Of Ducks & Duck Eggs

In one of my last posts, I shared pictures of some of the newest members of my flock.  These included three Khaki Campbell ducks named Hewey, Dewey and Lewey (after Donald’s three nephews).   Hewey (the boy) and his two sisters came to me as eggs gifted to me by my friend Loretta.

They were hatched by my Light Brahma hen, Rachel, who never having been a mother before, had no idea that her babies were not normal chicks.

Rachel with her newborns. Hewey was the first one born, the biggest. He turned out to be a boy.

Rachel, and her babies, back in August after they were a couple of weeks old.  Raising ducklings has been an amusing adventure.  They are not like chicks.

For starters, my chicks all tend to stay under their mother exclusively for at a bare minimum of five days before venturing out into the wide world.  Some, occasionally, on day 1, while waiting for siblings to hatch, but not many.  It may be just my mother hens keeping them close, but not sure.  The ducklings?  As soon as they were dry and fluffy, they wanted to wander and explore, boldly running up to anyone they met and quacking a happy “Hey! Hi! Can we be friends?”

I got to witness this more than once because while Rachel was raising them, Pavelle was raising the bantams and cochins we got ( also from Loretta) and some orphaned chicks her daughter sat on but refused to raise.  (Turns out Heather is not a good momma).   There were sharing the floor, and it turns out that the ducks looked on Pavelle’s babies as new friends to explore the world with.  At least until they started getting bolder and bigger and the chicks did not grow with them.

Another big difference was the ducks… and water.  Ducks love water.  Rain, puddles, swimming pools, water tubs, you name it, ducks love it.

Chickens like to drink it, and to wade into after bugs, but not to swim in.  And my chickens do not like rain.

So imagine Rachel’s surprise when it rained the first time and her babies refused to run into the coop with her to stay dry, and in fact, ran around happy as clams… or ducks in water?  I went to check on her and found her grumpily trying to sit on them because her instinct was to keep them dry and theirs was to go out and play.

As we had a very wet summer, Rachel eventually gave up trying to keep them dry and just went with it.

The other big difference I noted was that when a mother hen raises chicks, she lets them to their own devices somewhere around the 6-week mark.  Sometimes earlier, sometimes later, but usually around then.

Ducklings – according to what I’ve read – stay with their moms a little longer, around 10-weeks, or between 1.5 to 2 months.

Rachel, being a chicken, soon found her children had outgrown her, and could not, by Week 4, sit on them.  Usually, she’d one or two under her and one sitting nestled close beside and they would take turns.  And by that time, she wanted to show her ‘chicks’ how to roost on the lower roosting bars. only, her chicks weren’t chicks, they were ducklings who couldn’t figure out how to fly onto the roost.

Eventually, she gave up trying and some nights, she would snuggle on the floor with them, and other nights, she would go to the roost.  There was no rhyme or reason, just whatever she felt like.  eventually, and much too early for ducks, she returned to doing Hen Things and left motherhood behind.

The ducks were on their own, although they continued to follow her around most of the summer and into autumn.


A few random pics of them growing up.

They have been a different sort of poultry experience.  They like water, like snow, and love to make messes with their waterer.  I’ve started leaving the water outside because the coop was getting very damp.

A couple weeks ago, one of the hens (yes, apparently female ducks can be called hens still) started laying eggs.  And then the other joined in.  They don’t lay every day, but almost every day.

Today, I brought up a full dozen duck eggs.

They are white, and about the same size as my older girls’ chicken eggs. I assume that next year when they are older, they will be bigger. But they are still a good size.

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Here are two of the duck eggs with a chicken egg in the middle.  The one on the left is one of the smaller duck eggs.  The one on the right is one of the bigger ones.

And below, for anyone interested, is a comparison of Duck versus Chicken eggs.   I found it via google, here.

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I’m about to fry one up and eat it, and I’ll report back with any difference in taste.

