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.

 

And Baby Makes Four

Occasionally when I go to the coop to be with my chickens, I have the opportunity to witness one of my hens laying their eggs.  Such was the case three weeks ago when I witnessed my sweet, inquisitive Maicey laying her egg.

I had a broody hen (Briar Rose) whom I intended to give eggs to that night, so I picked up Maicey’s egg and tucked it away so it would not get mixed in with the other eggs.  So I knew who that egg belonged to.

When I gave Briar her eggs, I labeled them, and Maicey’s egg became known as #1.

Number #1 turned out to be the fourth egg of five to hatch.  (We are still waiting to know the fate of the fifth.)

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It is a tiny little baby, with red downy feathers, a small crested-looking head and, much to my surprise when I picked it up to say “hello” … slightly feathered legs.

For those of you keeping score at home… I have three crested birds.  Pavelle, the little Pavlovskaya, and her two children, Heather and Phillip.

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Phillip, who is Pavelle and Pip’s offspring, is the only rooster I have right now capable of siring a crested (or in this case, partially crested) chick.  He is, himself, a barnyard mix of Pavlovskaya, Rhode Island Red and Golden Comet, which would make this little chick 2-parts RiR, Comet and Pavlov.  With feathered legs like its Auntie Heather. 

I’m excited.  I really am.  Not only is Maicey one of our favorite hens, but this is also Pip’s grand-baby.   You all know how much I love(d) and miss my little Pipsqueak.  And Phillip acts so much like his papa.   I’m so excited!

There is one more egg we’re waiting on to hatch.  I’ll let you all know how it goes in the morning.

 

See How We’ve Grown!

On Thursday, Pavelle’s two little chicks will be three weeks old. Last week, she moved them out of the cat carrier nursery where they hatched and into the nests. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to encourage our chickens to sleep in the nests, but YOU explain that to a broody momma with babies to protect. Especially my little attack pineapple. Seriously, it’s much better to just let Pavelle handle her babies in her own way and clean up after them than it is to try and impose my will on her.

Other things to note… I was quite wrong about them not having feathered legs. The bigger of the two, who came from an olive EE-cross egg does, in fact, have feathered legs. Given the overall size of the chick and yellow coloring, I am guessing Sylvester the Buff Brahma to be the father.

They go outside almost every day now. Almost because we’ve had very up and down weather, and on the cooler, rainier days, Pavelle does not stray too far from the coop.

Here are some pictures of them from around the 1 1/2 – 2 week mark. If you look closely at the bigger, non-black chick’s legs, you can see the feathers on the sides.

 

And now here are some pics from over this past weekend.

 

 

More Co-parenting, Sort Of

This is just a brief update on the fate of Claire and the chicks of Baby Land.

The last time, I mentioned that Eugenie had gone back to Hen Things when the babies were 5 weeks old.

They are now 7 1/2 weeks old and Claire has yet to go back to Hen Things. She does wander away from them or them from her… occasionally. But for the most part, they are together. Just without Eugenie.

Not that you would notice a difference, because more recently, Pavelle and her baby AJ have been hanging out with them.

The older chicks treat AJ very well, and Claire seems to tolerate Pavelle so long as her babies don’t get pecked.

The Brooder Bunch at 5 Weeks

Well, the Brooder Bunch, aka the 7 babies we hatched for Little Dude’s 4-H project, are five weeks old this week and heading closer to the 6 week mark, where had their mother not so violent to them, they might have been set loose to fend for themselves as young member of the flock.

As mentioned in the last post about them, I have been letting them outside in their playpen on nice days to get the flock used to them.  I intend to let them loose after they all hit 6 weeks old and see how the flock receives them.  Right now, there is moderate curiosity, but no meanness.  And no one seems to have noticed that Cutie and Grumpy are definitely boys.   I think that it will help that Pavelle’s chicks are around the same size and running around.  I think it will go well.

I have pictures of them all to share now.  Feel free to click on them for bigger images.

Chipmunk,the partridge Welsummer.  She is one of the three who are more fully feathered out.   She is friendly and sweet, and very curious about everything.

Goth Chick, the little all-black Mad Scientist chick. I am assuming this chick is a hen, due to the smallness of the comb and lack of wattles.    She is another of the ones who feathered out quickly, loves to fly and is shy, but not skittish.

CW, the Columbian Wyandotte.  I know nothing about Wyandottes, but I’m hoping this beauty is a hen, but over the last week, ‘she’ has started to grow wattles and a comb.  They are small, but noticeable in all that white fluffy.   CW is the biggest of the seven brooder babies.

Rocky, our little Barred Rock.  Another breed I’m not familiar with, but if I had to guess,  Rocky looks like a little henny.   Rocky is shy, but friendly.  (S)he is one of one slower feathering ones, and has only just started to fill out.

