Placer County 4-H
Placer County 4-H
Placer County 4-H
University of California
Placer County 4-H

Pros and Cons of Hatching Ducklings

Hatching ducklings has become a popular variation to hatching baby chicks each year.

What are some of the pros and cons?

  • Baby ducklings are very personable and bond well with people.  They love to be read to.
  • They can be very messy as they love water and are constantly playing with their food in it.
  • The length of incubation time varies according to the breed of duck, about 28 days is average while chick eggs take 21 day.
  • Use a taller incubator to allow room for the larger duck eggs and has a circulating fan to keep the air temperature even throughout the incubator.
  • Waterfowl eggs have a greater tendency to rot and cause problems in the incubator for two reasons.  The first is that ducks are not as clean in their nests and the eggs are often soiled.  Waterfowl also take longer to develop allowing another week for bacteria to grow.  Inspect eggs carefully during later stages of incubation and remove any that develop cracks and are seeping or smell bad.
  • Brooder container needs to be a large plastic storage bin to contain the moisture as they play in water and for easy cleaning.  Clear sides make for easy observation of the ducklings from a distance.
  • Use "non-medicated mash" as ducklings eat a lot more than chicks and can poison themselves on the medicated brands.
  • Baby ducklings hatched away from their mother have not water resistant oil on their down.  They should not be placed in water deeper than they can stand in and with constant supervision.  In nature baby ducklings get their water resistant oils from their mom's under feathers until they are five or six weeks old and their own oil glands begin to function.  Baby ducklings love to swim but without their mom are vulnerable to drowning and chills.

If you would like to try your hand at hatching ducklings, we have additional information to share with you when picking up your equipment and eggs.

Webmaster Email: placer4h@ucdavis.edu