broody chicken hen on duck eggs - advice needed

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ejctm, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. ejctm

    ejctm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2009
    Hi Folks,

    I am new to the Forum. I live in the UK and keep 5 hybrid hens (cross Rhode Island Red & Buff Orpington).We keep them in a shed and outdoor secure run, but let them free-range over the whole garden on weekends and whenever we are around to keep an eye on them. They are 7 months old and have been laying eggs for a few months. We got them as chicks and hand-reared them, so they are friendly pets.

    2 days ago we took in some rescued wild mallard duck eggs (long story!) and put them under one of our hens who had gone broody a few days earlier. She is sitting on them like they are her own. She has pecked out some feathers on her chest so it is bald - is this normal?

    My worry is that she does not seem to be getting up to eat or drink, so today I have put food and water right next to her. I can't tell if she is eating and drinking as the other hens also peck at this food.

    That brings me to another issue. Should I keep her in the shed with the other hens or move her to somewhere separate? They usually get upset if we separate any of them.

    If/when the ducklings hatch, would they be OK to leave with the other hens then or will they peck them? What about keeping their food separate?

    Are there any other health or safety issues I should be concerned about?

    Also, we intend when the ducks are adults, to hopefully set them free and let them be wild ducks like they were destined. Would they grow up thinking they were chickens and not know how to survive in the wild, or would their natural instincts take over? We hope they will just fly off when they are ready. Does anyone else have any experience of this?

    We have never had a broody hen before either, so are completely new to this! Sorry for all the questions, but any advice would be really helpful!

    Many thanks

  2. pringle

    pringle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 16, 2009
    Ok first of all I have seen chickens rear ducks they just think there like chickens.and about the bald spot on her chest she purposly pulls out her feathers to keep the eggs extra warm.She is probably still drinking and eating but only in small amounts.I think you should just keep her in the shed but try to make it a little private for her.Once the hen has hatched the ducklings I would try to have a special small pen for her so she can raise the babies alone without the flock messing with them.Also try not to touch the babies that much or handle them so that they are scared of humans and not come towrds them also so that you wont get attached to them.The only thing im worried about is that duck eggs take a little longer to hatch than chickens eggs so she might give up.Im sorry but im not to sure about setting them free ive never done anything like that.GL [​IMG] [​IMG]

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