Ask the Swan Specialist
Date: 24 April 2016
Once they hatch, they are going to imprint on you as their mother. The best thing to do is get these eggs to a wildlife rehabilitation center or a facility such as a petting farm where they can be hatched and integrated into other young ducks, geese, etc.
Once they imprint on you, they will never be allowed to live in the wild (and it is doubtful even in a setting such as a wildlife rehabilitation center/farm that they can be). No other swan will accept them as young and will even try to kill them, which is why it is important to introduce them in a setting with other young waterfowl that can be housed and cared for.
Within 24 hours of hatching, they will begin to feed. You will need to lightly douse them with warm water and dry them thoroughly to start the process of them learning how to care for their feathers. Feed them by placing poultry layer mash and cracked corn in water. They must have water to feed. Once they are approximately 1 week of age, you can place them in a small bowl of water to get them to feed while they float on the water. Then, again, you must dry them so they do not catch cold and you can only leave them in the water for approximately 5 minutes until they age. Once they age, then the water sessions can increase in time. You must be able to allow them to feed whether they are in water or on land all day long. Once you start the water sessions, they must have 2-3 sessions of floating in the water as they age.
All of this is going to be laborious and time consuming. This is going to be a 24 hours job as they will scream when they want something. If you are not paying close attention, they may starve, become dehydrated, get ill and even die.
The swans must be provided a flooring that is not slick or abrasive and they must not be allowed to climb on anything. There should be a zero entrance into whatever water feature with food you supply or they can injure themselves (feet and legs). Once a swan's leg or feet are severely injured, they cannot and usually, will not survive.
The swans must be maintained in a warm ventilated area with no direct drafts. They must also be kept safe from any harmful fumes such as gas or any other substances as well as predators (domestic--dogs, cats or wild- raccoons, etc.).
Once the swans are 4-6 weeks of age, they can be placed in a pen (completely enclosed top to bottom so that no predators can dig under or climb into the pen). The outside bottom rail of the pen up to four feet of the pen should be enclosed in plastic poultry fencing so that the cygnets cannot climb out of the pen or predators such as raccoons can reach into the pen and grab the cygnets. The pen should be 1/2 in water and 1/2 on land with a zero entrance and a feeder place inside. Once the cygnets are approximately 3 months of age, they can be released into a larger pond, but again, the pond must be completely enclosed top to bottom. The water level in all water features at 4-6 weeks of age and beyond should be at least 2-3 feet in depth. The swans must be able to enter and exit the water with no stress on the birds and no rough or high edges to injure their feet. Again, a zero entrance must be used.
As you can see, if you are not prepared for this 24 hour care for the rest of their lives, it would be best that they live in a controlled captive setting in which they can be properly maintained for the duration of their lives. The Regal Swan