Mother Earth News Blogs > Homesteading and Livestock

Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Incubating Duck Eggs Successfully

ducklings on pasture

As I mentioned in Which Poultry Hatching Eggs are in Which Incubator?, I had been incubating duck eggs (20 Golden 300 Hybrid eggs) in a Brinsea Octagon 20 Eco poultry incubator. In my old Styrofoam incubator, I had another 20 Golden 300 eggs and 12 Pekin duck hatching eggs. I’ve been using my old incubator for 12 years and wanted to see how the Octagon compared. Which would be the best incubator?

The Octagon 20 won the competition easily: 18 of the 20 eggs hatched! A 90 percent hatch rate is absolutely remarkable. It’s also amazing that all of the eggs were fertile — the parent flock must have been managed nearly perfectly.

I’ve never been so successful hatching duck eggs or any other eggs. We may have had a 95 percent hatch if I hadn’t cracked one egg slightly when returning it to the incubator after candling it.

Brinsea Octagon 20 Eco

Of the 32 eggs in my Styrofoam incubator, I removed seven eggs during candling. They were either clear or had a blood ring in them, which means the embryo started to develop and died. One of the Golden 300 eggs from this group was clear, so I assume it was infertile. One duckling died during hatching, and five eggs didn’t hatch at all. That’s about a 60 percent hatch rate overall — about what I’d normally expect from this incubator using eggs received in the mail.

Both incubators were in my basement, where the temperature and humidity were consistent. But the temperature in the old incubator fluctuated about 6 degrees at various times, and because I don’t have an automatic turner in it, I only turned the eggs once each day. The automatic turner on the Octagon turned the eggs every hour.

Keeping the temperature consistent and turning the eggs frequently seem to have made a huge difference. If you’re thinking about buying a small incubator, I recommend the Brinsea Octagon 20. I’m thoroughly impressed by it.

Duckling photo: Matthew T. Stallbaumer

Incubator photo: Courtesy Brinsea