Hatching Geese Eggs
Incubators perform best in rooms where the temperature does not fluctuate more than 5° Fahrenheit over a 24 hour period. Consistent temperatures are especially important for still air incubators, which should be located in a room with an average temperature of 65 to 75° F. Do not position the incubator where it will be in direct sunlight or near a window, heater, or air conditioner. The incubator must be level to perform well. If the incubator is operated while askew, the temperature of the eggs will vary in different areas of the machine, causing eggs to hatch poorly.
Setting the Eggs
Start the incubator at least 48 to 72 hours ahead of time and make all necessary adjustments of temperature, humidity, and ventilation before the eggs are set. Do not set the eggs until the incubator is regulated. Trying to regulate and make fine adjustments after the eggs are in place is not a good practice. This practice is a serious mistake since one of the most critical periods for the developing embryo is the first 4 or 5 days of incubation.
Prior to being placed in the incubator, duck eggs need to be warmed up for 5 or 6 hours at a room temperature of 70° F. If cold eggs are set without this warming period, water condenses on the shells and yolks occasionally rupture.
For shipped eggs allow the eggs to settle for 10 to 12 hours at a room temperature of 70° F. This resting period can greatly increase your chances of a successful hatch by allowing the air cell within the egg to settle back to the proper position.
For high percentage hatches, it is essential that eggs are incubated in the correct position. Always set the eggs on their sides with the large end (air cell) slightly raised. If at all possible, do not disturb the eggs during the first 24 hours in the incubator.
The thermometer must be level with the top of the eggs. Do not lay the thermometer on top of the eggs since this practice will give a warmer temperature reading than actually exists at the level of the eggs. Still air incubators are normally set at 102° F and forced air incubators are maintained at several degrees lower 99.25 to 99.75° F., since all sides of the egg are warmed equally. The temperature must be watched closely at the last 7 to 10 days of incubation. During this period, an increase in temperature is often experienced, and the thermostat may need to be adjusted slightly each day to keep the eggs from overheating.
Note: Use a thermometer designed specifically for incubators since they have greater accuracy than utility models and are easier to read.
Relative humidity should be approximately 50 - 55% on the hygrometer throughout the hatch. If eggs have been cleaned the relative humidity should be 60%. The last 3 days of incubation the relative humidity should be increased to approximately 75%. The size of the air cell (normally located at the large end of the egg) is a useful indicator of whether the contents of the eggs are dehydrating at the correct rate. The air cell’s volume can be observed by candling the eggs in a darkened room. Candle eggs on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 26th days of incubation.
Note: When adding water for humidity levels always use warm water so the temperature in the incubator does not fluctuate.
The developing embryo needs a constant supply of fresh air, which is provided through vent openings in the sides and tops of incubators. Ventilation demands increase at hatching time.
I use an automatic turner. If you are hand turning this should be done a minimum of three to five times daily at regular intervals. Turning eggs a full 180° is recommended. Be sure that you turn the eggs an odd number of times each day so they are not left on the same side every night. Turning should start 24 to 36 hours after the eggs are set. Turning should be discontinued 3 days before the scheduled hatch date.
For best results when using still air incubators, eggs should be cooled once daily---EXCEPT during the 1st week. Cooling the eggs should stop on day 27 of incubating. When the room temperature is 65 to 70° F, the trays of eggs should be removed from the machine and cooled for 5 - 7 minutes a day the 2nd week, 8 - 10 minutes daily the 3rd week, and 12-15 minutes the first 4 days of the 4th week.
Note: Forced air machines work without cooling.
Spraying or Sprinkling
Spray geese eggs once a day with lukewarm tap water from the 7th to the 27th day of incubation. This will help to prevent the egg membranes from drying out and becoming tough during the hatch.
Geese eggs take approximately 30 days to hatch.