March 30, 2016

A tale of two mothers continues

I started the tale of two mothers in a previous post, but I will retell a little for those who are just joining now.  We have a pair of Pekin ducks who are nesting, mating and laying eggs.  It seems, however, that they don't have great instincts for actually incubating the eggs they have created.  I had hopes that maybe the female was getting it, as she started to lay on the eggs at night when she was locked in the duck house to sleep.  As soon as the sun came up, though, she was off with her mate, running around, swimming, and enjoying herself.  As a little duckling insurance, I decided to take two of the fertilized eggs from the duck nest and placed them under a broody chicken.  Thus began the tale of two mothers.

The duck nest continued to fill and fill with eggs and the mamma duck (Bossy pants is her name) sat on them but never more than part of the night.  

We read that typical incubation for a duckling is 28 days.  Bossy pants had been kind of sitting on her nest for nearly a month so I decided to crack an egg and see what was there - was anything happening or was it time to give up on her?

As you can see - there was no sign of a developing duckling.  I did a couple from different parts of the nest to be sure.  They were all the same.  So we made the decision to end this experiment with the ducks hatching their own eggs.  In some cases, the one who laid the egg may not be the best one to nurture and raise the baby.

So, I brought my basket down and began emptying the duck nest.  There were eggs tucked in all over the place and piled in layers. 

I took out more than two dozen by the time I finished.

I did leave 3-4 in the nest so she wouldn't feel like it was totally empty because we have seen in the past that this induces her to build a nest elsewhere in the yard.  The eggs that I left in there I marked with a tiny X using a sharpie.  That way, when I go out to collect the new egg in the morning, I'll be able to tell which one is fresh.

Here is today's egg, a thing of beauty...

Duck eggs are really big!  This one is easily the size of 2-3 chicken eggs.  You can see in the picture earlier in this post that the yolk and white are gorgeous as well.  The yolk is an extra large sunny circle with a nice rich taste, and the whites are crystal clear.  Here is a good description of the nutritional differences between duck and chicken eggs:

April 15th will be 28 days that our broody  chicken has been incubating her two adopted duck eggs so check back in and see what happens!

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