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June 22, 2015

Don't Count Your Ducks Before They Hatch

I was excited when Mama Muscovy went broody. She laid 17 big white eggs and began to set on them. I checked the calendar - it takes about 35 days for Muscovy eggs to hatch - and circled June 2nd.

A few eggs were lost along the way. Mama rolled two eggs out of the nest early on. A couple of eggs were lost to some big black snakes, which I killed when I found them in the coop. One had obviously eaten an egg. A few days later another snake was trying to steal an egg and the female duck was attacking it to protect her eggs. I cut it in half with the big pruning loppers that I'd been using earlier that morning. Don't mess with my ducks!


June 2nd came and went, and so did the 3rd and the 4th. On the 5th, I found a dead duckling at the edge of the nest. On the 6th there was a live duckling. And that was it. Out of 17 eggs we had one duckling hatch successfully. It's sure a cute little thing; hubby says it's a shame it will grow up to be ugly.

While Mama Duck continued to set on her eggs, Papa Duck shared the parenting responsibilities. It's been fun to watch. The duckling either sits next to its mom on the nest, or is following its father around the coop. At first it seemed to hop and I worried that something might be wrong with its legs, but it walks now and is doing just fine.

I had to remove the old eggs from the nest a few at a time over several days. When Mama realized what I was doing, she'd reprimand me for messing with her nest. (Ouch)

The nest looks pretty bedraggled these days. Now that the nesting phase is over I can give the coop a good clean-out. It definitely needs it. Ducks are messy.

This photo made me realize that the female's caruncles are pale, so I looked it up online to see if it was a problem. It is: she's probably anemic. A cure for this is to feed a treat of dry dog food daily; another website suggested wet cat food. I'll be offering both to see what she likes and to bring her back to good health. I imagine that her condition is partly because she's been setting on the eggs for such a long time and hasn't been very interested in eating. I've offered a variety of greens before and both ducks were completely uninterested.

Muscovies can go broody three or four times a year, according to Wikipedia, and "they usually hatch most of their eggs." I hope she has a better success rate next time; I feel sorry for this little solitary baby.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. What an adorable family photo! I'm sorry you have just one duckling this go-round. Hopefully next time you'll have a nest of them.

  2. Thank you, April. Have a great week.

  3. What an adorable duckling you have Kathi! What's his name?

  4. Thank you, Kristy. The baby doesn't have a name yet; I'll wait until we know whether it's male or female. Actually, Mama and Papa duck don't have names either; I guess I need to fix that.

  5. Oh, too bad only one made it. He must be the strongest of the bunch!

    Thanks for dropping by The Maple Hill Hop!

  6. Awwww, what a sweet family. It's a shame the other eggs didn't make it. :(

  7. That single duckling is very spoiled by both of its parents!

  8. Cute little duck, at least one egg hatched! We just had the broody chickens sitting on a nest of sound 50 eggs and they only hatched 2, so I know the disappointment!

  9. Hi Melissa, yes, I'd say you're familiar with the disappointment of a low hatch rate too! I hope you have better results next time.

  10. That is so sad that only one duckling made it. I know all to well the feeling of walking in and seeing a snake in your coop. I've killed more then a few, sometimes after they had already eaten an egg. :( I sure hope this little fellow does well.

  11. What a sweet little duckling! I'm so sorry his brothers and sisters didn't survive. I hope it will be better next time. I've pinned this post to my sustainable living board on Pinterest (along with your wonderful bottles and jars post) - I think others who are trying to raise ducks will find this post encouraging. I know these things can be challenging. Thank you for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Hop community, Kathi.

  12. Thank you, April, and for the Pins too. I always enjoy your Hop and am thankful to be part of the community.

  13. April T., I'm encouraged to know that I'm not the only one who deals with snakes stealing eggs. I've killed 3 large black rat snakes in the past two weeks in the coop. Ugh. Sometimes we're not bothered for a long time, and then they make up for lost time. I hope you have a break from snakes for awhile.

  14. We once had a dog when I was growing up that we bred and she only had one puppy. Funny that that happens, but your little duck family is very sweet! I would love to see the duckling following the Daddy around. Sounds so cute! Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop!

  15. Jennifer, I once had a cat that had only one kitten. It was very spoiled! I need to take more pictures of the duckling, it's grown so much in 3 weeks.


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