Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Heeeeere, Ducky Ducky Ducky

Ducks are not very obedient.  Scold all you want, they just don't listen.

After loosing all but 1 drake (male duck) to some odd leg problem (possibly caused by a show of force of the dominant drake), we were down to 4 hens and the 1 drake.  We opened them up to roam the pasture, but locked them up at night... a feat that got more difficult as their independence grew.

One day I was late letting them out.  Lo and behold there was an egg on the floor of the pen!  I then watched where they went and upon later inspection discovered the pictured nest deep into the pasture in a little hole they had created in a pile of scrub.
Of course I thought I could reform natural instincts.  I created a little nest in a dog dish, put the eggs in there and set it up inside the pen where it would be protected from raccoons or wayward goat feet.
I even added a tote to provide shade and further protection.

They didn't care.  They continued to lay in the old nest, on the floor of the pen or, best of all, right in the middle of the barn.

Nothing would get them to sit on that nest either.  And the eggs were just disappearing too.  I presume they were getting broken and something was eating up the evidence.

So, we decided to really put Angel (the guard dog) to the test.  We moved all the ducks to the bachelor pad to run free with Copper, the buck.  Angel has access to 3 sides of the bachelor pad, the 4th being a shared fence with the pasture.  We figured if the ducks were kept in there, its a small enough area that its unlikely a malevolent critter would first get by Angel, then Copper, then that ferocious drake (really, he's the scariest animal on the property), to harm a hen or her nest.  And so far so good.

Except that one duck is still managing to squeeze through an unknown hole and lays eggs in the barn.  She had a nest of 6 which then got trampled during a rainstorm when all the animals huddle in the barn.  We're down to 2 intact eggs and she just quit going there.  The other hens laid a nest of 9 as of 2 days ago.  Then Dulci (who's supposed to be pregnant) acted like she was in heat so I put her into the bachelor pad.  I guess the chasing Copper did was too much for the nest as 6 eggs were scattered and 2 were missing.  Today only 3 remain intact and they are not together in a nest.  And then a hen up and died.  Chilly night and I went out in the morning to find her dead in a sleeping position.  No idea what that's about.

All in all, we're still hopeful some semblance of instinct will kick in and these ducks will manage to reproduce.  Husbandman thinks it will take until spring until they get it figured out.  I'm thinking of building a little hut I can pop over whatever nest they build to protect it from undiscerning goat feet. 

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