When Should You Assist With Hatching?

When Should You Assist With Hatching?

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?


Do NOT help it!

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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.

pipped duck egg hatching
This egg has pipped, but it is not ready to hatch. It needs to 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.

duckling zipping hatching
This duckling has nearly finished zipping and will probably be out of the shell within minutes.

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!

How to safely open the incubator

One of the biggest worries people have about assisting ducklings is that assistance will require taking the egg out of the incubator. This requires opening the incubator, which is not recommended after lockdown, as it can cause the humidity to plummet, and humidity drops can cause shrink-wrapping.

In my opinion and experience, it’s often not as risky as people make it out to be. Nevertheless, the incubator should not be opened without good reason and not without exercising caution.

Here are some tips:

  1. If there are no eggs that have externally pipped, or if the egg you want to assist is the only one with an external pip, opening the incubator is not a risk.
  2. Mist the incubator and eggs every time you open the incubator.
  3. Be sure the humidity is as high as possible. You probably cannot have too-high humidity for hatching.
  4. If the humidity is extremely low in the room containing the incubator, you may consider steaming up your shower and opening the incubator in the bathroom.
  5. You can also try heating up water until it is steaming (but not too hot to touch) and then pouring this water into the incubator water troughs when you open the incubator.

How to take the “cap” off

The area of shell over the air cell does not contain blood vessels and is thus usually safe to remove. If you suspect something is wrong, the first step of assisting should always be taking this “cap” off to get a closer look without endangering the duckling.

(Note: This mainly applies to ducklings in an incubator. If the duckling is under a broody mom, taking the cap off could be riskier.)

Always candle first to find the edges of the air cell. Even if you think you know where it is, even if you’ve previously marked where it is, candle again before chipping away any shell. After a duckling internally pips, it often moves partially into the air cell, so areas that may have previously been occupied by air may now be occupied by the duckling and the blood vessel-filled membrane around it.

After you have candled to find a safe, clear area, you can start chipping away the shell over it. Most of the time, you can start from the external pip or safety hole, but sometimes the duckling will have blocked these areas and you will have to make a new opening in the shell (with the same technique used to make a safety hole).

Never chip away any shell that is beneath the air cell line or touching the duckling or the inner membrane.

Once this is completed, you should be able to monitor the duckling better and perhaps spot any problems, such as excess liquid or shrink wrapping.

Taking the cap off exposes the membrane to much more air, so moistening this membrane periodically is a good idea.

How to know if it’s safe to help a duckling hatch

  • Take the “cap” off, if you haven’t already.
  • Look for blood vessels in the membrane. Moistening the membrane with a wet Q-tip or similar object will make the membrane transparent, making it easier to see the blood vessels. If you see any blood vessels, leave the duckling alone.
  • If you don’t see any blood vessels (or only very tiny, thread-like, brownish ones that have dried up), watch to see if the duckling yawns, makes chewing motions, or opens its mouth a lot. This typically means that it is still absorbing the yolk sac, which often takes longer than absorbing the blood vessels. Do not assist if the duckling is yawning, chewing, or opening its mouth.
  • If you don’t see any of those signs, it is likely to safe to assist. If you think assisting is necessary, start by carefully and slowly chipping away bits of shell. Stop immediately if you see any sign of blood.

Watch this video of my sister 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.

If you're not sure whether you need to assist or not, try this quiz.

Disclaimer: It isn't perfect, of course. It may not know the correct answer to every single situation. However, we did put quite a bit of thought into it and I think it may be helpful for some of you. If you have any suggestions or advice, please let us know! This is a new addition to this webpage and feedback would be greatly appreciated. We can modify the script to account for any situations we may not have considered or make other changes.

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      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!

          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

            1. 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!

              Hannah Miller

            1. 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!

              Hannah Miller

          2. 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.

            1. 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!

              Hannah Miller

            2. Hi
              I had to assist in a hatch because the baby duckling had pipped at the bottom end. It was over 48 hrs and still not done anymore pipping. When I started to open the shell there was a little blood so I wiped him and carried on slowly. When he got out of the shell he was still what looks like his umbilical cord attached to the shell? I have wrapped a wet cloth around the shell and placed him back in the incubator with my other 4 eggs. Also I have another 3 that have pipped the outside but nothing else and 1 will have done 48 hrs and the end of today. Should add they are indian runner ducks.
              Many thanks

              Katrina smith
              1. Hi Katrina,

                It sounds like the duckling you assisted wasn’t quite ready to hatch. I’m guessing he still had some unabsorbed yolk. Even when the blood vessels are gone or mostly gone, they often take a little longer to finish with the yolk and umbilical cord. Just leave him alone from now on and let him finish himself.

                Since the first one wasn’t ready to hatch at 48 hours, I might actually wait a little longer yet before assisting the others. But I’m not sure. Either way, if and when you assist, if you see blood, just stop and don’t continue. It’s better to just wait, even if it’s not a significant amount of blood.


          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.

            Hannah Miller

              1. If you’re talking about the situation above with an unabsorbed yolk sac, the suggested temperature would probably be 98 degrees. That’s the ideal temperature for hatching, I believe. It’s common to keep the temperature at 99.5 degrees throughout the entire incubation, so that would probably be all right as well. But the duckling has technically already hatched, so as low as 95 degrees (the recommended brooder temperature for day-olds) would likely also be fine.

                As for humidity, I’m not sure. I don’t think humidity needs to stay high after the duckling has completed its hatch. In fact, high humidity will slow down the drying-out process. I don’t know what effect it would have on an unabsorbed yolk sac. 60-70% humidity would probably be fine.


            1. Hi Kelly,

              Hatching without fully absorbing the yolk sac is a fairly common problem and usually resolves itself eventually, so try not to worry too much. 🙂 There can be complications (yolk sac rupture, infection, etc.), but most of the time, the duckling will finish absorbing the yolk sac itself and continue on to be normal, healthy, and active.


        2. Hello, I’m 13 and I’m very experienced with duck eggs but I need some advice and you know what your doing. There are Muscovy/Pekin mix. 4 ducklings have hatched (out of 8) and one in particular had a very dry shell and we used a wet paper towel to moisten it and it has gotten better but today we chipped the shell cause it couldn’t and we chipped a lot. The duckling is trying but she is running out of time. While we did the chipping of the shell I dropper gave the ducking water cause she began sticking her tongue. Is it safe to peel membrane is has been 3 days. Please someone help me I want to save her but I don’t know what to do.

          1. Hi Riley,

            Can you see any blood vessels in the membrane? Putting a tiny bit of water on the membrane makes it semi-transparent, which makes it easier to see the blood vessels. If you don’t see any vessels, you can try peeling the membrane just a little bit. If that goes well, you can continue. If you’re not sure, feel free to send me pictures in case I can help. If there are still vessels, then you will just have to wait no matter what. If it has been three days since the pip, the blood vessels should be gone, but it’s not a guarantee, so you still have to be cautious.

            I wouldn’t suggest giving the duckling more water with the dropper, though. You could cause her to aspirate, which would kill her.

            Hoping the best for you and the ducklings!

            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!

          Hannah Miller

          1. No. Do NOT assist. Everything is clearly going as it is supposed to at this stage. Why on earth would you assist at this early stage, risking killing your ducklings. Do NOT assist.

          2. Hi Hannah.

            My duckling has externally piped (small crack on par he part of egg) didn’t realise this until I opened the incubator lid) as needed to put more water in for the humidity as that has dropped down to 40 and now I am so worried that the humidity is to low! I have put warm water in and hoping the humidity raises.
            Have you any advice please really don’t want my ducklings to die!!
            Thank you

            1. Hi Jasmine,

              40 is definitely too low but hopefully it hasn’t affected the duckling. Just keep the humidity as high as you can. There does not seem to be any such thing as too-high humidity for hatching, so you might go ahead and put even more water or some wet towels/rags in the incubator if it hasn’t risen much.

              I hope they’ll hatch successfully. 🙂


            2. I have 5 jumbo pekin eggs in imcibator one hatched yesterday morning…one has pipped externally and has made little progress but its at the small end of egg dont know if i need to assist its been 30 hours since first external pipp…my other eggs has pipped on the outside at all

              Amber staton
          1. Maybe…if you don’t see any movement or signs of life for a few hours, it’s probably dead. Even when they’re not actively working on hatching, they’ll at least yawn or peep occasionally.

            Hope it’s okay after all. 🙂

      3. This article was INVALUABLE to me! We’ve just had our first ever ducklings hatch ( I’m used to chickens! ) and when the shells pipped but nothing happened for hours, I was so worried they died! Then I googled and read your article! Well the first duck didn’t read the instructions lol it went from pip to hatch in like 7 hours! But the other duckling was much slower and hatched almost 24hrs after the first! The slower hatch one was better coming out, speedy came out with a bit of yolk to still absorb! We have one egg left. It hasn’t done anything. I’m planning to water candle tonight. Again, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom! I’ve already shared this article with others.

        1. Hi Linda,

          I’m so glad the article helped you! That first duckling’s hatch was definitely quite fast, although that’s not unheard of either. I hope the third one hatches as well. Thank you for sharing the article!


        2. Hi Hannah

          Thank you for replying

          It wouldn’t let me reply on the message you sent me?!

          However one of my ducklings has hatched.
          The humidity is back up to 80
          I did this by putting in wet paper towels

          However my duckling is shaking, is this okay? Is she okay to stay in the incubator?

          This is the first time I have hatched ducklings so any advice is appreciated

          Thank you

          1. Hi Jasmine,

            Good to hear that one hatched! Shaking can sometimes be caused by coldness. What temp is your incubator? It should be around 99 F for hatching. If you can, check on more than one thermometer. The thermometers that come with incubators often aren’t accurate.

            More commonly, though, shaking can be caused by something else. I’m not sure what, maybe low blood sugar? But whatever it is, the best thing to do would be to get the duckling some electrolytes or Nutri-Drench. Normally they can stay in the incubator for up to 48 hours without food or water, but if it’s shaking, it would be good to try to get it to drink some nutrients before long (within 24 hours if possible). I’ve used trace mineral drops for a shaking newborn gosling with success.

            I think the reason you couldn’t reply is because I have a setting to only allow threaded/nested comments five levels deep, and you originally replied to my reply of someone else’s reply of my reply to someone else. I didn’t realize it only allowed five levels. I’ve raised the limit.


      4. I followed your advice to the letter but I now feel I could have saved two of my ducklings if I had intervened earlier they were alive and had pipped nicely and I waited as you suggested but they never got out of their shells…after opening the shells they were perfectly formed ducklings and this has led me to believe had I helped them when they were moving they would be alive now…we live and learn…next time I will help any that seem to be struggling after pipping…..

        Adrian Staff
        1. Hi Adrian,

          Sorry about that. These are only guidelines and may not apply to every hatch–but I feel like more ducklings die because people assist too early than because people assist too late, so that’s why all assisting hatching guides stress to wait, wait, and wait more.

          But you might be right. It’s true that there are a few scenarios where assistance is time-sensitive, where waiting a long time could kill the duckling:

          1. The duckling’s nostrils get obscured or blocked, often by the membrane, and thus it struggles to breath. If you can see the duckling’s nostrils, this is not applicable.

          2. The duckling is too big and can’t expand its chest to breathe. I’m not sure how common this is, but I believe too high humidity can play a role.

          3. In shrink-wrapping, sometimes the membrane tightens enough around the duckling that it can’t breath. Shrink-wrapping is actually pretty rare, and you would have been able to identify it when you opened up the eggs afterwards.

          There may be more, but those are the only circumstances I know of where assisting sooner is better than assisting later. If it seems like something could be wrong, I do think it’s a good idea to chip the shell above the air cell off, since this is safe to do even if there are still blood vessels in the membrane. This will give you a better idea if there are problems with the membrane or not.

          Ducklings dying after pipping without hatching is very common, and can be caused by bacterial infections, deformities, malpositions, weakness, getting chilled, not enough oxygen in the incubator, improper temperature, or improper humidity. Most of the time, if a duckling dies after pipping, it was going to die anyway. Often, whether you assist or not won’t have any effect on whether it lives (as far as I know).

          So maybe they would be alive if you had assisted earlier, but maybe not. It’s impossible to know. I hope you have better success next time!


          1. Hi Emily, I have a single duck egg out of six that made it to hatching. It pipped 27 or more hours ago on the narrow end. I removed a piece of the membrane around 12 hours after the pip because I was worried about oxygen. I could hear it making noises all day but making no progress. At 24 hrs it was making almost no noise but I could see him breathing. I started getting worried and began chipping around the shell. The membrane seems extra leathery. I stopped immediately when I hit a tiny blood vessel. I’m worried he’s going downhill in the shell but might not quite be ready to come out. He doesn’t seem to be trying to do much of anything now. Please help!

            Jordyn Welshons
            1. Hi Jordyn,

              If there are still blood vessels, you’ll unfortunately have to keep waiting regardless of whether the duckling is in trouble. It’s normal for there to be quieter and noisier stages–some hours where the duckling is active and noisy and other hours where he’s pretty much silent, but of course you’re right it’s possible the duckling is going downhill. If so, though, it’s unlikely that assisting it will help, especially due to the risk of blood vessels breaking.

              I’d suggest giving the duckling at least a few more hours. I think I’d probably wait until at least the 36-hour mark before attempting to assist again, but if the duckling doesn’t seem to be weakening, I might wait even longer, since it’s perfectly normal for an egg to take longer than 36 hours. If things seem to continue to go downhill, I might intervene a little earlier, at least to check if the blood vessels are still there. If you moisten the membrane with a damp Q-tip or something, you’ll be able to see the blood vessels much more easily.

              Since the duckling is on the wrong end of the egg, it does increase the chance he’ll need help, but it doesn’t make it a guarantee. Unless you’re sure the duckling is weakening, I think it’s always preferable to give the duckling a chance to do things by himself.


          2. My duckling pipped. 24 hours later I opened up the shell a bit to help him out. The membrane is drying out, but the blood vessels are still there. What can I do? I’m afraid that the blood vessels won’t get absorbed because the membrane is drying out. Please help!

            1. Hi Alina,

              As far as I know, drying out won’t hinder the absorption of the blood vessels. But if it’s extreme enough, it can hinder the duckling when it tries to hatch.

              1. Don’t open the shell up any more; that will only make the membrane dry out more.

              2. Make sure the humidity is as high as possible. At this stage, there is no such thing as too high humidity.

              3. You can wet a Q-tip and use it to moisten the membrane every hour or so. Small rags or paper towels also work, but it’s easier to be precise with a Q-tip.

              Good luck!


      5. Hi
        I have 3 healthy ducklings hatched. The last one seems to be struggling. I candled lastnight and its moving and seemed to be trying to break through the inner egg. I have got up this morning and a piece of the egg shell has come off but the inner egg is still in tact? Do i assist?

        Nicola Burns
        1. Hi Nicola,

          Do you mean a piece of shell has come off but there doesn’t seem to be a hole in the membrane directly below? If so, I think the membrane has probably been pierced, even if you can’t see the hole. If you hear the duckling peeping or see it moving, it’s fine. If you’re not sure, then you can check if there’s a hole in the membrane and make a tiny one if you don’t see one–only in the white outer membrane touching the shell. Don’t poke down at all.

