|Our new chicks.|
I later broke open the unhatched duck eggs in an effort to figure out what went wrong. The hen had abandoned them for good reason. It appears that none of them had developed and most were infertile. That means I probably don't have a slacker hen, but I probably do have a slacker drake. That is very unfortunate as I was planning to hatch out more ducklings. For the information of those who are curious about such things, if you break an incubated egg that didn't hatch and it looks like a normal egg, the egg was infertile. If the insides of the incubated egg look really nasty, then it was fertile but didn't develop properly for some reason. This is according to a book on incubation I have borrowed from a friend.
A friend had just loaned me his old Montgomery Ward wooden chicken incubator along with a battery brooder. The large forced air cabinet incubator has the capacity to do about 300 chicken eggs at a time. The battery brooder will brood 32 chicks at a time and is stacked on top of two cages that will accommodate 16 pullets each after they reach four weeks and no longer need brooding. I wasn't planning on hatching 300 chicks, but I was hoping to hatch out several dozen ducks and chickens. I figured I could sell the extra ducklings on Craig's List while I was hoping to supply family members with pullets and raise the roosters to eat. The chicken portion of the plan is still on, but I may have to look elsewhere for fertile duck eggs.