Hatching Duck and Goose Eggs

Get a Little Duckling or Gosling by Following These Tips

Duckling coming out of the shell

Nothing is cuter than a duckling, except maybe a gosling. If you are in the market for one or several of these babies, you can either buy them already hatched or you can hatch them yourself. You may be wondering, "How long does it take for duck eggs to hatch?" Following the steps included here will help ensure you a successful hatch in about 28 days for ducks and 30 days for geese. Here's how to hatch duck eggs and goose eggs.

The first step is to gather the supplies needed. Here's what you'll need.

  • Gather eggs that are most likely fertile, have no cracks, are regular shape and size and are fresh, meaning they are no older than seven days for ducks and four days for geese.
  • An egg incubator or setting hen is needed for incubation of eggs.
  • A hatching thermometer is needed to regulate the temperature and humidity.

Choosing an egg incubator usually depends on several factors:

  • Number of eggs being hatched.
  • How much time is available to tend to the incubator and eggs.
  • Cost.

Forced-air incubators are bigger, have an automatic turner, are used on larger hatches and cost more. Still-air incubators are smaller, do not have an automatic turner, are used for smaller hatches, cost less and are more commonly used.

Okay, now you have your eggs, incubator and hatching thermometer. The next step is to set up the incubator following these steps.

  1. Beginning two days before setting the eggs, turn on the incubator and add water as stated in the directions supplied with the incubator.
  2. Place the hatching thermometer where the eggs will be located.
  3. Stabilize the temperature at 99.2F for ducks and 99.5F for geese. The relative humidity for hatching goose eggs and duck eggs is very important. It should be 50-55% for both ducks and geese. To adjust the temperature:
    • Find the thermometer and heating element, often located on the lid.
    • Set the thermostat by using the small adjusting screw and a wing nut.
  4. Allow the temperature to rise in the incubator by closing the lid.
  5. A small red indicator light should come on when the heating element is working.
  6. Raise or lower the temperature by loosening the wing nut, located with the adjusting screw and turning the adjusting screw counter-clockwise until the red indicator light comes on or goes off depending on if the temperature needs to rise or fall.
  7. Regulate the temperature.
    • Check temperature every 10 minutes until the temperature reaches 98F.
    • Check more often from 98F to 99F.
    • After it reaches 99F, move the adjusting screw until the indicator light goes off.
  8. Allow the incubator to sit for 30 minutes.
  9. If temperature is correct, tighten the wing nut. If temperature is not correct, adjust the screw and check again in 20 minutes.
  10. Increase the relative humidity by adding more pans of water.
  11. Once the temperature is correct and stable in the incubator, it is time to place the eggs.
    • Mark the eggs with an X on one side and an O on the other if using a still-air incubator.
    • Place eggs in incubator with all of the Xs showing or all of the Os showing.
    • After the first 24-hours, turn the eggs 3 times daily using the Xs and Os to be sure every egg is turned.

Forced-air incubators have automatic turners that do this for you, so hatching an egg may be a bit simpler with this. Do not continue turning after pipping begins, which is when the duckling or gosling begins to break the egg. This is usually on or around day 27. Temperature settings are very important, so watch them carefully and adjust if needed. If using a still-air incubator, you should add two degrees to all of the temperature measurements in this article to achieve the proper conditions for the eggs.

  • The first 14 days the temperatures should be 99.2F for ducklings and 99.5F for goslings. The temperature should be lowered to 99F from day 15 to day 25 for ducklings, but remain the same for goslings.
  • Temperature for day 25 to hatching should be 98.6F for ducklings and remain at 99.5F for goslings. Relative humidity should remain at 50-55% for the first 27 days, and then increase to 75% for days 27-30 for goslings.
  • For goslings, on days 4 through 27, the eggs must be allowed to cool for 15 minutes daily and be sprayed with lukewarm water.

Once hatching has begun, leave the duckling or gosling in the incubator until it has completely dried, then move it to a brooder.

If you would like to allow the duck hen to set on her eggs, you will need to ensure that she has the freshest eggs in the nest by dating them with a pencil daily until she begins to set. Remove the older eggs leaving only the amount of new ducks you would like to hatch. The hen should be allowed to build her own nest. Keep people and other animals away from the nest at all times. It should be left alone at all times, including when the hen leaves to eat and drink.

Goose hens can also be allowed to set on their eggs. But if you are wanting or needing eggs during this time, it may be wiser to allow another hen, such as a chicken, duck or turkey to set for her as she will quit laying eggs once she has her clutch of eggs finished. Chicken hens can handle between four and six goose eggs, duck hens can set on any amount between eight and 10, and turkey hens can set on 10-14 goose eggs.

These tips should help you when hatching eggs. Make sure you follow the directions carefully because the temperatures vary. Remember, before hatching duck and goose eggs, make sure you know how to care for the duckling and gosling.


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