A woman recently was able to hatch three ducklings from duck eggs she bought at the supermarket. The U.K. woman, Charli Lello, decided to try the experiment since she had plenty of time to hand-rear the chicks because of coronavirus lockdown. Lelllo said that she knew there was a a good chance that chicks would never emerge from the eggs, but that she had been inspired to try it after seeing a Facebook video of someone hatching quail eggs from the grocery.
Lello said that since the eggs had been shipped she didn’t know if fertilized eggs from the store could even hatch, “They have been collected, bashed around on a delivery truck, then rattled around on a trolley onto a shelf, picked up and put down by who knows how many people, so they still might not go all the way.”
Lello also said that had she not been furloughed due to the Covid-19 pandemic that she simply would not have had the time to raise the three ducklings.
The incubator she bought for this experiment included a heart monitor and after a few days in the device the heart monitor alerted her to the ducklings with a beeping sound. Hence, the three ducks are named Meep, Beep, and Peep.
But, how does something like this happen? On the farm the males and females, drakes and hens/ducks respectively, are kept separate from each other to ensure that the eggs the hens lay are not fertilized. But, the duck eggs in question are from the Braddock white breed, purchased at supermarket chain, Waitrose. According to a representative for the grocery store, the male and female ducks have different coloring, which means if there is the occasional odd white drake he can be separated from the other males and put with the hens and that white ducks are “notoriously difficult” to tell the sex of.
The farm from which the eggs came, Clarence Court Farms, also issued a statement, saying that, “It is a feat of remarkably slim odds that a duckling has been hatched. But we acknowledge that it’s not impossible.
This is not the first time this has happened from Waitrose duck eggs. There was a case of ducklings hatching from grocery eggs in 2019 and another in 2007, both of which were started with the Clarence Court Farms Braddock White duck eggs.
In some parts of the world duck eggs are used almost interchangeably with chicken eggs. Many people and farmers prefer them because they have thicker shells which means they last longer. Duck eggs are also bigger and have more flavor than chicken eggs. The reason for this is that ducks eat a lot more protein than chickens do- ingesting slugs, snails, and small bugs over plant matter. Perhaps this is why so many duck eggs from the grocery are undamaged by the shipping and refrigeration process.
As for Lello’s three new pets, she expects that they will lead a happy life with her chickens. Lello also has a pet rabbit, as well as other pets. Clearly she’s an animal lover at heart!
Once the story blew up she posted a statement on her Facebook page for anyone who was hoping to replicate this experiment, “I do feel like it’s my responsibility to say that if you are planning on trying this PLEASE assume it will work. I have had experience incubating reptile eggs so it was a system I was already familiar with. Make sure you have the adequate set up and space to look after them AND a back up place for them if it doesn’t quite go to plan.
Research thoroughly and be prepared for anything. Ducklings are cute but they are very messy, eat a lot of food and require a Niacin rich diet to thrive.
I do not want to be the cause of an influx of dumped domestic ducks in rivers, lakes and rescue centres.
They will not survive in the wild.”