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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Category Archives: ducks

I always place two or three eggs at a time in the incubator. Not only is there a better survival rate for birds that are flock animals, to have a buddy to keep warm together and hang out with, but they hear each others peeps when in the hatching process, and are enthusiastically coaxed out of their shell(s).

Note: Our flock is small, and we use most of the eggs for consumption, so I don’t load up all 42 egg slots in the incubator at the same time.

 

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Newly-Hatched Duckling Today
Sunday, June 10, 2018

I finally invested in a second unit, which allows a much higher success rate for the hatching process. The second incubator is still air (no fan) and does not have an automatic egg turner. This is due to the fact that for the final 3 days of incubation, you don’t turn and you raise the humidity. It was half the price of a full service Styrofoam incubator, since the turner and fan elements are somewhat pricey additions. I procrastinated anyway since everything adds up quickly. I try to keep costs vs. chick sales somewhat close.

The duck egg was moved from the long-term incubator to the brooder incubator earlier today, since it is day 25. Ducks normally take 28 days to create. Most people fill their incubator all at once, but since we have a small flock, I add two or three eggs at a time. This one is a lone egg, since I was testing to see if our new drake was fertile. Apparently he is, so no roast duck for dinner!

When I picked up the egg for transfer, I held it up to my ear. Peeping already? Usually you can hear a rustling, slightly crunchy noise when they start to activate for hatching. I’m not sure why this one is so early. It may be breed specific or maybe my incubator is running slightly higher that the thermometer is reading. Either way, the first duckling in a long time has just hatched on Farmette 1769.

All of our ducklings are/will be 1/2 Khaki Campbell, 1/2 Welsh Harlequin. Both breeds are prolific egg layers, sometimes besting chickens that are bred for the same thing. Our female Khaki Campbell duck lays an egg each and every day.

FirstDuckling_061018

 

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With a busy weekend happening, Monica’s Weekend Recipe will be short. This article is focused on just one cooking ingredient – eggs. Not only is this about eggs, but, specifically, Duck Eggs.

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What are the Benefits to Eating Duck Eggs?
by Countryside Daily Magazine
  • Duck eggs stay fresher longer, due to their thicker shell.
  • Duck eggs are richer, with more albumen, which makes cakes and other pastries fluffier.
  • Duck eggs have more Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • People who cannot eat chicken eggs, due to allergies, can often eat duck eggs.

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Ducks make much more mess than chickens, so we opted to keep just one duck. Since the coop is predator proof, and we opted for standard sized birds this time (instead of bantam/mini), we feel more comfortable naming them – since they won’t end up being meals for foxes, weasels, raccoons, snakes, hawks, falcons, feral cats, stray dogs or coyotes. Our egg laying duck is named Macy.

Info
via Wikipedia
A duckling is a young duck in downy plumage or baby duck. A male duck is called a drake and the female is called a duck, or in ornithology a hen.

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I usually take my coffee with me while tending to the poultry in the morning.

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One last pic of Macy and her buddies, happily eating kitchen scraps.

Have fun cooking with eggs, and if you have the option, try duck eggs. They are delicious!

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On May 29, 2013 –

Our drake (male) Call duck was killed by a big, black Rat Snake (at least 4 feet long). The rat snake was after the eggs that our girl Call duck was sitting on. Daddy duck was very protective of the nest and I assume that this led to his demise.

DucknEggs

However, a rat snake is designed to eat small rodents (and eggs!), so he only made it to the shoulders of our duck. I discovered this when I opened the pen for feed/water. Rat snakes are not aggressive to people, so I pulled him out by the tail and then secured him better, just behind the head.

Normally I don’t mind encounters with snakes, but it was upsetting to lose the drake and have the snake spit out fertile egg to further darken my mood.

Although I have been practicing patience from the Teachings of the Buddha, I did not have enough for this situation. In defense of our mini ducks, I killed the snake with a shovel in the grass. This did not work really well, so I took it over to the cemented garage area and killed it more.

Snakes continue to writhe long after they are nearly split in two. That was pretty terrible. I did not like taking its life – at all.

It is a normal thing for a farmer to do. Once a predator figures out how to get an easy meal, they will continue to come back for more. You cannot just let them go back loose on your land if you expect to keep your livestock alive.

Apparently, this prepared me for… May 31, 2013 –

MeNsnake

Only two days later. I was riding the lawn mower tractor when I spotted another big snake. This one was 5 feet or more long. I thought of the ducks. I pulled it out from underneath a trailer and took it to the garage area.

My husband was home and was able to take a photo with his phone. This snake, a Black Racer, was taken down the road by my husband and son to be released in the nature conservancy area. It slithered into the woods in hopes of growing even bigger. I was happy for that.

The duck pen is being better secured, again. We’ll have to keep a few more ducklings to ensure we have a drake or two around for next Spring’s laying season.

To lighten things up a bit, I have included a pic of of baby ducks that was taken recently. This one is literally, a bucket o’ ducklings.

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Country living is not easy. I had thought it would be so much more peaceful than living in the city. But, we must enjoy those calm and happy times as we have them, no matter when, or where.

