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