April 18, 2016

Mother hen finally hatches her baby duck

What an exciting weekend we had at the farm!

Friday afternoon my husband sent me a message: the duck eggs are moving.  I came out to see what was happening in the nesting box.  Friday was marked on my calendar as 28 days of incubation.  Mamma hen had been sitting so patiently on those eggs, and it appeared that the long-awaited arrival had finally come!

Friday evening both eggs looked like this:

The babies had poked a hole through the egg and were chirping.  See the little beak moving and hear it chirping on youtube.

We watched and waited.  I asked my husband, "Should we help them?"  Nothing was happening.  We decided to make the hole a little bigger on the egg that was more active and see if that helped the baby come out.  It seemed like it was stuck.  

This is a moment I wish so badly we could take back because it became clear very quickly that the baby wasn't ready to come out.  You could see as it came forth from the shell that the yolk had not been fully absorbed into its body.  It looked like it had an abscess on its belly.  Poor baby.  It did hang on for a while but eventually passed away.  I gave it a nice burial in the yard.  We learned a really important lesson - mother nature knows what it's doing!  We need to just leave it be.  

I read a lot of information about the hatch since it was clear that we didn't have the knowledge we needed.  I discovered that it takes up to two days for a baby duck to hatch.  The first step is when it pokes through the membrane and shell, letting it breathe while it prepares itself for the final push to come out.  During this time, the remainder of the yolk is absorbed into the body and the duck's belly seals up.  It's important to give it the time to do this and to not disturb it so that it can maintain proper humidity levels until it's ready to come out.  

The second duckling also poked through her egg late Friday but didn't appear until Sunday morning.  I went out Sunday to open the coop and saw the crushed egg next to the mamma hen.  I was afraid at first that she had crushed it or something had gone wrong.  I gently picked her up a little, though, and laughed out loud when I saw the tiny little face pop out from under her.  The baby was healthy, moving around, and chirping loudly!  I was delighted!  

It was the morning rush in the coop, though, and birds were trying to shove their way into a nesting box.  I was afraid the baby would be injured by another adult and her adoptive mom seemed anxious.  I prepared the baby coop in order to move them over.  I filled a basin with fresh straw to act as a nest.  I got small feeders and filled them with water and baby food.  I also found some bowls for adult food and more water.  When it was ready, I quickly carried mamma and baby over.

The mom rushed out of the nest and went to eat.  She had been sitting on the nest pretty much constantly since Friday.  I think she was worried to leave her eggs since they were in process of coming out.  She was ravenous!

When her mom was gone, the baby started shaking.  It was cool so she was probably mostly cold.  She stumbled out of the nest and over to mom, where she tucked herself in for warmth.  Her first adventure outside the nest can be seen on youtube.  

Mom ate while baby stumbled around, trying out her legs.  Watch the adorable pair on youtube.

I checked on them throughout the day.  Each time I came out, baby duck would be hidden.  When she heard me open the door, her little head would pop out from under her mom.  She is so very darling.

We are overjoyed with our new addition and so proud of our adoptive mamma chicken!  Mother Nature is truly amazing and inspiring.  The ducks weren't able to be consistent, caring parents but the flock provided and now we have this new life to celebrate.

Next, we need to pick a name for our little lady.  We don't know for sure yet if its a boy or girl, but I feel like she's a girl so that's what I'm gonna go with :)

Leave us a comment with your name ideas!

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