Should You Help Ducklings Hatch Out Of Their Shell Once The Shell Has Pipped

I often get asked if you should help ducklings hatch out of their shell and how soon to help if the duckling has pipped it’s shell.

12 days ago we had our first duckling hatch. We are new to incubating and honestly, the duck eggs are our learning tools. This little duckling was a total surprise, we found him in the incubator and had no clue he was hatching.

The next batch of eggs is due to hatch on the 25th, or so we thought. When I went in to turn the eggs just now, one of them had a piece of shell missing, though the membrane was not broken. The chip was on the large end. I could see movement behind the membrane and thought I could hear the faintest of sound of peeping.

Will this little duckling die if the membrane does not break? Do I need to spray the eggs? Is this normal? What happens now? Any advice for a newbie to this?

Thanks in advance to anyone who cares to help/advise me!

Hi Deb,
Thanks for visiting farmingfriends and leaving your comment.
I would keep an eye on your duckling that has pipped the shell. If after a couple of hours the duckling hasn’t cut through the membrane then you may decide to break the membrane.
I think that it is important to keep the humidity at the right levels and therefore spraying the eggs with warm water may help.
When hatch is imminent it is important to try not to keep opening the incubator as this will affect the temperature and humidity levels and this could affect the success of the hatch.
Keep a watch out for more eggs pipping and if once pipped, the ducklings are not hatching then you may need to help. I had to help 6 of the 7 khaki campbell ducklings I have and they are now over 20 weeks old and doing very well and all laying eggs of their own!
If you decide to help then you need to work quickly to keep the egg warm. Peel the shell and membrane a little at a time making sure that you don?t make the duckling bleed. I usually try to peel as much of the shell and membrane except for cup shape at the bottom of the shell as this is where the duckling will still be attached.I then put the duckling back into the incubator so that it can wriggle out of the remaining shell in it’s own time. It is important not to leave membrane as this will dry onto the duckling and make it hard for the duckling to get out of the shell.
I hope you find this information useful.
Let me know how your ducklings get on and best of luck.
Kind regards
Sara @ farmingfriends

Thank you so much for responding to my post. I visit your web site often, though this was my first time to ask a question or make a comment. You have a lovely farm.

We did end up helping the little duckling that hatched yesterday. The membrane was starting to dry out and looked like paper. It appeared to us that the little thing was weakening. There was less movement and less peeping. We basically opened up the area where the head was and wrapped the shell in wet paper towels to rehydrate the membrane. My husband even gave him a drink with a wet Q-tip.

When we checked on him, in the middle of the night, he had managed to come out of the shell. He appears to be premature. His yolk sack was not quite absorbed. I am sure we panicked and were too quick to intervene. We have raised the humidity level in the incubator (70%) and keep a wet paper towel wrapped loosely around him. He moves frequently and is peeping. I am not sure he will make it as his eyes seem to still be closed. He must be very immature to have been hatched.

The other eggs we started along with this one are also pipping. Four have little X crosses where they are trying to break through the large end of the shell and are rocking slightly. Through the incubator I “think” I can hear peeping. It is taking a lot of self -restraint not to open it every five minutes to check on them!

There is one more egg that has an actual chip with a very small hole in the middle, but it is at the wrong end. Will his hatching be harder?

How long do we wait until we know if they need our help? The others are hatching now, within the same 24 hour time frame of the first, so I am not sure why the one we helped yesterday would be so immature in development. Does a day make that much difference? Or will these also be a little “under-done”? I guess time will tell.

I really appreciate your taking the time to write such a detailed email. The information was very helpful. I will look at your duck forum.
Thanks so much,

Hi Deb,          
Great to hear from you. I am glad that you like my website, I really enjoy posting about my farm and animals and giving advice and help where I can. I am very priviledged to live on the farm and the animals give me hours of fun!

I am glad to hear that your duckling has survived, it sounds like you cared for the duckling very well. You did have a good success rate with your ducklings hatching. You can work out the percentages of hatchability and fertility.

Good luck with the chick hatch.

I look forward to hearing all about your ducklings progress and your chicks hatching.

