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.

If you keep ducks or are interested in keeping ducks then check out the books shown above about keeping ducks which are informative and excellent for the beginner and a handy reference for the more experienced duck keeper.

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