Back in the early days of Covid-19, egg prices surged as a result of widespread panic buying. It was such a big deal that some consumers figured that raising their own chickens would be a more economically feasible option. Now, more than two months later, it turns out that some supermarket eggs could be all you need to create some hatchlings of your own. 

Furloughed from her job, British woman Charli Lello recently felt inspired to try and hatch some quail eggs based on a Facebook video she’d seen. During her trip to Waitrose, she impulse bought some eggs as well, because why not. Though nothing happened with the quail eggs, the duck eggs showed surprising signs of life.

“After 6 days in the incubator I checked the duck eggs and could see veins and a very tiny wiggly embryo. Then the excitement kicked in," Lello, who was already raising (live and fully-formed) chickens at the time, told CNN.

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It took a few more weeks of development, but a real, live duckling emerged after a two-day birth that had Lello “glued to my incubator”. Thus, Beep was born. Though an only child for a little while, Beep was eventually joined by Peep and Meep to form a little duckling trio. Once they’re fully-feathered, Lello’s plan is to let them live outside with their adopted chicken family.

The tale of Beep, Peep, and Meep is noteworthy precisely because this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often—and definitely not by accident.

In a statement to CNN, Waitrose says that while rare, fertilized eggs are sometimes unknowingly sold because it’s “notoriously difficult to identify the sex of egg-laying white-feathered ducks”. They also note that unless you go out of your way to incubate a fertilized egg as Lello did, even fertilized eggs are “entirely indistinguishable from normal eggs” to the average eater. Without an incubator and a bit of patience, you’d essentially never really know the difference.

So while you can theoretically hatch your own ducklings by picking up a dozen duck eggs from the grocery store, you might run up quite the tab before finding the right egg. Maybe just stick to looking at cute photos of ducklings on the internet before taking the plunge.


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