Kind regards

Sara @ farmingfriends
If you keep ducks or are interested in keeping ducks then visit the farmingfriends duck forum for the latest chat about ducks and then check out the khaki campbell duck eggs for hatching sales page.

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7 thoughts on “Should You Help Ducklings Hatch Out Of Their Shell Once The Shell Has Pipped”

  1. Hi Joy,
    Thanks for visiting farmingfriends and leaving your comment. I agree it is good to hear that others help out if need be and have successes. Your daughter is certainly dedicated in taking her incubator to work! What breed of ducklings has your daughter hatched?
    Kind regards
    sara @ farmingfriends

  2. My daughter had the same problem. She had been advised to leave them alone and lost a couple of ducklings. Now she keeps an eye on them ( even taking the incubator to work when hatching is imminent!) and helps if necessary. Good to hear others are doing the same.

  3. Hi Elaine,
    Thank you for visiting farmingfriends and leaving this comment. I am delighted that my information was of help to you and your duckling. I am sorry to hear about your first duckling and glad that you were able to help your second duckling. I have 6 ducks and 1 drake and I helped 6 of them out, if not I would have just one duck. I too obviously didn’t have the conditions correct when incubating them.
    It’s a very tricky thing to get the helping out just right so that the ducklings don’t bleed.
    I just wanted to let you know that I have a duck forum that is free and it is very popular. Everyday members go on and let us know what their ducks are doing. You can find it here I hope to see you there.
    Good luck with your duckling. Let me know how the duckling progresses.
    Kind regards
    sara @ farmingfriends

  4. Sara,
    The information you have on your Website may have saved my duckling today! I am new at this so I only placed two eggs in the incubator. I believe that possibily the humidity was not correct because the first duckling died. I opened that egg to investigate and the duckling looked perfectly normal and it’s body filled the entire egg. I believe the membrane was too tough for the little guy. So when the second egg was taking too long to hatch I knew it would probably not survive since it had the same incubation conditions. I removed the hard shell and slowly and careuflly removed the membrane. The third layer was the scariest because of all the blood and goo. I waited several hours before I cut the umbilical chord. The duckling seemed happy to be out and I am able to give it water and mash with skim milk. It has a good appetite. I know it may be too early to tell but I believe he will make it and is sleeping well under his heated lamp (95-100 degrees). I just want to thank you for having this information on the Internet. It literally saved my second duckling’s life! THANK YOU!!!!

  5. Hi george,
    Thanks for visiting farmingfriends and leaving your comment. if you think the duckling has been struggling to get out for a long time then I would help it. Yes the membrane is the white paper like stuff just inside the egg shell. If you peel some of the egg shell off you will see if the membrane has any obvious blood vessels where you need to avoid. As I said in the post above I try to peel as much of the shell and membrane off leaving a cup like shape so the duckling can get out. If you leave too much membrane showing then it will dry onto the duckling when you put them back in the incubator.
    I hope that your ducklings hatch successfully. I have to help 6 of the 7 I have and now they are adults and have been producing fertilised eggs which I have been selling for hatching and so have lots of related ducklings and ducks around the UK now so this was a very successful intervention!
    Just to let you know that I have a very popular duck forum with lots of members who are will to give advice and chat about their ducks.
    Let me know how the eggs get on.
    Kind regards
    Sara @ farmingfriends

  6. hello i have 3 little duck eggs that we got on the side of our house a little while back (the mother was eaten by a fox along with 10 of her eggs) so we decided to take in the remainign 3 we have had them in an incubator well the last 2 days u can hear soooo much pepping and its very loud u can hear them perfectly fine threw the incubator and shell’s but the only problem is that one of of the ducks is trying to hatch but we think he might be stuck in the same position we can see his beack clearly and u can see some of his feathers but he hasnt moved his beak barely at all besides when he opens and closes it. the other 2 duck eggs have holes in them from when the ducks are picking at it but, but im really worried about the duck thats out of the shell. i read online that you can help the duck if its stuck and cannot help move around in the egg but i tryed earlier and i could see blood forming in some parts of the egg and i got worried and stopped. however i tryed peeling some parts of the outer shell off and the duck can move his beak a little bit more, what should i do now? also is the membrane the white paper like stuff on the inside of the shell? thanks

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