I put more duck eggs in the new-and-improved incubator tonight. I spent the money to add the egg turner and fan options to my “stock” incubator. Now I think I’m invested over $100 in the thing! I have to make a lot of babies to pay for that! Here is tonight’s load, only 14 eggs over 2 weeks from 2 ducks (well, I broke one more):

Duck eggs in incubator.

Since I had such a poor hatch rate the first time, I’m stepping up with the added incubator features. I thought hand-turning was a pain, so the electric turner is a welcome convenience. The product’s literature warns that it’s not for duck eggs, which are large. But I gambled, and am finding they seem to fit fine, turn fine, and are not too close to the heating element. It might be a problem if it were full, however, they didn’t fit so well when I tried setting them next to each other.

The fan option is supposed to more evenly distribute the heat across all the eggs. This time, I’ll also be more careful about humidity, especially the last several days before the hatch. I plan to include wet sponges to supplement the water channels in the bottom of the foam box.

My reasons for incubating are twofold. First, I want to keep the hens laying- if they collect eggs for two weeks, set for four, then supervise babies for another month or two, that occupies them through peak laying season. Their job is partly to generate dog food ingredients to earn their keep, so I want them to keep laying. I have also decided that incubation and indoor-rearing make tame ducklings, which is much preferable to me. They are easier to manage and  handle, and more practical for their second job, which is being the subject of the dogs working on their herding skills. When I pet-sit my mom’s ducks, they are nearly suicidal when I approach them, crashing into the barn walls; and they are impossible to catch once they get loose in a panic.

The third job of the ducks has nothing to do with incubation, and that is to eat slugs! I am fairly afraid of slugs, that’s my one phobia, so I am thrilled that the ducks are so happy to eat them! It grosses me out to watch, however, as they struggle with a huge slime drool for quite a while after wolfing one down. So here’s hoping I’ll have 14 more slug eaters 28 days from now!