticed one duckling had begun to hatch. The duckling only had a tiny slit in his membrane and after 12 hours had still not made any more progress or made any noise. I decided to make the hole in the membrane slightly bigger but I can still see many blood vessels (he didn’t bleed at all when I messed with it). His membrane keeps getting very dry even though the humidity in the incubator is at 80. I keep putting warm water and coconut oil on the membrane but he still hasn’t made any more progress even though it’s been close to 26 hours. I’m going to leave him and hope he will absorb everything but how long can he remain in the egg? Is there something else I can do for him? He seems to be getting weaker.

    Madison
    1. It’s probably fine. They don’t always hatch right on the due day, just like human babies don’t. It’s fairly common to have late hatches, sometimes several days late. As long as it’s alive, leave it alone, for now. If after a few days, it still hasn’t pipped, then you may have to manually create a pip or hole in the shell.

  23. Hello! I have 8 Khaki Campbell Eggs that are on day 27 in the incubator. Two days ago I did a final candle and they are were all viable. It looked like a few had already pipped into the airsacs. I stopped turning them and put them on lockdown at around 75 percent humidity. One egg started pipping about 36 hours ago. He has made some good progress but I am a little concerned because the color of the membrane is tan. I read that this is a bad sign. I want to avoid assisting if at all possible. Any thoughts/advice would be much appreciated. I have 3 others that have started to pip but haven’t made actual holes yet.

    Shawn Richards
    1. If the membrane turns tan or brown, it means it has dried out. This can prevent the duckling from hatching because when it dries, it can stick to the duckling like glue so they can’t move. I would start helping already, just by chipping little bits of the shell off, waiting a while, and chipping a bit more off if it hasn’t made progress yet. Just be sure the blood vessels are gone. If you really don’t want to help, you can wait a little longer as long as the duckling doesn’t seem to be struggling to breath or in distress. Do at least moisten the membrane with a wet Q-tip, however. Hope that helps!

  24. Really wish I read this yesterday, I had 1 out of 6 ducklings hatch and I helped, saw a little blood and thought it was normal… Sadly it passed very quickly.
    Thank you for this advice I will be more patient with my next hatchlings

    Paul
    1. Hi Anthea,

      Oh no! That’s terrible! Depending on how long it has been since she left, they may still have a chance. I’ve had mothers abandon their nests twice, once because she died and once because she confused another duck’s babies for her own and left her nest to mother the other duck’s babies. Both times, I was able to take the eggs within a few hours, and a few of them hatched regardless of the time they spend getting cold.

      What you can do, if they’re still alive, is put them in an area that would mimic a broody or an incubator, or even make your own homemade incubator (instructions can be found online; I don’t have any on my site yet since I’ve never made an incubator myself). At the very least, you can put them under a heat lamp.

      I hope they survive!
      Hannah

  25. I have a “rescued” single duck egg we have been incubating. It first pipped about 36 hours ago. He is making slow progress and i hear him peeping and I can see him breathing. Should I be concerned or just let him keep going at it? Thanks

    Erin
    1. Hi Erin,

      I think you can let him keep going. There’s nothing to be concerned about. He sounds like he’s doing perfectly fine. If, however, he doesn’t hatch within twelve hours (which unfortunately it may have already been twelve hours or more since I only check my comments once or twice a day), you may wish to start assisting.

      Hannah

  26. Hi! My sister has a duck hatching today. It was pretty busy early on this morning and cracked the egg. Momma went back to sitting on it. It got so far as its beak out, but now is doing nothing. This is her first one and she is afraid it is dead. Thoughts on assisting? Do they rest intermittently? I know you said they need to acclimate, but is beak out and no movement normal? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jessica,

      It should be fine. Yes, they rest, and they can go hours without much noticeable movement. All it’s really doing is breathing and sucking in the yolk sac. It isn’t trying to break out of the shell at all yet.

      Hope that helps!
      Hannah

  27. Hi! We had a bantam hen sitting on 3 duck eggs, and she hatched 1, and then got impatient and left the nest with the one baby, leaving the 2 “almost close to hatching” eggs behind. We don’t have any other broody hens or ducks to slip them under, and we did a little reasearch, and it says you can finish the eggs off with a heat lamp at 98.5 degrees. We have a laser and are keeping tabs on the temperature. I candled these eggs since day eight, and I’m almost positive there are ducks in each one. These 2 duck eggs are right at day 28-29. We are also misting the eggs… but I’m worried about them being past the hatching date… do you think we should put a little crack in the egg for oxygen??

    Anna
    1. Hi Anna,

      Sorry I didn’t answer! I’m sure it’s too late now, but just in case, or for reference if this happens again, no, it’s not usually a good idea to manually pip the egg. If the duckling doesn’t pip by itself, it probably never will. Manually pipping the egg is more likely to cause harm than good. Someone very experienced with hatching might be more comfortable and would have a better idea of whether it’s safe or not, but I, for one, wouldn’t manually pip any egg. I’d be too worried I’d kill it by opening the shell before the duckling was ready.

      I know I’m probably too late to really be of any help, but I hope they did successfully hatch anyway. 😃

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  28. We had 14 duck eggs, 4 hatched on time. One pipped almost 24 hours ago but no movement since and the others haven’t hatched 😰
    We are on day 31 now???
    Is this okay?

    The one that pipped still chirps.

    Robyn

    Robyn
    1. Hi Robyn,

      Day 31 certainly is a bit late. I think I might wait a little longer, since it sounds like it isn’t in any distress, and it hasn’t yet been 48 hours since it pipped. After 48 hours, I would definitely assist. You can assist a little earlier than that if you’d like, as long as you go slow and make sure there are no blood vessels visible.

