I wasn’t expecting our latest batch of eggs to hatch until this coming Monday, so wasn’t i surprised to notice a bunch of extra, TINY, newly hatched duckling heads tucked in amongst the other ducklings, adults and adolescent muscovies?
In comparison to my rabbits, whose breeding, nesting and birthing i have a large role in facilitating, the ducks do it all by themselves. They breed, lay, nest, sit and eventually hatch all on their own and usually do a great job of it. Our last two hatches were miserable failures: a hatch of ONE duckling and another of just 3. I hadn’t even counted Snowflakes eggs and it seems she hatched out 11 little ducklings with just 3 duds left on the nest. After her spring clutch of 13 i’d say Snowflake is the winner of successful hatches this year!
I am mildly concerned by an interesting turn of events in the flock just now: Snowflake had basically adopted Svetlana’s 3 young ducklings the past few days as the temperature turned cold and they sought refuge in her nest amongst the eggs. Now that her eggs are hatched, she seems more interested in cruising about with the older and more mobile surrogates than with her own little bundles of fluff. I’m grateful that the next few days are supposed to be quite warm and that they have many brothers and sisters to snuggle with, but concerned that she will abandon her little ones entirely, leaving them cold at night and without the safety of a protective duck to help them manage amongst a mixed flock of many different ages.
It is amazing just how well tiny ducklings CAN manage amounts so many different and older ages of ducks: the others really do try NOT to trample them and despite their small stature a duckling a few days old will often be found nipping at a much older and HUGER flock-mate come dinner time. Warmth, however is another issue entirely – so i hope miss Snowflake will notice her peeping babes on occasion and give them the comfort and warmth of her fluffy chest come dusk.
I locked them in together last night to help solidify the bond and ensure they were warmed during their first evening, but i’m not sure the bonding goal really worked. She still seems most interested in the older ducklings, so we shall see! Raising chicks or ducklings in a flock of mixed ages can be a bit more complicated than brooding under lamps, all at the same age – but it’s the way nature planned and they really cope quite well. Humans don’t always have ALL the answers after all. We do enjoy looking at cuteness, however and i’m pretty happy to have taken a few minutes to just lay in the field watching their adorable antics before getting back to work.
This is what life on the farm is all about – and it’s high time i took some time to lay down and enjoy it.
Do you have any experience with animal mamas getting a bit ‘confused’ ?