Duck eggs to ducks on the pond
What a fun journey for our first time ordering fertile duck eggs thru the mail. Fun, rewarding and diligent hard work!
Duck eggs take 28 days to hatch just like a turkey. The difference is that duck eggs need to be hand turned and incubated at a higher humidity. Correction - they don't NEED to be hand turned, you could use an auto turner but its said that your hatch rate is much higher if you hand turn them. They arrived in the mail mid February looking beautiful. The package was well packed and every egg intact. Placing them in the incubator after the one week check we had a few infertile but most developing right along!
I had the incubator in the house so I could keep a close eye, plus I was hand turning them four times a day in the incubator and spraying with a spray bottle for extra moisture. It seemed like forever! BUT on that 28th day I could see tiny pip holes in some of the eggs! Its important not to open the incubator at this time as it could "shrink wrap" the eggs with the fall of humidity trapping the babies inside the shells.
We ended up with 16 hatching and surviving!.. Seven Mallards, seven Rouen, one harlequin and a khaki Campbell. BABY DUCKLINGS once again at the ranch!
Once all hatched we moved them out to the tack room into our new GQF brooder. Now this brooder is interesting and I would say NOT FOR DUCKS!! Nor would I recommend for quail. It gets rave reviews why I purchased it. We'd been using a large stock tank with heat lamps and/or heat plates which has worked well for us in other bird hatchings. (don't fix something that's working!) The GQF has troughs on the outside of the brooder with slots - one for water and one for feed.. SOLD me! to keep waste down and to keep it clean with a pull out tray. Well if you open it up enough for the day old chicks DUCKS included to get to the troughs their entire body can get out. Which if not captured would die with no heat. They require 95 degrees that first week of life. Even though our tack room is heated the brooder was sort of a disappointment in my opinion as the entire purpose was so you could feed and water them outside of the brooder. SO instead I was back to waterers and feeders inside the brooder defeating the entire purpose for purchasing this brooder. It does however keep a nice consistent temperature. Now I will say I have two week old chicks(chickens) in it right now and they are using the outside feeder without escaping but you do have to teach them how. I have yet to use the water trough. Seems like it could lead to drownings. All in all I have it figured out with my old standby trough and the GQF as we continue to hatch Turkeys, pheasants and quail but that's another blog!
Ducks grow QUICKLY! and I mean quick! They are messy and their area needs to be cleaned daily. From hatch day to release was almost exactly three months. Randy helped me build them a shelter out by the pond (we call it the Sasquatch hut). and I built some duck nesting areas out on the pond island. WE put them into the Sasquatch hut for a few days before we released them into the pond. And into the pond they went! Soon after we had a wild mallard pair join them at the pond and also a pair of Canadian geese. I'm hoping we'll see some nesting happening!
This will be a process as I'll be planting millet and other game bird grasses this year. We have a lovely sanctioned wetland area on our property plus the pond and I'd love to draw in more. We've already seen so many different types of birds the past two years since planting various vegetation.
One of my favourites is the Nutcracker - Never had seen one till three years ago. Started with one sighting. The next year two. Last year we had three.
Randy especially loves the wild birds and its been really fun seeing all the different varieties. This year there are several I have not identified yet that came around quite often this spring. To the left is a photo of a nutcracker.
Back to the ducklings. The release went off with almost no glitches. Sadly our Khaki Campbell and one of the mallards disappeared on day three. But the rest of the clan enjoys the pond!
A really lovely and fun experience that continues with watching them swim and play in the water. below is a short video of clips along the way from receiving the eggs in the mail to release day! Enjoy