New to ducks. Found 11 eggs! UPDATE-20 eggs in nest, CAYUGA experience & incubate or not advice need

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by farmgirl2013, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. farmgirl2013

    farmgirl2013 Out Of The Brooder

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    So, let me preface this message by saying that I love this website! I've been able to find out so much info, on my own. But I need some specific help now. I apologize for how long it is.

    My situation is that someone was keeping ducks on our farm & has abandoned them. Long story short, after 3 days of leaving them cooped up & filthy water, no food, I have assumed feeding, clean water, providing shelter/nesting, and ample daytime hours to roam for buggies. I "think" they're Cayugas, but please look at my profile pic & tell me if that is incorrect. One of the females is starting to get a couple of white feathers but the others are not. She seems to be the "broodiest" & is the first to go into the nest after eating & even jumps on top of the housing.

    3 drakes, and 3 females. I think they are about a year old now. I have observed mating & lots of "flirting" behavior around the swimming pool, although they all seem to get along very well. For the last 4 weeks, I've found a single egg laid in the mornings & the first one was very dark in color. Now the eggs are a normal cream color. For the last week I saw 2 eggs. These were out in the open in their pen, (& delicious for breakfast by the way!!)

    I've checked their nesting area (filled with straw) & saw nothing other than where they had nested in. Okay, call me crazy...I know I checked nest area thoroughly 2 days ago, and a quick glance every day since then. But this morning I found 11 eggs in there!!! I found my normal 1 egg out in the pen as well. All are normal cream color.

    Questions:
    1) I'd love to see if they will hatch ducklings, but how do you manage that along with eggs to eat?
    2) Is the egg I see out in the pen possibly one the they are pushing out of the nest & therefore bad to eat?
    3) I don't see them really laying on eggs, even tho in a cozy nest. But obvioulsy, they had them covered up with hay...what to do? Should I take these out, start over & mark dates on them? Granted, I'm only out there about 2 hours in am & pm.
    4) If that's the case, hate to throw them out...could I cook them to add into their feed or is that cannabilism? lol

    Do all the hens lay in one nest? I've only got a dog house filled with straw, then I leaned up a piece of plyword on the front (covering the opening) & one on the back...filled all with straw to give them a place out of weather. But I assumed if they needed 3 nest, they would then have them that way. (1 in the dog house, 1 right outside, & 1 on the backside of dog house.)

    I don't really want to get into incubating...or do I? LOL Loving these ducks :)
    Help??? Many thanks!

    UPDATE: 2/11/13
    Soo...DO I want to try incubating? lol In hindsight, I was able to narrow down the timeline of when eggs were in nest. I'm 99% sure that they started there 10 days ago. Instead of emptying nest, I labeled the 1st 11, and subsequent ones. None are left loose in pen now, & we're up to 20 eggs in nest itself. However, no one is sitting. Based on that I was getting 2 eggs per day, I assume it's 2 female ducks sharing the nest, but I have no clue which out of the 3. I've watched & watched...and the only interest in nest is one drake who sits on the outside & makes soft noises, but no females come over.

    Can they even be fertile this time of year here in NC (Feb)? I have seen mating.

    Should I give them more time? Separate the hens from males? I hate to stress anyone out. But I don't want a doghouse full of egg bombs either. No one is fighting as of yet, and there may be one female that is a little picked looking...but then she perks up & acts like all the others. She does seem to be bossing the other females around a bit more at water & food.

    Should I try incubating? Is there anything under $150 that is fairly reliable? (I've been reading up on them some.)

    I understand that sometimes domestics just won't sit. Perhaps also, because this is first clutch for them, and we've got a stressful mix here of 3 females with 3 drakes. Am worried that even if I put them thru the stress of separating males from females...2 hens on one nest doesn't usually end well.

    Any advice for this bunch of resuces I've found myself with? (If I'd like some ducklings?)
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Southern New England
    Welcome to Duckdom!

    Bravo for the rescue.

    I'm not firing on all cylinders right now, but I can offer a few ideas.

    Just be sure their nighttime shelter keeps predators out. Those may leave ducks alone for months, but then suddenly and fatally act, sometimes after a farm dog no longer stays outdoors at night (seen it).

    You don't know how old the eggs are. Since they have been laying a while, they may be viable. If you want ducklings, you could give it a few more days to see if they start sitting (be sure the ducks and nest are protected 24/7), or you could snag the eggs, and get them into an incubator.

    There is a Thread formerly known as Hatch Day is Today (I think that's the whole name of it) where hatchers check in, you may want to check in there as well.

    If you go the broody duck route, marking the eggs should work. I would leave marked infertile eggs under a broody and collect the fresh ones daily when I had someone go broody. It would be the same if we wanted to hatch out the now-fertile buff eggs.

    You could try candling the eggs and see if any have started developing.

    Q2, could be the case, I would not eat the egg.

    I think rather than feed the eggs you have right now to anyone, talk to some hatchers, decide how you want to proceed and if you don't want to hatch them yourself, you could offer them to a responsible party for hatching (not someone who'd toss them on a pond after two months, please). Or if you decide no ducklings, you can do what I do (when things get out of sync as they sometimes do), which is get a bucket, crush the eggs and mix with peat moss and possibly some coffee grounds and stir them into the compost.

    With the same number of drakes as ducks, keep an eye out for overmating, which can be fatal. Not all drakes do this. Sometimes pairs get along fine. But sometimes drakes will gang up on a duck, or a drake just gets too rough. Thinning feathers on back of neck, walking funny or lameness, run down looking, vent bleeding, mean you need to separate her from the guys and make some more decisions (like get more females or get rid of the rough character(s)).
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
  3. farmgirl2013

    farmgirl2013 Out Of The Brooder

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    Ah, thank you Amiga! I will look into the other info you mentioned. I think that with this nest, best to take out maybe all but 1 & mark it. Keep a better eye on things. How often do you see a duck sitting on eggs if they are viable?

    In general, I would say that none of the hens look very "picked on" so to speak. But will keep a better eye on that aspect as well.

    There is a good chance that predators can get them as we have coyotes, fox, hawk on the acres. However, have tried to keep all acres in hot wire, etc. Their night time pen is livestock fence & I will do the best I can to improve it.

    Thanks so much for the info to follow up on!
     
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Southern New England
    Half inch hardware cloth backed up by a couple of strands of hot wire is a good combination for night shelter. Raccoons cannot reach through it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
  5. Carcajou

    Carcajou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]. Best of luck with your new flock and congrats for rescuing them. You have been given sage advice by Amiga.
     
  6. DenverDucky

    DenverDucky Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Congrats on your new flock :)
     
  7. fowl farm

    fowl farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] Great ducks! I love Cayugas :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
  8. farmgirl2013

    farmgirl2013 Out Of The Brooder

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    Checking to see if a "bump" works to move it up. :)
     
  9. Iain Utah

    Iain Utah Overrun With Chickens

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    Yes, they can be fertile and probably are with your drake/duck ratio. If you want ducklings, then you can get a Styrofoam incubator for about $60, although the ones in the $100-120 price range are better. They require micromanaging, but I've had decent success hatching waterfowl in them. You can also see if they go broody, but my Cayuga didn't last year. I would also put two drakes in their own separate yard until you can get more female ducks to balance the ratio. Cayuga males have high mating drives and can be very aggressive.
     
  10. farmgirl2013

    farmgirl2013 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks Utah,
    Any specific incubators you've had good luck with? (In either price range). I can turn, etc...but am reading that best to get a turner just for the fact that less intrusion into the incubator temp/humidity.
     

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