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  29. I live in an apartment next to a creek with a lot of Muscovy ducks. We had a mama lay eggs on Sept 25, so I expect them to be hatching soon. HOWEVER, we are on the second story. I have blocked off the gaps in the banister so they don’t fall, but should we move the nest down to ground level, or is mama bird smarter than we think?

    Kayla Kirk
    1. Hi Kayla,

      Mama duck intends for them to fall out. 😄 Believe me, that’s what they do in the wild. I actually just watched the first episode of BBC’s “Life Story” last night, and the very first part is of two-day-old goslings jumping off a 400-foot sheer cliff to follow their parents. Yes, they fall 400 feet and land on hard rock. It was absolutely amazing. Wild Muscovy ducklings do this too, although they usually only have to fall from a hole in a tree and land on soft leaves.

      Thus they’ll probably be just fine jumping down. However, if you want to carry them down to ground level after they hatch, that’s perfectly fine too. Don’t move the entire nest, though. Wait until they’ve all hatched and the mom is ready to leave and take them to the creek, and then you can carry them down.

      I hope that assuages your fears!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  30. Hannah,

    I just wanted to thank you so much for your priceless information that you are sharing! I am a seasoned duck owner, but have never hatched through incubation and I helping my sons kindergarten class with their first hatch and these questions and your responses calmed all my fears and answered all of my questions. Thank you so much!

    Amanda
  31. Hi
    We are having a go at our first lot of duck eggs 2 have hatched day 28 and 29 but its been 2 more days and nothing seems to be happening with the other eggs. How long should we wait until there is no hope for the rest?

    Brendon
    1. Hi Brendon,

      Do you know if they were alive earlier during the incubating process? Did you candle them?

      There are a few tests you can do even now to get some idea whether the eggs are good or not, the main one being float testing. Set the eggs (providing you’re sure there are no pips or cracks on it; the duckling will drown if it has pipped and you do this) in a bowl of 100 degree water. If it sinks, it’s probably a dud that never developed. If it floats to the top, it died at some point. If it partially floats but doesn’t stick far above the water, it’s probably still alive. If it floats and also rocks and rolls (the water of course has to be very still for you to see this), it’s almost definitely alive and is rocking because the duckling inside is moving.

      Also, try holding the egg up to your ear. You may hear faint peeps, or the duckling tapping against the shell, trying to pip. If you hear anything, it’s definitely alive. If not, it may or may not be alive.

      If you don’t hear any signs of life and aren’t sure about the float test, keep it until day 32 or 33. I’ve heard of ducklings successfully hatching on day 32 (although it has never happened to me; mine almost always hatch early).

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

      1. Thanks Hannah
        Very helpful. I did the float test and they all sat just below the surface bar 1. Being day 33 I decided to open the shells as could not see any movement or noise. Unfortunately they were well developed but had all died so something must have gone wrong right at the end. I have a suspicion that my 4 year old may have opened the incubator to look at the hatched duckling.
        The first 2 ducklings that hatched are doing very so we will have another go soon and be more vigilant with the incubator.
        Brendon

        Brendon
  32. I saw a crack in one of my eggs on Thursday. Later that day it was more visible and like I could see part of the duck. Goo was draining out of the egg. It is now Saturday and there have been no changes at all. I would think I could see something movement since I feel i can see part of the duck. Should we help it?!?!?!

    Deanna
    1. Hi Deanna,

      Goo? You shouldn’t see goo. That’s usually a sign an egg is rotten or dead and will probably soon explode all over the incubator. However, if you can actually see the duckling…that’s a bit odd. Normally rotten eggs that are oozing don’t have a duckling at all. What does the crack look like? Is it actually a pip, like a small circular or sort of star-shaped crack in one spot, or is it something else?

      You aren’t seeing movement…are you hearing anything? Do you hear tapping if you hold it up to your ear? Have you heard any peeping?

      It might be a good idea to get rid of the egg to avoid jeopardizing the rest of the eggs. If this egg explodes, it could badly contaminate and kill the others. But then…if you can see the duckling…maybe this is different. It still doesn’t really sound like the duckling is alive, unfortunately.

      Can you send me a picture of the egg, perhaps? It would help to know what the crack looks like and what the duckling looks like.

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  33. We have one out of three runner ducklings hatching in the incubator, it started pretty much exactly two days ago when I noticed the first crack and small hole in the shell…the duckling is really active and I can see it breathing, membrane looks white and not too dry/wet …he gets so much more active when I talk to him but has not made much progress in the last 12 hours…the runner’s shells are soooo hard…can I help by maybe peeling off abit of outer shell for him? Im worried about helping as havent opened the incubator so far and its all set with the right humidity etc..how long can he stay like this? should I help?

    Georgi Neumann
    1. Hi Georgi,

      It sounds like the duckling is doing good in general, but if it’s been 48 hours since the pip, it’s definitely time to start thinking about helping.

      It may not be actually necessary yet, so you can still wait a little while. But if you want, you can quickly whisk the egg out of the incubator, look inside the hole to see if blood vessels are visible, and, if not, it should be safe to gently chip away a few small chunks of shell. Then put it back and wait a little longer.

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  34. Thanks so much Hannah! We’ve just had a little check and chip away…and the duckling has hatched (hurray!!!) fingers crossed all goes to plan from here…. thanks so much again, lifesaver x

    Georgina Neumann
    1. Hi Mary,

      Sorry, I’m a bit confused. If they haven’t pipped, what do you mean by “first one appeared”? If you mean they’ve pipped (made a crack on the outside of the shell) but it isn’t actually a hole yet, no, it’s not time to help. It will probably still be at least 12 hours before they hatch fully.

      After the internal pip (when they’ve punctured the membrane and take their first breaths of air from the air cell), it takes about 24 hours before the external pip. You can tell if they’ve pipped internally by candling, and also by whether or not you can hear them peeping.
      After the external pip (the small crack on the outside of the shell) it takes 24-48 hours for the duckling to hatch.
      If it’s been 48 hours since the external pip and the duckling isn’t making progress, THAT’S when you can help (as long as there are no longer any blood vessels on the inside of the egg).

