Do Female Ducks Lay Eggs Without a Male? (Answered)

Do you have a pet duck, and it laid an egg? Well, it’s surprising to those who don’t know much about duck eggs. There are lots of things you can learn about them. Go through the article to get a clear understanding of duck eggs.

Do female ducks lay eggs without a male?

Female ducks lay eggs without a male duck. It’s common in almost all duck species. Ducks need a male to produce fertilized eggs from which babies can be born. The eggs a duck produces without a male are unfertilized. Unfertilized eggs are just the egg cells that were not fertilized by sperm.

Ducks will produce eggs whether or not there are drakes. They don’t need to mate to lay eggs. But if one wants to get ducklings from the eggs, male ducks are needed.

Why do ducks lay eggs without drakes or mating? Eggs are mostly developed before the fertilization stage. 

Ducks can not know in advance if the egg is fertilized or not. So, the ducks can only grow the egg and hope that it will be fertilized. However, even with drakes, few eggs can still be unfertilized.

All the eggs we buy from departmental stores are unfertilized. Commercially sold eggs are produced by ducks that have not mated.

However, wild ducks do not produce as many eggs as domestic ones. But they also can lay infertile eggs. 

Domestic ducks are the result of the selective breeding process for thousands of years. We have designed them for laying more eggs.

In about 6-7 months, ducks start laying eggs. Domestic ducks lay an egg every 24-48 hours, no matter if they mated or not.

Ducks need companions of the opposite gender to be happy. It’s very stressful for them to stay alone for a long time. So, you need male ducks anyway. 

They are very social animals. They love to be in a group. If you have one duck, get another one as a companion while 3-4 is better. 

How do ducks lay eggs without male ducks or drakes?

Biologically, eggs without a male are half an egg that carries only the mother’s genes. Fertilization completes when the sperm adds its gene and creates a zygote.

Fertilization occurs in the infundibulum part of the ducks’ viaduct. There the ovum stays 30 minutes and becomes fertilized by sperm. If the duck did not mate, the egg remains unfertile. 

Then the egg goes to the magnum where it gets its white part and the shell. It stays 20 more hours in the duck’s uterus before laying.

What is an unfertilized egg?

An egg that was not fertilized by male sperm is called an unfertilized egg. Birds that did not mate lays unfertilized eggs. Birds can also lay infertile eggs even after mating if the fertilization was not completed properly.

Unfertilized eggs only contain egg cells where only the mother’s genes are present. So there is no possibility of hatching an unfertilized egg.

Ducks and chickens are the common birds that lay infertile eggs. Although many other birds lay infertile eggs, but not as much as ducks and chickens.

Do these ducks lay eggs without a male?

Check out if those common duck species lay eggs without a male.

Muscovy ducks:

Yes, they lay eggs without a male duck. They are a bit different from other ducks. They lay about 100-120 eggs per year which is quite a low number for ducks. If you don’t keep a male muscovy duck, they will lay unfertilized eggs. 

Pekin ducks:

Pekin ducks lay eggs without a male duck. They lay 200-300 eggs annually. They are more likely to lay eggs outside of their nest but building a nest box will encourage them to lay eggs in the nest.

Mallard ducks:

Mallard ducks also lay eggs without a male duck. They are among the poor egg-layer duck species. They can lay about 60 eggs annually.

What is the difference between fertilized eggs and unfertilized eggs?

Fertilized and unfertilized eggs contain the same amount of nutrients and there is no way to tell any difference between them from outside the shell. They both test identical and are mostly safe to eat. The differences are,

Production:

Fertilized eggs are produced by the mating of duck and drakes, while a single duck can lay unfertilized eggs without mating.

Genetically:

Fertilized eggs are complete eggs. It contains both mother and fathers genomes while unfertilized eggs contain only mothers genomes.

In incubator:

Under right incubation, fertile eggs can create embryos and ducklings but unfertilized eggs can’t be anything more than eggs.

Safety:

Fertilized eggs are completely safe to eat while unfertilized eggs can cause food poisoning rarely if not processed and stored well. It happens because poorly stored eggs can be affected by Salmonella.

Blood vessels:

One can see blood vessels inside fertilized eggs by candling after 4 days of incubating, which is a sign of growing embryos. Although unfertilized eggs can also have blood vessels rarely due to vitamin A deficiency.

Do wild ducks lay unfertilized eggs?

Yes, wild ducks can lay unfertilized eggs. But in the wild, there is no shortage of opposite-gender ducks in most cases. So they usually don’t have to lay unfertilized eggs.

We mostly farm unfertilized eggs for commercial purposes. We selectively bred the ducks that lay more eggs than usual. But in nature, ducks don’t lay eggs as much as domesticated ducks.

In nature, if a duck can’t find any male duck she will lay unfertilized eggs. However, even after mating, some eggs will still be unfertilized. 

How often do ducks lay eggs without a male?

Ducks lay eggs every 24 to 48 hours with or without a male. Usually, they lay eggs every day. But it depends on the breed. Male ducks have nothing to do with egg-laying count or time. Female ducks will lay eggs with or without a drake.

However, male ducks will help to produce hatchable eggs. 

If you decide to hatch eggs naturally, the mother duck will stop laying eggs until the ducklings grow up. This is why farmers produce unfertilized eggs for commercial purposes.

Some ducks lay eggs all over the year while some have egg-laying seasons. Most ducks lay 100 to 300 eggs per year. Ducks that lay more eggs annually are more likely to lay eggs daily.

Do ducks eggs have to be fertilized to hatch?

Absolutely yes. Not just ducks, every egg must be fertilized to hatch. Fertilization occurs when an egg cell joins with sperm.

After fertilization, an egg contains all the genetic information it needs to grow an embryo. 

But unfertilized eggs are the medium where embryos can grow but lack half of the genes that are essential for creating an embryo. 

Duck eggs need an 85 degrees F incubator set up to hatch. Although about 50-70% of eggs hatch successfully on average. 

It’s hard to tell if an egg is fertilized or not. Ducks can sit on unfertilized eggs all day hoping to hatch them. Break the broody if you know the eggs are unfertilized. 

How to know if duck eggs are fertilized?

There are some ways to know if the duck is fertilized or not. 

Predicting:

Well, it’s not a method, but it works mostly. If you have enough drakes and ducks, and they mate. You can assume that 70 to 90 percent of eggs are fertilized. 

So, if you want 10 ducklings, you should incubate a few more eggs than that.

Candling:

Candling is the most used method to check an egg’s fertility. For candling, you will have to incubate the eggs for a few days. You need a bright torchlight or similar light source, eggs that have been incubated for 4-5 days, and a dark place. 

If you shine the light underneath the egg in a dark place, some spider web-like veins will be visible if the egg is fertile. You can’t see anything like that if the egg is not fertile.

This process must be done 3 times in an incubation period- on day 4, day 10, and day 17. Remove the unfertile and dead eggs after candling each time.

Sometimes you may find some blood spots in an infertile egg. It’s confusing as it’s hard to distinguish from fertile eggs if you don’t have much experience. 

Open the egg:

After breaking an egg, you can see a small white spot in the yolk if the egg is fertile. That white spot is created by a cluster of egg cells. 

If you have 13 eggs and find that white spot after breaking one. Most likely 90% of eggs are fertile among the remainings.

Final thoughts

Female ducks can lay eggs without male ducks. But if you love your duck, you should keep a drake if possible for their comfort and happiness. Ducks can lay eggs here and there in your backyard. Make sure to collect them all. Don’t miss an egg. Happy farming!