Duck eggs !!! Now some questions?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by GoodEgg, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Hello all!

    After searching all over for duck eggs, and giving up (for the time being) when I thought they might not lay until seasons changed, I got a surprise this morning.

    Inside the coop, my ducks had hidden 6 eggs!!!

    I have two ducks, and I have no idea which, or if both, are laying. One egg was quite small, and the other 5 are typical chicken egg size. Still small for ducks I guess. They are also quite dirty.

    So I'm guessing the laying has been going on for somewhere between 2 and 8 days ... I have no idea how old some of the eggs may be, or which ones are older.

    My DD wants to immediately let the ducks set and hatch, of course. I don't think this is the best time of year, nor are we prepared to do that. I'd rather wait until spring when the weather will be warming rather than cooling as they grow. I'm not keeping ducklings in my house all winter!!!

    Besides, I'm thinking the fertility rates should be better later on. They've been breeding for a couple of months or so, so fertility may be fine, but even so, larger eggs should be better than the first ones?

    Ok, I've about talked myself out of letting her hatch them. I think that's for the best.

    So what I'm wondering is ... is there any way to tell how fresh these are, and is it possible to eat them? Or, if one of them is potentially 8 days old, and having been in the heat and covered in duck poo, is it safer to throw them all out? (Well, actually I'd probably clean them and let DD blow them and do something with them ...)

    So far we haven't washed them. Do duck eggs have the same "bloom" as chicken eggs and stay fresher that way?

    DD wants to know if we can candle them now. She's so excited, and I hate to dampen that, but I am really afraid it's not wise to raise baby ducks right now. We DO live in Florida, so our season is longer, but it will start getting cooler somewhere around late October, and will probably be cold by late December.

    Thanks for any advice or info!

    trish
     
  2. mlheran

    mlheran Chillin' With My Peeps

    How exciting! You have lots of good questions, though I can only help with a couple (so hopefully more people will resond!).

    You're right about the fertility rates and the time of year; their first eggs are less likely to be consistently fertile and Spring is the most natural and best time of year for raising ducklings. You'd likely set yourself up for disappointment if you set those eggs right now, so build up your expectation (and preparation) for Spring! [​IMG]

    If it is really hot where you are eight days could be too long to sit outdoors. One way you can test if the eggs are good is to drop them in a pan of water -fresh ones will sink and stay flat on the bottom, older ones (but still good) will raise at one end, and eggs that are past their prime will float completely. This only measures freshness by how much moisture the egg has lost since being laid, but it won't tell you if they're fertile or how far along they are. If you haven't had a duck sitting on them regularly they likely haven't developed at all.

    As far as bloom, yes, from what I've read duck eggs are the same as chicken. I just got my first duck egg this morning and was very surprised that it had a black/grey bloom! I had read that Cayugas and other all-black breeds lay eggs with a dark black coating (which turns white or disappears when boiled), but I wasn't expecting it with my black-and-white ducks! My egg was dirty anyway, so I just washed off the dirt and the dark bloom at the same time. [​IMG]

    I hope you get some more answers, and congrats again on the eggs!
     
  3. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Thanks, mlheran!

    Now I feel silly ... that's how I test refrigerated eggs. I hadn't thought about the same thing for freshly laid ones. I guess I was thinking there could be something else besides the size of the air sac that could make them "bad." Thanks very much. I will do that.

    I'm still not sure what we'll do with these.

    I thought of another question though, that is a lot more important that any I asked before. I'm wondering if the ducks will need supplemental calcium now? I'm not sure if they can handle oyster shells, and they are REALLY picky about eating treats. The last time I offered boiled egg yolk and shell they rejected it.

    So far, they eat only forage, chick starter/grower (they LOVE this) and watermelon. Sometimes they will accept some other fruit or veg, but eat very little of it. Even lettuce.

    They don't have access to a natural pond, just the kiddie pool. I don't know what good sources of calcium they may find. I can always buy little feeder fish if they will eat those. I haven't tried spinach (or if I did, it was only a small amount and they didn't eat it ... can't remember). So I'm not sure what to do about calcium, or if they need it.

    If anyone knows, I'd REALLY appreciate it! Thanks all! [​IMG]

    trish
     
  4. mlheran

    mlheran Chillin' With My Peeps

    You're right, GoodEgg, the water test really only tells you how fresh it is -I'm not sure if there are ways (besides obvious smells) to know if an egg has gone bad from something other than time.

    I'm going to quote some egg info that may be useful from Raising the Home Duck Flock, by Dave Holderread (this has since been republished as Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks)...

    Several methods can be used for short or long term storage of eating eggs. Whichever mode you use, keep in mind that the quality of eggs decreases rapidly when they are exposed to temperatures above 60ºF, sunlight, dry air, or contamination due to soiled or cracked shelss. Infertile eggs can be stored longer than fertile ones.

    Dirty eggs should be washed with warm water soon after being gathered, and used within one or two weeks. Warm water opens the shell pores, drawing out filth that would remain embedded if a cold bath were used.