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

      1. Thank you Hannah,

        As it was only a crack and no further progress, I waited close to 36 hours and decided to carefully perform C-Section. Found one leg wrapped over top of head, so I think it would have struggled to get out and membrane was drying out.

        6 hours on, one white Indian Runner happily resting in incubator, have discovered black beak poking through another egg, 🥚 so will leave it alone, and see how it goes. Noticed with smaller eggs, which are black Indian runners, as this first one is pipping, I can see blackish patches through shell, is this a concern? As still chiroand moving.

        Cheers Mary

        Mary
  35. Hi Hannah! I wish I’d found your site sooner, some great information and advice.
    I have a question, I have just had to help my baby Appleyard duckling hatch as it was in mal position. I waited 24 hours from first pip and watched it all night and day for progress. Only this morning did I see his leg was over his head as he broke out the top part. Anyway, he had dried out terribly as my stupid incubator is playing up and I live in a tropical area so doesn’t help matters.. I successfully peeled of the shell and thankfully he’s out with everything absorbed! Only problem is he’s terribly dried out.. I’ve adjusted temp and humidity levels again to help but wonder if I should wrap him in a damp, warm compress for a bit to help get him unglued if you know what I mean? I’m a first time duckling hatcher and this ducklings brother or sister did a super job hatching from first pip in less than 6 hours. But this little guy has had quite the battle. Thank you for any advice! Francesca

    Francesca
    1. Hi Francesca,

      I’m not exactly sure, but I do think a damp, warm compress or cloth would help. Warm running water could also help. Be careful with peeling bits of dried membrane off, if you do, because it can quite easily tear the duckling’s skin.

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

    1. Hi Amanda,

      If you can find waterfowl feed where you live, that’s the best choice. If not, you can feed your ducklings chick starter.

      Feed it to them free choice, so it’s always available.

      Ducks have higher niacin requirements than chickens, so if you feed them chick starter that is meant for chickens, you will need to add niacin. You can do this by adding brewer’s yeast to their feed, at a rate of about 1/2 cup of brewer’s yeast per 10 pounds of feed.

      You can also feed them bits of veggies, fruits, and grass. When they’re small, you’ll probably have to tear it into small pieces for them. Peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, cabbage, and lettuce are common favorites. My birds also go crazy over Brussels sprouts.

      If you feed them veggies or anything besides their main feed, you might also need to feed them grit to help them chew up their food. If they are outside foraging, they can probably find grit for themselves. If they don’t get to be outside, you will have to buy grit or give them some coarse sand.

      In summary:
      1. Feed them waterfowl feed or chick starter.
      2. If you choose chick starter, supplement with niacin.
      3. You may supplement with vegetables and other greens.
      4. If you add greens, add grit as well.

      Here is an article with more information about feeding ducklings: https://www.raising-ducks.com/feeding-ducklings/

      Hope that helps! Feel free to ask if you have any other questions.

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  36. I need help because my mallard duck does not want to sit on her 8 eggs what do I do PLEASE HELP ME 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁

    Sarah
    1. Hi Sarah,

      Give her time. She may not be ready. Usually, ducks only start sitting once they have finished laying their clutch, or are close to it. Has she stopped laying? If not, I think she’s just not ready to sit yet.

      If she has stopped laying, well, maybe she just doesn’t want to sit. They don’t always sit on every single clutch they lay. I have a few Muscovies that sit on every clutch they lay, some that sit on about half of the clutches they lay, and some that almost never sit or go broody at all.

      Maybe your duck thinks it’s too early in the year to have babies. Or maybe she’s just not the type to go broody. Like I said, I have some ducks that almost never go broody. Your duck could be one of those (unfortunately).

      Either way, try to be patient. She’ll go broody on her own when she thinks she’s ready. You can’t do anything about it, aside from making sure she has a clean, safe nesting area.

      Hope that helps! Feel free to ask if you have any other questions.

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

    1. Hi Sarah,

      If you want the duck to incubate the chicken eggs, keep in mind that chicken eggs take 21 days to hatch and duck eggs take 28. This means that you will need to pick the chicken eggs and keep them stored somewhere safe for a week, and then put them under the duck once she has been sitting for a week. That way they will all hatch at the same time.

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  37. Hi,
    I`m a first timer hatching ducklings in an incubator after the Mum rejected the eggs (she`s sitting on another one now!)
    I can hear the odd little chirping sound & the tiniest of tapping..how long should it take before the outer shell pipping begins (I`m guessing it`s started on the inside or I wouldn`t hear chirping?
    It`s a Muscovy & today is the 36th day since it was laid.
    Thanks for any help you can give me..already lost a few last time while in the nest with Mum,they half hatched but died fully formed.Absolutely devastated as I wasn`t prepared.

    Helen
    1. Hi Helen,

      That’s the internal pip, when they puncture the air cell and start peeping and tapping. The external pip is usually about 24 hours after the internal pip. After the external pip, you’re going to see very little progress, if any, for hours on end, while the duckling absorbs the yolk sac and all the blood vessels. The final hatch is about 24-48 hours after the pip.

      Hope that helps! Good luck with your little one!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

      1. Hi again,
        After finding the first little crack in the outer shell this morning,I went to my yoga class & when I came home,an hour later…there was my little duckling almost fully hatched out…!! Wow how exciting & unexpected !! I thought he/she would take all day.The best part is that I`m minding my 3 yr old granddaughter today & she`s basically our chicken/duck whisperer of the family (absolutely adores all my flock) so I imagine we`ll be spending the day peering through the incubator 🙂 Thanks again for your help,only wish I`d discovered your site earlier.

