Unfortunately only one egg hatched Friday...the other four had perished. Below is my lone Ancona (yellow) with a Rouen (black) buddy which we picked up at a feed store so that my duckling wouldn't be lonely (they're social creatures). I'm going to give things another go this week with a set of new eggs and a brand spanking new incubator which is supposed to control everything...temperature, humidity, turning, etc. Hopefully we'll have a higher success rate. In the mean time, we get to watch this little guy or gal grow up! (They're snuggled up to a teddy bear for comfort and warmth)
Egg 4/7a externally pipped yesterday evening and wasn't much further along this morning...but this little duckling was absolutely determined to hatch on time! He/she really picked up the pace and was completely free for its shell at 11:17am this morning. Below is the "play by play":
After candling all the other eggs last night, it appears that at least one is confirmed internally pipped and another close if not actually pipped (it was too hard for me to tell one way or another). 4/9, which was the egg so quick to develop at the beginning of the month, appears significantly different than the other eggs...which is not a good thing and may indicate a late death. That just leaves one more egg and I'm not sure what it's up to. All I (we) can do is cross our fingers and wait...
I woke up this morning hoping 4/7a had externally pipped over night, but alas...he/she did not. I DID, however, see it move last night! As the duckling works its way through the internal membrane, its movement causes the egg as a whole to move around. I hope more will be moving and 4/7a has pipped its shell by the time I get home today. Below is a video that goes through a duck egg hatch. Towards the end is when the egg demonstrates movement (like what I saw last night) prior to externally pipping. It's pretty neat!
Egg 4/7a (lower left) internally pipped today! Two other eggs look like they're close. Ducklings typically externally pip (break through the shell) within 24 hours of having internally pipped. Any day now (I hope)!
The outer most dotted line reflects how the air cell has grown since the first dotted line drawn on Day 7 (the second dotted line is Day 14). Tomorrow (Tuesday) is LOCK DOWN DAY! Apparently the incubator should remain closed and not disturbed three days prior to the anticipated hatch day which is hopefully this Friday! I don't know that I can stand not handling them for the next three days...it has been so fascinating to watch the little buggers grow and move. I just gotta hold out for fuzzy ducklings instead I suppose.
Well, we're into week 3 of incubation. On day 11 I discovered egg 4/8 (recall they're ID-ed by the date they were collected) no longer had visible blood vessels nor a noticeable dark spot indicative of a developing embryo. Based on comments and info I researched online, I waited several days (having been out of town the last couple days) to candle it again only to discover no change. So, to make sure what killed the developing embryo wasn't a risk to my other eggs, Ben and I cracked open the egg to examine the contents. The only thing we saw was plain ol' egg yoke with barely discernible remnants of blood vessels that I had previously seen. No bad odor or blood rings...apparently just an early death. I am well aware that 100% hatches are rare in artificial incubation and anticipated losing one or two (besides, my duck run wasn't set up to house six ducks!). So now I am down to five eggs and they all seem to be doing swimmingly! Ha ha! Get it? Ah, duck humor. It's hard to believe that in 10-11 days I should be seeing the little ones hatch! I'm nervous but very eager to see them. I'll be sure to post lots of pics of their birth!
Check out what I saw 5 of my 6 eggs do yesterday when I candled them... (The video is not of my egg, but DEFINITELY illustrates what I saw) Totally freaked me out at first because I had not read anything about it happening, not at least so early in development!
Friday (day 7) marked the end of week one of incubation. Eggs can be candled (use of a bright light to see the contents of an egg) around day 7 to determine fertility and the rate at which they are dehydrating. I am happy to announce that all six of my duck eggs are fertile and progressing nicely! Below is one of my eggs being candled on a flashlight and toilet paper tube, my DIY egg candler.
The green arrow is identifying the air cell which is used to determine whether the egg is dehydrating correctly. You can see where I drew a dotted outline of the air cell (below) for comparison at the next candling. The dates on the eggs reflect when the breeder collected the eggs. The blue arrow identifies the "eye" of the embryo and what will eventually be a duckling! Finally, the pink arrows are pointing out developing blood vessels, nourishing the embryo. Week two will constitute an increase in incubator temperature to 102 degrees and a seven minute cooling period & light spraying of water each day.
After several years of work and frustration (the whole saga is outlined in the posts below), I am happy to announce I acquired Ancona hatching eggs yesterday! They are presently in my incubator staying at a toasty 101.5ish degrees. If all goes well, I'll have 6 darling ducklings around May 8th! While the incubation period is pretty uneventful, keep checking back as the hatch date nears for updates.