          If you mean that the duckling pipped through the shell to the side of the air cell and didn’t internally pip at all, that can sometimes kill the duckling instantly if they pierce a blood vessel. Again, if you know it’s alive, everything should be okay.

          I hope that helps and I hope all goes well!


          1. Hi hannah

            Thanks for your reply. Little duckling hatched yesterday but i ended up helping him. His movement stopped and heartbeat began to dull. His beak had got through the hole but the membrane had stuck to him like glue. After cleaning him down and leaving him to rest he started to make noise which was music to my ears BUT i noticed he wasnt moving like the others and more rolling around. After more reading and research its safe to say he has wry neck 😞. Any advice would be great please

            Nicola Burns
            1. Hi Nicola,

              I’m glad you were able to help him! Sorry about the wry neck issue.

              I’m not an expert on health issues in general, so I would recommend for you to do your own research on wry neck. Here’s one article that might help you (although you might have already read it):


              Vitamin E deficiency seems to be one of the major causes of wry neck. Giving the duckling natural sources of vitamin E may help.

              I hope the duckling recovers!


      6. I suppose the thing that concerns me is…..we are not supposed to open incubator during lock down but there isn’t a way to see into the egg without opening incubator and handling and candling the egg. So….in most cases, no way to know when or if a rescue is required. So stressful…. A couple of mine are gently moving. 1 rolled across incubator. It is morning of day 27. Brand new incubator, inexperienced but well researched breeder (me!) What could go wrong? Dozens of things. Stressing……still stressing…….did I mention stressing?

        1. Hi Sandra,

          Oh yes, hatching for the first time is always nerve-wracking. Even now that I’ve done it a fair few times, it’s still exciting and stressful.

          You’re right that you have to open the incubator to check on an egg. Whether it’s worth opening it or not can be a hard call.

          Most of the time, it’s better to just keep waiting and resist the urge to check on things.

          But if you have reason to believe something might be going wrong, it’s really not as dangerous to open the incubator as many seem to say. Misting the eggs with some warm water when you open it will help reduce the chance of the humidity dropping. I’ve opened my incubator many, many times during lockdown. Now, we do have very high humidity where we live, and that does make a big difference. Still, regardless of your climate, it’s probably not a death sentence.

          Anyway, I hope your hatch is going well!

          Oh, and you can’t hope for a 100% hatch rate. You’ll almost always lose some eggs no matter how experienced you are. Yeah, because of those dozens of things that could go wrong. Anything over 50% isn’t too bad for a first-timer.


          1. Thanks for that.  3 have hatched. 1 is in broader as it hatched 20 hours ago. The other two hatched 1 hour apart.  The 4th needs help. I am monitoring him. My hydrometer died after first one hatched for no apparent reason. 

            Due to my inexperience…I expect we may lose the little guy who is lagging behind. 

      7. Hi
        I have just helped a duckling hatch, because he appeared to be surrounded by liquid yolk. It seems like he managed to rip his own yolk before absorbing it all. The yolk filled his nostrils, so he was gasping, but I managed to clean them with a cotton bud, which stopped the gasping. I also washed him in body temperature water because his feathers were thick with hardening yolk. I now have him in a separate incubator, so hopefully he will survive.
        Have you ever seen this happen?

        1. Hi Harley,

          I think you were seeing a too-wet membrane, not the yolk. The yolk is too small and far away from the duckling’s bill. But when the humidity is too high, there can be a lot of extra fluid in the egg and the membrane can be very wet and sticky. Sometimes chicks drown when they internally pip and this fluid gets into their nostrils. It’s great that you were able to clean this duckling’s nostrils or this one may have drowned as well.

          I’ve seen too-wet membranes, but not to this extent. It’s not terribly uncommon, though. It sounds like you’ve done all the right things and the duckling will probably be all right, if it has already finished hatching. 🙂 I hope it will.


          1. Hi Hannah,
            Thanks for your reply. When I released him, at least a teaspoon of orange liquid poured out, and the water I washed him in became cloudy orange. His belly button was large and protruding, with a small deflated bloody sack attached. He kept bringing up more orange liquid from the nose and mouth for 12 hours until he sadly died. I really do think it was a broken egg sack, and he hatched too early because of it. Atleast this chat will be indexed for anyoneelse searching in the future.

            1. Hi Harley,

              Oh–so this was more serious than I thought. I’m sorry for your loss.

              Ducklings rarely survive when their yolk sac ruptures. It’s definitely unfortunate, and as far as I know, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. It’s just an unlucky coincidence. It usually only happens after hatching, but I believe it can happen during hatching too, although I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of any confirmed cases.

              You say “his belly button was large and protruding with a small deflated bloody sack attached,” so to me it does sound like the yolk sac might have been mostly absorbed and didn’t rupture. And a teaspoon of liquid isn’t unheard of when it comes to humidity-related membrane issues. “Sticky chick” is easily mistaken for ruptured yolk.

              But I could certainly be wrong. I don’t know. It’s possible there was also the added complication of omphalitis, which is a yolk sac infection. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/mushy-chick-disease-yolk-sack-infection-omphalitis.64686/)


      8. The air sac is small ( nickle size) on all of our duck eggs. They are at 23 days. Im worried about them drowning. How do we know if we need to make an air hole and how do we do it safely?

        1. Hi Troy,

          Sorry for the late reply. I hope the hatch is going/has gone well.

          An air hole won’t save them from drowning. An air hole will only keep them from suffocating if they take too long to pip. If there’s too much liquid in the egg, they’ll probably drown whether there’s an air hole or not.

          It’s difficult to save ducklings from drowning. But if you manage to open up the top of the egg early enough (only over the air cell, where it’s safe), you might be able to remove the extra liquid before they inhale it.

          As for safely making an air hole, you first need to candle to find an empty area of the air cell, preferably near the ducklings bill but not directly over it. Then you use a sharp object (a needle, drill bit, etc.) to create a tiny hole. I use a compass (drawing tool) to score an X until there’s a tiny pinprick hole.

          I usually make an air hole if it’s been 24 hours since the internal pip. But if you’re worried about the air cells being too small, it’s okay to make it earlier.


    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!

        Hannah Miller

          1. Soo. Im a little nervous. I got two duck eggs. A friend brought them too me. Apparently the mom “abandoned” the nest(i dont know. If thats true and i dam not okay with disturbing eggs or atealing eggs from the mother) but im determined to hatch these two lil guys and im pwtty sure were almost ready for them to hatch. Im not aure exacly how old they are i dont know what kinda ducks all i know is what ive read on the internet(and ive read alot) and i know they are both alive because i candeled them earlier today. I had me boyfriend build an incubator(he is an a.c man so it was fairly easy) and i built a “hatching box” i have a camera set up on them too so its easy for me to keep an eye on them whereever i go plus i want to catch the entire hatch on film. Plus it keeps my para oid self from opening the lid to check temperature and humidity and feom disturbing them in general. Basically my questions are what should I see inside the egg to be able to determine whether or not I should lock them down? On the inside of one it looks like the beak is in the air sac but inside the other one it doesn’t look like it’s gotten that far and I’ve marked the air sac on the outside of the shell. One sac is bigger then the other. I jjstneed to know what do i do… How will i know whem things should happen if i dont know when the eggs were laid or what day of incubation they are on… Please help. Im nervous and have nevwr hatched anything but i do know my fair share about animals in general and ik they are tough lil survivors and most times are able to handle w.e life has in store for them…

            1. Hi Elizabeth,

              I’m so sorry I totally missed replying to you! I remember thinking a week ago that there was some hatching question I needed to answer ASAP, but I couldn’t find it, so I assumed I had gotten confused. Fortunately, I found it again this morning. Maybe this isn’t useful for you anymore, but I’ll answer anyway just in case it helps someone else reading this comment or even still helps you.

              First, when you candled them, did you actually see movement? If not, then there’s a chance the eggs actually aren’t alive. If the mother abandoned them, how long were they left in the open before your friend found them and brought them to you? And how long was it before the eggs were in a stable, warm environment? If eggs are left in the cold for more than a few hours, they often die. If this is what happened, you would still see the duckling and blood vessels in the egg for a while, since they would have just recently died. I’m not sure how long it takes before everything starts to rot.

              But I’m hoping they’re still alive anyway! If it looks like they’ve developed a lot and are close to hatching, then you can go ahead and put them on lockdown and raise the humidity. Lockdown is typically on day 25 for regular duck eggs and day 32 for Muscovy eggs. If it looks like the beak is in the air sac, it sounds like that egg has internally pipped. Can you hear tapping if you hold the egg up to your ear? You can also try comparing the size of the air sacs to charts online to see if it looks like it has reached the size it’s supposed to reach around hatching time. If it has internally pipped, then it ideally should have gone on lockdown a couple days ago, but better late than never.

              It’s hard to know what to do when you don’t know the dates or anything. I’d suggest putting them on lockdown, raising the humidity, and then leaving them alone and seeing what happens. There’s really not much else you can do.

              Again, I know I’m a week late, so I hope they’ve successfully hatched by now. If not, I’m sorry.


          2. Hello…. i have a female duck that has been hatching her eggs. …. she had 20 in the nest 11 are up and running around 2 are resting and the others aren’t doing any…. when i pick ul the egg it definitely feels like the weight of a forming duck but mom has been leaving the nest for hours to go foraging with the other babies will the other eggs still hatch?

            Alyssa Galvan
            1. Hi Alyssa,

              Often, if a duck leaves eggs behind, it’s because she knows they won’t make it. But there’s definitely still a chance. Maybe they’re just late.

              So they haven’t cracked the shell or started hatching at all? There are several ways to test if a duckling is still alive. You can start with holding it up to your ear to see if you hear tapping or peeping. If you do, it means they’re not only alive, but have already started the hatching process by internally pipping. Second, you can candle by holding a flashlight up behind the egg. If the egg is alive, it should be mostly dark except for a white air cell at the top, and you should be able to see blood vessels just below the air cell. And if you see movement, it’s definitely alive.

              Finally, if you still can’t tell, you can try float testing:


              If you think the eggs still have a chance, be sure to put them in a warm place. The temperature should be around 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also try to make the humidity as high as you can with damp cloths or sponges, or trays of water. They aren’t going to hatch on their own in the empty nest.

              Good luck!


        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?

          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!

            1. 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.


          2. 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.

      2. Hi hannah!

        We saved 6 eggs from a nest that was attacked and the mother stopped laying on them. Unfortunately, only 1 egg left. I took a photo of her in nest 35 days ago and have been keeping a close eye on our lucky one. We can still see it moving but not as significantly or often. I’m worried he/she is too big at this point or shrink wrapped because I don’t have an incubator. The egg is on a heating pad (low) in a box inside the garage. It is very humid in the garage but have no clue if it is enough and there does not look to be much wiggle room in the egg. Any recommendations? Happy to assist if needed but would rather it naturally hatch but will be heartbroken if it doesn’t make it. Oh, I did put a safety hole when I noticed its movement was not as often.

        1. Hi Deb,

          I hope the duckling is still doing well! I think raising the humidity would be a good idea. You can do that by placing a damp cloth or some bowls of water near the egg. The humidity should be around 75%.

          Making the safety hole was definitely a good thing to do. By the way, when you took the photo of the mom about 35 days ago, do you know if she was fully broody at the time or had just started laying her clutch? If you’re not sure if she was fully broody, then it’s possible the egg still has several days to go, maybe even a week or more, if there’s a chance she may have gone fully broody after you took the picture.

          Has the duckling internally pipped? If not, there’s nothing more you can do to assist.

          If it has, and if it doesn’t externally pip by itself, then eventually you’ll have to continue helping it, starting with expanding the safety hole by chipping off the shell above the air cell. This is safe to do as there are no blood vessels in this area, and it will enable you to see what’s going on in the egg, if there are blood vessels or not.

          I’m not sure how long you should wait before doing that, but since you’ve made a safety hole, there shouldn’t be any big rush. I’d probably wait at least 36 hours after you made the safety hole.

          I hope the duckling hatches!


          1. Hi! I have eggs that momma duck abandoned a week before they should hatch. I bought an incubator and right them in. One of them is shrinkwrapped so I’ve been using water and coconut oil to keep him moist. He’s been halfway out with his foot over his head for 15 hours and he internal pipped 48 hours ago. Hes fighting hard to get out of the egg but making no effort. Hes still doing chewing motions. When should I help him?

            Breanna Franklin
            1. Hi Breanna,

              If it wasn’t for the chewing motions, I might have suggested helping now.

              He might be otherwise ready to hatch (especially since you said he’s already halfway out), but I think you should probably wait until he’s no longer doing chewing motions before assisting or there’s a risk of him hatching with an unabsorbed yolk sac. However, if you don’t see any progress within 36 hours of the external pip, then you might assist even if he’s still chewing. Normally I’d say 48 hours, but if you’re sure he’s shrink-wrapped, it might be better to assist earlier. I’m not sure. It’s hard to know what’s the best balance between the risks.

              Good luck!


    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 ?

      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!

        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 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!

        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.

        Hannah Miller

    5. I have a Muscovy who was gracefully sitting on unfertile eggs. I didn’t candle them until around day 25 at which point I was still clueless as to what I was looking for as I wasn’t sure if they were fertile as our male had disappeared . After much research, I learned that the eggs were not fertile and discarded them as they were rotten. She then took a chicken egg and decided she would sit on it. I received some fertile duck eggs (variety not Muscovy)from a friend and she took them in but I didn’t remove the chicken egg. I candled all the eggs a week later a found 8 of the 12 to be fertile and developing, including the chicken egg. I candled them again on day 12 and all are developing well. My issue is that I wasn’t thinking and now the chicken will be hatching near the 19th but the ducks will have another week to go. Do I remove the chicken egg and finish via incubator so the 8 ducklings have a chance with mama? She keeps stealing chicken eggs but I watch her daily to ensure she’s not keeping them.

      1. Hi Jennifer,

        I’ve made that miscalculation before, too. 😀 Yes, I think it would probably be safest to remove the chicken egg and incubate the chicken egg yourself. You can try reintroducing the chick to the mom later, but it may or may not be successful. It would also be possible to take the duck eggs instead, but I think you risk less if you only take one instead of taking eight.

        I hope everything goes well for you and the babies!

        Hannah Miller

    6. Hi my duck is moving in the egg as the egg seems to be moving a lot in the incubator . I have seen no internal pip at all yet and we are on day 27 . Is this normal is it is my first time experiencing this . Very exciting however I am also nervous! Thanks .

    7. I only have one egg that’s about to hatch, I know ducks are social, so I’m worried about “miracle “ being alone until big enough to join the others. What can I do?

      Odessajeanne Smeltzer
      1. Hi Odessa,

        I experienced that situation early this year as well, except with a gosling. I had eight eggs, but only one hatched. It’s certainly not an optimal situation. Since the gosling imprinted on me and the rest of my family, one of us had to be with him full time. He couldn’t be without his “mom.” Getting him to go to sleep for the night was difficult, but we eventually figured out that he would fall asleep if given multiple rags to snuggle up against, as well as a bottle of hot water wrapped in a small towel.

        Learning to socialize with the other geese once he got older was difficult for him. It took weeks before he fully got along with them and socialized with them, and even now, he still likes to have his “alone time” napping on our porch with one of our shoes for a pillow. Geese in general have more complicated social lives than ducks, so it may not be so hard for a duck to learn to socialize.

