O that irony of duck momma’s.. This spring we came into the year with 4 proven hens, 2 2020 hens and one big old chocolate drake.. Their job this year was to be fly eaters and garden helpers.. Now on a normal year I try for a min of one clutch per hen.. and they average at least 12 ducklings per clutch.. and I normally run 4 duck hens.. so give or take 50 babies..
I took a good hard look at my freezers, my pantry, my lambs and pork from last year and the fact that I have ordered half a beef for late fall from down the road plus the chicken I have raised this year and went.. let have a no duckling year..
Now I have done this once before.. its not hard. the hens lay eggs, we collect the eggs, they lay for a crazy long time, we get a LOT of duck eggs and at least one hen will find some spot to sit a nest and show up with a clutch.. but typically its a smaller clutch maybe 4 to 6 as she had to find a spot that was very much NOT ideally to lay and sit on..
This year has been a shake my head, so first off.. we have two to four duck eggs coming in like clockwork.. this SHOULD mean that we are getting most of the eggs.. right?? RIGHT?
So this spring one of the duck went MIA and that only means two things.. a) fox got it, as there was no blood or body, like there would be if coon or b) she snuck off and is sitting and will show back up with babies in tow.
And sure enough.. 14 babies .. hiya.. I gave them away.. its a no duckling year, I didn’t have the baby feed in, I did not want to run baby duck pens, it was NOT the plan.. so I put them up on facebook.. take them and they are yours.. they were going for 10 dollars a duckling locally is sold so as I expected, they were picked up the very same day..
and I gave the hens the talk.. look, this year just be ducks.. happy happy ducks, no momma requirement needed.. and we doubled down on not letting them out to early, collecting the eggs..
Then as I expected one of the hens had a half hatch of 6 healthy and I went ok.. whatever.. grow them out, 4 big drakes and 2 hens.. lovely birds.. then I had a slow down on eggs, but all the hens were eating and drinking and being head counted.. then one went MIA for a single day, and showed up with 14 babies (how? my best guess is that they were nest sharing) because within 72 hours the second hen showed up with another 14.. yes you read that right.. 28 ducklings..
and so we went hunting and found the next nest and dang if they were not almost ready to hatch.. the thing is that we were still collecting duck eggs, so some of the hens at least where still laying while sitting and that is just not done.. its really not.. I still do not get it.. but they are sneaky things..
13 more ducklings joined the duck flock.. 32 plus 13.. 45.. right on target for a full production year.. till yesterday.. I heard them, that high pitched, I am lost, I am lost, I am lost.. and there was my oldest biggest momma duck.. proudly, o so proudly showing her clutch of 16.. yes 16! healthy new babies.. Largest hatch we have ever had on the farm..
45 plus 16.. 61.. sigh.. lol.. Fall is the worst time to sell duckings, their worth drops 50% or more.. because it cost more to raise them in the fall then in spring an summer.. true.. but these fluffy butts are thriving and growing rapidly.
I had figured I would have all my butcher done by X.. but now I have to plan in duck butchering.. so that changes a few things.. Now to do a full hunt to try and make sure there are no more nests hidden..
How is it possable that on my NO DUCKLING year that I have more babies then the years I plan for them.. and how did they pull of the magic trick of still laying eggs?
I will not be short on duck for 2021/22 that’s for sure.. Did you have some surprise? hatchings, chicks, ducklings or ?