        Helen
        1. Hi Helen,

          That’s awesome! The duckling probably pipped early during the night and was then ready to hatch the next morning. I’ve noticed that ducklings seem more likely to hatch in the morning than at other times. Be sure to prepare a brooder for the duckling to move into once it’s dried out and fluffy. It will probably imprint on you. Enjoy being a duck mom!

          Sincerely,
          Hannah Miller

  38. Thanks again for your reply Hannah,
    I’m pleased to tell you that our newest addition is in the brooder & doing well..She has her big family of ducks waiting to meet her when the time is right as well as a large flock of rescued hens…one big happy family 😁

    Helen
  39. I have a female duck that 4-year-old her stomach is really big. I took her to the vet and the doctor said she has an egg in her so she wants to operate and take it out because there fluid in her. She is on pain medicine and ambitious. The doctor told me if she takes it out Snow White the duck will probably not survive and if I don’t take it out she will die. Do you nave any suggesting? Thanks

    Susie
    1. Hi Susie,

      I’m not a vet. I assume your vet probably knows more than I do. However, here are a few thoughts I had.

      So there’s both an egg AND fluid? A buildup of fluid in a duck’s abdomen is called “water belly.” Here’s a few links about it:
      https://www.fresheggsdaily.com/2017/06/water-belly-or-ascites-in-backyard.html
      https://commonsensehome.com/ascites-in-ducks/

      And an Instagram post about a duck with water belly:
      https://www.instagram.com/p/Bvtd4bOl1GI/
      https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv0YXPNFOjE/

      So it seems water belly can be temporarily treated, but not permanently cured. As for egg binding, that can usually be treated without invasive operations.
      https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/egg-binding-symptoms-treatment-and-prevention.66978/
      http://www.duckdvm.com/condition/egg-binding
      https://www.shagbarkbantams.com/egg-binding/

      If you don’t do anything about it, she’ll definitely die. If it’s water belly, it cannot be permanently cured, but it can sometimes be managed for some time. If it’s egg binding, you have a good chance.

      Either way, I wish you the best and I hope Snow White has a chance.

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  40. Hello! I have three Mallard Duck eggs that we started incubating after the nest in our yard was attacked by a critter and then abandoned by the mother, around two weeks. They have been incubating for two weeks, and I believe they were scheduled to hatch yesterday. I have a basic incubator, without a humidity setting. It does have water in it, but I have been spraying them with warm water since Sunday, because I was afraid they weren’t humid enough. When I spray them they wiggle, and we candled them on Sunday and they are all alive and moving. But there has been no progression. I haven’t noticed any noises. We have stopped touching and turning them since Sunday. What do I do? Should I stop spraying them or continue? I’m afraid when we picked them up on Sunday we may have messed up the positioning. Please help!
    Ramona

    Ramona
    1. Hi Ramona,

      Most likely, they’re just not quite ready yet, especially since you’re not sure exactly when they’re really due but you do think they’re alive. Do you know if they’ve internally pipped? Even if you can’t hear any peeping, you can often tell if they have internally pipped by candling–you will see the bill poking into the air cell.

      I don’t think positioning would be an issue. I’ve picked up plenty of eggs during and before hatching to listen for or candle for the internal pip.

      I’m also not sure about spraying, since I’ve never done that before. The eggs are supposed to be in “lockdown” for a few days preceding hatching, which means you don’t open the incubator at all, so perhaps it’s not the best idea.

      Again, I’m honestly not sure, but I would suggest leaving them alone. There’s not really much you can do anyway.

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  41. Hi how can you tell if the blood vessels are dried enough so its ok to break the membrane? am hatching duck eggs its day 28 today (wed) and one cracked the shell Monday night. very active and chirping and hole in shell has got bigger but not membrane. the small area of membrane is brown. have broken some little bits of shell and rest of membrane is white and dry. still chirping and active but coming up to 48hrs? wondering what else to do

    Briony
    1. Hi Briony,

      It sounds like you can probably assist by now. If there are any blood vessels, you would probably see them. Just try peeling a very small area of the membrane open. If that goes well and there is no bleeding, you can go a little farther. Tweezers may help. It’s probably safe to assist now and may even be necessary, but remember to go slow, whatever you do. There’s not really any rush.

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

      1. Thank you – we clipped back the shell and as we were doing it it managed to come out – it had pipped the narrow end of the egg and its beak and feet were together. Was nerve wracking doing it. no bleeding and is now asleep! It seemed to be making more of an effort as another egg had hatched and they were both cheeping to each other!

        briony price
        1. Hi Briony,

          Great! I had a gosling that pipped on the wrong end of the egg this January. He completed most of the hatch, but couldn’t get past zipping. We helped him out. It seems to be a fairly common reason for hatching difficulty.

          Enjoy your new babies!

          Hannah

  42. Not sure how far along my mallard duckling is but it’s hatching on the big end i see his bill an a leg? But it’s been 5 hours and there is no progress the mom abandoned this duck ( go figure ) (she’s a bad mom) so I have it in our ducky box with heat lamp. But I’m concerned it hasn’t made in progress… What’s happening? I need help haha it sure does talk alot thou.

    1. Hi Bradie,

      It’s been 5 hours since what? Since the pip? If so, it’s not supposed to be making progress. It’s supposed to be absorbing the yolk sac and drying up the blood vessels. That’s what they do for up to 24-48 hours after the external pip. “Talking” is normal too. I don’t think there’s anything wrong, at least not yet. Ducklings aren’t in any hurry to get out of the egg (unlike us poor impatient human beings! LOL).

      If it still hasn’t made any progress 48 hours after the pip (or, if you don’t know when the pip was, say tomorrow), you can try gently chipping the shell a bit. If there’s no blood, you can continue.

