April 25, 2016

The Duck-Chicks


When our Muscovy hen laid her eggs this spring and began setting, I took nine of her eggs to put in the incubator.

Chicks, hatched by a duck

She didn't lay as many eggs this time as she has in the past. I felt a bit sorry for her only having five eggs, so I slipped four chicken eggs under her too. But it was also an experiment that would answer a couple of questions.

First, is my duck capable of hatching eggs? She sat on three clutches last year, and only hatched two ducklings from 53 eggs.

And second, are our chicken eggs fertile? My rooster isn't a spring chicken anymore.

Muscovy duck setting on nest

I'd been peeking in the duck coop daily, but Mama Muscovy doesn't leave her nest very often. One afternoon I noticed she was playing in the water bowl. I took advantage of her not being in the nest box and opened the little egg-collecting door. There were her eggs as usual, arranged in a ring, covered with fluff, and oh! There's a chick!

Before Mama Duck came back, I quickly checked the rest of the chicken eggs but didn't see any signs of pipping yet. I gathered up the tiny little fluffy baby and took it in the house. Chicken eggs hatch after 21 days, while Muscovy eggs take 35 days, so I'd already planned to adopt her chickbabies. I don't want her to be distracted by the chicks before her ducklings [hopefully] hatch.

Three chicks in brooder

The next day I kidnapped two more chicks and added them to the brooder box in the office. The fourth chick didn't make it out of the egg alive.

Barnyard chick

Now I know that Mama Duck can hatch eggs. There must have been some environmental reason last year. I know those eggs were fertile, I could see the black ducklings through the shell so they lived until almost hatch time. Maybe she just had too many eggs to keep them uniformly warm, or the humidity was too low or too high?

I moved the duck pair to a new, smaller, off the ground coop this winter, so I'm hoping that the problem might have been solved.

And obviously our chicken eggs are fertile too.

Now we wait for ducklings. The eggs in the incubator will hopefully hatch any day now, and Mama Duck's babies are due in about a week.



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


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8 comments:

  1. How exciting! This time of year is so filled with life. Thank you for sharing this on The Maple Hill Hop!

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    1. Thank you, Daisy. Spring is just full of babies!

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  2. I didn't know that having ducks was so much work! I do hope things work out well for you and your feathered charges.

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    1. The adult ducks really don't need much care, and they are quite entertaining. They were a good addition to our homestead. Hatching her eggs, though, has been a mostly-unsuccessful adventure.

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  3. They are really cute I didn't know that having ducks need so much work, thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with Hearth and soul blog hop, pinning and tweeting.

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Swathi.

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  4. Those chicks are so cute, Kathi! I didn't realise that ducks could hatch chicken eggs - I do hope that her own eggs hatch well too. Thank you for being a part of our Hearth and Soul Hop.

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