 

The New World Order

Or… the New Coop Order…

Yes, the fight for dominance is over. My little ‘Leapy Man’ aka Philip has won the bid for Main Rooster. (Don’t ask why I call him Leapy, I just do. Actually, it’s Philip, but sometimes we called him Filipe and from Filipe, we evolved into Leapy.)

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Philip, aka Leapy, a two-year-old Barnyard Mix with a unique heritage and a strong personality.

Philip is the bio-son of Pavelle and his egg was fertilized by Pip, who is, of course, Dots’ and Abby’s boy.

The new Second in Command, or 2IC, is Sylvester, the Buff Brahma that my Tweety Girl raised last year. He is a year-and-a-half old and although he is BIG, he is gentle.

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Sylvester, a sweet Buff Brahma rooster, who spent most of his life being called ‘Little Rooster’ even though he isn’t.

They have been Dots’ 2nd and 3rd for a while now, so it makes sense that with him deposed, they would each move up a rank. The position of 3rd is not yet filled. It won’t really matter because once winter is over, and we cull the Summer Boys, most likely they will all go.

Would you like to meet them? My Summer Boys?

Of them, the only one I really like is LRJ. He is sweet and nice and quite handsome to look at.

Manly is shy and hard to pick up, not unlike Pip was at that age. And for being part EE, he is not a spaz like Luke and Padme were. He’s just… Skittish.

Rory is like Luke incarnate. Big, rough with the ladies, but he’s also incredibly skittish. More than Manly. He’s just a wild brute.

Branson is full of ‘small dog syndrome’ or … Little Rooster Syndrome. He’s small enough that I can hold him in one hand, but he acts like he is bigger than Sylvester. He’s the youngest and wants to mate all the girls. They don’t like him. Even his mother, Pavelle, does not like him now that he’s hit puberty.

This ^^^ would be why my coop has so much chaos. Because of these Summer Boys. I suspect LRJ might make a good 3rd of I decide to keep him. It’s a tough call.

So how’s Dots, you ask?

He’s doing well.   His eye has healed and it seems as though the new head roosters have decided that he isn’t a threat to their positions.   He hangs out mostly in the coop, for now, which is probably good for him because he doesn’t like the winter cold anyway.

He doesn’t crow in the mornings anymore.  He used to lead the chorus of ‘good morning! good morning!’ and now, I never hear his crow in the morning.  My Girl did say that he was in the coop crowing for the ladies with him this afternoon when she went down,  I’m encouraged to know that he is. at least, no longer afraid of the hens.   He’s also not afraid of the younger Summer Boys.

Now, if you’d like, I’ll show up pics of some of the other new, summer additions to the flock. I didn’t update all summer and we have quite a few new faces.

Here’s a few more from around the barnyard…

And lastly, DH adopted three beef calves… please meet, Sampson, Delilah and Sheila.

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From left to right, Delilah, Sampson (in the back) and Sheila.  

An Unsure Future

This is just a brief, no pics update on the status of our coop.

Yesterday morning, I moved Dots’ med cage to sit next to the coop, so he could be seen but not touched. After observing him ‘talking’ to the girls, I decided to leave him there for the day. It would help if they could see him.

When I returned home from work, I gave him his daily supervised visit. There was some chasing, but not bad.

Last night, after spending an hour before lockup with the flock, Dots went up to the rooster to sit next to his sister, Abby, and Maicey. I was hesitant to give him because him sitting next to the hens rather than being afraid of them is preferable. So I kept watching.

As everyone found their way to the roost, Philip eventually joined them, choosing to sit in the same general area as Dots. In the jostling for positions, he wound up with one hen between them. I watched, nervous, to see what would happen. Philip reached over the hen twice to try and pull Dots’ hackle feathers (but never actually did) and finally settled in to sleep. Dots settled in, nestled between Abby and Maicey, and that was where I found him this morning.

I did some more observing this morning, and other than a mild altercation with Sylvester, I saw nothing to be concerned with. Philip did not see the need to attack.