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  43. So I came into some muscovy duck eggs from work, an HOA had the eggs removed from the property and I wanted to prevent them from being thrown away and give them a chance to hatch. I didn’t have an incubator so I made my own and one seems to have pipped internally but the other 3 haven’t. Should I keep the duckling in the incubator with the eggs after it hatches or should I make a new incubator to move the duck once hatched? I worry that the temp will be to high for the hatchling or to low for the other eggs. I am nervous as this is the first time I have ever done this.

    Taylor
    1. Hi Taylor,

      You can keep the duckling in the incubator until it’s all fluffy. Then it needs to be moved to a brooder with bedding, water, food, and a heat lamp. The incubator temperature is a little high for ducklings (incubation temperature should be 99.5, and brooder temperature for the first week should be 90-92), but the duckling will be fine in the incubator for a few hours if it’s necessary.

      Make sure there are vents for oxygen in your incubator. They will need extra oxygen once they pip and start hatching.

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

      1. I had another concern. My incubator hasn’t been as humid as ive seen others online and the duck internally pipped a little over 24 hours ago and he’s still pecking but no external pip yet. I am not sure if the shell is to thick for him to get through and I am also worried that if he does pip on his own that it may end up drying out the membrane. I would much rather him do it on his own but I am concerned I may have to intervene. What are your thoughts?Is there a way to help the shell soften enough for him to do it on his own?

        Taylor
        1. Hi Taylor,

          At this point, you will almost certainly need to manually create a pip. The air cell is small, so the duckling will run out of air before long. In fact, I think this is quite urgent as the air supply won’t last much longer than 24 hours. Here’s some info on manually creating a hole so the duckling can breath:

          https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/step-by-step-guide-to-assisted-hatching.64660/

          I don’t know of any way to soften the shell. I think you need to just create a breathing hole as soon as possible. I really hope I’m not too late to help. I see you asked this was seven hours ago. I usually check my site around five times a day, but today I didn’t have access most of the day. Sorry!

          You can add water to increase the humidity. Humidity needs to be very high for hatching.

          Hope that helps!

          Sincerely,
          Hannah Miller

          1. I made a small hole this morning and he is chirping and I added to small containers with warm water and placed them in the incubator and will be keeping a close eye on him to see how he progresses through out the day.

            Taylor
          2. Hi Taylor,

            That sounds great! Keep me updated–I’d love to hear how it goes! Remember that there won’t be much activity for at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours after the pip, so don’t expect to see much more progress today.

            Hannah

  44. Thanks for this great article. I have 2 ducklings that hatched last night within a half hour of each other, but another one that pipped right as the first two were finishing their hatch. They’re all from the same clutch. Do you think I’ll need to help it? It’s not making much progress – the pip’s gotten a little bigger, but that’s it. It’s still making noise, which I know is a good sign. Humidity is good and high, but I worry the membrane is starting to dry out (it’s turning a little brown around the “pip site.” Is it normal for a duckling to hatch so much later than its siblings?

    Maggi
    1. Hi Maggi,

      Yes, it’s normal for the hatch to be spread out a little. I am not sure why it happens, but this situation is perfectly normal. Keep an eye on the membrane. I find that membranes can turn slightly brown without signaling anything wrong, but keep an eye on it. You can also wet it slightly with water or coconut oil, but be careful not to drip anything into the egg as it’s very easy to drown the duckling. Wetting it requires opening the incubator, which lowers the humidity, so I would recommend only doing this if it looks like it really needs it. I can’t see the egg, of course, but “a little brown” sounds fine for now and I think you can just leave it alone and see if it hatches normally.

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  45. We rescued a nest a few weeks ago and the 1st hatchling has broken a hole through the shell 17 hours ago. There has been no movement or sound for some at least 8 of those hours if not more I did pick it up to look at it but cannot tell anything other than it is not moving or making sound anymore. All you can see is the beak sticking out. Any suggestions?

    Trish
    1. Hi Trish,

      What does the membrane look like? Is it white, or brown/gray? Can you tell if its heart is still beating? You can try chipping the shell a little to see better, but only chip it where the air cell is, in the top. Don’t chip any lower than the air cell because you could easily start ripping the membrane and letting it dry out. Just chip a bit on top where it’s fairly safe, in order to get a closer look at the duckling and find out whether it is alive or not or whether it is shrink-wrapped or stuck.

      It’s possible nothing is wrong…but it also sounds like there could be a problem, or the duckling (sadly) could have died.

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

        1. Hi Trish,

          The membrane itself sounds fine, but I’m worried now. It doesn’t sound very promising. Did you try breaking the top of the shell open a bit more like I said before?

          If the duckling died, I’m really sorry and I hope you have better luck next time (or with the other ducklings…are there others?). Here’s some hatching troubleshooting in case it helps you figure out what happened and why so you can try to avoid it if you ever hatch again:

          http://extension.msstate.edu/content/pipped-eggs-do-not-hatch
          https://poultrykeeper.com/incubating-and-hatching-eggs/incubation-troubleshooting-guide/

          Sincerely,
          Hannah Miller

  46. The membrane is white, with yellowish brown tinge around where beak is sticking out. It does look just a little dry just beyond beak potentially at head. When I pick it up I still feel nothing. No movement or sound at all.

    Anonymous
  47. Hi, I have a gosling egg and it’s pipped externally and it has its beak out and is quacking and moving around but it’s been approximately 48 hours since I saw the pip. Should I help it??? I tried to help a bit and I think I pulled a bit of the membrane by accident and it started to be less a bit which has since stopped. What should I do? Should I just let it hatch? Or try and pull pieces off the shell slowly?

    Hussain
    1. Hi Hussain,

      Yes, it’s probably time to help. Since it’s been 48 hours since the external pip, there is a good chance that the gosling simply cannot hatch and never will without assistance. As long as there is no bleeding, do start carefully chipping the shell away. If you see blood, quickly dab a paper towel on to it to suck it up and then wait a few hours before trying again. The gosling SHOULD have absorbed the blood vessels by this point, but not necessarily. So go slow!

