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I'm going to figure out who's laying... and replace the rest

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by iamcuriositycat, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Sheesh. ALL SUMMER LONG exactly ONE of my six hens has been laying. Nada from the others.

    They are three magpies from Holderread and three runners hatched from McMurray stock. I have a feeling it's a runner laying because the egg is green. But tonight I'm going to split the flocks in half. If it's a runner laying, I'm going to sell the entire quad of Holderread magpies. They are gorgeous, but I am sick of feeding birds who don't repay the favor.

    My friend has runners from McMurray stock who have been laying all summer AND most of last winter. I'm going to ask her for some eggs to hatch, and also hatch a few from my one girl who is laying, and replace the whole darn flock (except the one laying).

    It's possible it's husbandry that's keeping them from laying but they are on the same property as the flock I had last year who laid faithfully on a daily basis. They are fed laying pellets daily, with optional cat food (which they refuse to eat), free range morning from night on over an acre of grass and weeds. They have two kiddie pools and access to a lake (which they never use). They are never chased or otherwise troubled, and their routine is, well, routine. I can think of not a single thing that is keeping them from laying other than poor genetics.

    I am especially disappointed in the magpies. I had read (in Holderread) that they are almost as productive as runners, but they laid last fall and then very briefly this spring, and that is IT. They are Holderread stock...

    So, anyway, that's my plan. If anyone has any ideas other than replacing them, I'd love to hear it. I hate to start all over again. HATE it. But honestly--twenty eggs a year is simply not going to cut it.

    And has anyone else had better experience with magpies? I am a HUGE fan of Holderread and I have always found him to be right about everything, and am very pleased with the appearance of birds from him but... I am wondering if maybe production stock might be better for my purposes. Thoughts?

  2. Hot2Pot

    Hot2Pot Fox Hollow Rabbitry

    Feb 1, 2010
    West TN
    Are you sure they are not laying off in the bushes somewhere,or maybe you have an egg eater?
  3. Theeggboxtoo

    Theeggboxtoo Songster

    Oct 5, 2010
    Quote:x 2
  4. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    I think you are just not finding the eggs. They can even be under water in that lake. I think you are too experienced to be expecting drakes to lay eggs, so that can't be it.

    Magpies should lay well. So maybe the problem is not that they aren't laying, but that they are hiding well. And then maybe something is eating the eggs that are laid all over the place.
  5. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Could be. However, I have tried leaving them in their pen all day and still it's always exactly one egg (occasionally none at all). I am almost positive they're not hiding them in the pen--I would at least have found their stash when I cleaned it out. And I frequently take a pitchfork and test all the corners.

    If someone were eating them, I would think that the one consistent egg would either also be eaten, or occasionally there would be more than one egg, or that there would be remains. The only critters capable of getting into their pen would be rats and snakes, and both would leave evidence behind. But almost every day, it's that one exact egg, always in a clean nesting area (not always the SAME clean nesting area, but consistently laid where an attempt at nesting has been made, and where it's relatively clean--for which I'm very grateful!). And it never appears to have been attacked or damaged in any way.

    They don't actually use the lake at the bottom of the property. They have access to it, but they choose to stay up by the house (the lake is at the bottom of a long acre, and they don't even get close to it).

    I wish you guys were right, but I don't think so. However, what else can I do to figure out? I would hate to replace them only to have the same trouble later... but I would love to find out that they've been laying all along and I just didn't realize it...
  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    P.S. LOL yes, I'm not expecting eggs from my drakes! [​IMG] I actually have eight ducks, of which two are drakes. I'm only expecting the hens to lay. [​IMG]

    However, if the magpies are not laying, I'll probably send them and their magpie drake together as a family, and replace them with runners. I'll keep the runner drake if it's a runner laying--he's Holderread and beautiful.
  7. jdywntr

    jdywntr Songster

    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    Hmm. Odd. I know my runners were VERY sneaky about laying. Some days it wouldn't matter and they'd plop it down whereever. Other days it was, let us out of the run! And off into a sheltered corner of the yard she would go and immediately lay. My F&W runner laid white eggs but my blue and black laid green.

  8. TLWR

    TLWR Songster

    Jul 10, 2010
    southern AL
    I have 2 runners and it seems rare when I get 2 eggs in their night house. Usually 1. And then Ally makes a run for the woods to where the current nest is. Sometimes she waits, but if there are no eggs or just 1, they go off and lay them somewhere in the yard. I gave up looking for them.
    Any place they could be making a nest somewhere and laying there on the property?
  9. sonew123

    sonew123 Poultry Snuggie

    Mar 16, 2009
    onchiota NY
    My girl will bury their eggs in the dirt or hay..have you REALLY searched their pens and such???
  10. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Well, I THINK I've searched thoroughly, but I'll make a really really thorough search before I rehome. I'm separating runners from magpies tonight to see if I can identify at least who's laying in the nest. Next weekend we have a yard sale, but maybe Sunday or the following weekend I'll completely clean their pen out, every bit of it, and search for eggs. A few days before, I'll leave them locked up 24-7 so if they are laying, they HAVE to do it in the pen.

    Thanks for the input. I'll keep y'all updated.

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