For those of you that haven't read about the Great Duck Fight of 2011 I will provide a bit of a recap since it has a lot to do with current duck events on the farm. Bill, our male Saxony duck is as Nebraska Dave put it “a lover, not a fighter.” Napoleon was our male Mallard duck who was always beating up Bill over the lady ducks. Well Napoleon flew off or got eaten by something but not before proving his virility. As a result this spring has brought new life to the farm. About 2 weeks ago one of our ducks hatched out 15 baby ducks. We were amazed that she managed to hatch so many. When she started hatching them off I was anticipating maybe 8 ducklings. Unfortunately we lost one duckling in the brooder but as of today we still have 14 thriving ducklings, 4 of the ducklings are pure Saxony while the other are half Mallard. Hybrid vigor seems to be playing a part in the growth rate of the ducks. While Mallards are ½ the size of a Saxony, it appears the crosses are growing faster than the full Saxony. They are excellent foragers.
By 2 days old they were catching bugs. We put them in the brooder for a few days so that they could get some size on them before being turned loose. I was a bit afraid of black snakes getting to them without the protection of the brooder. We moved them to the chicken tractor for a few days after being in the brooder and then just let them go. They seem to be doing well. So far them seem to spend much of their time foraging and preening. There is another Saxony sitting that we expect to hatch off around the middle of June. I think I might be over run with ducks this year. Perhaps we will breed up our own variety of duck?
We have never had enough excess ducks to consider butchering them but this year it is going to happen. Any excess males we will let grow to a nice size and slaughter for our own use. I am going to try to trade some females for a male duck or two so there will be some new genetics in next years flock. The increase in ducks has led us to having to fix a small pond for them to swim in. They have outgrown their feed pan ponds.
Over the last few years we have realized how enjoyable raising ducks can be. For those with the space, they are a good alternative or companion to chickens. They seem to have a lot more personality and smarts about them than a chicken. We like to watch them swim and take their baths. Hopefully ya'll enjoy these photos as much as we have.