Did your duck just lay her first egg? Congratulations! That means you have been treating her well and that she will likely be laying many more going forward. Now you have several options depending on what you want to do with this and future eggs.
If you have an egg-laying duck, you can eat the eggs, store them for future use, incubate them to get more ducklings, or you can sell them. In this article, we will detail how to handle ducks eggs, how to store them, and how to incubate ducklings.
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When Do Ducks Lay Eggs?
When your ducks are at the age of 6 to 7 months, they’ll often be ready to lay eggs. You may find them looking out for secluded areas to nest, so it’s always best to watch their tracks if you wish to collect their eggs. Unlike chickens, ducks don’t always lay eggs daily. Instead, you’ll often find ducks laying eggs with a 1 to 2 days interval, so you can set up a collection schedule accordingly.
Having ducks in your yard is an interesting experience for most backyard farmers. Not only are these animals gracefully beautiful for a pond, their verbal banter among one another can tell you a lot about your ducks’ habits.
For instance, it may be hard to tell when your ducks are going to lay eggs. However, you can probably tell that your ducks are ready to lay if they’re headed toward more secluded areas like bushes or behind the yard and quacking away.
Most farmers believe that a duck will nonverbally inform the other ducks that it is ready to lay eggs and has claimed that nesting spot to itself. If you’re noticing this in your ducks, it may be worth watching out for its nesting spot.
The number of eggs depends highly on the breed. Some domesticated ducks, such as the Cayuga, will lay 100 to 150 eggs annually. Other breeds, such as the Indian runner duck, can produce well over 300 eggs a year. Wild mallards usually produce two clutches or 10 to 13 eggs a year.
What to Do When Your Duck Starts Laying Eggs
As most ducks usually lay their eggs late at night or early in the morning, it’s recommended that you begin collection first thing when your day begins.
This is to avoid dirt contamination of the duck eggs, especially if you’re looking to incubate them. Subsequently, if you notice your ducks laying eggs, then you may want to come back in an hour or two to collect the eggs. This will provide the ducks ample time to stay nesting after laying the eggs.
Not all ducks regularly lay their eggs in a nesting box, so you’ll often spot duck eggs being laid wherever your ducks may fancy including behind the shed, in muddy areas, or even where they poop. Whether you’re considering incubating the eggs or to store them for consumption, it’s important to keep your duck eggs cleaned after collection. This is to avoid any bacteria from penetrating through the eggshells.
To clean your duck eggs, grab a ball of fine steel wool to scrub away any dried dirt or manure. You can then wipe it clean with a damp cloth. You should avoid rinsing it with water as this may remove the waxy coating that protects the duck eggs naturally.
Should you truly need to use water, then make sure to rinse the duck eggs only with warm water. Using cold water may cause the contents of your duck eggs to contract, allowing bacteria contamination through the eggshells. Dry your eggs quickly after rinsing and store them accordingly.
How to Store Duck Eggs
As ducks usually lay their eggs with a 1 to 2 days interval, you may soon find yourself overrun with duck eggs if you have a large flock. Here are some easy steps to follow if you wish to keep your duck fresh and available.
1. After collection, gently clean your duck eggs to get rid of any dirt or manure. You may use a ball of fine steel wool to scrub away any dried manure and wipe clean with a damp cloth after. It isn’t recommended to wash your duck eggs with water as this can strip the eggshells of its natural waxy covering. If you must use water, however, be sure to use only warm water to avoid bacteria contamination.
2. Keep your duck eggs in an egg basket and leave at room temperature. It isn’t necessary to keep the eggs in the fridge, although it’s recommended to keep the eggs in a cool spot and away from direct sunlight.
3. If you’re interested in giving or selling eggs to friends and family, place them in a regular egg carton. As duck eggs are often larger than chicken eggs, you may need to use a rubber band to close the egg carton properly.
4. Duck eggs usually stay fresh for 2 weeks when kept cool. If you’d like to keep it fresher for longer, then you may place them in a plastic box and store them in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.
5. You can freeze duck eggs for long-term storage, but do not freeze the shelled eggs as that will cause an unpleasant texture. Instead, you should either whisk whole raw eggs or separate whites and yolks. Also, add a little salt to the yolks. Then pour it into small containers and place the containers in the freezer.
As duck eggs usually contain more fat than chicken eggs, they’re known to be creamier when used for cooking. In most Asian cultures, duck eggs are the preferred choice when making bread spreads or cooking. Sponge cakes made of duck eggs have also been known to be fluffier, lighter, and have a more vibrant color.
How Do I Incubate Duck Eggs?
Aside from using your duck eggs for consumption, you may also consider incubating them. Let’s look at some ways you can successfully incubate duck eggs.
For starters, you’ll have to pre-select several duck eggs that are suitable for incubation. Larger eggs have a higher chance of successful incubation, but they must be free from any cracks or have poor eggshell texture. Duck eggs that are kept for longer periods may also have fewer chances of being incubated, so it’s best to use duck eggs that have been freshly laid within 7 days.
After cleaning the duck eggs from dried dirt or manure, you can begin the incubation process. Keep note of the temperature of the incubation area, as lower temperatures may cause the duck embryo to die.
Optimally, you’ll want to store the egg in a 55°F condition with its pointed end facing downwards for not more than a week.
Meanwhile, prepare the incubator if you’re looking to incubate the egg artificially.
1. Begin by setting the incubator to 99.5°F and control the humidity within the incubator to approximately 70%. If the conditions of your incubator are too damp or too dry, you may run the risk of the duck egg not hatching.
2. Place your duck egg inside the incubator and be sure to turn the egg once every 3 hours at a 90° angle manually. This is to help your duck embryo move about and deter it from sticking to the shell.
3. Most duck eggs will hatch after 28 days, although in breeds like the Muscovy, the incubation period may take up to 35 days.
While there is much to do when your duck starts to lay eggs, these are exciting times for most farmers. When properly cared for, you’ll be able to run through the process of your ducks laying eggs with little fuss.
Be sure to provide your ducks with proper feed and calcium if you notice that they’re not laying eggs, or search around secluded areas in case you’ve missed their nesting spot.