Holy ducklings !!!!!!!!!! edited to add HELP !!


10 Years
Sep 6, 2009
I have had 2 welsh harlequin hens sitting on a very large clutch of eggs together. They were due yesterday, so I left them alone.
Just checked on them now............wow !!! there are babies everywhere , to the left, to the right , in front.
I have a third hen who wasn't broody, but, she seems to have taken some of the babies for herself (the front group), she is in the duck house with the broody girls and the babies.
The drakes have been with them all day too.
I am debating on whether or not to remove the drakes or not. As they were locked up with them all night and this morning before I being let out and behaved.
Has anyone had experience with leaving the drakes with the new family. As in the wild they are all together, why not for domestic ducks.
It's in their nature to be maternal and paternal ???

Not sure of a head count at this point, didn't want to stare too long and disturb them.
They were sitting on about 22 (at least)

Is it common for the non broody hens to take over and help too??
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Wow, that's a lot of ducklings!
Hopefully, all the females who want to brood them will keep them all warm. You might think about setting up a brooder just in case some of the ducklings aren't being warm enough.

As for the drakes, I would separate them just to be on the safe side. I know that the wild drakes that I've seen generally are not a threat to the babies (except when they chase the females around), but in a captive situation, it is different because it is harder to give everyone the space they need to get away. In the wild, the only reason why the drake will hang around a female with ducklings is to possess the female, not to help the ducklings.

This year, I have seen cases of wild females "shadowing" a large brood and "stealing" some of that brood for themselves even when they haven't laid eggs or sat on a nest. So, I would think that if the female is showing interest in caring for the duckings, I wouldn't worry. But, if she starts pecking and chasing them, then she should be separated.
right now, I've locked the drakes out of the run, I think at night I will cage them up in the dog kennel inside the run. They will be safe in the kennel, this way the girls will have bonding time with the babies. I am going to let them have a few days together and then the babies have to be taken away , and up for new homes.
the third hen seems quite smitten, she's been acting wierd the last few days, like she knew they were on their way.
all noisy and fluffed up.

the one drake, it's kind of cute, I was checking the duck house and the drake came and tapped his bill on all the eggs.
I think he might be a good dad. But, I don't want to take the risk of seeing them thrash the babies around when they want to mate.
just went and checked again.

the 3rd hen, who wasn't broody, has now moved the duckling and some eggs that were out front and put them underneath her in a corner. She has ducknapped a baby !!

but, my main concern is this.

where the girls went broody, there are two nest boxes, the ducklings that hatched either were pushed or all climbed over the edge and into the empty nest beside the nest where the hens are. There are 7 ducklings in there, Good news, I see a couple of girls !!!
Bad news, they've been in there without a mama for about an hour now.
They way my duck house is set up, I can't walk in and grab them, it's a lean into style house. I can't reach the babies without literally putting my face right beside mama duck.
I don't want the babies to freeze to death in there and I don't want to grab them and risk mama hen getting off all the unhatched or hatching eggs due to crying babies.
I don't know what to do.
I was thinking maybe piling hay in with the ducklings so that they could climb back up and in with the mamas, but, not sure if I will just end up burying them in hay.............

I don't know what to do
no where to hang lamp.

I threw some more hay on them. the third hen left while I was checking, so I took the eggs she was on and put them back in the main nest. I am hoping she will go back in and sit on the babies now that I took the eggs away ???

I am worried that when I go in and take the ducklings out, the mamas will squish the ones they are sitting on, so wondering if I shouldn't take all the babies away when I grab out the 8 to leave just the unhatched eggs.
regardless, I have to take the 8 out, as they aren't quite as agile as chicks to jump out on their own.
when we had our Mucovies the drakes were very protective of the hens and the ducklings . The hens shared nests and nesting duties together,taking turns and all laying in the same nest (only had 4 hens).Muscovies are somewhat different than other duck species though so i can't say for sure about yours.Have fun with all those babies!
One thing though,be careful that all your fussing with the nests etc or you could cause the hens to desert the nest altogether ,or harm the little ones.
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I don't think I have a choice but to fuss with them, the 8 babies are without a heat source and the mama hens dont' seem too concerned that the babies can't get back to them.
My daughter would be ticked if I didn't intervene. They will eventually start to chill in there. Not sure how warm 8 little day old ducklings can keep each other.
will these babies survive cuddled together?? Is an intervention necessary. the mama just aint budging off her unhatched eggs, rather then be considered about a huddle of live ducklings, she's chosen the eggs, she also has 3 ducklings under her.
I don't want to upset her and have her leave the nest, but, at this point. I am not willing to let the ducklings die.
There isn't any drafts in their hutch, I could try sneak a hot water bottle into the nest.
I am feeling stupid for not seeing this potential for disaster prior to hatching. stupid me.

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