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

      1. Hi again,

        So it turns out that it was malpositioned so it didn’t pip through the air cell but straight out the side of the egg, anytime I try to peel away the shell or the membrane I see as little bit of blood so I immediately stop and just leave the egg alone. Is there any way I can peel the embrace back a bit to help it without hurting it?

        Hussain
        1. Hi Hussain,

          I don’t think there’s any way to help without hurting it, if there’s still blood. As long as the gosling can breath, he should be okay. As far as I know, you don’t really have any other options aside from waiting and hoping he’ll continue hatching by himself. You can keep checking to see if the blood vessels have receded, but until then, there’s nothing you can do. I hope you have plenty of patience! Hatching is always a bit of a patience test, but especially when it takes longer than normal. I really hope all goes well for you and the gosling; keep me updated!

          Sincerely,
          Hannah Miller

          1. Hi Hussain,

            It’s a bit hard to explain…if there are blood vessels, you will probably be able to see them inside the shell, running through the membrane surrounding the gosling. Once they recede, all you will see will be thin threads of a vessel that no longer has blood in it. Here are a few pictures:

            https://www.backyardchickens.com/attachments/veins-still-present-jpg.1146576/ (This chick still has blood vessels surrounding it, and is not ready to hatch.)
            https://www.backyardchickens.com/content/type/61/id/5462113/ (Another example of blood vessels still visible.)
            https://www.backyardchickens.com/attachments/ready-to-go-jpg.1146579/ (Here the vessels have receded, and the chick might be ready to hatch.)
            https://www.backyardchickens.com/content/type/61/id/5406518/ (This is what the egg and membrane should look like after the hatch. The vessels are still there, but the blood has receded and the vessels are empty.)
            https://youtu.be/SXqNcsXYHe0 (This is my video, of me assisting a gosling that pipped on the wrong end. It might help you see what a good, vessel-free membrane looks like. There are actually two membranes, the white outer membrane, and the clear inner membrane. They are kind of stuck together though, so they both come off together. But it’s the inner one that has the blood vessels.)

            I hope that helps. If you can’t see into the shell well enough, it’s usually fairly safe to chip the shell covering the air cell. It won’t help the gosling, but it helps you see better. There isn’t much membrane or blood vessels up there. So if you know where the air cell is, you can take the shell off that area (carefully) in order to get a better look.

            Do you know if the gosling is still alive? Is it moving or making noise?

            Sincerely,
            Hannah Miller

  48. Hi,

    SO great news, its hatched but I had to assist it since the shell had gotten extremely solid. But he’s out now and has just about dried off so I moved him to a brooder box. I put in Starter for geese, and a small flat bowl of water, how would I know if he’s going to eat or drink?

    He’s doing well, flopping around and chirping, and is raising his neck, I added in paper towels as the base of the box and I read that a stuffed animal would be good to add in on the side of the box, is that okay?

    Hussain
    1. Hi Hussain,

      Fantastic! Your brooder setup sounds fine. A stuffed animal is fine if you want, but be forewarned that the gosling is going to imprint on you and think you are his “mom.” He will want to follow you everywhere and will probably start fussing if you leave him alone.

      Goslings usually take a while to learn how to walk, up to two days. They also don’t eat much for the first day or two, because the last thing they do before hatching is sucking up the yolk. So when they hatch, they are already full from the yolk and will not need to eat for a day or two. You can show him the food and water by dipping his bill in it, but don’t expect him to be hungry on the first day.

      Hannah

  49. I have one Muscovie duck egg, and it has dots of yolk all around the egg shell. It has been like that for about 13 hours. Should I help it? Is it alive? How much longer until it hatches(if it does)?

    Abigail
    1. Hi Abigail,

      Do you mean you are seeing yolk leaking through the shell? Yolk should never leak through the shell. That often means it’s rotten and about to explode. I’m really sorry if so.

      Do you know if the egg was ever alive? Have you been candling? You can still candle now if you have any doubt as to whether the egg is alive (assuming it doesn’t explode on you the moment you pick it up). This is what it should look like prior to hatching if it’s alive: (large air cell, mostly dark but with blood vessels visible near the top):
      https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/230_day_18_2_copy.jpg (The picture is a chicken egg, but a duck egg wouldn’t look much different.)

      I hope that helps. I’m sorry if the egg is rotten or dead. I hope you’ll have better luck next time!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  50. Hi,

    So great news, I had to assist the hatch because the shell had gotten extremely hard but it hatched safely and is healthy, but how do I get it to drink water? I’ve been feeding him by hand and he eats and drinks like that but should I use a baby syringe like with parrots? Or at least use the syringe to give it water?

    Hussain Shah
    1. Hi Hussain,

      I’m not sure about using a syringe. It’s very easy to accidentally cause a bird to aspirate with a syringe, so it can be dangerous. If you know what you’re doing, there’s probably nothing wrong with it, but you also don’t really need to. Just gently dip his bill in the water a few times and he will figure it out eventually.

      Hannah

      1. Hi,

        So he has started running around but I feel like the lamp might be too much for him so I have him at room temperature since its relatively hot where I live right now. It’s around 75 degrees F inside, is that enough for him or should I add in the lamp again?

        Thanks

        Hussain
        1. Hi Hussain,

          The rule of thumb is 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the first two or three days and 85-90 degrees until they are one week old. After that, you can drop the temperature by 5 degrees each week until you reach room temperature or until they are fully feathered. So I think you will still need a lamp, at least for the first week. It would be good to have a thermometer so you can measure how hot it is, and move the lamp farther away if it is too hot. If the gosling tries to sit right under the lamp, he might be a little too cool. If he tries to move away from it as much as he can, it might be too hot.

