It is 5:50 a.m. and the duck eggs continue their long, slow process of hatching. You’d think, after a month in those tiny shells, they’d be in more of a rush. Two have hatched and are now ensconced in a brooder. One has been slowly picking out of its egg for a day and a half now. One egg has a single start of a pip in the shell, but nothing more. Still, they can start hatching up to three days apart and the hatching process itself can take up to three days, so there is plenty of time for things to happen. Ducks hatch far more slowly than chickens, even though they have about the same incubator requirements (save more humidity).
It is always tempting to assist the ducklings, but it is not advisable. Even during the hatch, the ducklings are absorbing the last of the yolk and the blood from the egg membrane. Trying to help them can lead to sorely undernourished ducklings that will have lifelong chronic problems, or cause them to bleed to death, or shock them. I did notice that the one egg that had partially pipped, the membrane had not broken, and it was tough and leathery–a sure sign one should intervene a little, so I tore the membrane in order for the duckling to be able to breathe. There is no movement in that egg and the duckling may have succumbed to an over-thick, unbreathing membrane. The other hatching egg that has been going for two days, I removed a bit of shell–maybe a square centimeter along the unzipping path–without breaking the membrane, in case it is becoming exhausted. That is all I shall do. Nature must now have her way.
Out of five eggs, we’ll end up with two to four new ducklings for the flock. Only the Green Man knows.