Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Going quackers!

We had a hen who kept wanting to set on eggs and was giving me quite the hissy fit every time I took the eggs out from under her. We had been discussing getting some Indian Runner ducks for Jack to learn how to herd with, so with that we started to look for fertilized eggs. Much to my surprise, a friend in the next town over has a pair of Indian Runner ducks. I contacted her and she was willing to help me with my little "experiment". How well will a hen take to duck eggs and will she have the desire to rear the ducklings? I did some reading up online and found a site that said that I need to sprinkle water on the eggs the hen is sitting on ... no, I don't think so! Since there is just one hen duck, I ended up going to her house two days in a row to pick up the egg she laid that morning. I moved the hen into the corridor in our hen house and gave her a small dog kennel for her nest. She was non plussed about the move until the day that I popped the first egg under her. She gladly accepted the egg and snuggled it under her breast. The second day, no worries as she could now balance the eggs on each side of her. According to a number of duck sites, the average time for a duckling to hatch is 28 days. The first egg was placed under the hen on June 21st. Then the waiting started.

On July 17th, after getting back from the Farr's property, where I moved the non-mammas to another section of the field that they rotationally graze, I went to release the chickens. Lately, Tim has been leaving the door to the corridor open so that the broody hen could stretch her legs and get a dust bath quickly before hopping back on the nest. So, first thing I do before allowing the chickens to free range is to close that door so that "mom" is not annoyed by the other chickens jumping into the corridor. First thing I noticed was a smashed looking egg pushed near the opening of the dog kennel. Oh crap, what happened, I started to think to myself, until I heard the tiny peeping under "mom".

One little duckling has hatched a few days early! Woo hoo! So far mom has taken to her little charge just fine. What an adorable little guy (why do I automatically assume its a boy is beyond me). Now to see if his little sibling hatches out as well. After snapping a quick picture of the little fellow, I noticed that the purple coneflower that I was given is in bloom. What a good day, indeed!

The very next day I worked on cleaning out the ram pen building for placing the mom and her babies, if the next one hatched out, and lo and behold, by later in the afternoon, the next chick hatched out.  This one doesn't exactly look the same, but mom and babies have bonded well together.  See for yourself!