This article is part 2 of 2 on “My Duck/Goose is Laying?” which is being republished from Acorn Hollow Bantams website with permission from Lou Horton.
Are there things I should do for the female while the incubation period is going on?
The most important things are 1) Keep other birds/animals from bothering her. 2) See to it that she has clean water and food handy when she comes off of the nest. 3) Candle the eggs after about 7 days to locate any infertile eggs and dead embryos and remove them. 4) Be sure that no other bird can use the nest to deposit their eggs. Such a situation creates numerous possible complications and problems.
How do I know if an egg is infertile or if the embryo is dead?
Use a flashlight with strong batteries. Eggs after one week should contain a small embryo with a large yolk sack attached; it may even be possible to see the beating heart in the 7-10 day period. Eggs which look pretty much as you would expect an “eating” egg to look are infertile. Those which contain embryos which are much smaller than the others and/or a “blood ring” contain dead embryos. Gases build up inside eggs containing dead embryos and will frequently explode or leak. The bacteria thus released can affect the other eggs and may ruin a hatch.
How should hatching eggs be stored while I am waiting to set them?
Eggs should be stored in a cool dry place in egg cartons large end up. Put a brick under one end of the egg carton and move the brick to the other end of the carton every other day or so. Eggs begin to lose hatchability gradually if stored for more than one week. Eggs which lose too much moisture before they are set have a greatly diminished chance of hatching.
I have purchased hatching eggs which are being shipped to me. How should I treat them upon arrival?
Let the eggs “settle” for 24 hours before you set them. Check them carefully for hairline cracks before setting. Sometimes such cracks can be repaired with clear nail polish but watch those eggs carefully for signs of embryo death. Be aware that if the eggs were severely shaken or dropped during shipment, they may appear infertile even if there was fertility prior to shipment. It is the reason I will never sell eggs and the reason that many shippers of hatching eggs are reluctant to offer guarantees.
Any other tips?
Be sure to write down the date that incubation began for each setting bird so the hatch date can be calculated with some certainty. Do not trust your memory for it may fail you. Think ahead and plan for how the ducklings/goslings will be raised once they are hatched. Will the mother be allowed to raise them? Will you take them and raise them in a brooder? If the mother is allowed to raise them, be sure than water containers are not deep and that the youngsters can climb out easily.
By Lou Horton