On the issue of Dots’ eye, it is healing. It looks better. He’s been waking up with it shut due to watering, but the Vetericyn spray opens it up and it remains open all day.

His status is the coop is still up in the air. Sylvester is still trying to secure his bid for 2IC. Based on this morning’s bought of chasing, he still views Dots as a threat to that.

I don’t. Dots has been making submissive rooster noises, noises I associate with hens and younger boys. If Sylvester and Philip come that same conclusion, maybe life will go back to a new normal.

If they don’t, we need to keep Plan B on the table.

I hate Plan B.

However, if we go for it, the other summer roosters are ready for Freezer Camp. Or the Pressure Cooker. This bunch in particular is very rowdy and there is too much chaos in my coop. I suspect getting ride of them would help settle things for the boys left to protect the flock, because their hands would suddenly be full of hens in need of protection.

Could Dots be included in the boys going with Plan B? I don’t know. I want to see how he is received in the next couple of days. If the new head rooster and 2IC can accept then, maybe not?

I will admit ( and this is hard) that my orginal plan was to remove Dots this spring to make way for new blood. By “original” of course, I mean back when we first decided to keep him in the first place. So… About three years ago, before we knew he was going to be such a loveable rooster. I’ve flip flopped about it since then.

However, watching this dominance struggle reminded me that he won’t live forever and that, if the Boys don’t think he can still do his job, maybe they know more than I do. Them being actual roosters and all.

At this point, however, I don’t particularly want to cull him after spending a week trying to heal his injuries. It seems inhumane to have gone through those motions. If they can accept him as a ‘regular joe’ then maybe I could still hold off to spring?

I do have a short list of older hens I’d like to cull, to make room for new chicks. It has been four years. We do need fresh genetics.

It’s just always a hard call to make.

I welcome insights, if you have them.

An Update on Dots

Well, here’s a brief update on Double Dots.

His eye is, as you can see, doing much better. We are still treating his eye 3x daily with the Vetericyn spray and ointment. It’s helping. He can hold his eye open so much better. It also does not appear that the eyeball itself is damaged.

That all is the good news.

The bad news is that Dots appears to have PTSD now.

I’ve been giving him supervised visits with the coop and flock. I put in there with them and stay close. Watching.

Philip (aka Leapy) has chased him twice. Gone after him once. He’s run from him both times.

Sylvester, my usually friendly Brahma boy, went after him today in the coop and pulled a feather out.

And when Henrietta, who is usually Dots’ friend, came up to him to say “hi” he literally jumped on top of my shoulder to get away from her.

While sitting on the roost with me observing him, Lola (a sexlink hen) came up to sit next to him. He awkward and quiet.

He did not at all act like himself.

I’ve been visiting Google a lot. Looking up other sites to find out what can be done. I can accept that Philip (and perhaps Sylvester too) have wrestled control of the coop away from Dots. But I wish with all my heart that he can return to the flock when his eye heals without more clashes.

Google says that in most cases, the surrendered rooster will be okay so long as the new Main Rooster does not continue to harass him.

A little integration may help. I’m thinking that if his eye is looking any better by Friday, I may move the med came into the coop to ‘reintroduce’ him to the flock. If the boys can’t go back to something that looks like normal, we maybe have to go to Plan B.

However, after today, I worry about how timid he was with Lola and how afraid of Henrietta he was. It’s definitely PTSD.

And that concerns me, because if he cannot even talk to the girls, how can he live with them?

Also, Plan B… an unprecidented winter Freezer Camp. My DH hates culling in winter. We usually do fall or spring. There’s va good four months to go before we’d consider it again.

So if the Boys don’t find a new normal that includes Dots, we need Plan B.

But who do we send to Freezer Camp?

I like Sylvester. He is a big boy, but has a temperament not unlike Dots. He’s friendly and I can pick him up.

Philip is Pip’s only child. I like him too.

Dots is … Dots. But if he can’t reacclimate to hos ladies, should he be the one to go?

