Almost a month ago now, a friend gave us his Welsh Harlequin duck flock. Two drakes and seven hens. We put their 8'x8' A-frame coop down in our "lower field" and tamped down a path giving them access to our large swamp/marsh/pond area (approx 1 acre size). I put a pen up around their coop for the first few days, and then let them access the pond. They were great about coming home at night for the first three days, and then the fourth night...I couldn't get them off the swamp.
No big deal...I got them back the next morning, penned them up and started targeting their feeding schedule so they'd get use to being fed in the evenings and would come home.
Everything was peachy.
Until something tore the chest out of one of the hens. I found her alive and bleeding...we happened to have a veterinarian friend over, who took a look and said she was too badly injured, so we put her down.
Now the ducks won't go in the swamp at all. I can herd them to it, and they'll flap around right on the edge of the water...but they won't go in. Since the hen was attacked, I've seen what I think is a very large snapping turtle rear it's head (size of my fist) out of the water. We know for sure there are turtles in there, and we know there are plenty of snappers around...so we're thinking it's the likely culprit, and the reason the ducks won't go swimming.
Anyways...so after that background...
The hens just started laying. We would like them to set on eggs and hatch some additional ducklings. What do I need to know? I've been collecting the eggs and putting them inside for now...and plan on putting a clutch out once I have 10 or so. Will the whole flock be able to stay in the coop with whichever hen goes broody? Are the hens going to fight over those eggs? The ducklings that hatch...will they be safe with the entire flock in that coop?
Am I better off incubating eggs and then trying to introduce ducklings into the flock? Perhaps I can get a broody to sit on dummy eggs, incubate good ones inside and then stick them under her?
Or...I have a broody chicken sitting on some chicken eggs...but they are on the complete opposite side of the property (3 acres away) and never interact with the ducks. So how would I get the ducklings from the chicken hen over to the ducks?
What else do I need to know about ducks? We have been successful chicken people for three-four years now, but know very little about ducks...and this flock just kind of fell into our laps.