Swans - Free ranging in the pond - breeding preparations

Discussion in 'Ornamental Fowl (Swans, etc.)' started by smoothmule, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. smoothmule

    smoothmule Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am not a breeder of swans. In fact, my "pair" is a DNA sexed male Mute and a DNA sexed female Australian Black swan. I simply wanted my swan, Barry, to have a mate. He just seemed lonesome and sad since I got him a year after losing his mate. I couldn't locate a female of the same breed and appropriate age for him. I just want them to be happy, period.

    However, as spring and breeding time comes closer I want to be prepared if they decide to try to raise a family. The odds of them producing is less than good but they can mate and they can hatch out cygnets. The cygnets will be infertile hybrids and photo's I've found were all charcoal grey in color or blackish grey with white mottling. I got the female, whom I named Matilda, in the summer and I believe they are bonded. The cygnets will have to be pinioned (I have to find a vet here that does it) but DNA sexing won't be needed since they're infertile hybrids and males to males and females to females won't matter. I'd sell them in pairs, they would be sort of like neutered and spayed pets, perfectly pretty pond swans with no concerns with raising babies.

    The set up is simple. We have a large pond just off the back yard. They have totally free range of the area and we're in the center of our 40 acres. There are no trees or bushes close to the pond other than below the back side, the steep side of the bank, where there are trees, brush and the creek.

    On the shallow side, towards the house, there is only open grass and a large clump of tall bamboo. I don't want her to build a nest on the brushy side because of predators and it's the furthest from the house. How can I prepare a site that she would prefer? and what do they build their nests with? I see photo's of breeders swans inside barns with covered nests. I know there has to be some good ideas for preparing these two for the "possibility" that she will want to nest. Even if they don't hatch, I want her in a safe spot but happy and loose. They do tend to come out only on the low end of the pond by the house and even graze a bit in the yard and pasture at times.

    Also, nutrition. They generally feed themselves. The pond has abundant green plants in the bottom. I do supplement with corn (chopped) and sometimes floating fish food for the protein although I've never really read up on it. I've been growing some fodder for my chickens and the thought occurred to me that wheat and barley fodder might be really great for them too, especially in the winter when there aren't a lot of greens.

    I'll use this thread to post progress and hopefully for others with swans to learn from too.
     
  2. dracoe19

    dracoe19 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You try making a "raft" that is anchored in close to the center of the pond. When I worked at a swan sanctuary they hand one of these near the main house. There's didn't have a over head roof but I think that would be a good idea. I always saw one swan sitting on her eggs there and the only things that could come near her were her mate and passing by ducks.
    This isn't the exact dock but it looked very much like this. You could put a ramp with texture kind of like sand paper on it so they can climb it while it is wet. I am guessing the black things on the bottom are large, empty plastic bins to keep it afloat.The mother can also have 360 degrees of open space so she can see everything. You can have no roof but I think just a roof with no walls would be good. The swan sanctuary has never had a predator take a swan or baby at night when they are using this. Their swans are completely self sustained. We are just there to keep documentation of babies, new swans, and their movements.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  3. smoothmule

    smoothmule Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for sharing that. I found some interesting nesting ideas that are meant for Trumpeters. I wonder if it would work the same? In my case though, it's also going to be important to be able to get to the cygnets to have them pinioned I may try this plan to be able to pull the next close enough to shore to be able to get to them when it's time.
    This is all on the assumption they even produce. I don't want to count my cygnets before they hatch and the chances of fertility and hatchability are not great with this pair. Still, even if she does not hatch any, or maybe just one or two, I want her to have what she needs. I'm already working on enriching their diet this winter to prepare them in case.

    What do you think about this design? I think it's pretty cool and can be anchored but also tied to the bank to have access.

    http://sarigrove.weebly.com/1/post/...is-is-prototype-number-8-in-progress-now.html

    I think I would put 3 or 4 sections of pipe insulation on the hula hoop to keep it afloat better. I love the design, and there could be some small tree limbs attached around the edges that would be study enough to make ramps to get up on it. The nylon twine/rope should be braided and woven to make a fairly solid and sturdy place to begin stacking the pieces for the nest. I have a good sized clump of bamboo that could be cut in pieces to be on the bottom to start as a more solid framework and I can provide a pile of other things for them to choose from to build their own nest. I just found all of this today. In general though, this has been labeled more for Trumpeters. Most of what I read about the blacks and Mutes were that they built along the bank and piled the nest high. I know they'll do what they want but this could be a fun project and maybe it will interest them too.
     
  4. Blob Chicken

    Blob Chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wouldn't count on those hybrids being 100% sterile. Mutes and Blacks are very closely related.

    Also for nests ,why not just try and get them to nest on the shore. Just go hack up some scrub to make them a little "cozy" area ,and lay down some cattails or something in a big mound to form the base of the nest ??
     
  5. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    My black swans take my horses hay, leaves, sticks and rocks to make their nest. This is her first year laying and last month she laid three eggs...but broke them due to all the rocks, wood and stuff she stuck in there....hehe
     
  6. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    Oh..Black and Mutes normally have started breeding here already. I see most babies for sale Feb & March....
     
  7. smoothmule

    smoothmule Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They start breeding here in Feb I've heard. I think it depends on locations.

    I don't have any cattails in any of my ponds, my llama's ate them all to death but I have bamboo to cut in pieces and make the base. I figured to put all sorts of brushy stuff within a decent area so they don't have to go far for it but they will have to forage for it and work a little. I thought they might prefer on a floating nest. Trial and error I guess. I also read that blacks will sometimes court for 2 yrs before they mate.

    I can't wait to see if they do mate and build a nest. There aren't many rocks handy, that sounds like it's a good thing, lol I'll post if there's any activity.
     
  8. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    Yep....good no rocks... I don't even know where she found those....it's all sand here. My llama and alpaca kept eating her first nest so the male got to chasing them off. She likes to follow me around and every time I stop she starts throwing stuff behind her.......silly girl. My others haven't tried building anything yet...
     
  9. smoothmule

    smoothmule Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here are my love birds. er swans...............lol

    Barry and Matilda


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Barry


    [​IMG]

    Matilda


    [​IMG]
     
  10. Going Bhonkers

    Going Bhonkers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They are lovely!!
     

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