Help with nesting duck and a crowded henhouse

Tue Apr 10, 2007 6:21 pm

Hi, I hope somebody can give me some advice. Last year I ended up with 12 hens which are doing great. They lay a dozen eggs a day and seem very happy, clean and are well fed and taken care of. During this period I thought it would be nice to get a male and female Indian runner duck pair and put them in with the chickens. All went well and everybody gets along. Well it looks like is now nesting on 10 or so fertile (I think) eggs and it looks like she may go the distance as she is in the very far corner of the hen house and has been there for about 15 days except for an occasional eating stroll. Do I need to get the chickens and the male out of there as soon as possible now? Should I put water and food close to her nest for her? If she goes the distance do you think the ducklings can survive without me having to bring them into the house? Should I just leave her and the babies alone and let them fend for themselves only with comfort (fresh hay)and food and water from me? I will assume the eggs are fertile as I have two rather large water basins for them which I change at least once daily and they were certainly getting right down to it a few times that I noticed. The male even tries it with the chickens now! I didn't really think these ducks would even stay around, never mind maybe start a family so I don't really know how to play this at this point. My father would have said just leave them alone, but i would hate to see the chickens start to pick at them which I am sure they will or the male duck try to kill them. I am also concerned about spitting up the male and the female now as he is her protector and never is more than a few feet away from her. I am sure he will be sad to be separated and maybe she will to? Also, will he try to fly over any fence I might put up to keep them separated? Thanks for any help that anyone may want to offer. ----John

Tue Apr 10, 2007 7:59 pm

You have brought up some interesting questions. I've raised chickens and ducks together for years and never had and conflicts. I would suggest though that if you don't have any natural suroundings like a pond for Mom to teach the ducklings how to catch their own food, to seperate them and start them out on something like Startina long enough for them to eat cracked corn or what ever you feed the rest of them. I had 35 Rouens at one time but not any more. I bought four 1 day old Blue Swedish ducks yesterday. I have them in a cage and am feeding them Startina. Just make sure the big ones don't beat them out of their fair share of food and if its real cold where you are, that Mom and babies has a warm place. Ducks take about 30 days to hatch and chickens 21 days.

Tue Apr 10, 2007 8:50 pm

Leave Mrs. Duck Hen where she is. There should be no need to remove the drake, nor the chickens, from the area; she will become fierce Mrs. Hen once the ducklings arrive and will protect them with her life. Don't move the food and water close to her...allow her the break from setting. She will leave the nest normally during the warmest part of the day...the break will do her good and allow her to stretch her legs. Several eggs can be fertilized from just one service from the drake. There is a good chance all the eggs are fertile. Once all the eggs have hatched, any that did not will be abandoned by the hen; discard them carefully. Once the ducklings have hatched, keep a watchful eye on the chickens, just in case they get jealous and start pecking. She will introduce the ducklings to the water basins when they are ready. Good luck.

Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:58 am

Agree with all
There are only a few concerns, , I have raised both together as well. But you will need plenty of room for them to get away from everyone. If at all possible leave them with her. No better care anywhere.
She will want to be segregated from the flock. Runners are more apt to land, they still need some water to keep them clean and feather quality good. Keep it shallow so they can get out easily.
As was mentioned the hen will become fierce,after all she is a Mom now, and no one messes with their young.
I would however still separate them off as soon as they are running, you will have more young survive. Prepare a good quite spot, fenced totally with a top, Doesn't have to be huge,the more room the better. you will have more survive if they are not crowded and less stress on momma.
I have raised waterfowl for some 30 yrs. When you can leave them with the Parents it is ALWAYS best.
(Disclaimer)Unless you are in a spot where there a many predators and no protection from them.
I take my young Trumpeter swans away from their parents only due to heavy Horned Owl populations, the young sell for $150 as day olds. $450 in the fall so I choose not to leave them., for monetary reasons.
Good luck!

Nesting duck

Thu Apr 12, 2007 7:14 pm

Thanks everybody for the replies. It is appreciated. As an update I decided to seperate the chickens and the drake from the female while she nests. I think this may have been wise. I was concerned because I did not see her out of the hen house for a few days. even though I don't watch here constantly, it appeared she was guarding the eggs to the point of possible harm to herself. I may have been right because after I separated everybody she came out a took about a 10 minute bath and then ate as well. she preened herself for another 5 minutes very well then walked around a bit. After about 20 minutes, she was back on the nest. I think there was way too much commotion for here to feel comfortable and the poor thing needed a bath and some food. My drake is making me mad though as he is trying to breed with my chickens and he is not gentle about it either. I have never seen this happen. I am not sure now what this drake will be like if she hatches out the young and I decide in the future to keep all the ducks together. (This is if there are goping to even be any hatchings) Oh yeah. I mentioned these were Indian runners. Well they are......sort of............they are mixed with Mallard as well it looks like. they don't stand straight, but sure have Indian runner colors., at least the female. Perhaps the young will leave when they are old enough? I am not sure I want to keep all these ducks if they hatch!. Will they become too people friendly or domestic to release them in a nice pond or on a golf course or something? We have plenty of areas here that would be nice for them. I do want them to become easy prey by any means, and I don't want to eat them either. I hope I am not in the position of making them too domestic to survive on their own. that was not the intent. I just found the female sitting one day and decided to let her go ahead and do her thing. I hope this was the right thing to do. Thanks.----John

Thu Apr 12, 2007 7:19 pm

Good deal John but I think you missed a word. (don't)
"We have plenty of areas here that would be nice for them. I do want them to become easy prey by any means, and I don't want to eat them either"
Not picking on ya. :shock: :shock: Keep up the good work. Grump

Thu Apr 12, 2007 11:49 pm

We had ducks many years ago, Scovies. The drake would bite Beverly on the butt when she bent over in the garden. They wintered under the rabbit hutch. With the straw and the rabbit pellets it must have been warm and protected. We took the eggs most of the time. I think duck eggs are better than Chicken eggs, especially for baking. Eventuall we let the hen sit some eggs and 28 days later we had little fluff balls. We put a 3 foot round plastic wading pool with a plank to it and a floating wood as a landing. All went well and now we had more duck eggs than we could use. That led to more ducks. Well we got new neighbors and the next thing the NYC board of Health was all over me. I had to do the ducks in. They worded it remove the violation in 10 days. For some reason the rabbits were ok. Well the first eve I cleaned 8 ducks. The remaining ones cleaned up the entrails as quickly as I worked. Never had any idea ducks were that strong as carnivors. Couple of days later I completed the job. We passed the reinspection. Strange enough one day Bev opened the freezer and her nemisis the drake fell out and on her foot. She refused to cook that one and I had to take it to a friend.

Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:19 pm

I had ducks and chickens for a couple of years and am now down to chickens. Most evening and weekend afternoons they all got the run of the yard and field. There were no problems except this: out sized appetites of the male ducks for sex. It didn't happen until the second year of their lives and that is when male runners began to chase down and pin the bantam ducks, male and female. The bantams got blinded from the skin injuries on the scalp, because somehow the scabs spread across the eyelids and I was darned if I could keep those eyelids open or healed, so they gradually became functionally blind, even though the eyes were perfectly intact. For a host of other reasons I reduced the flock size and made sure those ducks were the first. I expect you will have a different tale to tell in another season regarding the male duck.

Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:51 pm

I just had a funny thought. You look to see if they are all duck eggs she is sitting?