        Hand-raising a single duckling will have challenges, but should work out in the end. Some people put mirrors in the brooder of single ducklings to fool them into thinking they have company. However, if you can find a way to get one or two more ducklings so this little one will have real company, that would be better.

        Hope that helps!

        Hannah Miller

      2. I have 4 duck eggs under 2 broody hens. Two have hatched completely. One is partially hatched – moving but seems stuck. Three pipped yesterday. I can see a little Fresh blood near the membrane. I’m worried that the duckling is in trouble but don’t know what to do.
        Please help.
        Thank you.

        Holly Whittle
        1. Hi Holly,

          It’s great that the duckling is moving. As long as it’s alive and moving, it has a good chance. Has it only pipped, or has it started zipping as well? You say it’s partially hatched, which sounds it may have started zipping, but ducklings usually don’t start zipping until the blood vessels are gone. Perhaps the broodies messed with it and damaged the shell a bit. Do you know how long it has been trying to hatch?

          I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here, but I don’t think there’s much you can do to help at this point. If there’s blood, it’s too early to help anyway. I don’t think I’d wait the full 48 hours after the pip since there has already been a complication, but I think you should still give it some time to see if it will hatch by itself.

          Hoping the best for you and the duckling!


    8. Hi I loved the video. I had not helped the batch i had earlier the summer. My husband kept telling me to mist the eggs daily. 2 out of 15 eggs piped but i didnt help. The peeping stopped after a day and after another day i tried to assist but it was dead. The other one was also. This causes Me to believe that if they dont pip soon after peeping and then keep breaking the shell that they will die.

      Lynn Backhaus
      1. Hi Lynn,

        I’m sorry you didn’t have any success. Yes, once a duckling internally pips (which is when you will often start hearing peeping), its oxygen is very limited, and if it doesn’t pip externally within about 24 hours, it will probably run out of oxygen and die. However, there are many reasons why ducklings die in the shell fully formed, even after pipping, including lack of oxygen in the incubator itself and improper humidity. In this case, since it sounds like you were indiscriminately misting the eggs every day without knowing if you needed to or not, I wonder if humidity was the issue. It’s best to have a hygrometer so you can measure the humidity, and if it’s too low, or if you open the incubator at any point (for candling, for example), then you can mist the eggs. Otherwise, there’s no need to. The water in the tray should be plenty. Also, I’ve heard that it’s better to mist the area around the eggs, such as the walls of the incubator, rather than the eggs themselves.

        Getting everything right in order to have a successful hatch can be tricky. I hope everything goes well for you if you try again!

        Hannah Miller

    9. Hi there,

      I am attempting to hatch some abandoned duck eggs with no experience whatsoever! The eggs were abandoned, and I thought they were not alive due to being left for long, however two weeks later I have 8 alive duck eggs,with four that have ‘internally pipped’. I’m just following online advice etc. One of them seems much further ahead than the rest and is more in the air sac, it pipped first. It’s been around 24 hours and there’s no external pip. I’ve read about creating a breathing hole but as I’m so inexperienced I just don’t want to harm the duckling. I can still hear tapping and cheeping. I’ve got the humidity at about 70-75 in our make shift incubator by putting tray of water and and misting the eggs with Luke warm water. I’ve you’ve any more advice of what I should do, they’ve made it this far so want to give them the best possible chance!

      Looking forward to hearing from you,


      1. Hi Emily,

        If they still haven’t externally pipped, it sounds like you’ll need to make that breathing hole before they run out of oxygen. It’s nerve-wracking the first time, for sure, but I’m sure you can do it. It’s the only thing you can do to help at this point, and it could very well be necessary.

        Hoping the best for you and the ducklings! 🙂


    10. Hi, we have ducks at 29 days. 2 show movement and 3 don’t. The problem I see is there’s still a lot of room in the egg when candling. The ducks do seem to be facing the air sack but don’t look like they have grown properly. Can you please advise on this issue. Thanks

      Lisa Przygodzki
    11. Hi,

      We’re going through our first duckling hatch having already hatched a brood of hens which went well. 3 of chicks hatched without incident but the fourth is malpositioned (has externally pipped at the thin end of the egg).

      The pip happened about 36 hours ago but the chick was making no progress, so I took the decision to chip off a few bits of shell around the hole, leaving the membrane intact. This worked and I lubricated the membrane with coconut oil as mentioned on an article I read on backyardchickens.com.

      I can see the chick inside and moving so it is definitely alive but I can’t work out whether I should intervene some more or leave things alone. This is really difficult but I want to do the right thing by the little duckling.

      Here’s a link to a photo: https://photos.app.goo.gl/LZiwbv5DZCHSaxMJ9

      I would really appreciate some advice from anyone who’s been through this before. Thanks very much. George

      1. Hi George,

        Looks like things are all right so far. Ducklings that are on the wrong end of the egg often take an extra long time hatching and sometimes get stuck and can’t squeeze out the opening. However, if they do become stuck, they often zip or partially zip first. If it zips but then makes no progress for an hour or so, you can assist. I have assisted a gosling on the wrong end of the egg and I only waited 36 hours before assisting because he had already completely zipped but couldn’t fit his shoulders through the hole. If 48 hours pass and it hasn’t hatched or zipped, it’s probably time to assist anyway.

        Hope that helps!


        1. Hi Hannah

          Thanks so much for your advice. I removed a tiny bit more shell last night and then decided it was best left alone for a while to see if the chick made any progress overnight. I came downstairs this morning to a brand new chick in the incubator! We’re all very happy and relieved that this went well.

          Thanks again and have a great weekend!


          1. Congrats! We went through something similar and Hannah was so helpful. It was a stressful time, but ended up very positive. Happy for you it was the same!

            Andrew Marshall
        2. Our eggs are starting to hatch. They make an opening then nothing. After 2 days we helped them out. The sharks were hard and membrane really tough.
          We had some with dried membranes. One chick also died. 😪
          Our temp is 38, and humidity is 80%.
          When we opened the eggs after 2 days there was still blood but the yolks were absorbed.
          Why are the chicks having a hard time hatching?
          Shoul we spray the eggs?

          1. Hi Peggy,

            What humidity do you have for incubation and what humidity do you have for hatching? Humidity is a tricky thing to get right. The thing is, the correct humidity varies depending on the climate and weather in your location, the type of egg, and the porosity of the egg. The only way to know if your humidity is correct is by measuring the size of the air cell or weighing the egg to check for correct water loss. That’s why the numbers you might read online vary so much–the right number truly is different for different hatches. Next time you hatch, I would suggest measuring the size of the air cell. If it’s the wrong size, it can cause all kinds of hatching problems.

            I think improper humidity is probably what’s going wrong for you. It’s the most common cause of hatching problems.

            A few other things that might have an effect:

            1. Your temperature is slightly too high. It should be 37.5 C.

            2. How are you turning the eggs? Eggs should be turned at least three times a day for the first 25 days, and then they should be laid on their side for the last three days. Also, they should be set with the small end down until lockdown (including during storage before being incubated).

            3. Have you been opening the incubator during lockdown?

            4. How were the eggs stored and how old were they when you started incubating them? Eggs should be turned even before they’re put in the incubator, and they shouldn’t be more than two weeks old.

            5. Sometimes incubators just aren’t very good. They may not be uniformly heated, or they may not be able to maintain a stable temperature and humidity. Also, their thermometers and hygrometers are often inaccurate. It’s best to have at least two thermometers and hygrometers, or one that you know is very accurate. Don’t rely on the ones that come with the incubator.

            6. Is there plenty of oxygen in the incubator during hatching? Take the air plugs out of the incubator for hatching.

            One more thing: maybe it’s not as abnormal as you think. It’s hard to get a 100% hatch rate, and ducklings do take a very, very long time to hatch. I recently heard that normal hatches actually can take up to 72 hours, not 48 as I’ve been saying.

            I hope that helps and I hope you can find a solution!


    12. I have had to assist my ducklings beak out of the membrane as it was malpositioned. I have freed the beek and head. What do i do now? It is opening its beak but not making a noise. What humidity wiukd be best for her now and when do i start to assist her more? Any advice would be appreciated. Many thanks.

      Joanna Ahearne
      1. Hi Joanna,

        As long as the duckling can breath, there’s no reason to hurry to get it out of the shell. I think it would probably be best to wait quite a while before assisting more–maybe not the full 48 hours, if the duckling is malpositioned, but don’t hurry. Does it look like the duckling will be able to squeeze out itself? If so, give it a chance to hatch by itself. If you’re sure it will need more help, wait at least 36 hours after the external pip, and obviously wait until the blood vessels are gone, and then it might be time to help.

        The humidity should be high, at least 70% and up to 90%.

        Good luck!


    13. My duckling pipped but then nothing happened for 32 hours I panicked and opened half the shell. He’s sitting in there now breathing fine. But there is blood underneath him where the membrane is still intact. Is too to late or will he make it??

      1. Hi Sam,

        If he’s breathing and still seems active, I think there’s a chance he’ll be okay. He could be a little weaker than usual and take longer to get on his feet and become active once he hatches, but blood isn’t always an instant death sentence. Definitely don’t assist any further at this point, though. I don’t know if the duckling will make it, but I hope so!


    14. Hi. I have cherry valleys. Only 1 egg left in incubator. I can see slight movement if I candle but it’s not popped internal yet. Its day 31….do I intervene incase its shrink wrapped. I dont want to loose this one

      1. Hi Donna,

        Sorry for the late reply. If the egg hasn’t internally pipped, there is, unfortunately, nothing you can do to help it. Even after internal pipping, there’s very little you can do. Most assistance prior to the external pip is dangerous, unhelpful, or both. Keep the humidity high. Shrink-wrapping actually isn’t as common as many people make it sound.

        So no, it’s not time to intervene yet. I hope the duckling hatches successfully–or maybe has already hatched! Good luck!


        1. I realize this post is so old , but I’m hoping you can give me some insight. A mallard laid a nest right outside of our front door under a bush while we were on vacation. She kicked three out of the nest(which I started incubating especially since one was cracked). We were using our back door, but she still ended up abandoning them. Long story short, “Chip”, the cracked one that survived is on day 30 and moving around, but I don’t see his beak in the air cell… only pulsating on the bottom part. Does that mean he is attempting to break the membrane to the air cell? Should I make a small air hole/window on the air cell to see if he is shrink wrapped? I’ve done hours upon hours of research and I have a pretty good idea of anatomy, etc., but by no means an expert… any input would be appreciated.

          Dina Pezzimenti
          1. Hi Dina,

            It’s normal to see some movement before they internally pip. I think it’s just normal movement rather than them actively trying to internally pip, because you can often see this movement even days before they start hatching.

            An air hole only helps if they’ve already internally pipped. They aren’t breathing air until they internally pip. Air holes are supposed to be tiny pinprick holes, too small to see through, because if they’re larger, the membrane could dry out. So if he hasn’t even internally pipped yet, it’s not necessary to make an air hole, and even if you do make one big enough to see through, it would be too early to assist anyway. There’s no way, or at least no safe way, to assist a duckling that hasn’t even internally pipped yet.

            I’m sorry for the late reply…I know it’s been a couple days. How is the duckling now? Has it made progress or hatched?


    15. Hey! This is my first time incubating eggs. We got an assorted mix of duck eggs mailed from a farm. We are on day 21 and as I prepared the eggs today for lockdown I realized they were chirping and moving! Have you heard of eggs hatching this early what do I do!?

      1. Hi Shelby,

        It sounds like you somehow got chicken eggs instead of duck eggs, because no, I’ve never heard of duck eggs hatching at day 21. They sometimes start hatching as early as day 23, but day 21 is so early I suspect the eggs might actually be chicken eggs. I actually had this happen to me a few weeks ago–I was given a couple eggs that were supposedly duck eggs, but chicks hatched out of them.


      1. Hi Lisa,

        Sorry for the late reply. So they start zipping, and then stop and die? How many times has this happened? Do you know for sure they are actually zipping, or do you mean pipping? What sort of incubator do you have and what settings do you have it on?

        There are so many reasons ducklings can die before hatching. Can you give me a little more information?


    16. My 6 duck eggs are on day 29 but nothing is happening,i candled 1 last night very quickly and was alive and moving,not sure on the breed of duck,my temp is set at 37.5 from day 1 do I leave them?

      Cheryl hodder
      1. Yes, just leave them alone. There is nothing you can do to assist a duckling that hasn’t even started hatching anyway. It’s possible they’re Muscovies and will take 35 days to hatch, but it’s also common for regular duck eggs to be a little late. There are other factors that influence the timing beyond the temperature. Make sure the humidity is high. I hope they hatch. 🙂


        1. Hi Hannah,
          Hopefully you see this and can help me out… I’m incubating Muscovy eggs were on day 35 today… i candled last night and had movement but no pip I know they can take a little longer… however I just candled again tonight and it looks like there’s no movement in any of the eggs?… Is this normal to they “rest” before pip? This is my 1st time incubating… last time I let mumma duck do it all…. Temp is set at 37.5 and humidity won’t go past 71… but I’m sure it’s higher as there is a lot of condisation on the lid.

          1. Have they internally pipped? You can see movement both before and after they internally pip, but after the internal pip, you would see a dark shape protruding into the air cell.

            Either way, I’m not sure. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll see movement every time you candle, but a complete lack of movement…I don’t know. I hope they’re all right.

            If there’s condensation on the incubator, the humidity is probably higher than necessary. For hatching, it’s probably not a problem, but I hope this doesn’t mean it was also too high for incubation, which could have caused them to drown or something.

            Hoping the best!


    17. hi there ! i have a rescued mallard egg that I’ve been incubating at home- noticed a small crack the other day and it’s been pecking away ever since but has only just fully pipped (it’s taken nearly 3 days to pip completely). The duckling has been chirping for several days now and i can see its beak through the pipped hole but hasn’t started to zip at all, I’m not sure if it leave it or help it out as it has been a few days now

      thanks !

      1. Three days to pip completely? Normally the pip takes literally one second. If it started pipping three days ago, yeah, I think I’d assist now. As always, start extremely slowly in case there are still blood vessels.

        Hope it’s all right! 🙂


  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!

      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.

        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?

          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!

            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?

          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).

            Hannah Miller

      1. Sorry to hear that! Sadly, the duckling probably would have died even if you had tried to assist before 24 hours, so I’m sure it wasn’t your fault or anything. Some ducklings just die and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. It’s hard to get a 100% hatch rate, since there are so many little things that can go wrong. The last time I hatched, I had one chick die within an hour after pipping externally.


    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. 🙂

          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!

            Hannah Miller

    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.

        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. 🙂

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    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.

  5. 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:


        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!

        Hannah Miller

  6. 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.

    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! 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

    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.

  9. 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?


    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!

  10. 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!

    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!

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

    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:

  13. 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
  14. 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!!
    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
  15. 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.


  16. 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)
  17. 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
  18. 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?

    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! 🙂

      1. Hi, my duck pipped last night it’s beak was pushing out of the hole, opening and going back on. I didn’t realise you weren’t supposed to open the incubator,😱 it was for less then 10 seconds- but I haven’t seen the beak move since (about 5 hours) should I be worried? Have I ruined the hatching 😱.

