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.

 

One of These Eggs…

One of these eggs is not like the others

One of these eggs just doesn’t belong.

Can you tell us which egg is not like the others

By the time we finish this song?

So… thanks to Luke and Padme, I had four Easter Egger cross chicks hatched this past spring/summer. I was told they would told olive colored eggs and have been waiting to see it happen.

Looks like I got one!!!

Hatching versus Eating 

Eggs!  If you have chickens, then you’ve got eggs.  A little or a lot of eggs mostly depends on the size of your flock, breed and time of year.  But still – you’ve got eggs.

I recently joined a new FB group for chicken lovers.  It’s bigger than the other one I was on, sees a lot more traffic, and has a wider range of chicken-experience.

A post from earlier today has me thinking.  The OP (original poster) sells her eggs $2.50 a dozen for eating and $5.00 a dozen for hatching.

She was contacted by a potential customer who wanted to know things like breeds, housing and care conditions, and if she washed/refrigerated her eggs.

Upon receiving answers, the woman tells the OP that she was wants a dozen, unwashed and unfridgerated and will only pay the $2.50.   The implication here, between the questions of breeds and living conditions, is that she wants hatching eggs.

The OP’s question is “should I sell at her terms, or refuse?”

A new debate has spawned, however.  How do you determine between hatching eggs and eating eggs? And more importantly, should you charge more them? Or less?

(For my international readers, I will make note that here in the U.S.A we have different laws regardless chicken eggs and it is our practice to wash and refrigerate th. I know you guys don’t.  That’s okay because I know your standard care and coop/barn cleaning procedures are different than ours.  We here in US just have to be different.)

Now… to the question(s) at hand.  What determines a hatching egg from an eating egg?

In the stores, eating eggs are not fertile.  I can’t stick one under a broody hen or in an incubator and get chicks.  Or, in most cases, I shouldn’t be able to.  I’ve heard that it happens on occasion.

They are not fertile because the hens and roosters are separated and no hanky lanky has been allowed to happen that might lead to a fertilized egg.

On farms or in backyards across the world, however, there are people raising all kinds of chickens, both male and female.  Hen and Roo.  Chances are good, if you have a rooster, the eggs you collect each day are fertile.  At least some of them.

So… what makes the difference in whether I eat them or use them to raise chicks?

I guess, honestly?  In my case, nothing.  Most of mine are going to be barnyard mix – mutts with a little bit of every chicken breed I’ve brought home in the last 2 years – so I don’t tend to sell them.  I have given some away to friends in the past and know they got nine chicks of a dozen eggs, so 75% hatch rate.

I do sell my excess eggs, usually to people who want to eat farm fresh eggs.  And I’ve been known to slip a few under my broody hens, so I can have cute chicks.

However, there are people who started out as backyard chicken keepers or hobby farmers who have gotten “bit by the bug” and went full on Breeder.  They have different coops for different breeds, separate areas for breeding pens, have their flocks up to date on all immunizations and went the extra mile to become NPIP certified.

These people have gone the extra mile, put a lot of money and time and effort into their chickens that goes way beyond caring for pets.

As NPIP certified, they are legally capable of setting up shop (a physical store or even a website) and selling their wares – eggs for eating, eggs for hatching, day-old chicks, started pullets, etc.  NPIP means they can be a business.  Or they could just specialize in a couple breeds in their back yard.

And that also means they can, and probably should, charge for hatching eggs.

How much should they charge?  Honestly? I don’t know that either.  My favorite site for buying hatching eggs asks different prices for different breeds, different prices if you’re asking for an assortment, and different process for heritage or heirloom birds (these are birds who come from pure bred, non-hatchery stock).  All the variables make all different prices.

For example:

This does NOT include the price for shipping and handling or tax.

I had a breeder friend whom I know from FB sell me 14 eggs for $40. They were not all the same breed, and some were very rare breeds.  I personally think I got a fairly good deal.

Okay, now… before I start rambling and going off on tangents… how about you, dear readers?

Do you sell eggs? For eating or hatching or both?  Do you charge more for the hatching eggs?  Or just give them away like I do?

Do you have (or think there should be) different criteria for what makes an egg a ‘hatching egg’?

Or, if you’re tuning in from somewhere in Europe, are you still trying to wrap your mind around the fact that we wash our eggs and put them in the refrigerator?

I’m curious, and as I’ve shared my rambling thoughts with you, I’m hoping you’ll share yours with me.

Pavel(le)’s First Egg

My sweet, funny little Pavel/Pavelle has finally laid her first egg!!!

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Here it is compared to our usual eggs. Small and white. Very cute!

And now, here… some gratuitous pictures of my big (little) girl:

My little girl is all grown up! Awww!

Really Small Eggs

Fart eggs.   Rooster eggs.  Whatever you want to call them, it’s the term for a teeny tiny egg that sometimes gets laid and often has no yolk.

They can be laid by new layer whose bodies aren’t used to laying eggs yet,or by older hens who may be having reproductive issues.

I found one in the coop last night at bedtime.

Now, we do have two little hens who are just a little over 20+ weeks, and who have started hanging out in the coop more, checking out the nests.  One is our chocolate Orpington, Hershey.  The self-proclaimed Queen of Fluff.

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Hershey, getting cozy in the beds lately.

The other, of course, is her sister, the ever curious little Pavel.  Pavelle.

The only thing keeping me from thinking it’s Pavel’s egg, though, is the fact that this little egg is a nice brown color, and the egg Pavel hatched from was more of a very pale peachy-pink.  Almost white, but not quite.

Now, there is also Abby, who could decide to go back the business of laying eggs any day now.  Just because it’s winter is no reason to think she won’t.  She went right back to it last winter, with Pip sitting in the empty nest beside her because he had no clue what his Momma was doing.  (and the proceeded to sit in the nest with her newly laid egg afterwards, because apparently she’d left it alone and it needed baby sat.  Ah, Pip!  A big brother, even then!)

We also have all the Rhode Islands Red who’ve been in and out of various stages of molting this winter.

So… anyone could have laid the teeny tiny egg, really.

A few more pics for size comparison.  We had a normal-sized tiny egg (which I assume is Hersehy’s new egg?) the day before, in the same nest.  So it could be Hershey’s tiny fart egg.

As you can see, it didn’t have a yolk, just incredibly thick whites.  And the shell was hard to crack.  Like really.  It was thinker than I imagined it would be.