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How Long Can Duck Eggs Be Cold?

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Whether you’re eating the duck eggs or want your duck to sit on them to make baby ducks, knowing how long they can be cold will help you get the best results.

How long can duck eggs be cold?

Duck eggs you want to eat can last in the fridge for around six weeks to three months.

If you want to raise ducklings, duck eggs can only survive as potential embryos for 18 hours unless they’re warmed up to at least 90°F. You’ll need to incubate them after any drop in temperature or power outage. Even then, it may be impossible to develop them into ducklings.

Duck eggs nest

Keeping your duck eggs at the right temperature will help you get the most out of them. However, duck eggs don’t come as often as chicken eggs, so it’s vital to treat them with care to raise them or eat them safely.

Here’s what you need to know about how long duck eggs can be cold and how to care for them to make them last longer properly.

How Long Can Incubated Duck Eggs Be Cold?

Incubated duck eggs can’t last for weeks in the cold like the eggs you’re keeping in the fridge at home. To keep eggs fertile and growing, they need to be hot.

If the temperature drops too much, it can make it impossible for them to hatch.

Freezing temperatures, for example, will cause crystals to form inside the duck eggs, and there’s no way for them to incubate once that happens.

How long can duck eggs go without heat?

Anything more than 18 hours in temperatures below 90°F is enough to kill an embryo. Under those conditions, the embryo won’t form correctly, and there will be problems when it’s time to hatch – if it hatches at all.

Keeping Temperatures Stable

The cold temperature will stop embryo development, but so will fluctuating temperatures. If you want to incubate eggs, it’s best not to move them.

You’ll need to keep the heat source constant and avoid any disruption to the eggs if you want them to grow healthily.

incubating the duck's or chicken's eggs

Sometimes, people worry whether a sudden power outage or a bad bulb will negatively affect their duck eggs. In these cases, it usually comes down to timing.

For example, if the eggs are in cold temperatures for longer than 18 hours, then it’s more likely there will be fewer successful eggs, if any.

What to Do in a Power Outage?

People understandably worry about moving their eggs or changing anything in the environment.

However, incubating eggs is always a delicate process, so keeping temperature and location constant lowers the chances of failure.

Duck eggs in the farm for cooking and the soft sunlight in the morning

However, a power outage or a sudden temperature drop is enough reason to move your incubating eggs to protect them from the cold.

If you can keep your eggs warm by bringing another heat source to where they are, great. Otherwise, move the eggs to a place where they’ll stay warm.

The hotter you keep the eggs, the better off they’ll be.

Try keeping them in direct sunlight or moving them into a hot bathroom until the power comes on or until you can sort out whatever problem is happening in their regular spot.

How Long Can a Duck Egg Survive Without Incubation?

It’s crucial to keep your duck eggs hot once the incubation process starts. Once incubation begins, the stakes are much higher around maintaining the proper temperature.

duck eggs on hay

You’ll have more leeway with duck eggs that aren’t incubated. A duck egg can survive for up to a week at room temperature if it’s not incubated.

This is because the shell protects it from any significant temperature fluctuations that could damage it. The yolk also provides the food necessary to keep the embryo alive until it can get to a heat source.

This is nature’s way of giving mother ducks some time before they start to sit on their eggs. Sometimes ducks take a few days before nature kicks in, and they understand the way things are supposed to work.

The shell and the yolk are enough to get the eggs over the initial exposure and prevent any bacteria from getting inside.

How to Limit the Effects of Cold Exposure

Keeping your duck eggs warm earlier and more consistently increases the chances of successful hatching. The longer you wait to get them in the heat, the harder it will be to develop them into healthy ducklings.

However, cold exposure isn’t a definitive death sentence for a duck egg.

These eggs are designed to survive in harsh temperatures until the mother duck starts to sit on them. Here are some things you can do to get your duck eggs back on track after exposure to the cold.

Get Them into the Heat Quickly

In a warm and soft nest

The best thing you can do is to move them into a warmer place as quickly as possible.

If the egg has been incubated, you have less time to save them. Usually, anything more than 24 hours in the cold is enough to stop embryo development.

Unincubated eggs can survive longer than incubated eggs in the cold. So, typically, you’ll have a week-long window where you can start the incubation process.

If you’re taking duck eggs that are sitting outside in the cold, don’t put them directly under the heat lamp. Instead, let them slowly come to room temperature in the house or some other shelter before you start heating them up.

Have a Contingency Plan

A power outage can lead to failing duck egg incubation. This can be devastating, especially for excited duck owners eagerly anticipating new ducklings running around the yard.

To avoid disappointment, have a backup plan for when the power goes out or a problem occurs with your heat source. This will make any emergency action plan move faster when an emergency happens.

Change Bulbs Before You Start

Simple egg incubator

Avoid bulb issues by changing your heat lamp bulbs before starting the incubation process. This better guarantees the heat lamp will stay bright as long as the power source stays on.

Can Duck Eggs Survive in Water?

Some people are surprised to learn that duck eggs can survive in water. Ducks occasionally lay their eggs in water if they feel threatened.

However, the same rules around temperature apply regarding incubation.

If the duck egg hasn’t been in the water for long, you may have success incubating it. However, the longer it’s in the water, the lower the chances it will hatch when you take it out.

Final Thoughts

Remember, keeping your duck eggs out of the cold isn’t the only important thing when you want to incubate them. You must ensure the temperatures stay consistent.

Avoid exposing them to fluctuating temperatures, even if the temperatures are warm – that stops them from developing and growing into loveable ducklings!

Once the egg is fertilized, colder temperatures will shorten how long it can survive. Follow these steps to increase your success whenever you incubate eggs.


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