        Katie white
        1. Hi Katie,

          I don’t think the brief opening caused any harm, especially if your humidity was already quite high. I have opened incubators during lockdown many times. Yes, it’s best not to, but it’s unlikely to be an instantaneous death sentence. I’m guessing the duckling has just been resting and absorbing the yolk sac. Of course it’s possible something is indeed wrong, but if your temperature and humidity have been correct in general, I think everything’s probably fine and you can just continue waiting for a while longer. Good luck!


  19. 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

    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.

  20. 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.

    1. I’m sorry…I really don’t know. Technically, at day 27, he shouldn’t even be ready to hatch yet. Maybe he’s fine and he’ll fully hatch when he’s ready. Your statement that he seems to be getting weaker worries me, but who knows. He could be just fine. Keep the membrane moist. That’s the only thing I know to do.

      You could try asking for help here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forums/

    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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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

    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!

  23. 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

    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.


  24. 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!

  25. 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??

    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. 😃

      Hannah Miller

  26. 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.


    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.

      Hannah Miller

  27. 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!

      Hannah Miller

  28. 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!

  29. 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?

    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!

      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.

  30. 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?!?!?!

    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.

      Hannah Miller

  31. 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!

      Hannah Miller

  32. 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
  33. Hi
    I have Indian runner duck eggs in incubator and they haven’t quite cracked through to make air hole. First one appeared maybe 10-12 hours ago with no progress yet. Do I sit and wait?

    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!

      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

  34. 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

    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.

      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.

      Hannah Miller

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

    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.

      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.

      Hannah Miller

  36. 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.

    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!

      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.

        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!

          Hannah Miller

  37. 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 😁

  38. 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

    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:

      And an Instagram post about a duck with water belly:

      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.

      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.

      Hannah Miller

  39. 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!

    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!

      Hannah Miller

  40. 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

    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!

      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!


  41. 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!

      Hannah Miller

  42. 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.

    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!

      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?

        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:


          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!

          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.

            1. 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.


      1. Hi, I was hoping you may be able to help, eggs internally pipped yesterday morning, have safety holed this morning ( as all previous hatches have lost 80% after internal pip, then the cook hen sitting on the eggs, decided to take the ie that had pipped out ND drop it in the yard and crack the egg, put back in nest, she then “hatched the ducking and kicked it out of the nest, so I have scooped the duckling and remaining 8 eggs up and put in the incubator, but no more have pipped themselves, so a) will the safety hole act like their pip, b) how long do I wait before I worry about them pipping?
        I am prepared to assist with this hatch I just don’t know at what point?
        I have more questions but this is my main concern currently
        Thank you in advance Katrina

        1. Hi Katrina,

          No, the safety hole is just for oxygen and doesn’t really act as their pip because they don’t know where it is and won’t continue zipping from that point. They will still pip on their own. Even though the duckling will probably still pip within the normal 12-24 hours after the internal pip, there is no need to freak out if they take a little longer than that, since the safety hole prevents them from running out of oxygen. However, I don’t think there’s much you can do to help them hatch if they haven’t yet externally pipped, except for the safety hole. Try holding the egg up to your ear and see if you hear the duckling tapping on the shell, trying to pip. That would be a good sign.

          Hoping the best for you and the ducklings! Let me know if you have any other questions.

          Hannah Miller

  43. 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?

    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!

      Hannah Miller

  44. 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?

    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!

      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:


          Hannah Miller

  45. 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.

  46. 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?

    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!

      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?

        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!

          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?

              Hannah Miller

  47. 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?

    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.


  48. 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)?

    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!

      Hannah Miller

  49. 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.


      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?


        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.


  50. 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.

    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!

      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?

        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!

          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.

            1. 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!


  51. 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.

  52. 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?

    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.


        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.

          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!

      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

        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!


  53. 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!

      Hannah Miller

  54. 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?

    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!

      Hannah Miller

  55. 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

    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!

      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!

      Hannah Miller

  56. 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.


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

  57. We are new to incubating and have 4 muscovey duck eggs in. Last night I came home to find one had pipped externally on the wrong end but has not broken through the membrane. I checked this morning and there was a little more shell gone but still not broken through the membrane. The membrane itself looks pretty clear but it looks like the layer just on the underside of the shell is slightly yellowish. I will be keeping my eye on it since it looks to be about 10 days ahead of the 35 day window and the other 3 are not as far along. I can email a picture of the pip if you need to see it. Do I just wait and see if it pips the air sac internally or just keep it on lockdown and give it time?

    1. Hi Kristen,

      There’s a difference between breaking the membrane and breaking into the air cell, so I’m not quite sure which you mean. Often the membrane looks like it is intact when it is actually cracked enough to let air in, so if that’s the case, everything should be fine. As long as the duckling can breath, everything is probably okay for now. If you candle the egg, can you see the air cell? If you can see it, the duckling probably hasn’t broken into it. If you can’t see it, it probably means the duckling has broken into it and taken up all the space. Of course, since he’s on the wrong end, things might be a bit wonky. In general, though, as long as the duckling doesn’t seem to be in danger of suffocating or drowning, you should probably just wait and give it time.

      I’m sorry I’m a little late in answering. I hope I’m not too late. I hope everything will go well for you and the ducklings!

      Hannah Miller

  58. My duckling has externally pipped a faulty god sized hole on the small end. Still moving and peeping. It’s been over 24 hours. The hole was black and dry. I peeled of some shell around it. Is it ok to leave the duckling now to finish?

      1. Hi Carmen,

        Could you send a picture perhaps? I’m having a hard time visualizing this. I am not sure if the duckling will be able to hatch on his own, especially since he’s on the small end. I’m also not quite sure what was black. The membrane? The duckling’s down? It’s been nine hours since you commented (I wasn’t online, sorry!), so it’s possible it’s time to help already, assuming he hasn’t hatched during the last nine hours. Or maybe it would still be better to wait a few hours. If he seems to still be making progress, then leave him alone. If you can send a picture, that would help. If not, then I would suggest carefully helping soon.

        Hoping the best for you and the duckling!

        Hannah Miller

  59. Hatch day was yesterday and all but one of my duck eggs died on that day. I opened them up and the chicks all had their internal organs outside of their bodies. It was much more than just the yolk sac. They were incubator babies and I’m assuming temp or humidity was off. I haven’t been able to figure out what exactly was off though. I have more eggs to go in and I’m worried. I’ve calibrated and it seems ok. Thoughts on what may have gone wrong?

    1. Hi Dawn,

      Wow. I haven’t heard of this happening before, but this article suggests that it might be caused by insufficient egg rotation: https://www.beautyofbirds.com/chickdeformiities.html
      If you’ve been turning manually, it might be worth it to purchase an automatic turner. How the eggs were handled prior to incubation is also important.

      This one, meanwhile, suggests that it could be caused by high temperature during mid-incubation:

      I’m sorry this happened to you. I hope you have better luck next time!

      Hannah Miller

    1. Hi Angela,

      For moistening the membranes? Warm water will work perfectly well. I believe coconut oil is slightly better, but I’m not sure, and most people just use plain water.

      Hannah Miller

  60. Hi. I have a dozen Muscovy eggs in an incubator and another dozen hatching naturally with mom.
    We are at Day 28 and I have read several articles regarding hatching temperature and humidity and am wondering what you think they should be? I cannot find a consensus on this topic. Also, regarding the eggs in the duck coop with mom – there are 7 ducks in there – 5 females and 2 drakes. Once the ducklings hatch will they be ok in there or do I need to separate them from the rest?
    Thanks for you help.

    1. Hi CC,

      The temperature should be 99.5. As for humidity, you’re right that there is no consensus. Everybody does it a bit differently. The only thing that’s sure is that the humidity definitely needs to be higher for hatching than for incubation. Where you live also seems to make a difference on what humidity works best, oddly, which might explain why different people have found that different humidity levels work best. There’s no one magic number.

      But I’d say that 35-45% for incubation and 75% for hatching is a relatively safe option.

      The best way to tell whether your humidity is correct or not is by monitoring the air sacs. You can find charts online that show how big the air sac should be at different points in incubation. This might help you: https://poultrykeeper.com/incubating-and-hatching-ducks/what-humidity-should-i-use-to-hatch-duck-eggs/

      As for the ducklings, they might be perfectly fine with the others, but keep an eye on them so you can separate them if it becomes necessary. I’ve always been able to keep them together, but my biggest struggle has been with the food and water. The ducklings need food available pretty much all day long, but the adults don’t. The adults kept eating all the baby food and leaving none for the babies. They eat different types of food, too.

      So if you can figure out a way to manage that, and if none of the adults harass the babies, they should be fine together.

      Hope that helps!

      Hannah Miller

  61. My first duck hatched yesterday, but none of the other duck eggs have shown any signs of pipping. We put them in the incubator at the same time, and in the last candling since lockdown they all showed signs of growth and movement. Does this mean anything significant?

    1. Hi Clara,

      Maybe. It’s possible the first one was just early, or the other two are late. What day are they on? But it’s also possible something has gone wrong with the other two. Do you know if they’re still alive? Have you seen any rocking? If you don’t see any signs of hatching by the 30th day (or 37th if you have Muscovies), I would suggest taking the egg out and candling to see if there’s an internal pip. If not, you can try the float test to see if the egg is still alive.

      I hope that helps and I really hope the other two eggs will hatch!

      Hannah Miller

  62. We were hatching our first pekin duck egg. She broke through and was chirping and it seemed all was well. We woke up this morning and she was dead. I don’t know what went wrong. The hole she made was big enough for her beak as she was pushing that through it and chirping. The end of her beak is a reddish color and it looks like there is some white stuff on her beak near her nostrils. We have three more that are due to hatch any day now and I’m worried they will get that far and die too. This was our first and we are so disappointed. Any idea what could have happened?

    1. Hi Audrey,

      I’m so sorry! It’s awful when ducklings come that far only to die, especially when it’s your first. I can’t say what exactly happened, but this short article explains several reasons why a duck or chick might pip but never hatch: http://extension.msstate.edu/content/pipped-eggs-do-not-hatch

      This might also be helpful: https://poultrykeeper.com/incubating-and-hatching-eggs/incubation-troubleshooting-guide/

      Make sure your temperature is right (99.5 degrees) and your humidity is high (about 75%). Make sure you have all the vents in the incubator open. I don’t know what kind of incubator you have, but my incubator, the Hova-Bator 1602N, has vents near the bottom, not just the top. Whatever kind of incubator you have, find all the vents and make sure they’re not stopped up. If it’s a homemade incubator, you might have to make more vents for oxygen.

      Also, it could just be a freak accident. No one has 100% hatch rates all the time, especially when using incubators (hatch rates are usually better with natural incubation). I hope everything goes well for the other eggs!

      Hannah Miller

  63. I have three duck eggs and they were feeling a bit cold so i decide to heat it a little and they were chirpping and moving but them they stopped and now i cant see and hear anything , i think they are dead.

    1. Hi Leticya,

      Do you have them in an incubator? What was the temperature before you turned up the heat? What is the temperature now? Do you know the humidity? What day of incubation are these eggs on? If you heard chirping, I’m assuming they’re on day 27 or so (unless they’re Muscovies). Is that right?

      I can try to help you figure out if they’re okay or what went wrong, but I’ll need a little more information. The temperature is supposed to be 99.5, by the way. Don’t ever make it any hotter or colder.

      Hannah Miller

  64. hi ,

    i have them in a crock pot , we were not planning on getting duck eggs but my little brother brought them home, we had them on warm for the last few days and they have pipped. i walked in and found that they were switch on to low and when i pulled them out they were very hot , but i didnt know the temperture and its severel. hours now and there still nothing from them.

    1. Hi Leticya,

      Well, you need to get a thermometer, or better yet, two thermometers, and lay them right on top of the eggs. Then you need to adjust the temperature until you get it to 99.5 or 100 degrees. It’s nearly impossible to hatch eggs without knowing the temperature. You also need to know the humidity so you can raise it right before the ducklings hatch. Do you have a water dish in this crock pot for humidity? Are there oxygen vents? I have heard of people using crock pots to hatch before, so it should work, but it might be difficult to get it the right temperature and everything. Most crock pots are too hot.

      Where did your brother find these eggs? Was there a duck already incubating the eggs? It takes 28 days for duck eggs to hatch, so if you only had them in the crock pot incubator for a few days before they pipped, then it sounds like he stole them from a wild or feral duck? That complicates things, since that means that there was a period of time when the eggs were not being incubated.

      Hold the egg up to your ear and see if you hear any tapping or peeping. If not, then candle the egg by holding a flashlight behind it so you can see the air sac. The air sac will be the light area at the top. You can very carefully chip the shell over the air sac in order to see what is inside the egg. Start at the pip, and break off tiny pieces of shell around it. Just be very, very careful not to chip any shell below the air sac, because then you will break the membrane, which will probably cause bleeding and kill the duckling. Once you’ve done this, you should be able to see if the duckling is still alive or not.

      Hatching can be very complicated. I hope they still hatch, but I’m very sorry if it turns out that they have died. If you try again, it would be a good idea to research beforehand to know the right conditions for incubation. It would also be much easier if you got a real incubator. There are some very good small, inexpensive incubators that are perfect for people like you that just want to try hatching for the first time, such as this one.

      Hope that helps!

      Hannah Miller

  65. Hi, I have a female Muscovy cross unknown and male Muscovy duck. The female duck has laid 17 fertile eggs about 38 days ago. The eggs are 4 days over due. I am new to hatching ducks so I have been worrying a bit. I have been told I am over reacting. Should I worry? Do I do something? I also have another question. The mother is sitting on the eggs even on days were it is 40 degrees Celsius is this normal?
    Thanks, Gabrielle

    1. Hi Gabrielle,

      First of all, how do you know the female is a Muscovy cross? Muscovy crosses are either mules or hinnies, both of which are infertile and incapable of producing young. Hinnies (the product of a female Muscovy and a drake of a different breed) will lay eggs, but they won’t hatch. Mules (the product of a male Muscovy and a female of another breed) won’t even lay eggs. If you’re sure this duck is a cross, then the eggs won’t hatch, unfortunately. Sorry!

      Second, did you candle the eggs? Without candling, you won’t know whether they’re developing or not. I normally candle at 7 days to be sure there are blood vessels indicating growth, and again at 14 days to make sure they’re still okay. If an egg doesn’t hatch, I’ll candle to see if it has rotted or if it’s just a little late.

      Four days late isn’t unheard of, I don’t think, but it’s time to candle to see what they look like. If they’re mostly dark with an air sac at the top, and if you see blood vessels near this air sac, they’re probably fine and are just hatching late. If they’re completely clear, they’re infertile. If they’re something else, especially if they’re pretty much all black, they’re probably rotten.

      It has gotten into the upper thirties Celsius where I live once while I had a broody duck. When it was that hot, the duck mostly spent her time standing over the eggs. 40 degrees may be too hot, however, because the incubation temperature is supposed to be 37.5 Celsius. Much hotter than that and they won’t be able to develop.

      I think these eggs probably aren’t fertile as you thought they were, but you can candle the eggs to find out for sure what they’re up to. I’m sorry if it turns out that they won’t hatch.

      Hope that helps!

