Ethical question on the Swan Posts.......


13 Years
Apr 16, 2009
Hudson, OH
I am the daughter of a veterinarian who has always had a special interest in birds in general. When we wanted to get swans, I studied long and hard before making the commitment and we have had our breeding pair for 7 years now. Two avian vets who have visited our farm socially have made the same comment--never seen such a healthy and contented-looking pair of swans as these. It is from this perspective that I pose the question after reading the previous posts over the last month or so on swans:

Given that the maturation of a swan is far different (and the time needed FAR longer) than most other birds, how can anyone even begin to think of separating them from the parents as young as 3 weeks of age??? Not only is that literally like taking a child away from a very caring and concerned set of parents (remember the male is every bit as involved as the female!), it is also precisely the age at which a cygnet loses the last of it's yolk sac and therefore the immunities passed on from the mother. At that age, the cygnet is at its most vulnerable. Given their connection to the parents and how "baby-like" their behavior is, we would never let them go till at least 5-6 mo of age. This is still a little early, but our weather has to factor into this as well.

I'm sorry if I sound too preachy, but I think there are many who wouldn't know this as it is very hard to find information on behavior/care/breeding of these beautiful animals and if this helps even one person to make the right choices for the birds, it is time and effort well spent.

Crias del Cielo Alpaca Farm
Beth. The cygnets can be raised without the parents as soon as they crack open the egg. It might be ethically or emotionally wrong to you but its done all the time with no harm to cygnets or their parents. Have you ever heard of double clutching?
Obviously we will have to differ in our beliefs.

So it's done all the time--does that make it right? So some folks do double-clutching and get more production--does that make it right? Who has the power to decide if it does or does not have ill-effect on the cygnets or their parents? I have seen my swans go ballistic when we have to hold the babies away from them for a very short time to pinion, and I have also seen/heard Delilah keen and search for a baby when it has died for days! Anyone with much animal experience in general knows that animals' powers of adaptation to survive are often amazing. Have you ever had the opportunity/desire to really watch--on a day-to-day basis--the whole process from nest-building to mating to raising the family with these birds? I have spent a lifetime interacting with and observing animal behavior--since I was a little child working in dad's vet hospital to get my allowance to the present 57 years old with 75 animals to care for--and never have I seen animal parents that were so bonded and attentive to their young for so long as I see year after year with our mutes.
I could never believe that taking the babies so young could possibly have no ill effects.

My momma hens love their babies, protect them and care for them long after the cockerels start trying to crow. They have hatched baby ducks and adopted stray chicks. I have seen some hens call for days and search for babies that have died. We still sell baby chicks etc... I think anytime ANY animal is separated from their young there is stress and some ill effects....... but that is life in the animal world. If people kept every animal long after they were detached from their parents, no one could afford to raise them. People would loose out on understanding and knowing these animals and experiencing how wonderful they are. With raising animals comes the need for compassion. Raising animals has its good and bad points. Most people hatch or buy young birds so that they imprint on people. I enjoy caring for and raising young babies and I've never been told by any vet that I was doing them harm. I love being able to interact with my adult swans. My one thinks he's a dog ( yes he knows he's a swan and spends all day with his fellow swans) but he is a tattle tale and anytime the dogs are doing something bad he is up on the porch at the door... telling on them. He enjoys following me around to see what I'm up too. I wouldn't trade him for the world. People who truly love their birds and raise them, do so, so that other people can enjoy those animals as much as them. Their is much give and take when it comes to care and raising.....
I see you raise Alpacas. I know it is common with the Alpaca community to rebreed the females soon after they have a baby....... there are many difficulties and moral dilemmas in raising and caring for any animal. I know for me, I would not be able to afford to buy a grown pair of swans and risk losing that investment to a predator etc.... Some people would say good, then you don't need them..... I can afford to buy them as babies and spend all that money I would have spent on buying adults, to spend on caring for them, proper vet care, proper food and the best love and interaction I could give. My vet sees them on a regular basis and tells me they are healthy, happy swans. I do have 2 that are handicapped, the result of poor breeding from another breeder etc... my vet tells me that considering their condition they are otherwise healthy and they are not in pain, just have an awkward way of going. There are trade offs with raising animals, the best we can do is try our best to make it less stressful on the animal as possible. It is great that you can afford to raise them all well into young adult hood before parting with them, but I know I am truly grateful to be able to purchase young ones and enjoy them growing up......
well said Chickenzoo. And yes Beth I have had the opportunity/desire to watch on a daily basis the whole process on these and many other waterfowl with these qualities. Im not the heartless person as you may think. It still gets me when I have to take babies from the moms of all my ducks to this day and will happen again this spring as it has for over the last decade. But For my situation and many others I have to separate the babies as early as possible.This is just reality. Also I no longer own swans(mutes) as of last year if that makes you feel any better. I felt that for these birds to be their happiest they need tons of water and lots of space and THIS is what I will tell any one wanting to keep these great waterfowl. We agree to disagree and thats okay
very true Chickenzoo and Destin. I only have a second to post, but the plain and simple fact is, in a captive environment, baby birds of any kind get absolutely no benefit from being kept with the parents at all for any length of time. It's no like it's going to boost their immune system or make them healthier. Fact is 90% of all birds are incubator hatched and brooder raised. This is just the way it's done. It is not cruel in any sense of the word.

They are actually MUCH safer that way. there 's no ethics about it.
In most cases if you left them out in the open with no protection, something would catch and kill them, they'd get killed by males wanting to breed again, or any of a number of things could happen.

Selling them at any age has no bearing on their health, well being, or stress levels. These arent people. They could careless, especially if brooder raised.
Once removed from parents if you are one who risks that, then yes, the parents will be agitated, it's their instinct to be protective, but they next morning, they wont be crying or at the police station filing a missing child report, they be right back to doing what a bird does.

I think we are trying to humanise them a little too much, nature doesnt work the same way as we do.

If you are super passionate about them, and want to keep them forever, that is perfectly fine, not a thing in the world wrong with that.
But please dont act like people are heartless cruel mongerels for raising birds the way they have been raised for centuries. If there was an issue pertinate to the well being of the birds with this, then everyone one be doing it a different way.

But long and short of it is there is absolutely no benefit of leaving a chick of any kind with it's parents for even 1 minute of it's life, when it comes to domestic fowls, and game birds,
I've seen so many signets that wouldn't otherwise make it become healthy after hand-raising, and so many eggs crushed by an overprotective dad that wasn't careful in his charge, that I don't see it as an ethical issue within a captive setting. The signets love riding on mom and dad and learning swimming tricks from them though, so despite the crushed eggs, I don't see it being a bad thing to leave them together either. If no real harm is being done, and so long as you are raising healthy birds, to each their own.

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