Duck Hatching: Our Morning Surprise
By Fiona Wagner
The barn is usually a fairly noisy place first thing in the morning. The chickens are clucking, the rooster is crowing, the goats are bleating and the ducks are quacking. Well the Rouens are, at least. The Muscovies try hard but only manage a pitiful little squeak.
But on this day, I noticed another sound amongst the usual cacophony – a tiny “peep, peep, peep.” I looked down into the duck pen and there she was – our very first hatchling!
After screaming and scaring the hell out of the donkeys and horse (they’re a little touchy before breakfast), I went tearing across the barnyard while shouting at the top of my lungs, “Go get the camera, there’s a baby duck in the barn!” Once again, providing ample entertainment for our barnyard creatures.
We have two ducks sitting on eggs right now. One is in the feed area (she deserves her very own blog post), and the other is in the duck pen. Recently, I’d looked up the incubation period for ducks, and while baby chickens hatch in 21 days, Rouen ducks hatch in 28 days and Muscovies in 35 days.
As this is our first time hatching our own – in fact, we’re not hatching anything … we just allowed the ducks to go broody and let nature take its course – I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m horrible at marking dates, but I didn’t think she’d been sitting on the eggs all that long. I didn’t even know if they were fertile, though I must say that our drakes are quite insatiable when it comes to their attempts at procreation.
Obviously, the boys did their job and so did mama duck.
What I find amazing is that the duckling isn’t even technically hers. Mama is a Muscovy while the duckling is a Rouen. Doesn’t seem to matter though. Lovely, isn’t it?
By the time I finished taking a bazillion photos and finally got the rest of the barn crew fed, I realized it was 11:40 am. Because we weren’t expecting babies yet, we had no duckling food on hand and the closest farm supply store – which is 30 minutes away – closed in 20 minutes. What’s more, it wouldn’t be open again until Monday (it was Saturday).
I quickly called the feed store, explained my predicament and pleaded for them to stay open another 15 minutes. After some hawing and humming, the disgruntled voice on the other end of the line agreed and 30 seconds later, the kids and I were in the truck and racing down the driveway.
It’s a good thing too because when I got back with the duckling feed and put it and some fresh water into the pen, mama duck finally got off her nest and gave us a peak at the rest of her eggs.
Looks like duckling might have some siblings soon.
In the meantime, I’ve told the kids that mama needs her rest. She’s going to have her wings full with this lot.
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