      Hannah Miller

  66. I have 16 duck eggs Pekin &/ Indian Runners, this is my first hatch. Can I ask you some advice, 28 days is 24/12, Should I stop opening the incubator and turning the eggs before the 24th? Also as the duck eggs would not turn in the incubator I have been manually turning them. Once I get to the point of not turning them how should they be positioned? Thanks in advance for any advice and help

    Sharon Meredith
    1. Hi Sharon,

      Yes, you would put the eggs on lockdown on day 25, which would be the 21st. At that point you would stop turning them and not open the incubator again. They can just lay on their side; they don’t need to be positioned in any special way.

      I hope that helps and I hope you have an awesome hatch!

      Hannah Miller

      1. Hi, i have one duckling egg that has a small hole In shell and certainly alive inside. I have it on straw under a heat lamp in our bathroom as I don’t have an incubator.
        It looks like the chick is gaping a lot / opening it’s beak Wide Is that normal?
        It also looks like there is a bit of liquid in there, clear and watery, not yolk. Is that ok? I haven’t wet the shell but have sat the egg on a slightly damp material to keep it ‘humid’. Going to buy a spray bottle later to help.

        Thanks so much!

        1. Hi Clare,

          Opening its bill is normal, yes. As for the liquid, I’m not entirely sure. You could send me a picture if you’d like, although I can’t guarantee that will help me figure it out. However, I suspect it could signify that there have been problems with the humidity. Perhaps the humidity was too high and the membrane is wet, or there was a sudden drop in the humidity during hatching, which caused the membrane to become sticky. I don’t think you should spray the egg, not unless you’ve measured the humidity and know it’s low. If the duckling is still alive, that’s fantastic. Try to make sure its bill is free of the liquid to be sure it doesn’t drown. If the humidity has been too high and the membrane is sticky and wet, you may need to assist, but only once the blood vessels are gone and you’re sure it’s ready to hatch.

          Also, there are actually two membranes, and the inner membrane is supposed to be wet. It’s not exactly liquid, but it’s transparent and wet, so perhaps everything is totally normal. I can’t be sure, though, especially without pictures.

          Hoping the best for you and the duckling!

          Hannah Miller

  67. Hi, my Khaki Campbell eggs are now moving into day 29 and there has been no movement for 24 hrs. I’m presuming the worst as before this the eggs were very active. I candled them to check and they’re motionless and there is no internal pip. Is this normal or have I missed the chance to save them?!!! Thanks

    1. Hi Lee,

      First of all, don’t feel too bad about missing a chance to save them if they died, because if an egg hasn’t even internally pipped yet, there’s nothing you can do to help it that I know of.

      It doesn’t really sound good, so I’m really sorry if it turns out they died. Not all hope is lost, though. Wait a couple more days. Sometimes eggs hatch on day 30 or even later. Did you see blood vessels when you candled? Even if there’s no motion, blood vessels are a good sign…although, to be honest, I don’t know how long it takes before they disappear if they suddenly die.

      What’s your humidity? Do you know if the air cells are the right size? I’m wondering if it’s possible there was a humidity issue. Even if it’s too late, you should try to figure out where things went wrong if possible, in order to avoid a similar scenario next time.

      Again, don’t lose hope yet. Late hatching is relatively normal. (The sudden lack of motion is more concerning, I think, than them hatching late.) I hope everything will still turn out all right for you and the ducklings!

      Hannah Miller

      1. Hi Hannah, thank you so much for replying. The eggs were shipped and all had varying degrees of detached/damaged air cells to start with, so I don’t know if that had anything to do with it? I’ve had the temperature set at 37.5*c all the way through, and managed to keep the humidity at 55% until day 26 when I upped it to 70% / 75% for lockdown. From what I’ve read that all seems textbook – there were no spikes or drops in temp or humidity so I really am at a loss?! I calibrated the incubator and disinfected it prior to using, keeping a hygrometer in it all the way through. When I candled them I couldn’t see any veins just a very dark mass where the ducklings are, and what seems to be little webbed feet pressed against the shell about half way up. There’s nothing to indicate they’ve internally pipped and still no movement. One of the eggs has an air cell which took up about 30% of the egg, the other has a little less. I really do think they’ve died as they haven’t moved one bit for days now.

        1. Hi Lee,

          I’m sorry for the horribly late reply. I know it’s probably too late to help you now, but I’ll reply anway just in case it helps you or someone else in the future.

          Yeah, the detached/damaged air cells could certainly have something to do with it. Maybe the ducklings tried to internally pip somewhere not facing the air cell, hit a blood vessel, and died. Also, their webbed feet shouldn’t be pressing against the shell. I mean, their legs and feet are touching the shell, but not in a way that you would be able to see the webbing. (Or maybe I misunderstood you.) This is the position ducklings are in prior to hatching: https://www.raising-happy-chickens.com/images/chick-hatching.jpg So it sounds like they were either malpositioned, or you saw something else and thought it was a foot.

          This article lists some reasons why a chick might die just before hatching: https://www.beautyofbirds.com/deadinshell.html High humidity is one of the reasons, and I think 55% is a bit too high. I think I’ve seen it recommended somewhere, though, so it’s at least the highest possible acceptable percentage.

          It does sound like they’ve died. I guess you already know that by now (unless maybe they actually did still hatch?!). I’m sorry. I hope you have better luck next time!

          Hannah Miller

  68. Hi Hannah! It has been 48 hours since my duckling has externally pipped and I am not really sure what part of the egg is a membrane. The part of the egg closest to the chick is looking brownish and wet. Should I assist? I am concerned this might be sticky chick or a dry membrane. Thank you!

    1. Hi Delaney,

      It’s been quite a few more hours…I hope the duckling is doing well and I’m sorry I couldn’t answer immediately!

      Here are a few pictures where you can see membranes. There are technically two membranes. The outer one is white and dry, and the inner one is wettish, transparent, and contains the blood vessels.

      Here’s a relatively normal membrane, white and dry (although this may be a little too dry): https://erine.typepad.com/.a/6a010536cf495e970c0167675266fe970b-800wi

      This is a shrink-wrapped chick: https://mediaprocessor.websimages.com/width/300/crop/0,0,300×249/www.riverbendfarmtasmania.com/18.jpg (from this page: https://www.riverbendfarmtasmania.com/eggtopsy)
      Another: https://justcockatiels.weebly.com/uploads/2/7/4/9/2749198/6853423.jpg

      I can’t find good pictures of a sticky membrane, unfortunately, but I hope that helps. But “brownish and wet” does sound like it could mean sticky chick.

      Do you know where the air cell is? You can candle if not, and mark the air cell line with a pencil. Then you can chip the shell off that area. All of the shell above the air cell line is safe to chip. After you’ve done that, you will be able to see the membrane much better. If If you see blood vessels under the membrane, leave it alone. If not, go ahead and help. I don’t think this duckling will hatch by itself since it’s been so long.

      Hope that helps! I’d love to hear how it goes and I hope the duckling survives.


      1. Thank you so much Hannah! I had 9 eggs to start off with, and 7 hatched so far (including the one I replied about) everybody is happy and noisy, but there is one that hatched a few hours ago and is not looking great. He/she is experiencing labored breathing and is acting a little crazy. He is acting as if he is waking up from a nightmare or something. I was just wondering if he was going to be all right. 😊 Thank you for your response and the pictures! (They were very helpful, I figured out it was sticky chick)

        1. Hi Delaney,

          I’m so glad to hear most of them have hatched! I’m not sure what’s going on with the one. It doesn’t sound like something I’ve heard of before. You might try giving him (and the others) electrolytes in their water for the first couple days. It often helps weak ducklings, and who knows, it might help this one too. It won’t hurt, anyway.

          Here’s a recipe for homemade electrolytes: https://www.fresheggsdaily.com/2017/05/how-to-make-homemade-electrolytes-for.html
          There’s also a product made for poultry: https://www.savacaf.com/products/sav-a-chick-electrolyte-vitamin-supplement/

          You do have to be careful how much you use, though, because it’s possible for them to overdose and die. The recommendations on Fresh Eggs Daily are higher than I’ve seen in other places–she says 1.5 teaspoons per quart of water, whereas other people say 1/2 a teaspoon, 1/4 of a teaspoon, or even 1/8 of a teaspoon, so it may be safer to not do the 1.5 she recommends.

          Other than that, I don’t know what to do. Maybe something’s actually wrong with him, but I hope he’ll be fine. 🙂


  69. Hi my name is Delaney and I have been hatching duck eggs and it is now day 27 and 2 eggs have pipped and 1 has its beak out it was making noise and then stopped it been a few hours since this happened should I help it out or is it just sleeping. Please Help

    I posted a comment but I noticed I made a couple mistakes while typing this is the right one

    Delaney oakes
    1. Hi Delaney,

      Don’t worry, everything is normal so far! The duckling is resting, yes–but more importantly, he’s absorbing the yolk sac and blood vessels as well as learning how to breath. He’s not going to do much for quite a while yet. It’s usually 12 hours at the minimum before a pipped egg starts hatching, and it can be up to 48 hours.

      So no, don’t help him yet. He’s not quite ready to hatch yet. I hope everything goes well and he hatches successfully when he’s ready!


  70. Hi!
    We have a long story, but I’ll keep it short.
    We live on a lake and had a wild duck that we cared for since birth, as she had a bill injury and then lived on our lake for two years before so sadly passing away, for what reason, we are not sure, but possibly a hawk.
    With that said, a few days before her passing, we saw she was laying eggs in our bushes. Since we realized she had passed, we collected her eggs and put them in a Brinsea 600 incubator. We followed the directions to the letter. 99.5 degrees, half the water reservoir filled until day 25 where we switched to a hatching pad and filled the second side of the water reservoir and have left the lid closed (lock down).
    Three of the eggs externally pipped (small star shape crack in the egg shell – pictured) more than 24 hours ago and no additional movement noticed. We did not notice or hear of the any internal pip, but it’s clear they did or the shell wouldn’t have cracked like that.
    However, we haven’t opened the incubator for more than maybe 10 seconds to ensure the water reservoir was filled for the correct amount of humidity.
    The day on the incubator says “2” right now, which means tonight at 7 it will go to “1.” I guess that means we’ll be at day 28 tomorrow.

    Most concerning, since first external pip, no further action has occurred and we have never heard any peeping or seen the egg roll or move.

    Any advice? I’m worried the pip didn’t create an actual hole to get air and the duckling could be suffering and/or maybe there was too much humidity and the duck got weak after the first pip and has lost the energy to continue with “sticky skin.”

    Anything you can do to help us, we would be so appreciative. It’s our last effort to honor our sweet duck “fifty” who passed away, by trying to give her ducklings a life.

    We build an elaborate small house for them to live in safely until they are big enough and safe for the lake or we may also build a big duck house/chicken coop for them for a bit longer too. We want to do whatever we can to give them a chance.

    Please, please let us know your thoughts and thank you!!

    Andrew Marshall
    1. Hi Andrew,

      Do you know the actual humidity? Filling the reservoirs as the incubator manual says isn’t always totally accurate. Last year, I hatched some chicks, and the humidity was way over 50% with just one out of five or six reservoirs filled, so I had to run the incubator dry. It’s best to have a hygrometer. It’s too late for it to be of much use for you now, though.

      The pips look normal from the picture in your email. I’m sure they can breath just fine. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a duckling not being able to breath with a normal-looking pip. However, I should mention that it actually is possible to have an external pip without an internal pip. Sometimes, if the air cell is malpositioned, or if the duckling is malpositioned, the duckling can pip outside the air cell. The pip will look normal, but the duckling will probably die. So it’s possible that happened, although it would be odd if it happened with more than one egg.

      If it wasn’t for the fact that they’re not moving or peeping, I would say this seems normal. I think you should take an egg out and put it up to your ear to listen. (Lockdown is important, but opening the incubator really quick isn’t the death sentence some might have you believe.) Sometimes tapping the egg or talking to it can make them peep, and you might also hear the duckling tapping the shell. If you can’t detect any motion or sound, find where the air cell is by candling and then chip off the shell over the air cell. Don’t chip anything lower or you may puncture the membrane, but the area over the air cell is safe to chip off. Once you’ve done this, you should be able to see better if the duckling is alive, if anything went wrong, if there are blood vessels, if the membrane looks wrong, etc. After this, if things look okay, give the duckling a few more hours to see if it hatches by itself. If not, you can assist if there are no blood vessels. And if it looks like there’s a sticky membrane or shrink-wrapping or something, you can assist immediately after chipping the shell off the air cell–as long as you don’t see blood vessels. If you’re not sure, dampening the membrane slightly will help you see if there are blood vessels or not.

      I hope that makes sense. Let me know if you have further questions. Good luck and I hope you have a successful hatch!


  71. Hi, I am looking for a little bit of advice. We had 8 Indian runner eggs in the incubator which all showed fertile. When hatching we only had three successful though, we chose to leave the eggs to day 35 but still no success. When discarding then success we found all eggs had fully developed duckling although they had not hatched. Is there something you would suggest that we did wrong? Kind Regards

    1. Hi Ebonie,

      I’m sorry to hear that so few hatched. Here are some links that might help you:


      Too high temperature, improper ventilation, and improper turning are three of the reasons ducklings might die in the shell fully formed, without ever pipping. But I’m guessing improper humidity is the most likely culprit. The humidity may have been too high, causing the ducklings to drown, because the air cell was too small. Humidity is a tricky thing to get right. Many new hatchers will fill the number of water troughs their incubator manual recommends, or read a number online and then go by that. But the thing is, the correct humidity varies depending on the climate and weather in your location, type of egg, and porosity of egg. The only way to know if your humidity is correct is by measuring the size of the air cell or weighing the egg to check for correct water loss. That’s why the numbers you might read online vary so much–the right number truly is different for different hatches.

      I hope that helps and I hope you have better success next time! 🙂


  72. Help! Advice needed! We have a mallard duck egg from a group of 7 we started for a 5th grade project that is going way long for hatching. We actually didn’t think any survived through a power outage that fried our incubator overnight day 1 of lockdown. On day 30 we saw no movement and thought all was lost but voila on day 31 one of the ducks broke through! Unfortunately, external pip occurred more than 48 hours ago, for sure 55+ hours ago. We can hear duck pecking at shell and actively peeping. It has been working diligently for 24 hours plus. We see a dark line on the exterior egg and thought that it may lead to zipping, but has not. It doesn’t look shrink wrapped but we can’t tell and the duck is still pecking and peeping strong. Can see active respiration as well. Any advice is appreciated!

    1. Hi Julia,

      That duckling is lucky to be alive! It’s been so long since the external pip that I think it’s time to help now. Even if the duckling is still trying…I guess there’s a chance it will still hatch on its own, but I don’t know. Personally, I would help now, as long as there are no blood vessels. At least, I would recommend chipping off the shell where the air cell is, at the top (candle beforehand so you can find the air cell). There are no blood vessels in that area. Once you’ve done that, you should be able to see what the membrane looks like much more easily, and from there you can decide if you want to continue assisting or not.

      Good luck and I hope it hatches successfully!


  73. Hannah,
    Thanks for the response. We couldn’t stand to wait much longer after originally asking for help so we actually ended up doing pretty close what you suggested. His head and upper body came out and the bottom shell we left attached. He eventually wiggled away. Was pretty worried about him(her?) because it was very weak and lethargic, but happy to report its now three days old, walking, drinking, eating and fun to watch! A little bit of google it and then figure it out as we go along be fingers crossed it should make it! Wish we could attach a picture!

