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Duck on nest too long?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi all, some advice needed.  I have a pet duck (imprinted on me). She is currently sat on eggs, but has been on the nest since Christmas! I understand that the normal time is 28 days, but our difficulty is we do not know when she incubated. I have candled the eggs and at least 2 have something in them. I just don't know whether I should let mother nature takes it course or intervene and assume the nest/eggs are non-viable. And advice, assistance?

 

Full story: Our Maggie,a mallard, became broody in November (at 6 months old). Just prior we acquired 3 more ducks (2 males and a female) just on the cusp of changing into their colours. Maggie made a nest for her eggs (15!) outside, which when we moved it inside she stopped being broody.  (The eggs were obviously not incubated as the males were too young.)

 

Just before Christmas Maggie started laying eggs again, but luckily this time in her inside box (she sleeps in our house at night, in her own box). The young males were starting to show interest, but did not appear to be mating as yet.  Maggie sat on her eggs on the 24th and would come off for just an hour each afternoon looking for food. We moved her box into the outside duck house (where the other ducks live) so she would have easier access to food and foraging, and the males. After Xmas we noticed the males trying to mount her when she came off the nest (27th and thereafter).

 

It is now the 14th February (Happy Valentines Day everyone!) and no signs of ducklings.  As I mentioned above, we are fairly certain at least 2 eggs contain a duckling, but living or dead at this stage - no idea. But because of the age and sexual maturity of the males we are uncertain when the eggs may have been incubated. We did find one egg (not viable) outside the nest about a month ago that had been opened, we assume Maggie kicked out of the nest.  When the weather is not good Maggie stays on the nest all day, such as the last 2 days, but when it is good she comes off to visit with me (and we go worm hunting) and she returns naturally to her nest after 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the day's temperature.

 

Do ducks stop laying once they sit on their nest?

Could they eggs still be viable and we should just leave mother nature to take action?

Should I remove the non-viable eggs (those that obviously have nothing in them)? We are getting a bit of a pong from the nest, though not a rotten egg smell.

 

post #2 of 7

Ducks do stop adding to the clutch once they start brooding.  There is always the possibility that the other hen may have added eggs to the nest.  My gut guess is that these eggs are not viable.  You can try floating them in a pan of warm water.  If the eggs show movement they are viable.  If they show no movement they are probably not viable.

 

Setting/brooding can be quite debilitating so if she were mine, I would probably remove all of the eggs so that she can regain her strength.

Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks. Yes, I am getting worried about the toll it is taking on her. She is quite active and lively, but has lost some weight.

 

I didn't know about testing with the warm water. Great to know! I will do that tomorrow, when she comes off her nest again, and give that a go.

 

On the off chance, if only a couple are viable, should I remove those that aren't, leaving only the viable ones in the nest? Or is this not a good thing to do?

post #4 of 7

I would only return the eggs that appeared to be viable back to the nest on the off chance that the bad eggs might 'explode'.

Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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post #5 of 7

Did you get any ducklings?

Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
Reply
Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
Reply
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for thinking of us :-)

 

I ended up removing all the eggs in the end, over a couple days. None of them were viable, and some were very obviously past their sell by dates, so glad I got them off when I did.

 

She's starting to come into 'heat' again now, so no doubt we will see eggs again soon. The trick (again) will be making sure she lays them in her box.

post #7 of 7

When she starts setting again, mark the eggs so that you can remove any extras that may be added by the other hen.  Also limit her clutch to about a dozen eggs or as many as she can effectively cover in a single layer.  Good luck for the next round.

Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
Reply
Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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