We have raised ducks for meat and eggs for about 4 years now. We currently have 9 adult ducks. 2 males and 7 females.
We have allowed our ducks to raise some ducklings in the past, but not winter ducklings. We were not expecting our ducks to continue laying eggs during the winter. We figured if they were going to lay, we’d find them in the duck house where we have a heat lamp,water source and food. We stopped checking the outdoor nesting sites which are just plastic dog houses halved, so that the nest is on the ground but protected from rain and snow. The openings of these houses are really small right now due to the amount of snow we have had here in New Hampshire.
Last night while giving the birds food and water I noticed 2 birds were “missing” . I found one bird on a perch outside. We have Muscovy ducks, so they fly and perch. Then I started checking the dog houses. I found eggs in one, eggs in another, nothing in the third, but then the last bird was nesting in the fourth house.
The houses were frozen to the ground, so I had to get my husband to help me collect eggs and check the nest with the bird in it. The eggs that were not being sat on were all frozen and some were cracked too. No worries about those being fertile and growing. There were 14 like that. Then it was time to check under our broody female. She had a nice hot nest with 14 eggs. We candled them, and all but 1 was growing. We took the one dud away, but replaced the others. I am surprised that they are developing with frozen ground conditions. We will have to mark those eggs and check daily to make sure more aren’t being added to the nest. 13 ducklings is way more than the none we were expecting. 😉 We’ve actually been planning on giving our birds away since they are too much work, and expensive to care for.
Looks like we’ll have more birds available this spring. They are absolutely adorable, so we’ll get a few weeks of enjoyment from this mistake. Next winter, we’ll be sure to lock the birds up at night and check for eggs. (If we can’t give away the birds before then.)
* Here’s an update… the mother duck abandoned the nest.:( My husband had heard at least one pipping before she abandoned them, which means they were within days of hatching. It’s very sad that they made it so far. Since the nest was outside in frigid temperatures they were frozen when I found them.