  74. Hi! We have 4 ducks eggs. All of the eggs have pipped internally, and 3 out of the 4 have pipped externally. We saw that 2 of the eggs had pipped last night by 6 pm. The egg that I’m most concerned about was a vigorous mover and made lots of chirping. That egg has totally pierced the shell in one spot and seemed to have made other cracks in the shell over the course of the morning. Perhaps the duck was “zippering”? Now that duck is totally silent and isn’t moving at all. Is she resting? Do I need to do something? Thanks for this site and your help!!!

    1. Hi Bryan,

      Where are the other cracks in the shell? Are they in a straight line? Normally, when zipping, the duck will crack the shell in a straight line, turning in the egg slowly, until it has cracked almost the entire circumference of the shell. Then the top falls off and the duckling slips out. This video shows what zipping looks like:

      So if the duckling was indeed zipping, it should have been able to escape the shell before long. They don’t usually stop to rest very much while zipping. How long has it been since you last saw movement?

      Ducklings often get stuck during zipping if they’ve pipped on the wrong end of the egg. Is this duckling on the wrong end? If not, maybe there were membrane problems.

      I’d recommend investigating if you don’t see movement or progress within a few hours–if you’re sure the duckling was indeed zipping.

      If it doesn’t look like the duckling is zipping, then I’m guessing it’s just resting and isn’t ready to hatch yet. Sometimes they make a few more small cracks without starting to zip. That’s normal. If this is the case, just keep on waiting and don’t intervene.

      Hope that helps!


  75. Hi! I need help! We are incubating Perkins and we woke up on day 25 and I went down to check the incubator and the humidity dropped to 21% RH and one of our eggs had pipped! I Immediately took the incubating tray out, I added water, returned the eggs in the hatching tray, and closed the incubator back up. It took a few minutes but the humidity was over 65% pretty quickly and has stayed at 72-80 since then. This was over 24 hours ago. Since then little progress was made but we have been hearing peeps and seeing a little bill make appearances since then. The reason I’m worried is the color of membrane around the pip – Yellow/brownish. Should I assist? If so when? Two other eggs have started showing little cracks and rocking but no pips yet.

    Heather Murray
    1. Hi Heather,

      Sorry for the late reply. I’m almost positive I had responded to your question because I remember what I wrote, but I can’t find my answer. Or maybe I just started thinking about replying but then was interrupted and forgot to return.

      I’m afraid it’s too late to help you, so I hope your duckling successfully hatched! Was it shrink-wrapped? The unfortunate humidity drop could have easily caused shrink-wrapping, and a brown/yellow membrane is certainly a sign (although not a guaranteed or 100% reliable sign) of shrink-wrapping. So yes, if your duckling was shrink-wrapped, assisting would have probably been the only way to get the duckling out of the egg–although you would of course have to wait until it was safe and the blood vessels had receded.

      Sorry again! Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll try to be more punctual. 🙂


  76. Hello. I am new at this and am trying to hatch Peking ducks. I get to day 28 and nothing. Had one go up to day 31 then removed in fear of hurting the others. I am putting in an incubator for 25 days on 99.5 F and humidity between 35-55. Then moving to another incubator that doesn’t have a turner with temp at 98.5 and hungry around 65%. Any tips on what could be wrong?

    1. Hi Jason,

      If I understand correctly, you’ve tried hatching multiple times and you’ve never had any success? Sorry about that, but here are a few tips:

      1. Never give up before 32 days. They’re supposed to take 28 days, but sometimes they can take as long as 32 days.

      2. Do you have a drake? It should be obvious, but occasionally people overlook it and try to hatch eggs without having a drake.

      3. Do you know when things start going wrong? Have you candled the eggs? Are they infertile and never start developing? Do they develop for a few days and then die? Do they die halfway through? Or do they die in the shell fully formed right before hatching? If you haven’t been candling your eggs, you should start doing it so you can see how they’re developing. It’s very difficult to figure out what’s wrong when you don’t know when things go wrong.

      4. The temperature should always be 99.5, and if you’re not using a turner, you need to hand turn them. It probably won’t work to just not turn them at all. Also, don’t trust the thermometer that came with the incubator. They’re often inaccurate. If you’re having problems, I would recommend putting one or two more thermometers in the incubator to make sure you’re getting an accurate reading. The same goes for hygrometers.

      5. As for the humidity, the only way to know the correct humidity for your eggs (since it varies depending on your location, egg type and porosity, etc.) is to measure the size of the air cell throughout incubation. If it’s too small, your humidity is too high; if it’s too large, your humidity is too low. Humidity is quite important, and improper humidity is a very common cause of hatching problems.

      Again, make sure you’re candling the eggs. You won’t be able to figure out what’s wrong without candling them.

      I hope that helps and I hope you have a successful hatch soon!


      1. Hannah,

        Thanks for the reply. Please see the answers and comments to your above statements.

        The set up I am running is this. I have 2 incubators, the first one is set up with an egg turner, the second doesn’t have the turner. I put them in the first one for 25 days with temp set to 99.5 and humidity between 45-55%. The second one i put the eggs in on day 25 with the temp at 98.5 and humidity around 65%.

        I do have a drake and have fertile eggs. I candle the eggs and can see it is forming and even before moving to the second incubator can see the movement of the duckling inside.

        I am thinking that my next step needs to watch the air pocket inside of the egg to adjust humidity as needed and possibly get a second thermometer and hygrometer due to the fact that I am using the ones built into the incubators.

        If you think of any other suggestions please let me know. Thanks and have a great day.

        Jason Mitchell
        1. Hi Jason,

          Your set up sounds great. If you see them forming and moving before moving to the second incubator, that means they’re dying during those last few days, right? Do they ever pip or do they die without pipping?

          I definitely recommend getting another thermometer and hygrometer. I had four thermometers and hygrometers in my incubator last time I hatched. LOL. (They all showed slightly different numbers, so I was never sure which was most accurate.)

          I suspect the humidity might be the problem. 45-55% is generally considered to be within the correct range, but again, what’s correct for other hatchers may not be what’s correct for you. Some people have successful hatches with 30% humidity or even lower (running the incubator dry), and others with 65%–and I know one person who had their humidity at a whopping 80% throughout incubation (and 90% for hatching), and they were successful. I think 65% is likely to be too low for hatching, but it depends. However, too low humidity for hatching is much more dangerous than too high humidity.

          To find what works best for you, measuring the air cell is definitely the way to go. Some people even go so far as to weigh the egg to ensure the proper weight loss.

          Incorrect temperature due to an inaccurate thermometer can cause ducklings to die in the shell fully formed. Not enough oxygen can also cause it, so make sure you’re taking out the vent plugs of the second incubator. Egg contamination can cause the duckling to become infected and not hatch. And finally, too much calcium in the mothers’ diets can cause shells that are too hard for the ducklings to crack through.

          That’s it. I hope you’ll have a successful hatch next time!


          1. Hannah,

            Thanks again for your help.

            They are not popping which makes me think either humidity or calcium issue. I am going to raise the humidity in the second one and see if that helps. I want to candle the ones that are supposed to be hatching but have heard not to touch them the last 3 days. Any recommendations there?

            Jason Mitchell
            1. Hi Jason,

              It’s best to not open the incubator during the last 3 days as it can cause a humidity drop, which can cause shrink-wrapping. But if you open it very briefly to take out an egg and mist the eggs when you do it, it shouldn’t cause too much of a problem, especially if your humidity is already high. So you can do it if you really want or need to, but it is a bit of a risk, so be careful and quick.


    2. we have 6 ducklings on the way, we check on them 3 times a day and from what we can tell it sounds like there trying to ‘escape’ the egg. today was there do date but we don’t know how long we should wait until we help them. what should we do and how long should we wait until we get worried?

      Felicia Short
      1. Hi Felicia,

        Have they externally pipped yet? If you’re hearing sounds from them but don’t see any exterior cracks, it means they’ve internally pipped.

        If it’s been more than 12 hours after the internal pip (after you started hearing noises), you can make a tiny “safety hole” in the shell so they can breath, just in case they don’t externally pip in time. Other than that, if they haven’t externally pipped yet, there’s nothing you can do to help.

        If they’ve externally pipped, then you shouldn’t help for at least 24 hours, and even then, it’s probably still not time to help. However, at this point, if you’re worried or afraid something’s wrong with the membrane, there’s one thing you can do to ease your worries or find out more about whether they need help or not: taking off the shell above the air cell. Candle the egg to find the air cell, mark it with a pencil, and then you can take off all the shell above the line (there are no blood vessels in the air cell). Then you’ll be able to see whether there are any problems with the membrane, and you’ll also be able to see whether there are blood vessels in the membrane surrounding the duckling. If it looks like something’s wrong with the membrane, and if there are no blood vessels, you can assist. If there are no membrane problems and everything seems fine, you can leave the duckling for a few more hours to see if it will still hatch by itself. If it still hasn’t hatched by the time 48 hours have passed, you can assist as long as there are no blood vessels.

        I hope they successfully hatch! Let me know if you have any other questions.


  77. So its been 28 days and we did the flash light trick on the eggs to see if they were dead or alive, and 5 outta 6 of them had a defined line across one half of the egg but the last one was not a defined line, and it looked like there was a membrane but we didn’t see any baby duck shapes. are there going to be ducklings or at least one? or are we getting our hopes up?

    1. Hi Dawn,

      The egg should be dark on the bottom and light on the top (the big end). Is that what you’re seeing? Try to look for blood vessels in the dark side. You might have to rotate the egg around and look from various angles, but if the egg is alive, you should be able to find signs of blood vessels.

      You don’t have Muscovy eggs, do you? They take 35 days, not 28. And normal duck eggs can take up to 32 days, so don’t give up yet.

      Check out this image. It’s for chicken eggs, but the “day 19” image is similar to what you should see on a duck egg at day 26-28 (or day 33-35 for Muscovy eggs). The air cell should be a little larger, but still, see where the blood vessels are? They’re hard to see so late in incubation, but they’re there.


      As for your last egg, I’m not sure. It would help to see a photograph of what you’re talking about. But it sounds like that egg may be rotten, unfortunately. It sounds like there’s a good chance the other five are still good though!

      Good luck! I hope your eggs hatch!


  78. 3 of our ducklings have made an external pip, the 1 I’m worried about have been piped for almost 2 days I don’t know weather or not I should assist. Its breathing looks heavy and he’s not responding very well when I whistle at him. what should I do?

    1. Hi Mark,

      He pipped almost two days ago? Then it’s probably time to assist. Start with taking off the shell above the air cell since there are never blood vessels there, and if you don’t see any blood vessels in the membrane, you should be able to continue until you’ve removed enough shell that the duckling can easily slip out when it’s ready.

      I hope they successfully hatch!


  79. Hi really need some help. I have Muscovy eggs. Only two out of the six are viable. One has hatched the other has a bruise on its side. There is some tiny movement when I candle it.
    We are four days over the 35 day ‘due day’
    What should I do?
    I’ve read that you should make a small hole I’ve e the bruise. And then see what happens?
    I’m so worried about my babies.
    Please help xx

    1. Hi Donna,

      As far as I know, there are three causes of a “bruised” egg:

      1. The egg is rotten. But if you’re sure you’re seeing movement, it’s obviously not rotten.

      2. The duckling hit and ruptured a blood vessel when it tried to pip. Minor bleeding isn’t necessarily a death sentence, so again, if you’re sure you’re seeing movement, the duckling has a good chance. But bleeding is also a common cause of death.

      3. Who knows? Sometimes eggs look “bruised,” but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them and they hatch just fine. I’ve had at least one of these, and I know other people have as well.

      But I think bruising is more likely to be bad sign than a benign one, unfortunately

      Since it’s so far past the due date, you might try the float test to see if the egg is still good (Google it). You can also try creating the safety hole in the top of the shell (after float testing), but the only point of that is to allow the duckling to breath if it internally pips but doesn’t externally pip in time, so if the duckling hasn’t even internally pipped, this will be pointless.

      Whatever you do, don’t crack the shell or make any holes anywhere beneath the air cell. This is likely to cause bleeding and kill the duckling. In general, there’s barely anything you can do to help if the duckling hasn’t externally pipped yet.

      I hope that helps and I hope your duckling hatches!


  80. Hi there! I have 9 eggs incubating that are at 28 days. When I candle, I can see movement, as the membrane has pulled away from the fat end of the egg, but I haven’t seen the bill protruding into the air sac and hear no peeping. They have been this way for about 3 days. I’m thinking that they have not internally pipped at this point, but I’m not sure… do you have any advice?

    Carly J Diamond
    1. Hi Carly,

      It sounds like they may not have internally pipped yet. If you hold the egg up to your ear, do you hear a soft tapping? Sometimes you can hear tapping even when you don’t hear peeping.

      It’s relatively normal for eggs to be a little late hatching. 30 days isn’t uncommon, and 32 days isn’t unheard of. As long as there’s movement, there’s still hope.

      Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to help a duckling internally pip. But I hope they’ll do it soon!


  81. Hi everybody!
    We are at the end of the hatching of a real duck and everything was fine until now. After 30 hours from the internal pip, we have to make a hole because there was not any signal of external pip. We hear the duck noise and trying to pip, but it was not enough. Now is ok and we can hear the duck strongly, but we think the membrane can be dry and not allow the duck movements, because the shell seems a little bit brown-yellow in this part. Should we wait 48 hours to assist? or should we assist now? Thankyou so much

    Isabel Sifre Benetó
    1. Hi Isabel,

      If the duckling still hasn’t externally pipped, it’s probably not ready to hatch fully even if 48 hours have passed since the internal pip. But once those 48 hours have passed, I would suggest opening the shell a little more, only above the air cell. Candle the egg to find where the air cell is, mark the line with a pencil, and then you can take off the shell above the line. This may help the duckling, and it will also enable you to see if there are membrane problems and if there are still blood vessels. After that, give it some more time, probably at least 12 more hours, to see if it can start making progress. If it doesn’t, then it might be time to assist as long as there are no more blood vessels.

      Good luck!


      1. Hello Hannah. We want to thankyou for your help, you make posible that our duckling is alive and happy with us. Thankyou so so much, you make a nice job. Kisses from Spain.

  82. Thank you for this very helpful and well-written post! Your offer to help with questions on top of that is simply amazing.

    What if a duck pips in one spot (just the initial pointed crack, not a hole) and then 8 or so hours later pips in a new spot, about 1/4″ away from the first (again, just a pointed crack)? It has been 24 hours since the first pip and it is still peeping.

    Thank you again. I am very grateful for your help.

    1. Hi Rachel,

      I’m not sure. Ducklings often expand their first pip into a small hole at some point, long before zipping, so it’s possible that that’s what the duckling was trying to do, but it had moved in the shell since making the first pip. It’s also possible it started trying to zip but got stuck, but that seems unlikely since the second pip was so soon after the first one. I can’t imagine a duckling trying to zip after only 8 hours.

      I think you should just continue waiting for now. It’s hard to be sure, but I don’t think anything is really wrong. I hope the duckling hatches successfully soon!


