Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Shuffling Ducks (And Chickens and Geese)

Our Mama Duck who hatched out a dozen ducklings and two chicks is doing great raising her little mixed brood outside in their own little chicken tractor.

Last winter we ordered new chicks from a hatchery and the boxful arrived on Tuesday, May 2nd.  One chick was dead upon arrival and we've lost two since then.

A fellow beekeeper in the area happened to contact us before the chicks arrived and asked if we knew how he could go about getting five chicks as his 8 year old daughter was very interested in raising hens in their back yard.

Back story:  A couple of years ago this same guy had given us a nuc from his own healthy bees when we were looking to build up our bees after having lost most of them over the winter.  He was very generous and wouldn't accept any payment for the nuc.  (This was at the very same time another beekeeper in the area was offering nucs for $70 each.)

We told him we had chicks on order and would call the hatchery to see if we could add a few more chicks to our order which we gladly did.  (The least we could do as a thank you for him giving us that nuc was to provide chicks for him.)

So five more chicks were added to the two dozen we had on order.  When the 30 or so chicks arrived last Tuesday, five new little peppers went home with a thrilled-beyond-belief 8 year old.

About a month ago, our good neighbor had said he would love to try hatching out some of our eggs in an incubator at his house.  So we gave him one of our incubators and some duck eggs and the one goose egg we had at the time.

Last Saturday, May 6th, the goose egg produced one honkin' big gosling which he let dry off in the incubator for a day and then brought over to us.

We put the gosling in with the about four days old chicks (who are still in their garden cart brooder in the garage), but immediately saw that was a no go.  Those darn cute little chicks turned immediately vicious and started attacking and pecking at the gosling's head.  They would have damaged an eye and/or killed the gosling, I'm sure.

So the big/little lonely gosling was put in his own separate brooder box (in the garage).

Yesterday, we took four of Mama Duck's ducklings from outside and introduced them into the gosling's brooder.  The four instantly bonded, snuggled down together and all has been happy and peaceful.  (Hallelujah!)  Now the idea is to (tonight) reintroduce the four ducklings along with their new best friend (the gosling) back into the house with Mama Duck hoping she will welcome them all back.

The two dozen rasty chicks in the garage?  Yesterday we set up another chicken tractor with two heat lamps for them out in the poultry pasture.  We monitored the temperature all day yesterday and over night last night to make sure the now week old chicks would be comfy out there, and today they will leave the garage to go to their new home.

Last in this long saga of new poultry additions to our little homestead is the report on the two female geese who have been sitting on nests.  Sad to say, the incubation period for them went far beyond their "due dates" so we removed all the (undeveloped) eggs and the two girls seem happy to be out and about with the other six geese swimming in the pond and grazing all day long on the new green grass shoots in their pasture.

We're appreciative of the new additions to our feathered flock we did get this spring.  Next year, with maturity, perhaps more of the geese and ducks will successfully hatch some offspring that can be raised naturally (a much easier way to go for us) by their mothers.  

And wouldn't it be nice if we had a broody chicken mama next year, too?

 

16 comments:

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

The joys!! I dream about having my own little flock one day. I just need to retire first! Araucana are first on my list....

gld said...

I hope you do get a broody hen. My heirloom girls didn't. Of course, no rooster so it worked out well anyway.
The last success I had was when we had bantams (banties) and they would raise chicks every spring. I should try to get a couple....but then I would need a rooster. We don't get along well!

Susan said...

How do you keep track of all the comings and goings? I'm glad the little ducklings were nicer to your gosling. Chicks can be so nasty!

Michelle said...

I do hope the gosling is adopted! Lots of new fowl there; I could use a few new pullets but I think I'll wait until next year to look.

Dawn McHugh said...

I have been shuffling chicks and broodies and getting some fostered on, its a busy time of year with new flock additions

Mama Pea said...

MrsDM - Ya know what? When you retire you are going to be busier (and happier!) than ever before!

Mama Pea said...

Glenda - Well, bummer none of your heirloom girls still had that broodiness in them!

We've never had better setting mamas than a bantam. Our one remaining bantam hen is 6-7 years old and even though she still gives us an egg now and then, she's turned in her raising chicks button. That's why we ordered six bantam chicks with this last order we just got. Apparently, broodiness hasn't been yet bred out of the bantams. Hooray for that!

Kristina said...

I left an egg in the coop this spring, but the one broody lady decided "nope" she didn't want to sit on it anymore. Sounds like things are going swell in the poultry department.

Mama Pea said...

Susan - Things have been so crazy around here lately, I honestly don't know which end I'm sitting on . . . that is when I do get to sit. ;o}

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - We're sure hoping our new bantie chicks will be natural setters and mothers for us next year. So much better than raising "store bought" chicks in a brooder. 'Course, if you can find pullets, that would be a good way to go, too.

Mama Pea said...

Dawn - Yep, gotta make sure everyone is taken care of, kept in fresh water and food, are safe and brooders, houses and chicken tractors kept clean. (Why is it we do this??)

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - Yepper, things are going very well . . . if we can keep track of who goes where, when they're old enough for different feed or can be out on some green grass, etc. It's all fun, but I sure hope we don't have to keep as many ducks and geese after this coming winter -- again! Seems they all need more time to mature so we can figure out who's going to be a good breeder to keep.

Rain said...

Hi Mama Pea :)) That is such a nice story to read!! I love reading about your flock. I'm so happy all the little ones are best buddies now. Do you have a head count on all of your birds? Seems like you have a lot of them! :)

Mama Pea said...

Rain - Let's see if I can come up with a count without actually going out to count beaks. Chickens (counting the adults and chicks just started) - 42, ducks (also adults and ducklings) - 21, geese - 8 adults and the one gosling. Waaay too many!

Farmer Barb said...

I just candled my duck eggs and have one lone embryo out of seven eggs. I am sure it was due to negligent handling of the eggs prior to incubation. Now that I have read the book, I have eight more eggs to put into another incubator so that lone duckling (if it hatches) won't be too much bigger than subsequent ducklings (should I be blessed with any). My chick additions will be coming to me on Friday as week olds. One of my preschool clients hatches chicks but doesn't want to keep them. They got two out of a dozen they set. They put a rubber mat under the eggs for hatching and blocked all the humidity and most of the chicks died in their shells. Lessons we learn...

Mama Pea said...

Farmer Barb - It seems lots of folks (including us) are having trouble getting good hatches this year whether it be under broody bird or in an incubator. We've struggled with having small batches of birds of different ages, too. A real problem when trying to integrate them so we don't have so many single or few ducklings/goslings/chicks to raise.

Why the rubber mat under the incubating eggs? For more warmth in the incubator? Did they check the temp? Should be right at 100 degrees but no higher. And why did they block all humidity? The eggs need the humidity and with eggs in an incubator, you usually have to periodically sprinkle water on them. Curious . . . and, yep, we sure do learn all the time!