Be­ware too much humidity in the in­cu­ba­tor

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

QI tried to hatch some duck eggs this sum­mer and al­though most of them were fer­tile, none of them hatched. What do you think may have been the prob­lem?

AVic­to­ria says: If you were us­ing an in­cu­ba­tor, it is likely to have come with in­struc­tions to add wa­ter at the be­gin­ning of the in­cu­ba­tion pe­riod. The man­u­fac­tur­ers have to cover their backs. How­ever, here in the UK we live in a gen­er­ally damp cli­mate and while peo­ple think that wa­ter­fowl need a more hu­mid at­mos­phere to de­velop than, say, chick­ens, this is quite wrong. A fer­tile egg must lose 13% of its weight in or­der to hatch. The weight loss is mainly mois­ture and if there is too much humidity in the in­cu­ba­tor from the start, the duck­lings are too large to turn around to break out of the shell and they die. The shell mem­brane needs mois­ture to re­main pli­able for the duck­ling to break it and get into the airspace be­fore hatch­ing. That is when the humidity must rise to the max­i­mum.

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