        1. UPDATE: the little guy hatched just fine with no help from me (except prayers!). Thanks for the advice to just wait. 🙂 He never did a regular zip, just piped those 2 holes and then started a 3rd in between, which punched a big, big hole and then forced his way out. Unusual!

  83. I need some advice… I’ve been keeping an eye on a duck who made a nest in the corner of the chicken shed. Saw signs she had ducklings under her yesterday evening and this evening I saw that sometime today she took her 4 hatched ducklings out across the fields to a pond where they duck tend to raise the ducklings. But in the abandoned nest I heard peeping and found 2 pipped eggs. It was almost dark and mama duck was not going to be returning so I have taken these 2 peepers and they are in my bathroom under the heat lamp I had set up for the chicks also in the bathroom (I do not have an incubator). They are still making noises but I have no idea when they started hatching, if they are in trouble, and how to make the conditions humid enough to give them a better chance.

    1. Hi Cindy,

      Since you don’t know how long ago they started hatching, I wouldn’t wait too long before investigating. I’d candle to find the air cell and then take off the shell above the air cell. It’s relatively safe to do this, since there aren’t any blood vessels in this area. This won’t help the ducklings hatch much, but it will help you see what’s going on–if there are blood vessels or not and if there are any problems with the membrane. From there, you can decide if you there’s reason to assist or not.

      As for raising the humidity, you can wrap the eggs in a warm, damp paper towel or cloth (without covering the pip holes), or put trays of water near the eggs.

      I hope they manage to hatch despite having been abandoned!


  84. Hello! We are hatching duck eggs, 5 have successfully hatched and the remaining two have pipped sometime last night. We had two that hatched this morning, one around 5 am and one around 7 am. At some point one of the eggs that hasn’t hatched yet developed a crack near the middle of the egg, and it’s turned a bit yellowish brown. I rubbed some coconut oil on the crack to keep it moist. I don’t think the duckling is malpositioned because there is also a pip near the top. The duckling was still alive this morning when I checked it, I can hear him peeping and tapping. But I’m getting worried. Do you think I should poke a hole in the membrane where it has pipped? At what point should I try to help. This is my first time hatching eggs, so feeling nervous.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      It sounds like you’ve done the right things so far. I don’t think it’s quite yet time to assist further, since a normal hatch can take up to 48 hours (and sometimes even longer). I had a dozen ducklings hatch yesterday and most of them took 45-50 hours from pip to zip. In fact, the fastest one took 39 hours, if I remember right.

      How long has it been since the pip? 24-30 hours? I think I’d wait until the 48-hour mark before investigating. If the duckling hasn’t hatched by then, it might be time to take off the shell above the air cell to see if anything’s wrong. You can candle first to find the air cell. There are no blood vessels in the shell above the air cell, so it’s relatively safe to chip that part of the shell off. From there, you can see if it’s safe to assist and see if there are any membrane problems.

      Hope that helps! Hatching is certainly a nerve-wracking experience, but try not to worry too much! I think everything will probably be fine.


      1. Hi Hannah, I just wanted to thank you. Everything was fine with our hatch and all of them were successful. We have 7 new beautiful ducklings! It was nerve wracking waiting for the last one, but your words of encouragement got us through the waiting.

  85. Please Help, we have an early hatcher who pipped between days 27/28, its now 24hr since he pipped: he has not moved from his postion: beak out of small end, since he first pipped.
    We just candled the egg and there is a large air sac/compartment the OPPOSITE end of where he pipped, so I guess he didnt peep, he just pipped! Before we realised this, we opened up the area round his beak a little, along what would be his zip line, but now I am concerned we may have removed his base for pushing against….but then he cant turn so I dont think he would be able to push out of the big end….
    what would you do? Leave another 12/24? make a hole in the big end?

    Thanks so much for such an informative site 🙂 easily the best we’ve found.

    1. Hi Beca,

      Do you know if the duckling is still alive? When the air cell is on the right end and the duckling is facing the wrong end, sometimes they nick a blood vessel when they pip, and then they die. If he’s still alive, fantastic! He has a good chance of hatching successfully, even if you eventually need to assist.

      But he will probably take longer than normal, because in this case, the internal pip was also the external pip, in a way. The hatch could easily take 72 hours after the pip, so I think you should probably wait quite a while longer. He may eventually need help with zipping and squeezing out, but wait until he’s ready and give him a chance to try zipping by himself. Opening up the area around the bill can sometimes hinder zipping, but still, just wait 24-48 more hours and see what he does.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m glad you’ve found my site helpful. Thanks!


  86. Hi
    Thanks for your reply-I replied this morning but its seems to have dissapeared! Sadly the little one died 🙁 I had a look inside once we were sure, and it seems his egg sac hadnt bee absorbed, so I dont know if we could have done much to help. We now have another in pretty much the same situation and we are so worried about him. We left the one who died for 36-40hr after his peeping…its getting to a simalar time with this, he is moving but his cheep seems wet sounding and weak (his beak is out). Is there anything we can do??

    We have others in different stages, two seem to be ‘bruised’, one of which has pipped but the have all stalled it seems and we can help fretting. We have one who hatched so vigourously and is fluffed up and out and full of beans but lonely (if my daughter goes out of sight!)


    1. Hi Beca,

      I’m so sorry to hear that the duckling died. I’m also sorry I couldn’t answer earlier. Did the other duckling hatch or did it die as well? And what about the other eggs?

      If things went wrong, it’s not your fault, and I don’t think there was much you could have done. Eggs hatching on the wrong side often have complications.

      I’m glad you have at least one duckling though! I’d love to hear if the other eggs hatched!


  87. Huh there I’m hatching my first ever clutch of call duck eggs my first baby has hatched but the others aren’t showing any signs I didn’t want to take them out to check if they’ve internally piped because they’re on day 27 and it’s lockdown time. But the main issue is one of the eggs has piped externally and even managed to push a piece of shell clean off but she hasn’t moved since and I’m worried her membrane is dried out over her? What should I do?

      1. Hiya, don’t worry about it! The one I was referring to didn’t make it after I assisted he only lived a day or so but the other four are making leaps and bounds and are doubling in size already so no worries there 🙂

  88. Hi, so this is my first time incubating eggs, and am currently on the piping stage but I am concerned on how big the pip should be, as mine has a tiny little crack but not a full hole and should I be concerned

    1. Hi Matthew,

      That’s totally normal. That’s what it’s supposed to look like. Don’t worry, they can still get oxygen through the crack. Some ducklings leave it at the crack and don’t do anything else until they’re ready to zip, and some expand the crack into a small hole at some point during the stage between pipping and zipping.


  89. Hello Hannah

    Sadly my Aylesbury duck was taken by a fox last night and the egg she was sitting on was quite cold when I found it 7am this morning (not sure how long it had been) but I heard slight noises and saw that it had externally pipped. I warmed the egg up and there was a lot of little squeaking sounds and all sounding good so I have put it in a homemade incubator (not sure how to get the humidity right as have no humidity tester) and am leaving it and keeping an eye on it. As I don’t know exactly when it externally pipped, or if there were any effects of getting cold for quite a while, I was wondering if at what point I should assist if there if the squeaking stops for any length of time. I have no experience with hatching eggs.

    Many thanks in advance and what an excellent source of information!

    1. Hi Fiona,

      I’m so sorry for the late reply. Did your duckling hatch?

      I would have suggested placing trays of water or damp rags near the egg to raise the humidity as much as possible. I also think it probably would have been best to wait about 24 hours before investigating by chipping off the shell above the air cell to see what was going on, and possibly assisting further, but not necessarily. And yeah, if there was no peeping for more than, I don’t know, maybe six hours, then I’d probably investigate. Unfortunately, I fear I’m too late to help you. Sorry!


      1. Hi Hannah,
        Thanks very much for your reply; yes the duckling hatched unaided and is healthy and doing well. I hadn’t expected to have a lone duckling, nor one without it’s real mother to take care of it, so having to make do with me , which is not ideal. But in comparison to chicks, they seem a lot more able. I hope it will integrate with our 3 adult ducks when it is old enough.

        1. Hi Fiona,

          I’m so glad to hear that it hatched! You’ll probably have to integrate the the duckling with the adults gradually (when the duckling is old enough to go outside, you can start with putting a fence between them so they can see but not touch each other), but yes, it should be able to become part of the family eventually. 🙂


  90. We’re doing our first incubation on what we believe are khaki Campbell eggs and the 28th day was Friday. Today is Monday. We had our first pip Friday evening. A few more came afterwards and a beautiful hatched duckling Sunday about 4am. But the first pipper made very little progress since Friday. We candled last night and believe we saw blood vessels so we left it alone. This morning at about 4am, I decided to assist because it’s still not out. But it started to bleed in a couple of spots, so we put it back unfinished. None of the others have progressed much either. The lone duckling we tried to feed and water since it sounded like they would need water after 12 hours. But as newbies, I fear we’ve done everything wrong. I read somewhere that the mother would coo to encourage them to keep trying to come out. So we’ve put the little one back inside with the sibling eggs as it doesn’t seem too happy alone. Very comfy being held when it’s tired, but really doesn’t like the nesting box all alone. One day during the incubation, I noticed the humidity had dropped to 46% so I added more water and worried terribly that I missed the watering window. But then I googled and read that you can dry incubate more successfully, so I wasn’t so worried and thought less might be better. But I went ahead and increased the humidity but not worrying about it as much. I increased the humidity on day 25 to the normal recommendation. The membrane in the egg that I attempted to assist seems like it’s wanting to stick to the duckling. No other eggs have successfully hatched except the one. But I know there are live duckling inside. I’m worried about the one I attempted to assist as well as the others that pipped the same day but are not out or unzipped.

    Brenda Morehead
    1. Hi Brenda,

      Wow, those are some slow ducklings. I do think you may need to help them. I think you’re probably right that they may be stuck to the membrane. I’d assist as soon as I safely could without causing bleeding. One thing you can do to help you see if it’s safe or not is to take off the shell above the air cell. There are no blood vessels in this area, so it’s safe to do this. This will let you see the membrane much better. You can also moisten it with a wet Q-tip or something, which will help you see the blood vessels, and will probably be a good idea anyway.

      Yes, mothers do talk to their ducklings to encourage them to hatch. I wonder if your own voice will also have the same effect. Eggs will often peep back at you if you talk to them.

      Humidity is a tricky thing to get right, but it’s one of the most important factors to a successful hatch. In fact, I think the majority of hatching issues are caused by improper humidity. The only problem is, there is no one “correct” humidity, so you can’t just go by numbers you read online. The correct humidity for your eggs varies depending on the climate and weather in your location, type of egg, and porosity of egg. The only way to know if your humidity is correct is by measuring the size of the air cell or weighing the egg to check for correct water loss. That’s why the numbers you might read online vary so much–the right number truly is different for different hatches. Dry incubation works for some people and is disastrous for others.

      I hope they hatch successfully! Let me know how it goes if you don’t mind.


      P.S. Just a quick correction: no, newly hatched ducklings do not need food and water. The yolk they absorbed right before hatching will last them three days. Ducklings usually don’t start eating until they’re 24-48 hours old.

  91. Such a great article. Thank you! Please could you advise me? This morning my three mallard eggs all have a tiny external pip but there is not an actual hole. Is this a normal external pip? Will they get air ok? Should make a hole after 24 hours if there is not one?
    Would be grateful of advice. Thanks!

    Anni McAuliffe
    1. Hi Anni,

      Don’t worry, that’s totally normal! That’s what pretty much all pips look like. Sometimes they eventually expand it into a small hole (even before zipping), but other times they just leave it at the pip and don’t make a real hole at all until they’re ready to zip. And yes, the duckling should be able to get oxygen just fine.


    1. Hi Sarah,

      Have your ducklings hatched yet?

      Most peeping and chirping sounds are normal, but there is a certain peep ducklings make that tends to signal that they are in distress. If you’ve had ducklings before, you probably know it. They sometimes make this loud, shrill peep during zipping even when things are going normally, perhaps because due to all the physical exertion, but it can also signal that they’re struggling.

      I try to answer these questions as soon as I see them, but there are some days where I’m not online much. I’ll be online for most of the next 6 hours, though, so if you need help during that time, I should be able to answer quickly.


  92. Hi. I have a chicken hatching a duck right now. It pipped early yesterday and today the whole is quite large. She seems ok, but I’m worried the membrane will dry out. The hen got up ftom nest and the membrane was brown . I put a damp paper cloth under the he next to the egg. The baby isn’t turning in the egg to zip. Just picking at the hole. I moved membrane from its nostrils, but I did see a small , what seemed to be, vein right above where I moved it. Should I just leave it, or should I periodically check the dryness of membrane? Thank you for this article. It’s my first duck hatch. It’s only 1, as a raven stole the rest. I’ve hatched a bunch of chickens, but this seems way more stressful.

    1. Hi Marcel,

      Sorry for the late reply. I haven’t been online much at all during the last few days. Did the duckling hatch?

      I would have recommended moistening the membrane with a damp Q-tip periodically. If the hen left the nest, then you would have had to bring the egg to a heated place. Other than that, it probably would have been best to wait a while before assisting. I know this is too late to be of any use to you–sorry!


  93. Hi! I live in a subdivision and I am lucky enough to have had a duck make a nest in my landscaping. There were 7 eggs, all of which hatched except for 1. The mom has already led the others to the pond near my house. The 1 egg remains in the abandoned nest. The brood seemed to have left within the last 4-6 hours. What should I do? Should I help it hatch? Is it assumed dead if the mother left
    Any help would be appreciated!!!

    Shannon Pelfrey
    1. Hi Shannon,

      Unfortunately, the egg is probably either dead or weak, especially if its been uncovered and cold for a few hours. I think it’s probably dead, but there’s a small chance that it’s still alive and is just late hatching or weak. You can check if it’s still alive if you want to (there are various ways to check, such as candling and float testing if the shell isn’t cracked), but if it is, and if you do rescue it, make sure you have a plan for what to do with the duckling. It’s very unlikely that the mother will adopt it, and you won’t be able to release the duckling back into the wild even after it grows up.

      Sorry for the not-so-optimistic response. But it’s normal for there to be an egg or two that doesn’t hatch. The mother either knows it’s dead, or knows it’s not worth waiting for one more duckling that will probably be weak.


  94. Hi
    I have been trying to hatch 5 runner duck.
    One popped its beak out on the 26th day and then no movement and it’s now day 30
    And now one egg has been moving for the last 24 hours but has not piped out yet!
    The one with the beak out I think is a goner but should I help the other one??
    Please advise.

    1. Hi Phill,

      Do you know if the one that already pipped is alive? It sounds like it isn’t, unfortunately, but you should check.

      Has the other egg internally pipped? Do you see the bill in the air cell, hear tapping if you hold it up to your ear, or hear the duckling peeping? If it hasn’t internally pipped, you can’t help it at all. If it has internally pipped but not externally pipped, you can make a safety hole in the egg to be sure the duckling can breath even if it takes a long time pipping externally.

      Other than that, you’ll just have to wait and hope. I really hope this duckling will successfully hatch! Good luck!


  95. Help!! I had so much humility it was leaking water. I just could not see it. Blah. 2 drowned with beaks piped out. 1 made it. 1 more we tried to help. But stopped when we saw blood. But made it so that it can breathe. Not sure what to do now. 1/4 of shell we peeled off. We soaked out as much water as we could. I got conflicting thoughts on Muskovy‘s heat and humidity during hatch.

