Broody Chicken with ducklings - advice needed asap!


In the Brooder
7 Years
Apr 14, 2012
So, a couple weeks ago we had a hen go broody over some duck eggs. Then we got busy, and oops! We have growing babies!

Just so everyone knows, I've never done anything like this before, so I need as much help as I can get!

Broody has been happily sitting on three eggs in the corner of our coop, I haven't done anything to separate her from the others yet, since no problems have come up (but I know I need to do something soon). Just candled eggs tonight, #1 is around 20-22 days (I couldn't see through the egg, it was completely black), #2 looks to be at around 18-19 days old (can see distinct features, and this little guy is very active!), and I think #3 died.
(no distinct blood vessels, just a blob) I've been using this link as a guide...

I don't know what to do from here! Pretty sure it was a newbie mistake to have the eggs developing at different rates... I've tried to do my research, but have yet to find a lot of good information on a chicken raising ducklings! (didn't find as much on BYC as I would have liked...) I have no idea how to set up a good broody pen, make sure she does her job, and I'm wondering if I shouldn't be candling this late because I'll mess up the duckies orientation for hatching!

Trying not to freak out... I really don't want to kill them from my lack of knowledge!

Thanks guys!
I never remove eggs if I'm honest. I don't trust myself! Usually you can smell a bad one through the shell. As for the hen raising ducklings, it should really just be the same as a hen raising chicks. She won't know the difference. Once they have hatched remove the mother and ducks and put them somewhere seperate for 3 days- a week. After that you can put them back in with your flock, but observe for a while to make sure none of your other hens try to kill them. They probably wont, they might just give a peck but thats normal. I also think you need to get duckling crumbs because I think chick crumbs kill ducklings but I;m not sure as I read somewhere that the ingreidient that kills them was taken out. What do you have that you could use as a broody pen for the first week? You can just leave mama to get on with it after moving them into the broody pen. She will know what to do! If theres anything I haven't answered then just ask again! By the way if you are really care about the candeling then post in here
I've heard and read stories of mother hens with ducklings and when the ducklings jump into water the hen usually freaks out because she thinks that her chicks are drowning!
I heard a story about a hen raising ducklings before. The hen was mad because the ducklings wouldn't cluster around her and stay hidden. The were in a line. LOL!
Hens do freak out when they go int he water at first so If I was you I would start off with shallow bowls until she gets used to them going in. I heard a lovely story where the hen would take the ducklings to the pond and when they went in she would just sit at the side and sun bathe.
This broody chicken raising ducks worries me a little, what about the waterproofing that the ducklings acquire from their moms? I don't think I'd want any ducklings around water unless they were mostly fully feathered -or- living with a broody.
This broody chicken raising ducks worries me a little, what about the waterproofing that the ducklings acquire from their moms? I don't think I'd want any ducklings around water unless they were mostly fully feathered -or- living with a broody.
They will be fine with water! The hen will keep them warm when they need it. Also isnt part of a hen waterproof? I thought that is why they use their oil gland when cleaning themselves.
Thanks everyone for your help! Starting to feel better now about my situation.

Guessing I should probably remove egg #3? Thinking its dead, but don't really want to mess with it incase I miss judged!

Johnn, if I used duckling crumbles, would it be bad if the mother ate them too? Last time I time I raised ducklings, I used Dumor's non-medicated feed, but maybe things have changed since then?
Would appreciate your input.

Also, is it really that safe for the ducklings to be with the rest of the flock as soon as 3 days? Maybe I'm underestimating Broody's protection abilities... And again, I've never done this before. Not trying to question you, I'm just curious.

Thanks again for all the advice! Will keep you guys posted on their progress!
Thought I would tell you our story. We have Buff Orpinton chickens and 2 out of the 3 went broody. We bought fertile duck eggs, put them under Momma and left her in the nesting box of the chicken coop. We turned and watered the eggs 2 - 3 times daily. A few days before the due date (often some will hatch a day or two early) we put her and the eggs on a layer of shavings in a huge plastic dog crate with food and water for Momma inside and closed the door. Surprise, two days early we had two chicks, next day one more, one didn't make it and then the egg we had been given at the last minute (from a Cayuga Mother) hatched. That is a separate story. After a few days we built a chicken wire tractor that opens off the end of the dog crate, water and food outside in the run and everything is fine. We move them every few days and give them succulent grass, the odd slug, dandelion flowers and other treats like old grapes. We are planning on putting them into the garden tomorrow when we are home and can watch them and lock up the cat. We have not given them a swim yet either. When I start fretting about them, my husband will often say "The're ducks." in other words they know what to do. Hope this helps

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