          Hannah

  51. Hi
    I had to put a safety hole in the shell where my duckling had tried to external pip, and left a bruise, but had never internally pipped. I did this last night at 9 and I did see that his beak was there and not into his air cell. It is now 7:15 pm the next day. He has been in his shell all day and making noise, like he is doing things and I can see him moving a little.. This morning, I opened the air cell, to give him more space and because I read it somewhere……..The membrane around the hole is becoming very dry and brownish though. I put coconut oil on the membrane initially and a few times throughout the day. I am not sure what to do now.
    Any advice would be great. I do not want him dying in the shell.

    Katie
    1. Hi Katie,

      I think you’ve probably done all the right things, but I also think you’ve done all you can, for now. You just need to monitor the situation very carefully, because your intervention could easily have caused a humidity drop (because of the incubator being opened so many times), which can lead to “sticky chick” and will probably require your assistance.

      As long as the duckling can breathe, he is unlikely to just randomly die. I think there’s not much left to help with until he’s ready to hatch, so you will just have to wait and hope he does okay. If you get worried, like if he’s taking too long or has stopped moving, you can investigate very carefully by chipping a bit of shell over the air cell. There isn’t really any membrane or blood vessels in this area, so it’s fairly safe to open it up if you need a better look. I think “sticky chick” is a major concern since you’ve probably opened the incubator quite a few times, so if the hatching process gets stuck, this is a good possibility. “Sticky chick” is when the membrane turns into sticky glue and traps the duckling.

      I hope that helped, and I hope everything goes well for you and the little duckling!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

      1. Hannah,
        Thank you. How will I know when he is ready to hatch? or if he has sticky chick?
        He is chirping now and he was not doing that before? Does that mean anything?

        Katie
        1. Hi Katie,

          He will be ready to hatch once he has absorbed the yolk and blood vessels. If he hasn’t started zipping within 36 hours after the external pip, you might want to investigate and see if he’s stuck. In “sticky chick,” the membrane turns gooey and act like glue, trapping the duckling. If you can see inside the egg, you should be able to see the wet, gooey membrane. If the membrane turns sticky, or if more than 48 hours pass after the external pip, you’ll almost certainly have to help. But you’ll still have to wait until he’s ready to hatch before attempting to assist, by making sure the blood vessels are gone.

          The chirping is totally normal. Broody moms will actually talk back to their babies when their babies peep. It’s really cute to hear them bonding through their talking.

          Good luck! I hope he hatches successfully!

          Sincerely,
          Hannah Miller

          1. Hi
            Since he never had an internal pip into the air sac and went straight to the shell, do I need to wait longer to assist so the blood vessels have longer to absorb? Since he is not twisting to zip, will the blood vessels not dry out as quickly?
            Sorry, to keep bothering you. I just don’t want him to die and I feel like I have already screwed up enough.

            Katie
          2. Hi Katie,

            Sorry, I don’t really know. I’ve actually never dealt with this situation before. I would just suggest waiting until the 48-hour mark before attempting to assist, and then only if there are no blood vessels. I don’t know if the problems earlier change the timing, but it’s possible they could.

            He will only try to zip after the blood vessels and yolk sac have been absorbed. Zipping is the very last step in hatching. But if something else is wrong, like sticky chick, he won’t be able to zip, so you won’t necessarily know if he’s ready to hatch.

            If I calculated correctly from the times you gave in your original post, it has been 41 hours since you made the safety hole, right? As long as he can breathe and is clearly alive, wait until 48 hours have passed since the hatch started before doing a little investigation, and maybe helping him through the rest of the hatch if there are no blood vessels.

            Which end of the egg did he pip on, the big end or the little end? Facing the wrong end can present various difficulties, including funky air sac placement. You haven’t said he pipped on the small end, but this kind of thing often happens when a duckling is the wrong way.

            Hatching, especially when things go wrong and/or you have to assist, is always a touchy business. It’s impossible to know with 100% certainty what is the best option for every situation. (So don’t necessarily take my advice as the gospel truth. There are no hard rules, only generic guidelines.) Even if you do everything right, not every baby survives. But that makes it all the more special when a baby does hatch successfully!

            Hannah

  52. Thank you. I really appreciate all of your help.
    He tried to pip close to the air sac but was a below it a ways and tried to go directly through shell. He should be facing the right way, but I put a hole in the air cell and I just wish I hadn’t pulled away so much shell around his pip site…..not sure what I was thinking….. so not sure how well his zip will go if he even tries……why do I mess with things that don’t need messing with…
    I will just wait until tonight at 9 and see what happens then..
    Thank you.

    Katie
  53. Hi
    I am back here now. It has been 48 hours since the external/internal pip…
    I am not sure about the blood vessels..there are some really faint blood vessels, but I don’t know how much is normal. Should there be none at all before I help?
    He is also still making chewing motions with his mouth.
    I was thinking I would just come back around 5:00 or 6: 00…and maybe help him them.
    He has plenty of air and I moistened with coconut oil and the humidity is about 65%. Will leaving him 7 more hours be bad?

    Katie
    1. Hi Katie,

      Technically, the blood vessels will still be there even after the hatch. It’s just that the blood in them recedes, so the vessels are thin and hairlike. Here’s a picture: https://www.backyardchickens.com/content/type/61/id/5406518/

      I’m not sure what the chewing motions mean, but it’s normal.

      Your humidity might be too low. What humidity to use for hatching and incubation is a bit controversial, but in general, it should be very high for hatching, even if not so much for incubation. It’s probably too late to make a big difference now, but I would recommend raising it to 75% if you can.

      I think it would be okay to wait seven more hours before assisting. But I also think you could help now. I don’t know. Personally, I think I’d try to help now, and if I ran into any problems, I’d wait longer. But I think I’d also be a little more confident in knowing whether it was safe or not, since I’ve had a bit more experience. I don’t think waiting would cause any harm, though, and could be better if he’s still not ready to hatch. It’s your decision.