    1. Hi Claudia,

      It sounds like it’s just time to wait until there are no longer any blood vessels. There’s not much more you can do until the blood vessels are gone. If the membrane seems to be dry, you can moisten it with water or coconut oil on a q-tip or small cloth. This will also make the blood vessels more visible. But if your humidity was too high, the membrane probably won’t dry out.

      Hopefully the duckling will hatch on its own when it’s ready, but if it’s been more than 48 hours since the external pip and the blood vessels are gone, you can assist. Good luck!


  96. Hello,

    I am hatching duck eggs. One externally pipped early (day 26) and was shrink wrapped so I had to help it hatch 48 hours later. It is now day 31 and I thought the other duck hadn’t made it but I opened the shell and it’s still breathing and moving around. It hasn’t internally pipped but there are quite a lot of blood vessels and I don’t want to make a hole for it in case it bleeds to death, especially as it’s beak is near a large blood vessel. I have moistened the membrane. Is it okay to leave it for a bit longer? I don’t want it to suffocate and an also worried about bacteria.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

    1. Hi Briony,

      Sorry for the late reply. I hope the duckling is doing all right or even has hatched already!

      I don’t think there’s anything you can do to help if a duckling hasn’t even internally pipped yet, except that since you opened the shell up, it would probably be a good idea to keep moistening the membrane if it gets dry. It isn’t going to start absorbing the blood vessels and yolk sac until after it pips, and you can’t really help if there are still blood vessels. I’m not sure about the bacteria issue–just try to leave it alone, and if you feel like you need to handle it, make sure you have clean hands.

      Hoping the best for the duckling!


  97. Hi Hannah,
    I have a Pekin duck that has been externally pipped for 47 hours. He is chirping and moving and has a hole large enough for him to breath but he has not attempted to zip yet 🙁
    We lost a duckling three days ago that had zipped but obviously couldn’t push itself out as when we removed the shell he was perfect – no wrapping or malpostioned – we are starting to get nervous that we may loose this one as well because there has been no real progression for the 47 hours.
    We have taken him out and tried to peel a bit of shell off for him. The membrane is yellowish and the shell is very hard. There was some blood when we pulled some shell (membrane attached to it maybe?) we stopped IMMEDIATELY and put him back in the incubator but we have a scheduled power outage today for 6hours and I’m worried he will not be able to push out himself.
    Thanks for your help !
    – bec

    Rebecca Leng
    1. Hi Rebecca,

      So sorry for the late reply. I hope the duckling was able to hatch, whether you assisted or not, and I hope the power outage didn’t cause an issue. Being without heat for 6 hours can definitely kill a duckling. I’m afraid this isn’t of much use to you anymore, but I would have suggested moistening the membrane and waiting a couple hours before attempting to assist again, and repeating if it still wasn’t time. (It sounds like the membrane may be dry, and moistening also helps to reveal blood vessels that might otherwise be hard to see.)


      1. Oh. My.
        He hatched after 54HOURS!!!!!!
        Our scheduled power outage was postponed due to severe weather – thank god !
        We did have to help him however as there was no way he would have been able to do so by himself. We just peeled shell off and made tiny slits in the membrane so that it would easily tear when he decided to push.
        He now has 4brothers/sisters to keep him company.
        One of his brothers was having a hard time too so we decided to help him. When we got him out of the incubator we could smell an awful smell coming from his shell. Like almost rotting smell or really bad wet dog. There was a lot of dark yellowish goopy stuff within the shell that we could see and attached to him when he finally came out. We had to bathe him to get this off him as it dried hard on him. His head/eye area looked quite swollen and he has a funny bump in his leg. His head is getting better now though – what do you think the smell could have been ?
        I know it’s a long winded question, thanks for your help!

        Rebecca Leng
        1. Hi Rebecca,

          Wow, I’m so glad the duckling hatched!

          I think the issue with the other duckling was probably a yolk sac infection. It’s often deadly, so he’s lucky to be alive. I recall a question from someone a while back who had a duckling that smelled terrible when it hatched and then had neurological issues. I think it died after two or three weeks, sadly. I hope your duckling will recover and survive, though.

          Here’s some info about it: http://www.poultrydvm.com/condition/chick-yolk-sac-infection-omphalitis

          Hope that helps!


  98. Hi
    I think my duck egg pipped internally on Sunday / Monday. I saw puppet movements and it looked like the beak was in the air sack. On Tuesday night I heard peeping so made a small safety hole just in case. The egg doesn’t move at all but if I cheep it peeps back. Still puppet movement if I candle but no external pip. It will be 48hrs since I defo heard the first peep so if there is no external pip shall I start to pull off the shell to investigate or just leave? Not sure what to do for the best and don’t want to leave it until it’s too late but don’t want to intervene and cause problems? Arghhh … what to do? Would appreciate any help or advice. 🙏

    Alexa Reid
    1. Hi Alexa,

      Wonderful! The phase after the external pip is actually by far the longest, so don’t get impatient–it could be 48 more hours still. 🙂 I guess I didn’t get here in time to answer your first question, but feel free to let me know if you have more questions! I hope the duckling hatches successfully.


  99. Hi, I am hoping someone might be able to help. I have a duck egg in the incubator that externally pipped at 6pm yesterday (Saturday.) Today at 11am it pipped some more and continued to do so most of the day. I can see it’s beak in the shell and it is breathing ok, the membrane looks white and is still around the duck. The duck is bobbing back and forth to the open part of the egg but doesn’t appear to be doing anything else. Is it stuck or is it just absorbing the yolk and should be left alone? I had another egg die yesterday that had done the same thing however it’s membrane was brown/yellow I.e shrink wrapped and it was too late by the time I realised it was in trouble. I have a 3rd duckling that hatched yesterday morning and is in the brooder. Please note these ducks eggs were due to hatch on Monday and it is now Sunday: day 34. I am assuming the delay is due to my incubator reporting the temperature inaccurately. Any advice would be great, thanks

    1. Hi Trisha,

      So the egg is nearly a week late hatching (and it’s not a Muscovy egg)? Wow! I think it’s pretty rare for an egg to be that late and still successfully hatch.

      I’m not sure what you mean when you say the duck is bobbing back and forth to the open part of the egg, but one common sign that a duckling is still absorbing the yolk is if it’s opening its mouth or yawning.

      At the time you wrote, I probably would have suggested waiting a little while longer before assisting, since it doesn’t sound like it was in distress yet. It’s Monday now, so it’s probably been around 48 hours since the external pip, so it’s probably about time to help, especially considering the trouble the previous duckling had.

      I hope that helps and I hope it hatches!


  100. Do you have any experience on hatching twins? My duck laid a twin egg that has already passed it’s estimated survival milestone and they are due to hatch in a week and a half. I know that hatching with twins in the egg is extremely dangerous. One is currently positioned on the big side of the egg and the other on the small side. Should BOTH ducks come out of the large side of the egg? What if one pips before the other? Do you have any experience when it comes to hatching a twin duck in one egg?

    1. Hi London,

      I don’t have any experience with hatching twins myself, but there have been at least two threads on Backyard Chickens from people who did try and succeed (and many more threads where they didn’t succeed):

      https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/double-yolker-day-17-and-alive.1263931/ (this one had both chicks facing towards the air cell on the large end)

      https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/double-yolker-yolk-hatched-video-p-16-13-week-pics-p-51.104245/ (this one had one chick on the small end and one on the large end)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5uDKfQ5vGc (video of the person from the Backyard Chickens thread above assisting their chicks’ hatch)

      I actually just found your thread on BYC while looking for those two above! 🙂 I’m following it. It would be absolutely amazing if they actually do hatch! You probably have a slightly better chance than usual since that egg is so huge.

      Still, it’s extremely, extremely rare for both chicks/ducklings to hatch and survive. Normally, only one survives. Even if both do hatch, which is also extremely rare, the smaller one is usually weak and doesn’t live long.

      If they do make it to hatching, you’ll almost certainly have to assist once it’s safe. All the twin eggs I’ve seen on BYC and other places had to be helped. You just have to be sure it’s safe before you help.

      No, they won’t come out the same side of the egg. They’ll probably both pip on the end they’re on, which is going to be dangerous because the air cell can’t be on both sides and they could easily hit a blood vessel.

      I don’t think there will be a large gap between the first pip and second pip. I doubt it will be an issue.

      Good luck! But please don’t get your hopes up too high. 🙂

      Hannah Miller

  101. Hi Hannah, thanks for your great blog. I have 3 muscovy eggs we are hatching at the moment. Egg 1 pipped externally yesterday. theres lots of cheeping and it is slowly enlarging the little crack. We can see feathers and a beak. Egg 1 is probably fine. *Egg 2 pipped internally early yesterday morning. As of 9ish this morning it had still not pipped externally although when I held the egg I could feel it still pecking. Based on the article here, since it had been over 24 hours since it internally pipped, I made a tiny pin prick in the crack and am leaving it alone now hoping I havent killed it. *Egg 3 same story as egg 2- except the pip it has made and I have made a tiny pin prick in is up on the narrow end of the egg so I dont know if Im going to eventually need to help it out….will just sit with it for now but keen on any advice 🙂

    Cath Russell
    1. Hi Cath,

      Sounds like you’re doing a great job and it’s probably time to just wait for a while. 🙂

      Egg 1 does sound fine. It’s probably going to stop enlarging the little crack eventually and just sit around and do nothing for a while, and then finally hatch, sometime within the next day or so.

      Egg 2 will hopefully pip soon, but you probably can’t help any more for a while. If it never does pip, you can try to save it if it somehow stays alive, but it probably won’t have much of a chance. I figure it will probably pip soon, though.

      Egg 3 does have a medium-high chance of needing help if it pipped on the narrow end, but you should probably give it a chance and wait 48 hours from the external pip, unless it seems like something else goes wrong.


  102. Hi Hannah, your blog is amazing and so informative, thank you! Im’ a first time hatcher of magpie ducks. I have struggled the entire incubation to keep the humidity at what is needed as the outside humidity is super dry to start. Despite adding as much surface area of water to the incubator, the maximum humidity ive got to is about 74% for these last few days. I am now at day 31, 2 out of the 5 eggs have pipped, one is coming up to the 48 hour mark in about 6 hours, the other is about 12 hours behind, but both of them appear to have a dry membran, I can send a pic if needed (it makes sense given I have struggled with humidity), and both appear to have made minimal progress. Should I wait until the 48 hour mark and carefully intervene? Thanks so much for your helpful blog thread, it has been fantastic! Thanks again, Hannah 🙂

    1. Hi Hannah,

      Sorry for the late reply. I hope your eggs have hatched successfully, or at least some of them.

      If the ducklings seemed all right (making some noise, rocking a little), I probably would have waited until the 48-hour mark.

      But if they seemed to be weakening, or if you knew the membrane was definitely dry, then it might have been time to intervene a little earlier.

      74% is often quite good for hatching, but it depends since there’s no one right humidity for every situation. I should also mention that a white outer membrane is not dry. The outer membrane is supposed to be white, and a tiny bit of brown is also all right. It’s the inner membrane that isn’t supposed to be papery white, but you often can’t see that one unless you or the duckling makes a hole large enough that you can see past the outer one.


  103. Hi Hannah – I had two Khaki Campbells that the coons unfortunately removed from my flock 🙁 I noticed I had a small nest of eggs that I had missed when collecting from the chickens and since I lost my “adults”, I figured I had nothing to lose in incubating these. Out of 9 eggs (5 I knew were recent, 4 were much older and I didn’t expect much from) I’m down to the last 3. We are on day 29. All three have externally pipped but only one has a visible hole in the shell (the rest are just cracked in a spot).
    There is movement from all three and I often hear peeping. The one with the actual hole has it in a spot that I would consider closer to the small end of the egg, rather than where the air sack was (kind of right in the middle) and the hole is very small. It was the first to pip and even though I feel movement when I pick up the egg, it hasn’t progressed since then.
    It’s going on close to 48 hours since it pipped – so do I try to enlarge the hole it already made? Do I make a new hole closer to the large end of the egg? Or do I continue to leave it alone? I have my incubator set at 99 degrees and around 70-75% humidity (I raised the humidity since I was checking on the eggs and opening the incubator a little more often). I dont really see much of the membrane but there is a little bit of crusty yellowish/brownish dried fluid on the outside of the hole that the duckling made.

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      Sometimes pipping in the wrong spot kills them immediately, but if it’s still alive, that’s good. It might be malpositioned, however, which might mean you’ll need to help it. I’m not sure about the liquid, but I think it’s either normal, a result of pipping in the wrong spot, or a result of too high humidity during incubation.

      The movement and peeping is a good sign. The pips themselves sound perfectly normal. There doesn’t need to be a visible hole. The seeming lack of progress is also normal and expected (they’re just busy absorbing the yolk sac).

      Once you reach the 48-hour mark, you can check on things, but don’t make a hole just anywhere and don’t enlarge the the existing one (yet) since it might be in the wrong place. Candle the egg first to see where the air cell is. Any shell above the air cell line is safe to chip off. After you’ve done that, you should be able to see if there are still blood vessels, if there’s anything wrong with the membrane, etc. From there you can decide if you should help more.

      I would recommend going even higher with the humidity, especially if you’re opening the incubator. Some people think too high hatching humidity can cause them to drown, but humidity is often misunderstood. That’s not a scientifically valid theory, because liquid can’t come from nowhere. It’s too high humidity during the first 25 days that matters. For the last days, I don’t think there’s any reason the humidity shouldn’t be as high as possible. Even 90% or more is probably fine. (It’s possible there is some other reason you shouldn’t have too-high humidity for hatching that I’ve never heard of, but drowning is not one of those reasons. And I and many others have successfully hatched at 90-95% humidity.)

      I hope that helps and I hope they hatch successfully. Let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂


  104. Hi, my duck eggs have pipped all of them (5) one has hatched and there is one that I’m worried about. It has like the membrane I think brown and some white should I be worried? Please respond ASAP

    1. Hi Myrka,

      I’m so sorry I didn’t reply. I haven’t really been online lately. I hope the duckling hatched. It’s fairly normal for the outer membrane to be somewhat brown. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should be worried. The inner membrane is the one that shouldn’t be brown.


  105. Hi I am hatching Cayuga ducks. I have hatched Pekins before with no issues. My question is, tonight will be day 30 I had one pip last night but have not even seen any movement since then. Plus it looks like it has pipped on the wrong end. This is my only one that has made it out of 12. Think it may have been a bad batch. Should I still wait the 48hours before investigating? Any help would be great. Very anxious.

    1. Pipping on the wrong end either kills them very quickly (if there is no air cell and they hit a blood vessel), or doesn’t affect them much other than possibly making it hard for them to zip and escape the egg.

      I don’t think I’d assist, because if the air cell isn’t on the narrow end and the duckling managed to pip without hitting a blood vessel, then even if it’s alive, it will be hard or maybe impossible for you to chip any shell away without risking damaging the membrane and blood vessels. At this point, it’s unlikely that assisting would help it anyway, so yes, I’d probably wait 48 hours.

      I’m sorry you had a bad hatch. Maybe next time. 🙂