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Mini Duckling 1

Mini Duckling 1 – Pic A

Our first Bantam ducklings have hatched. There are actually only three so far. But we’ll have more than a bucket full before Spring laying is over.

Duckling 1 - Pic B

Duckling 1 – Pic B

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Duckling 1 – Pic C

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Duckling 1 – Pic D

Farmette 1769’s Bantam-style Call ducks have produced offspring via incubator. Ducklings are very cute. Miniature ducklings are even cuter.

Duckling 1 (Left), Duckling 2 (Close-up) & Duckling 3

Duckling 1 (Left), Duckling 2 (Close-up) & Duckling 3

Ducklings grow quickly. But, these Call duck babies will be no more than a pound and a half when full grown. Bred for attracting hunted ducks, they are also great birds for show and as pets.

Duckling 1 (Left)

Duckling 1 (Left)


 

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Call ducks are Bantams, which places them in the miniature poultry category. Due to their light body weight, they can fly very well. So, unlike your average heavy farm duck, it is advisable to clip a wing so that they don’t wander too far off.

Clipping the flight feathers from one wing sets both wings off balance, leaving them flightless. The procedure is painless, since feathers are just like finger nails and hair.

Some blood vessels are still active in newly grown feathers, so avoid that area during clipping.

Muriel (left), Hector (right)

Muriel (left), Hector (right)

Duck Video

We bought Muriel, a female Call duck, at Carolina Chickenstock in the Fall of 2012. With a bit of searching early in 2013, we located a male (drake) Call duck for sale near Winston-Salem, NC.

In conjunction with the drake duck, there was also the opportunity to buy a male (gander) African goose to go with Annie, our female Chinese goose. It was a long drive from the Charlotte area to get the drake, so without too much thought, I went ahead and bought the gander too.

Muriel seems happy with her new duck boyfriend, Hector. They waddle around together, taking an occasional dip in the baby pool or a spare water pan. They are both super cute and easy to handle. Bantam breeds take up less space/accommodations and also consume less feed. Miniature livestock fit well here at our little farmette.

Our Annie, seemed content with her surprise boyfriend, Robert. They quickly become a bonded pair of closely related (both from the Swan Goose) domesticated geese.

Geese Video

Robert (left), Annie (right)

Robert (left), Annie (right)

The thing is, we don’t have a pond, stream or a fenced section of land for them, so there were second thoughts. I made the decision that the best thing was to get these full size (Standard) geese out of their pen and into the hands of someone with a more suitable set-up. They were sold to Kunekune Pig Preserve here in NC. One section of the preserve boasts a large fenced area with a big pond. They should be comfortable and safe at their new home.

We greatly enjoyed our time with them. Geese are very wonderful birds and great watch animals for farms.

Four Bantam chicken eggs (left), One Bantam duck egg (right)

Four Bantam chicken eggs (left), One Bantam duck egg (right)

That decision now leaves more time and energy to attend to our Call duck pair. Spring, though a bit unpredictable and chilly this year, has sprung. Beginning mid-March, Muriel started laying eggs. Her eggs are green!

A homemade egg candler shows obvious growth.

A homemade egg candler shows obvious growth.

The pair is now proven fertile and we are excitedly looking forward to Call ducklings. My lovely husband Jamie often says “There’s nothin’ cuter than a bucket of baby ducks”. I am thinking that Call ducklings, due to there tiny size, may just prove to be our new, ultimate, Spring baby fixation.

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We can’t wait to see!

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2011 is here and it is time to pair down. Doing this quarterly helps keep an appropriate number of livestock living on our 5 acre Farmette. Reducing numbers now makes way for the Spring goat births and fowl egg hatching. Also, the original plans for building up the Farmette had to be scaled down due to a medical condition that slows me down.

The most recent to go was “Billy the Kid”. We have enough brush clearing goats, so this wether (banded/neutered male/billy) goat was not a necessity.

8 month old neutered male pygmy goat - SOLD

He had gotten quite fat and was very happy staying with his mother in our little herd. But, it was time for him to move on.

"Billy the Kid" (right) with his Mom "Olivia"

BtK could not have gotten a better home. He was a Christmas gift for the mother of a very nice young couple. The mother kept livestock for pets – not to eat…

If we have any boy goats born this Spring, they will be sold off when weaned and will not linger this time around. Only one boy – the herd sire – is needed here.

We enjoy our ducks, but they love free ranging. Unluckily, they do not come back to roost at night and become easy targets for foxes, coyotes and raccoons.

Two Duck Hens

The ducks have been penned since our trouble with predators. They would be happier loose and with a pond. They are advertised for sale on craig’s list.

There is also an Ameraucana Rooster up for grabs. He is a good boy and a beauty.

A. Rooster - SOLD

He is the last of the standard sized chickens for sale. There is one regular sized hen that we will keep since she was raised here from an egg. She’ll be bred into the Bantam flock this year or will just provide some nice big blue eggs for our breakfast table.

UPDATE: Went ahead and sold the last Standard Hen (Ameraucana/Jersey Giant) with the Rooster in the pic. The Duck sale has been delayed since they are the only ones laying right now – we do love fresh eggs.

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