Table of Contents
Count-Down to Hatch
Using "Ready-To-Hatch" Eggs
(If you are using “Freshly Laid” Eggs, click HERE)
For answers to some common questions, check here.
This project involves LIVING ANIMALS, and it is important that you be properly prepared. Mink Hollow Farm will provide you with eggs, food, literature and various samples. WE DO NOT PROVIDE INCUBATORS OR BROODERS. They may be available for loan from the Science Resource Center of most School Boards, and can also be purchased locally or hand-made.
Please read the Handbook ('Hatching as a School Project') and feel free to call us (at 932-6322) with any questions you may have (we welcome ALL questions) We regret that we cannot give you our eggs unless you are ready too! If you arrive for pick-up unprepared you will NOT be given eggs.
PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! …….
MAKE AND KEEP APPOINTMENTS FOR PICK-UPS AND DROP-OFFS
CHILDREN MUST BE CLOSELY SUPERVISED AT ALL TIMES AT THE FARM!!!
DO NOT KEEP DUCKLINGS IN ISOLATION - THEY MUST HAVE AT LEAST ONE OTHER DUCK FOR COMPANY. (That means don't split ducklings between classes unless you have enough for AT LEAST two per class, and DO NOT send ducklings on over-night visits alone. Ducks and geese are social creatures and need each other in order to grow up properly Isolation can amount to cruelty. This does not include having them separated for short periods within the classroom.)
WE CANNOT ACCEPT RETURNED DUCKLINGS THAT DID NOT COME FROM THIS FARM
(Our birds are all pure-bred, domestic ducks and we keep a “closed flock”. This means that we will not introduce birds into our flock whose lineage we do not know. This is crucial both for reasons of disease control and to maintain the quality of our pure-bred animals. Any birds brought to us from schools that did not come from this farm will be humanely destroyed. We realize this sounds harsh but we have been maintaining a controlled breeding program since 1987 and are not prepared to jeopardize it for your convenience. There have been a few schools in the past who have obtained additional ducklings from other sources and “slipped them in” with ours when they were returned to the farm.)
GETTING READY WITH READY-TO-HATCH EGGS:
5 WEEKS BEFORE DESIRED HATCH DATE:
Call the Farm to confirm or place your order.
ONE WEEK BEFORE EGGS ARE DUE TO HATCH:
Check your thermometer for accuracy!! We've had a number of hatching failures due to thermometers that were off by as little as 2 or 3 degrees! Call us if you need advice on how.
SET UP AND STABILIZE THE INCUBATOR (if borrowing an incubator, you will need to book it for about 2 weeks) The small 'globe' type incubators are not recommended as they have a tendency to overheat and must be closely (and almost constantly) monitored. CORRECT TEMPERATURE: 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit 37C-37.5C (99.0-99.5F) or manufacturer's instructions. EVERY incubator must have a source of heat, a place to hold water, and an ACCURATE thermometer - check and make sure all parts are there and PLEASE read the instructions for your particular incubator.
DO NOT LET THE INCUBATOR DRY OUT. Once stable, DO NOT MOVE THE INCUBATOR. Once stable, it is a good idea to mark the position of the adjusting screw so it will be easy to re-adjust if it should get bumped.
4-5 DAYS BEFORE EGGS ARE DUE TO HATCH:
Set up the brooder so it will be ready as soon as the ducklings are. The brooder need not be pre-heated. The lamp can be turned on when the first duckling goes in.
You will need a place to keep eggs WARM and SAFE while in transit. A towel on a hot-water bottle in a box or cooler will do fine. It will not keep them at the correct temperature but it will keep them warm enough for an hour or so until you can get them into the incubator. REMEMBER: EVERY move is a stress on the eggs. Please take the eggs directly to school and do not leave the eggs out of the incubator longer than one hour EVEN if warm. If you have other errands to do at the same time as you are picking up eggs, make sure you get the eggs LAST thing before going to your school. We will do our utmost to make sure you get three lively eggs per kit BUT… please keep in mind that we have limited control over the time of hatching so it may occasionally be necessary to substitute live ducklings for some of the eggs (especially if you wait till the last minute to pick up your eggs).
PICK-UP TIMES: 1:00 - 4:00 PM SUNDAY; Please phone to confirm the time we may expect you. We may have as many as 20 pick-ups in one weekend so if we can set up a half-hour 'appointment', you will be assured of individual attention and a brief tour of the facilities. We are not set up for class tours but you are welcome to bring your own children along. Don't forget your camera! On long weekends, the pick up times are shifted to Monday. The hatch due-date will be adjusted accordingly.
LOOKING AT THE EGGS: Eggs may be removed from the incubator to be examined and listened to for about 2-3 minutes every hour or so once the hatch has begun. Make sure the incubator stays closed while the egg(s) is(are) out and watch the thermometer to make sure the temperature returns to normal quickly once the egg(s) is(are) returned.
THE HATCH: DUCKLINGS ARE SLOW TO HATCH DO NOT RUSH THEM. It may take 1-2 days for the hatch to complete once the egg has pipped so as long as the duckling is moving and noisy try to be patient. DO NOT remove the duckling before ALL the blood has drained from the blood vessels lining the shell. This will take 36-48 hours from the first crack in the shell Caesarean Sections DO NOT WORK on birds - it will kill the duckling. Some ducklings are quite speedy and may be out as soon as 18 hours after they have pipped. This is great but slower ones are more common and nothing to worry about.
AFTER THE HATCH:
If the brooder is warm (it should only take 10-20 minutes to warm up), it is safe to move the new ducklings in 2-3 hours after they hatch They still won't be quite dry so make sure they don't get chilled. They will also be safe in the incubator over night so whether you move them sooner or later depends on the time of day they hatched and your personal preference The new babies can be handled by the class (gently) as soon as they are dry. This is the time when the ducklings learn who 'mom' is, and they are just as happy having a whole classroom full of people as parents as they are with their real mother. Try to keep the noise level low but don't panic if you fail - the ducklings don't seem to mind the noise. Your new babies can go swimming in WARM water within 24 hours of hatching - once they are steady on their feet ALWAYS make sure they are closely watched and not allowed to get chilled.
WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED: WE NEED TO KNOW IF YOU ARE RETURNING THE DUCKLINGS OR GIVING THEM TO SOMEONE ELSE. Please do us the courtesy of phoning to let us know where they are going. Remember, they are NOT to be given away for show/breeding stock If they are being given away it is for pet or meat/eggs ONLY. If they are coming back to us we MUST know when. Returns will normally be accepted on FRIDAYS from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. If these times are not convenient, we can make other arrangements. DO NOT LEAVE DUCKLINGS WHILE WE ARE NOT HOME unless you have made specific arrangements and make sure the box is well labeled (with the school's name).