Help!! Broody runner and her first hatchling!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Reese7383, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. Reese7383

    Reese7383 Chirping

    270
    22
    96
    Apr 10, 2015
    Hello everyone! I've done a bit of research, but there's so much info to sift through on BYC! Hopefully one of you more seasoned duck moms and dad's can give some advice.

    Here's the situation;

    We have a small flock of mixed runners; 3 hens and one drake. To our surprise, all the gals have gone bloody. Successfully nested, set and today she's had her first hatchling!!!

    The other two hens have been taking turns, but our Baby has been the most dedicated. Only coming off to eat, she's very protective. Somehow one nest has turned into two, about 10 eggs each. The first being laid about a month ago. We chose to let nature do it's work, only helping to turn the eggs every so often.

    A few hours ago the first duckling hatched. It's peeping up a storm now. food and water readily available, fresh straw/hay. Of course Baby is protective of her newborn, and i don't want to interfere too much. I'm not sure how many of the remaining eggs have pipped or if they're even fertile. With such a wide span between the eggs being laid, I'm not sure when and if I should check the rest. None of the girls have kicked any eggs out, which I found a bit odd.

    I really want to do what's best for the moms and the babies to be. When should we try to move the hen(s), should we separate the ducklings from the rest? I don't want mom to neglect her ducklings and stay on the nest, but I don't want her to abandon the rest of the eggs prematurely.

    Sorry for the novel. Wanted to give as much information as possible. I have a few pictures and can answer anything else. Any help or advice is greatly appreciate! Thanks in advance.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Free Ranging

    4,469
    8,975
    601
    Jun 14, 2017
    Central PA
    The duckling's going to need to eat sooner or later. I don't raise runners, and I have no experience with that particular breed, but I do know a few things from my Muscovies, Swedish, and chickens.

    Don't put food too close to the nest. I once lost an egg because a rooster decided to invade the nest and trample the eggs for the food that was behind the nest. It also encourages the hen to foul the nest because she's not getting off for food and water.

    You can candle at night without disturbing chickens too much, but ducks have better night vision, so I don't know how that would work out. My ducks do not get off the nest or run away--they attack! I have to wear a thick coat and gloves to check on eggs. Be prepared.

    If you candle the eggs (and sadly, I don't have a development chart for duck eggs) you can see how close they are to hatching. If they're within a few days, just leave the nest as they should be fine. If they're more than four days off, I'd move them to a new nest. Of course, candling's not an exact science. Dead eggs should be removed, obviously

    I've never had to separate babies from the flock for fear of the other birds. I do prefer a few days of isolation (I make a fence out of haybales or lock them in the horse trailer) so that the ducklings aren't getting lost or left behind by a nervous mama.

    I have never had a hen or duck kick eggs out of the nest, no matter how rotten they were.

    Finally, broodiness is a contagious and a heritable condition. Have a plan for if you get far too many ducks.

    Good luck. I hope everything works out!
     
    Reese7383 likes this.
  3. Reese7383

    Reese7383 Chirping

    270
    22
    96
    Apr 10, 2015
    Thanks for sharing your experience!
    We try not to disturb any of the girls while they're on the nest itself. The one who's done the most sitting, (Baby). Had been getting off the nest a few times a day. We only just put food for the ducklings nearby. Other feeders and waterers are available elsewhere, so the moms aren't disturbed by other birds.

    One thing that I'm concerned about about is that we only have one enclosure. Usually the ducks and guineas get put away, inside at night if it's cold enough. I know at very least, that we Wil have to separate the different types of birds. In all honesty, neither one of us expected any of the eggs to hatch! So excited now, even if it's only one duckling we end up with.

    Thanks again @sylviethecochin


     
  4. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Free Ranging

    4,469
    8,975
    601
    Jun 14, 2017
    Central PA
    You're welcome.

    In desperate straits for isolation, I have used a (very) large cardboard box if that helps with your enclosure worries.

    I doubt your guineas will harm the babies.
     
  5. Reese7383

    Reese7383 Chirping

    270
    22
    96
    Apr 10, 2015
    3 out of 5 guineas are male. One of which is rather aggressive. I've seen him and our runner drake fight. Lucky (the duck) protected his girls well, grabbed the guinea by the neck and flung him around.

     
    sylviethecochin likes this.
  6. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Free Ranging

    4,469
    8,975
    601
    Jun 14, 2017
    Central PA
    I meant that momma would try and kill him if he touched her babies, but you know your birds better than I do. Sorry for being presumptive.

    Any news on the hatch?
     
    Reese7383 likes this.
  7. Reese7383

    Reese7383 Chirping

    270
    22
    96
    Apr 10, 2015
    Oh! No, sorry I was confused and misread. I totally appreciate your input!! I'm sure Mama would attack him. She gets very vocal when we get too close.

    Nothing new yet. Still only one hatched so far. I'm not sure if I should try to shoo her off the nest to check the rest of the eggs for pipping, or if there's any babies in distress. Gaaahhh. This is so nerve wracking! Will keep you all posted.

     
    sylviethecochin likes this.
  8. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Free Ranging

    4,469
    8,975
    601
    Jun 14, 2017
    Central PA
    Nah, you didn't misread. I was just very unclear. Fault was on my end, definitely.

    It depends on the temperament of your duck whether you want to try and move her or not. I'm an interfering busybody and my chickens are used to being removed from their nests for my nosiness. The muscovies aren't bad about it either. The 'scovies try to bite me, then wander away to eat. Mallards get very upset, very angry, and try and kill me. I've never scared a hen away from a nest for longer than half an hour, but I've never raised runners, as I said. Why don't you try reaching for the nest and see how she reacts? She's used to you feeding her by this point, right?
     
    Reese7383 likes this.
  9. Reese7383

    Reese7383 Chirping

    270
    22
    96
    Apr 10, 2015
    We handled them as ducklings quite a bit. One of the hens (Mama)stays still, let's me pet her. She'll eat mealies out of hand. The other; Baby, with the duckling will get vocal. She fluffs up her feathers and will yell when I'm about two inches away. I don't want to disturb so I back off. No attacking yet.

    Until today food has been outside of the hen house, they've both gotten off nest to eat. But they are used to people being close by.
     
    sylviethecochin likes this.
  10. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Free Ranging

    4,469
    8,975
    601
    Jun 14, 2017
    Central PA
    If she's fluffing up but not attacking, especially at less than six inches, it sounds like she's actually pretty comfortable with your presence. If you want to try just lifting her up and having a peek, she probably wouldn't be too bothered.

    Warning signs of a very uncomfortable duck are:
    frantic, repeated hissing (like fast breathing) when you're less than a few feet away
    arched back neck within a few feet,
    desperate lunges when you get within six inches


    That said, Mama generally does know best, and if you don't want to disturb her, the hatch will most likely go very well without your interference.
     
    Reese7383 likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: