Another "My Ducks Aren't Laying Yet" Thread

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by AddictedToQuack, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. AddictedToQuack

    AddictedToQuack Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey all.

    My Welsh Harlequin and Cayuga are 21 weeks old now and are not laying yet. They are being bred by my male W.H. Will I see eggs this year or will they not lay until next spring? I'm really hoping they will start laying anytime. They are definately female and appear healthy. They are on duck/goose grower (18% protein) and they free range during the day. I am not supplying any source of calcium as I figure they would get it naturally. They have a comfy house and put themselves to bed everynight.

    I do have some younger 15 week old ducks (3 ducks, 5 drakes). They are crosses from silver appleyards and K.C. I realize the ratio of males to females is off and I plan on getting rid of all but one in the next several weeks. I have not seen the new drakes trying to mate with the older gals, nor do they harass them. I think they know my drake w.h. is the boss. My new drakes are starting to do the head bob dance with the new ducks but they have not been over them yet that I have seen.

    Am I doing anything wrong or are they just "late bloomers"?

    I will try and get some pictures of my flock and the house/run up here soon. I know everyone likes pictures.

    Thanks,

    Chris.
     
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Hey, Chris, [​IMG]

    I think they are not late bloomers. My runners, a smaller breed, started between 16 and 22 weeks, so I would think yours would start between 20 and 30 weeks.

    With mine, as soon as they started playing hop on top, I set out the free choice oyster shell. Within a month, we had our first egg.

    So I suggest you go ahead and start giving extra calcium one way or another.
     
  3. AddictedToQuack

    AddictedToQuack Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 23, 2013
    Ontario, Canada
    Hey Amiga,

    There are no issues with supplying the calcium supplement going into the fall? If they start laying I am assuming they will stop again in the winter, or would they lay sporadically? Do they only eat the oyster shell they need, when they need it? I guess this would be a better option than feeding layer ration type feed to the whole flock, especially the drakes? I thought that ducks/chickens didn't need oyster shell if they free ranged, only if they had egg laying issues like soft shells.

    Thanks again,

    Chris.
     
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Chris, this is a post worthy of a master's thesis, seems to me. That is not a complaint or negative remark. You have touched on questions I have considered, and gone over with more than one veterinarian and duck person.

    What I know so far, and largely based on what I have seen in my flock:

    There may or may not be issues with extra calcium going into the fall. Even the general rule of no extra calcium for drakes seems to have a backstory. While it is reasonable to expect that kidneys overloaded with calcium can shorten a life, and there have been cases where there is evidence at least in some birds to back that up, there are counter examples in mixed flocks of ducks.

    There is also the ethical question of whether a drake's longer term possible health problem outweighs a very immediate calcium deficiency (or, I think likely calcium processing inefficiency) of one or more ducks in the flock. Were I pressing toward egg production, I would be tempted to say that clearly, the duck is more vital to the production of eggs. And not just directly, with egg shells, but calcium deficiency will increase likelihood of broken bones and heart problems. But I have pets. Not as clear cut.

    My runners lay when they will lay. It changes each year. They take longer breaks each time, but the first two years we had eggs throughout the winter, every day. Last year we went on strike for five months and I think it was due to introducing Mr. Bean. Or, as Einz affectionately calls him, Stinkhead (a term she learned from Doogie, by the way).

    If my ducks would all eat the extra oyster shell they need, I would be immensely relieved. But Sieben, Romy, and a few others - I know Zwei has had trouble - apparently don't.

    We do a modified free range. Our livestock guard animal accompanies the ducks once or twice a day probably four days of the week, on foraging forays. But the LGA also needs to wash laundry and dishes and occasionally cook a meal. Anyway, the ducks do forage quite a bit in spring summer and fall. And that does not seem to improve the soft egg situation. I have wondered if it increases it, since the balanced layer feed is offset by the unbalanced worm and slug nutrients, as well as smartweed, chickweed, kiwi leaves, etc.

    One of the more recent attempts I am making is predicated on the guess that there is something else missing from their little lives. These days we add ground flax seed to their layer pellets, a thin sprinkle on top. If someone wants to know more precisely, it's a third of a cup on top of enough pellets to fill a nine by twelve inch stainless steel cake pan 3/4 of the way to the top.

    Other things I think of are - is there something about our water? But there I go, there are so many things to consider.
     
  5. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    Yes, they only eat the oyster shell if they need it, i supply some to my flock 365 days a year, the drakes don't touch it neither do young, frankly, i feel its better to have it there than find out later i needed it. My birds free range, and no i do not think that always supplies all that is needed, i offer grit too, again same reasoning, i'd rather they not use it than need it and not have it.

    I do practice the no layer method, to many drakes and young here to do layer for my ducks. The general health concerns come into question with drakes having layer, i would bet short term it would be okay but after years could pose problems but i have no absolute facts for this, just a matter of reading and so forth.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  6. AddictedToQuack

    AddictedToQuack Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 23, 2013
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    Okay. That does it. I will pick up some oyster shell this week for them. That was a good article. Thanks to the both of you for your time. I will keep you in the loop and let you know what happens.

    What type of dish do you put your oyster shell in to minimize wastage? Ducks are messy pig when it comes to eating. I can picture this stuff all over the place.

    Thanks,

    Chris.
     
  7. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Something hefty with straight sides and a flat bottom. I have used dog food dishes (the no-tip kind), and pyrex loaf pans. My secret (drumroll) is I put a rock in the center of the bowl. Something heavier than two ducks. Works.

    Only thing I cannot really fix is the occasional poop in the bowl. In that case, I rinse it out thoroughly and let it dry outside in the sun, and serve it up again much later. I reckon the sunshine kills germs.
     
  8. AddictedToQuack

    AddictedToQuack Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 23, 2013
    Ontario, Canada
    That oyster shell sure works! It might be a coincidence. I got my first white egg on Saturday and second on Sunday. I didn't have time to check this morning. They weighed 55 g and 58 g. I am assuming that it came from my Welshie as the Cayuga's eggs should be grey/black. The other ducks are likely still too young. Anyway, I'm eggcited. I ate them scrambled and they were good. Thanks again for your help.

    Chris.
     
  9. Zombified

    Zombified Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just curious, does egg shell work as well as oyster shell?

    And now I'm really worried about giving my drake too much calcium! He's a piggy, and I can't be sure he won't dig in and eat it. Instead of leaving it out all the time, would it possible to simply put him in the run, shut the gate, feed some to the girls, and then let him out after they've had x-amount of shell?
     

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