Topic of the Week - Duck Hens 101

sumi

Égalité
Staff member
Premium member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
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Tipperary, Ireland

Following our discussion on Drakes and Drake Behaviour, this week I would like to talk about duck hens. All of you that own ducks, please tell us about your experiences with them, specifically:

- When do ducks reach maturity and what to expect?
- Egg laying
- How to manage bossy hens
- How to handle broody hens
- Nesting
- Feeding hens, calcium needed for laying hens, etc.



For a complete list of our Topic of the Week threads, see here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/topic-of-the-week-thread-archive
 

chickens really

Crazy Call Duck Momma
Premium member
Sep 8, 2015
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The Funny Farm....Alberta, Canada
:frow Another great topic...
Duck Hens are fantastic..I love all my Hens.
My experience with Hens is as followed.
Generally their is one top Hen in each flock..Its not really pecking order as much as it is a Hen that the others follow.
Where she goes the others go too...
The breeds I have had or do have are Appleyard and Calls..
They are seasonal layers and breeders and pick a Drake they like not always the one you choose..They flirt up a storm by head bobbing to the side and quacking to the Drake. They will lay flat out on the ground or on top of the water for the Drake to mount her..They lay one egg daily like Chickens or any bird..
Hens first lay a clutch of eggs in a nest. They will cover them in bedding each time they leave. If you don't want them to become Broody you collect the eggs daily...If a Hen does get to set her eggs she will start staying on the nest and will pluck out some of her chest feathers to line her nest with. Most Ducks incubation period is 28 days with the exception of Calls that are 26 days and Muscovy that are 34 days. Feeding Hens is easy..I do not feed a layer feed, although I provide Oyster shell in a separate dish and lots of fresh veggies to produce healthy Ducklings..I feed a mix of Duck finisher, old style scratch and oat and barley crumbles.
Duck mothers are generally fantastic Mommas and protect their Duckling very well..I remove Momma and Ducklings once the eggs begin hatching to a nursery pen so she can safely bond and get feeding her Ducklings.
Hens are usually sexually mature at around 5 months, although egg laying can be at a later date of around 8 months.
I have only had bossy Hens at Broody time..They can be a bit cranky.
My Ducks are Breeding and I will be incubating my eggs starting this week..Yippee! Cute little Call Ducklings soon..:hugs

Enjoy them Hens...:highfive:
 

Michael P

Chirping
Nov 20, 2017
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Dallas, Texas
Great topic, I'll be watching the thread. I am especially interested in how to encourage my ducks to brood and raise their own ducklings.

After having chickens and other birds for many years, I started with ducks in March. I have a small flock of Welsh Harlequins, one drake and three ducks. My ducks started laying when they were just a little over five months old, and are still laying almost daily. They are pretty consistent about using a new box, and all the hens usually lay in the same box.

For now I am collecting eggs every day, but plan to let a clutch to accumulate in the spring. I would love suggestions on the best way to do this. I have two separate coops and night pens, and plan to give the hoped-for broody duck her own pen during incubation.
 

chickens really

Crazy Call Duck Momma
Premium member
Sep 8, 2015
59,414
102,272
1,617
The Funny Farm....Alberta, Canada
Great topic, I'll be watching the thread. I am especially interested in how to encourage my ducks to brood and raise their own ducklings.

After having chickens and other birds for many years, I started with ducks in March. I have a small flock of Welsh Harlequins, one drake and three ducks. My ducks started laying when they were just a little over five months old, and are still laying almost daily. They are pretty consistent about using a new box, and all the hens usually lay in the same box.

For now I am collecting eggs every day, but plan to let a clutch to accumulate in the spring. I would love suggestions on the best way to do this. I have two separate coops and night pens, and plan to give the hoped-for broody duck her own pen during incubation.
Not all Hens will Brood no matter how many eggs she lays.
Best thing to do once you want to see if she will start setting is mark all eggs about 6 to 8 with a marker and remove any new eggs..If her hormones reach the peak for setting she will set and begin the incubating process...
 
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