As duck tales go, it's one that would surprise Beatrix Potter or Hans Christian Andersen. A teenager has hatched a duckling from a Waitrose supermarket egg in the UK.

William Atkins, 14, decided to test a claim that it is possible to hatch a supermarket egg under the right conditions, reports the Daily Mail.

And 28 days after buying half a dozen duck eggs, he was rewarded with the birth of a fluffy duckling.

Cradling the week-old chick, which will be called Jeremy or Jemima once its sex has been determined, William said: "The duckling is absolutely adorable and already making little quacking noises. I am amazed a supermarket egg has actually hatched. But also really excited."


The schoolboy from Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, bought the Gladys-May's Braddock Whites free-range duck eggs and placed them under a $75 incubator bought from eBay in his bedroom.

Three days later he was stunned when after shining a torch on to the shells, he saw a beating heart.

He said: "From then on the unborn duckling grew bigger inside the shell every day. Just over three weeks later the egg began rocking and a few days after that the tiny duckling pecked its way out.

After 28 days the boy hatched a duckling from one egg. Photo / Getty Images
After 28 days the boy hatched a duckling from one egg. Photo / Getty Images

A spokesman for Clarence Court, which produces the eggs, said the odds of hatching a duckling were 'remarkably slim' but not impossible.

"The separation of males from females relies wholly upon the skill of very few qualified people. Inevitably, the odd sexing error is made.

"Our ducks are kept in small flocks with access to the outdoors. In this open-air environment, while it is infrequent, our ducks may attract the attention of wild drakes. So, while it is very unusual for males and females to come into contact with one another, it is not impossible.

"Fertilised eggs are harmless to eat, and without incubation would be totally indistinguishable from unfertilised eggs."

"I got the idea after a family discussion about whether it would be possible to hatch a supermarket egg as they are not supposed to be fertilised," said William, who lives with twin sister Eleanor, brother Michael, 17 and parents David, 47, a financial adviser, and Stacey, 48, a sales co-ordinator.

"After doing some research I read about someone who'd managed to hatch a quail's egg. But despite buying supermarket quail eggs nothing happened. So I thought I would try with hens' eggs and ducks' eggs, buying half a dozen of each.

"I wasn't really expecting any to hatch so I was thrilled when around three days after buying the eggs and placing them under the incubator I noticed one had a beating heart.

"Watching it develop over the next three weeks was fascinating. I was over the moon when it finally pecked its way out."

He added: "I love anything to do with wildlife so no one took much notice when I started incubating the egg. They were stunned that I hatched one though – especially mum, who is not sure about me keeping a duckling in my bedroom."

His father said: "I was amazed when I saw William carrying boxes of eggs into his bedroom. I confess I never thought he would actually produce a live duck."

When it grows a little larger, the duckling will go to live at a nearby farm where there are rescue ducks and a pond.

William said: "It will live the happiest life there and I will be able to visit."