Cutie, one of other Rocks. Either a Light Barred or Silver Penciled.  They both look really close in coloring, at this point.  Cutie is a rooster.  I’ve known that since he was two or three weeks old.  The comb and wattles just confirm it.

He is one of the ones who was pecked by Rapunzel.  His feet healed, but for a while, he had a deformed, maimed toe.  It was gnarled and black.  Last week, the little dead toes fell off, just at the knuckle, leaving Cutie with a little nub.

Grumpy, the other other Rock.  Again, either Light Barred Rock or Silver-Penciled.   I honestly don’t know which is which.  Also a rooster.  His toes are better, too, but they weren’t as badly damaged as Cutie’s.

Grumpy and Cutie are both aloof and standoffish.  Not flighty, but not accessible.  I don’t know if that has anything to do with Rapunzel pecking them, or just a rooster thing.  They like to hang out together and butt chests.  Rooster things.

Cutie likes to wait til the other chicks get the treats, too.  watching my older roosters, I know that is a trait I admire in Double Dots.

The Light Brahma, whom Little Dude calls “Rap” and I call Brahma.   This chick is supposed to be a Light Brahma, but as the feathers come in, they are all black.  I’m guessing Dark Brahma now, but since the poor little thing is only now getting feathers, I wont really know.  No signs of a comb or wattles yet.  I am hoping for a hen, but IF this actually is a Light Brahma, then it might be a rooster.  The pictures I’ve been looking at suggest that the Light Brahma males have more black in their coloring. 

However rough their start, these chicks are doing very well, and I can’t wait to see how they grow up.

Pavelle’s Littles on their Own

While I was away having my surgery and recuperating, Pavelle finally decided to go back to Hen Things and leave her little not-so-littles to their own devices.

I have not seen them much since my surgery because I was still really, really sore.   But now that I’m able to look at them and take pictures of them.   I have plenty, because I want to take a stab at Hen or Roo.

First, here are the group shots, because they hang around a LOT together.

Now here are the individual pics:

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Feather Butt, who still has tiny tufts of feathers on his/her legs.  Also, LOOK!   FF is growing CHEEKS!  Like Pavelle’s fluffy cheeks!

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking rooster for this little one, but after a week+ of growth and not seeing them… I’m seeing more of a little pullet in Feather Butt’s mannerisms now. Also, her comb is smaller than Mini-Pav’s (which you will see soon) and reminds me more of Pavelle as a young hen.

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Mini-Pav is looking a lot like a little roo.

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The comb is much, much more pronounced than his momma’s ever was at that age.
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And here he(she) is standing tall and at attention while the others scurry off because I scared them?  Also – wattles!!!!!

Yeah, I am thinking Mini-Pav is a little roo. What do you all think?

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Eggy, the little part EE part Felix-spawn

The EE part of Eggy’s heritage is going to be hard to tell. Right now, Eggy has little-to-no comb.  No wattles.  No cheeks.

She reminds me a lot of Padme at that age, which is why I’m hoping she is a little girl.  But then again, I thought LUKE was a little Leia for a while, too.

So, what do we think readers?  Wanna play a nail-biting game of Hen or Roo with the babies?  They are 7 1/2 weeks now.

 

 

Eggy

Eggy, or the Egger Baby, is the last of Pavelle’s chicks.

He/she is the egg-child of Padme the Easter Egger and … well, I thought Pip, but now I’m not too sure about that.


So… what is it about Eggy that makes me suspect Pip might not be the father?

In short… color and personality.

Eggy here is a bright buff yellow, with only small EE cheeks.

 

So… mostly yellow chick with a yellow and black/brown momma.  Two potential fathers.

One rooster had an all yellow momma and a white papa?

The other rooster had a red momma and a white papa?

Going off looks alone, I’d have to guess Felix is Eggy’s baby daddy.

And then, there is personality.  Eggy is high strung, flighty, hard to catch, does not really relax in my hands like the other two do.

This describes Padme, yes, and could be an Easter Egger trait.  But it always describes Felix.  A lot.

Pip, not so much.  He didn’t like me pick up but when I did, he settled in because he trusted me.

Feather Butt trusts me.  Mini-Pav mostly trusts me.   Eggy is a frantic spaz.

So, based off personality, is this Pip’s chick? I don’t think so, but anything is possible.


Here is a recent shot of Momma and babies (and a fake egg that was in the nest with them).  They are 5 weeks old now and practically as big as she is!

They are also almost fully feathered out.


I believe that Pavelle will be pulling away from them soon.  Going back to doing Hen Things and not Momma things.  Today she seemed to be giving them space.  Still hanging with them – or allowing them to hang with her – but not really showing them things like she has in the past.  Letting them do their own thing.

Pavelle’s wee babies are growing up now.