Notes from Windward: #69


Hatching Success with Ducks

incubating more ducks
to build up flock numbers


     Going into last winter, we had a duck flock of eight Indian Runner Ducks. We didn't loose any to the coyotes last winter, but this spring two duck hens died. At that point, we decided to sex the rest of the flock, and the results showed us that four of the remaining six ducks were males--not good, so we butchered two of the males to restore the gender balance.

ducklings in various states of hatching

     The primary reason we keep ducks is for them to forage in the gardens for bugs and such without digging up plants as chickens like to do. Letting them wander about exposes them to predators, so the small size of our flock encouraged us to keep them in the Duck Palace for protection and ease of egg gathering, and to use incubation to rebuild our flock size.

two ducklings ready to go dry out in the brooder

     Our first six duck eggs went into the incubator along with the chicken eggs we used to fine tune the temp settings and humidity. Duck eggs take longer to incubate than chicken eggs, but eventually they were ready to move over to the hatching incubators. It was very exciting to watch the ducklings pip and start breaking open their shells.

a new arrival tentatively checks out the brooder

     As the first ducklings broke free of their eggs, they needed to be moved to the brooder, but we had a half-dozen week old Rhode Island Red already installed in the brooder and they were not welcoming to the new ducklings.

      In fact, the Reds were rather aggressive and pecked on the ducklings. Since so much time had been invested in learning how to incubate the little ducklings, we decided to not risk having the aggressive chicks harm the smaller, newly hatched ducklings, so we got the second brooder out of storage to serve as a safe space for the ducklings to work through their first few weeks of life.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 69