    Natural Storage

    Nest-clean, strong-shelled duck eggs can be held for two or three weeks without refrigeration if they are placed in a cool (below 60ºF) humid, dark nook. Cellars, pumphouses, garages and unheated basements often meet these requirements.

    Refridgeration

    Under refridgeration (34º to 40ºF), eggs can be kept safely for up to six weeks. By sealing freshly laid eggs in plastic bags, their refridgeration life can be lengthened to two months.

    And here's a bit about calcium...

    To digest their feed to the best advantage, ducks need to have a continuous supply of granite grit, coarse sand or small gravel. Four weeks prior to, and throughout the laying season, hens need to have their diets supplemented with calcium if they are going to lay strong-shelled eggs. Most manufactured laying feeds contain the correct amount of calcium, but when grains or home mixes are used, a calcium-rich product such as egg shells, oyster shells or ground limestone should be fed free choice.

    So if they are being fed a complete feed, you shouldn't have to supplement heavily. I occasionally sprinkle calcium grit over my ducks' feed, but I haven't noticed much impact one way or the other. My ducks also only have a kiddie pool and have never had any problems. I have noticed that they will tend to eat more of something (lettuce or leafy weeds) if I put it in their pool, rather than leaving it on the ground for them. I've been thinking of getting them some minnows for a treat, but I haven't tried it yet -it might be more entertaining for me than it is for them! [​IMG]

    Sorry for being long-winded again!​
     
  5. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Thanks so much, mlheran!

    I think now that the initial excitement has worn off, it would be best to just wash these eggs and let her make some sort of projects from them. From what you quoted, having dirty shells can contaminate, so sitting out there in the heat with dirty shells for I-don't-know-how-long makes them unsafe in my book, especially since we should soon be getting more eggs which can be eaten safely.

    I'm still not sure what to do about the feed. I don't buy feed for them. Maybe I should. I gave them starter/grower (chick) as babies, and from a few months old they have eaten about 90% or more forage. I have used the "water trick" to get them to eat whatever won't sink immediately. But they will only eat tiny amounts of anything I give them (except starter/grower ... they'd probably eat 20 pounds a day if I'd put it out!).

    I'll look into some laying duck feed, and see if it has enough calcium and if I can buy a small amount (since they are so picky!) Fortunately, it's the duck I feel is most likely to be laying that eats the best for me.

    I've never given them any grit, figuring they'd get enough from the soil (which they eat a LOT of!).

    I tend to think they SHOULD be ok, since they don't seem to feel the need to eat anything I offer them. And so many ducks out there seem to live free on a pond and eat forage only. Mine have a huge yard with lots of varieties of weeds, etc. but no natural pond, so I don't know if that limits them.

    Anyway ... maybe I should make a separate post about feeding laying ducks ...

    Thanks so much for your help! [​IMG] (Oh, and if you decide to feed them little fish, let us know how it turns out!)

    trish
     
  6. bantymum

    bantymum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hello, my ducks love freshly dug garden worms, which they dig in the mud for. Have you tried to make a little mudhole next to the kiddie pool? that should provide some nutrients.
     
  7. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Thanks, bantymum!

    There is usually a good pile of mud by the smaller pool, which I dump daily, and it always stays in the same spot. They do dig in this all the time ... kinda snorkeling their bills under the mud, and they eat SOMEthing. I wasn't sure what, but worms seems most likely since you mention it.

    I'll turn over the soil a bit with a shovel and that should help too, between softening it deeper and bringing worms to the surface.

    Thank you!

    trish
     
  8. WindyOaksYokes

    WindyOaksYokes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 17, 2007
    Central Virginia
    Goodegg - ummm ut oh... thank you for writing this!!! My ducks were hatched around the same time frame, and one has been sneaking off by herself and I really didnt think anything about it until I read this, I think I need to start searching!!! You have all provided some very useful information and personally I would like to say thank you!
    Tes
     
  9. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    Hi! Just wanted to jump in and mention that spinach in large quantities is actually supposed to inhibit the digestion of calcium! At least, this is what I learned when I was keeping cockatiels. My ducks LOVE dandilion leaves and expect me to throw some in their pool daily! Those are supposed to be really healthy. My backyard is a "jungle" so there's lots of "salad greens" to be had. Like the person above said, mine do much better eating their greens in the water.

    Ellen
     
  10. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Quote:Hi Tes!

    You're welcome. I learn more from other people's questions than my own, usually. Actually, 90% of mine are answered before it comes up, because someone else has already been there, asked that. I love this board!

    Someone (sorry, I can't remember who!) posted that ducks always lay early in the am, and this has been our experience so far. Mine leave the coop early and haven't been returning, and all the eggs are in there, so they lay before I let them out in the morning. So ... if your ducks are not out too early, you might not have to search TOO hard.

    Then again, I'm not sure. I always watched Kuro after she'd been breeding for a while, because she started sneaking off too, and she's the one duck least likely to be away from the others, normally.

    Hope you are rolling in duck eggs soon! (not literally, lol!)

    trish
     

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