Ducklings!

Duckling

Hey! They hatched! I knew this day was coming, but I was NOT ready.

I have one pen that is set up for ducklings and it is currently housing the youngest and smallest of my last hatch. Those ones are not yet ready to be released into the general population.

A little background: Zach and I decided a year ago that we wanted to get some ducks to help keep the flies down around the pigs. So, I found 8 free muscovy ducks on craigslist and went and picked them up…

It is possible that that is not the exact order of events. In truth it went: Camille wanted ducks, Camille got ducks, Camille discovered these ducks are quiet and eat flies. Camille told Zach that these would be good ducks to have. Camille told Zach that the ducks are already in the yard, but I digress.

Getting these ducks is one of the best ranch decisions I have made. They are wonderful. I have expanded the original 8 to around 30. These are my core breeders in the spring, and in the summer I let them lay eggs and nest at will. I only collect eggs if they are laid in the middle of the yard or have clearly been abandoned – these I feed to the pigs. I gather the eggs to eat in the fall and winter. Production has dropped off by then and none of the hens are very interested in setting/hatching.

Last year we had 115 ducklings hatch. We kept 15, gave away a lot, sold some, and traded others. We had a surprise hatch in November. Those ones are still in the pen and now…

This morning I went out to do my chores and I heard one of my duck hens quacking (this only happens when they are upset) I went over to her to see if she was stuck or hurt and saw 15 adorable, fluffy beautiful ducklings! My first thought, of course, was awwwwwww! So adorable, yay ducklings. Followed swiftly by AW shoot ducklings where am I going to put them, why did I not think of this before the fact what have I been doing all winter that didn’t involve making brooder pens?

Ducklings
All 15 babies

Step 1: Call Zach and tell him, Step 2: Take pictures, Step 3: Catch the ducklings and house them safely until a permanent house can be constructed for them. Skip steps 1 and 2 because of course I lost my phone, again.

It took me a bit longer than I am proud of to catch the ducklings, especially since I have caught and handled hundreds of them this past year. I don’t love touching birds. Baby chicks and ducks are okay for about 2 weeks. Its not an issue of me touching the babies – the problem was the mom. She, of course, did not approve of me stealing her babies and kept rushing at me. She can’t and won’t hurt me but when it comes to a fight she definitely has a mental edge! So I was hopping around the yard trying to catch the fast, slippery little suckers while repeatedly flapping my “wings” to scare off the mom. I’m sure the neighbors greatly enjoyed the display.

All 15 were eventually safely caught and temporarily penned in an old crate I found with some glass on top. Now I just have to convince the hubby that he wants to make them a coop after he gets off work!

The adventure will continue, have a great day everybody!

Zoey-Duckling
Zoey and duckling
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