Imagine with me for one second: you have a stubborn duck that won’t sit on her eggs to hatch them. You don’t want the incubation time to go by, and the duck isn’t doing you any good. Meanwhile, your Silkie is sitting on her throne, doing nothing. A situation like this begs the question: can silkies hatch duck eggs?
Can Silkies Hatch Duck Eggs?
Silkies are excellent brooders and will brood anything that resembles an egg, even turkey, quail, and duck eggs. You will need to make sure she has everything she needs to brood, such as having her food and water close.
If you leave a clutch of golf balls lying around, you’ll come back to find your Silkie sitting over it. That’s because they’re among the broodiest birds out there. If you don’t have an incubator, get yourself a couple of silkies!
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The process needs some work on your part. Of course, the Silkie will do the hatching work, but you need to do some things to ensure she does the job.
Here’s a detailed overview of the process.
Has Your Silkie Gone Broody?
The first thing you should do is check if your Silkie has gone broody. It’s going to be pretty easy to find that out since the hen’s habits will change.
For starters, she’ll stay inside the nesting box all day. When you get too close to her, she’ll start clucking at you, which is unusual behavior for a Silkie.
If your Silkie is still not broody, and you want her to be, you can do a couple of speed up the process.
For example, you can grab some dummy eggs and put them in her nesting area. You can also use unfertilized eggs.
Once your Silkie goes broody, you can start putting the fertilized duck eggs under her.
The eggs should be no longer than ten days old without incubation since it’ll affect the hatch rate.
How Many Eggs Can a Silkie Sit On?
Even though silkies can hatch eggs of all kinds, there’s a limit to the number of eggs they can hatch at once. If you’re hatching a bantam’s eggs, a clutch of 10 will be enough.
Meanwhile, if we’re talking about duck eggs, a silkie can sit on five at a time. As for regular hen eggs, you can put up to six eggs.
If you’re hatching eggs larger than average, add only 2–3 eggs every time. Make sure the eggs are completely covered to ensure all the eggs are staying warm.
How to Care for Your Silkie While She’s Sitting on the Eggs
A silkie sitting on her eggs won’t require much from you. You’ll merely have to ensure she has a comfortable, warm spot to lay, access to food and water until the incubation ends.
The Silkie should get off her eggs daily to eat. She’ll likely do it on her own, but broody silkies often forget to do so.
In this case, it’s your job to keep the water and food close by, so the Silkie will be able to get to them quickly without ditching her eggs for long. While your Silkie is brooding, feed her a chick starter ration, as it’s higher in protein and lower in calcium than regular layer feed.
If she still doesn’t get up, she’ll need some encouragement on your part.
Gently push her, so she gets off the eggs. You’ll likely endure some noise in return since a broody silkie is highly loyal to the eggs she’s sitting on.
The Silkie will stay on her eggs for about 21 days before they start to pipe, but the period may differ according to the eggs.
If you’re hatching Pekin duck eggs, they’ll hatch after 28 days approximately. Meanwhile, Muscovy duck eggs will take about 35 days to hatch.
There’s no need to worry, and your Silkie hen will hatch the duck eggs no matter how long the incubation period lasts.
What Should You Do When the Silkie’s Eggs Start Piping?
When you notice the eggs piping, this means the chicks are about to welcome the new world. The first step, called piping, is when the ducklings use their beaks to break the egg’s shell from their place inside.
The piping doesn’t start at a specific time. It may begin to two days before the hatching date or be delayed up to three days after. The essential thing is to stay patient and do a couple of things to help your hen.
Here’s what you’ll have to do.
Remove Other Hens
If your coop is full of chickens, you’ll need to provide some peace for your Silkie. It’s better to keep the surrounding atmosphere calm, so she can stay comfortable while the eggs are hatching. You can do that by moving the rest of the hens somewhere else.
You may think of moving the Silkie since it’s much easier than moving a dozen hens.
However, I advise against that. Moving the Silkie while she’s hatching the eggs may disrupt her, and you don’t want anything to go wrong.
You can delay this step until the eggs hatch, and they’re a few days old.
Leave the Chicks Be
I know it’s tempting to help the chicks while they’re coming out of the egg. You’ll think that the tiny creatures are helpless, and you’ll want to grab their hand to fasten the process. However, the consequences might be deadly.
The chicks are fully aware of their life process from the moment they’re born, so your helping will do them no good.
Trying to peel the shell away may rupture one of the blood vessels, which will cause the chick to bleed to death.
Additionally, when the chicks are still not out of the shell, although the piping started, that means that they’re not ready yet.
The piping can last for up to 36 hours before the egg hatches.
Feeding the Ducklings
Once the ducklings are born, your responsibility will shift from the Silkie toward the baby ducklings. When they first hatch out of their eggs, they won’t be able to eat what a fully-grown duck eats.
In this phase, chick crumbs will be enough for them.
Moreover, get a chick feeder for this purpose since that’s the only thing the ducklings will be able to eat out of. They’ll be too weak for their own good!
Keep feeding the Silkie her normal amounts, but you’ll need to monitor the baby ducklings. Ducklings are often curious about everything they see around, so they might go snooping around their mother’s feeder.
To avoid that, place it high off the ground, where they can’t reach it. Baby ducklings should not be allowed to eat the same feed you’re feeding the hen.
Once the ducklings are 4–5 weeks old, you can move them into a grower. Then, you can convert the crumbs to adult food when they’re about 20-week old.
Along with the crumb feeder, you’ll need a water feeder. Avoid using a saucer or similar containers; the duckling may drown easily in one of those, no matter how shallow.
Some Tips to Follow If Your Silkie Is Hatching Duck Eggs
If you’re new to the process, you’ll need some help with your Silkie. Not all chicken owners are aware of the silkies’ hatching skills. Here are a few tips so that the process goes smoothly.
Pick the Right Silkie
If you notice one of your silkies isn’t reliable enough to let her hatch eggs, then don’t. Although silkies are known for their excellent motherly skills, every hen is unique. Not all Silkie hens have the maternal instinct to sit on eggs.
Make sure you can depend on your broody Silkie to eat her regular amounts and sit on the eggs until the incubation ends. If your hen has the motherly instincts, you won’t have to force the process.
Observe the Eggs
When you expect the eggs to start piping, it’s better to keep an eye on them in case anything happens. That’s especially essential if your Silkie is a first-timer.
Have an incubator ready if you’re not sure of your Silkie’s habits. Incubators are not that expensive, and if you’re planning on breeding chickens, it’s a must-have. This egg incubator is perfect, especially if your Silkies don’t like brooding or you have other breeds.
Silkies can hatch any eggs you put under them! If the eggs are fertilized, you can rest assured you’ll be getting ducklings!
What’s important is that you watch the hen’s eating habits and make sure the other chickens don’t bother her. Once the ducklings hatch, the Silkies won’t mind sharing their living space. Yes, ducks and Silkies can live together.
There are some differences between raising Silkies and chickens, so you’ll want to know how to keep them happy while they live together.