I hate making these decisions. They make my heart hurt.

The Most Heartbreaking Thing

I went down to our coop this morning to do usually morning thing. Feed the chickens, let them out, make sure the dropping boards are clean and the nests are free of poop.

I was surprised however, to see our main rooster, Double Dots, already outside, alone and walking funny. Hunched up. Covered in blood.

At first I think that maybe we forgot to close the coop last night and am suddenly terrified that bloody rooster = dead chickens.

But no, the coop is closed

Dots got locked out. All night, on a night where it was less than 19-degrees (farenheit), with a wicked wind blowing from the north.

There are so many things going on in my head.

1. Was Dots attacked in the night by predator?

2. Why was he outside?

You see? Dot is usually the first rooster in the coop, and he usually dictates who goes inside first.

However, we have a handful of young Roo-lings who were too young in September /October to send to Freezer Camp… and Dots is almost 4 years old. Could it be that he was outside when everyone was inside because there is a dominance war going on? Could someone else be stepping up to wrestle the role of Main Rooster from our Dots?

Dots was injured, his eye and comb pretty beat up. I have him in the dog crate that doubles as a hospital ward / broody breaker. I checked him over, there are no body injuries, just his eye and comb. Cleaned him up with warm water and sprayed his comb Scarlex oil and his eye with Vetericyn spray.

Called Tractor Supply to see if they had eye gel, and learned that green tea works for eye injuries too.

He will need to be separated from his flock until I can be sure his eye will get better. He will need care and patience and a lot of prayers.

I’m trying to practical. If his eye does not get better, he’s not much use to his flock. But this is our Double Dots we’re talking about. If I have to cull, I will be heart broken beyond words.

And .. that leads me to the other thought on my heart

3. Double Dots is one tough roosters. He survived all night, injured and alone. He deserves to pull through this.

Pictures below are heartbreaking.

Broody Hens & Baby Chicks

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So this is my little Pavlovskya-mix hen, Pavelle. You’ll all seen pictures of her before, because she is a very unique little bird.

Back in March, Pavelle went broody, but I refused to let her have eggs then because it was still too cold and snowy for little wee things.  She went broody again last month, and after a few days of watching her, we decided to let her have a couple of eggs.

Which hatched into the cutest little babies…

This one was the first one to hatch, a brown and yellowish chick that came from one of our olive egg layers.

The olive egg layers are all the children of last year’s Easter Eggers, Padme (the hen) and Luke (the ill-fated rooster.  Yes, he did father three little hens and one rooster before we sent him to freezer camp).  Best guess as to which hen supplied the egg?  The size of the egg suggested Iggy (the EE cross Pavelle raised last year) or Cocoa and Nutmeg.  Cocoa and Nutmeg I call my “Rhode Island Eggers” because they are the color of my RiRs and have EE cheeks.  I suspect their bio-moms were RiR with Luke as the father.

It will be interesting to see how this little one feathers out, won’t it?

And this little precious came from a small brown eggs.  I have a lot of smaller brown eggs right now, because all of the chicks from Little Dude’s Hatching Egg project are laying now.   This one, as you can see, is all-black and tiny.

I have only one all-black hen, little Bella, the ‘Mad Scientist’ chick that My Pet Chicken slipped into our order.

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Bella, the Mad Scientist. Which is just another word for some kind of cross. My Pet Chicken couldn’t even tell me what breeds went into making her.

Bella must be the bio/egg mom to the little wee black baby.

As to who sired them?  I have three roosters, and haven’t been around much to see who has been hanging out with whom.  I know what Philip (my little Leapy Boy) and Sylvester both have small followings and they are mostly the younger girls.  But it’s hard to tell right now.  Neither of them have feathered legs, which is possible with both of those two roosters.

And lastly… I will leave you with this…

A post shared by Debc@Thereachick (@thereachick) on

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The Australorp in this video is Briar Rose. She seems to think she is going broody right now.

I guess it really is spring here on the farm… finally!