      Hannah

        1. Hi Davonna,

          I’m sorry, I’m not sure. I have no experience with doves. I think it would be similar, but the hatching schedule might go a little different. Chicken eggs usually hatch a little faster than duck eggs, so it’s possible that a dove egg would also hatch faster (or perhaps slower). However, the anatomy of the egg should be the same, and you definitely shouldn’t assist with anything if there are active blood vessels inside the egg.

          Sincerely,
          Hannah Miller

    1. Hi Julie,

      It’s probably normal. Not all babies like to make noise. If they’re in an incubator, they’re even less likely to make noise, because a lot of the chirping a hatching baby will make is actually part of bonding and talking with their mom. (If you want, you can try talking to it and see if that prompts a response. I hatched a gosling earlier this year, and since my computer was right next to the incubator, we chatted back and forth for hours. He responded every time I talked. It was adorable.) However, as long as it’s either moving OR peeping, it’s alive and well. And of course there will also be break periods where you will see neither, so don’t get worried if the movement isn’t constant.

      Hope that helps!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

      1. so we discovered the membrane was dried and we had to assist with hatching. One duck is our but the yolk sac is still attached. Also the other duck is half hatched. his beak is out but the membrane seems to be dry. I have someone coming to help me at the end of the day. Will the duck half in the egg survive that long?
        so worried

        julie
        1. Hi Julie,

          Yes, the duck should survive as long as it can breathe. It has been in the egg for a month, so there’s nothing wrong with it staying there for a few more hours. Try not to worry too much. I think it will be fine.

          Hoping the best for you and the ducklings!

          Hannah

  54. Hi, so I believe I found a mallard duck egg which I rescued and put under a heat lamp. The egg was attacked by some crows and has a hole in it but the duckling is still alive and moving it has been now for about 18 hours. The membrane is still in charge they didn’t get the chick he is chirping a lot and has a pip but where the hole is from the crows is dry. I am worried that he is shrink wrapped inside the egg but he is very active. How do I know to help or not? Thank you so much

    1. Hi Emily,

      That sounds like a very lucky duckling! 😀 As long as he is active and can breathe easily, there is no urgency to help. I would suggest waiting at least 24 more hours before assisting. You can moisten the dried membrane with a damp cloth. If you think something is wrong or would like to see better, it’s safe to remove the shell over the air cell. You can candle to find out where the air cell is, and then you can chip the shell covering the air cell off in order to see better and check that the membrane is okay. There are no blood vessels in this area, so it’s fairly safe. Then, if it looks shrink wrapped or sticky, you can assist as long as there are no blood vessels in the membrane.

      “Sticky chick” will have a wet, gooey membrane. This is what shrink wrapping looks like: https://www.backyardchickens.com/proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Ffarm5.static.flickr.com%2F4114%2F4761286005_05740d62c1.jpg&hash=73d1108491aa2c80b9e1cc163ce618f9

      Hoping the best for you and the duckling!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  55. I have two eggs in my incubator. One just started it’s external pip but it’s just hairline. It is talking and actually moving the egg around. This egg when candled seemed to be the weaker of the two as it grew slower but now it’s hatching first. The other chick isn’t really moving at all, it hasn’t made an external pip and it doesn’t make any noise at all. You can still see it’s blood vessels pumping inside when you candle it but not other movements . I’m worried that something is wrong but I don’t want to open the incubator again single the other egg has started to try and make a good hole. Is it just taking longer to hatch than the other? I’ve never hatched ducks before so I figured they’d start at the same time. I’m just worried that something may be wrong since the only movement from the one egg is blood vessels. During its growing period it used to move around a lot. I’m not quiet sure how to tell if it’s made it’s internal pip and like I said I don’t want to have to open the incubator again to candle. Should I?

    Brittany
    1. Hi Brittany,

      The first egg sounds like it’s doing great. I think the second egg is probably fine too. Eggs can certainly hatch on different dates, even when they were both put into the incubator at the same time. Even though 28 days is the norm, 27-30 days is fairly normal as well. As for movement, I’m not sure, but I don’t think it necessarily signals a problem.

      You can tell if it has internally pipped by candling–you should be able to see the dark shape of the bill poking into the air cell. However, you’re right that it’s better not to open the incubator during lockdown. I would suggest just watching and waiting for now. If it doesn’t pip externally within the next day or two, you can candle again to see if it has at least internally pipped.

      Hoping the best for you and the ducklings!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  56. Hi Hanna,
    Thank you very much for your advice.
    It is now late evening and the progress was still slow, so we tried to help him a bit. However, we saw a teeny tiny bit of blood – the size of a beauty spot, or even smaller. We stopped immediately, but we are afraid we did something wrong. Do you have any advice? The beak is fully out of the shell and it’s still breathing normally.
    Again thank you for your help
    Sincerely, Malou

    Malou
    1. Hi Malou,

      Okay, I would suggest waiting till tomorrow then. It’s possible that a tiny bit of blood is no big deal, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, and there is no rush to get the duckling out of the shell, so it should be fine to wait overnight.

      Hoping the best for you and the duckling!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

    1. Hi Bleau,

      I think it’s probably okay. A slightly yellow membrane is fairly normal. Make sure the humidity is high in your incubator. If the membrane turns brown, sort of like lightly singed paper, then it might be too dry. If so, you can dab a bit of coconut oil or warm water onto the membrane to moisten it. Moving is a good sign.

      Hoping the best for you and the duckling!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  57. We have created a incubator and for testing we have tried hatching 2 Ducklings.
    we have got a good result both of them were success and one we haven’t assisted her at all.
    He pooped the shell and came out but the second one was she pooped a small hall and shouting like she was in a thread so we helped her removing a small part of the egg shell so she can come out her self.
    this is the video that shows the procedure.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w9LxXV_Iuo

    and not that do not try this without a senior assist.

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