As if bringing pigs onto our smallholding for the first time wasn’t enough, a couple of weeks ago we also welcomed our first Aylesbury ducklings when two of the eggs in our incubator hatched out. The first duckling needed a little help to make it out of its shell but we were lucky enough to catch the moment when the second duckling hatched.
The second egg was the last one to hatch, which was a little disappointing after starting with six. In hindsight though we've learnt some useful lessons that will hopefully make our next hatch more successful.
The main problem we encountered was that Aylesbury duck eggs are large, much larger than hens eggs. This perhaps shouldn’t have been surprising for a "heavy" breed of duck but, when we unpacked the eggs and put them into their "mini" incubator they were a lot larger than we expected and only just squeezed in.
The size of the eggs meant that they were too big for the incubator to automatically turn them. This meant we had no option but to turn the eggs by hand three times per day for the duration of the hatch. Opening the incubator several times per day in order to turn the eggs meant that it was difficult to maintain the high humidity levels that duck and other waterfowl eggs seem to prefer. As a result, we lost two of the four eggs that we thought would hatch a few weeks ago.
The good news is that the ducklings that did hatch are very healthy and have grown a lot in the last couple of weeks. If you'd like to see how they're doing then you take a look using our DuckCam which is set up to take a new photo every minute.
We'd still like a few more ducks to get our flock off to a good start so we're currently on the lookout for a larger incubator to borrow in the next few weeks. With a larger incubator and our experience from the first hatch we should get much closer to a 100% hatch rate next time around.