Thursday, 29 August 2013

Duck update

Have you noticed how youngsters seem to grow taller than their parents these days?

The last duck update was when one of our Cayugas disappeared, only to be found sitting on eggs under the abandoned pea crop.

A recycled photo, but I can tell you she's still sitting.
Prior to that, you may recall that Elvis, our broody hen, hatched out six beautiful baby ducks from the eight eggs we'd placed under her.

Taken when they were still cute.

And just before that we took on three white ducks which a fellow smallholder no longer wanted to keep.

A new home, away from Randy
So, first an update on our three white ducks (we really should name them as they are not for the pot). When they arrived we put them in the veg plot along with the four black Cayugas. But our drake Cayuga, who needs a name himself (Randy may be appropriate!), just would not leave them alone. To be honest, they wondered what had hit them. So we moved them in with the chickens and left Randy quacking loudly on the other side of the fence.

A little grubby, but on the mend.
You can still  see the infected eye on the closest bird,
but it is now completely healed.
Unfortunately, one of them very soon developed a badly infected eye, completely closed over and encrusted. Another one showed signs of infection too. We felt terrible, and the reason I've not written about this yet is that we didn't want to worry their previous owner. We read up and Sue discovered that it could even be due to Randy's spit getting into their eye when he was jumping on them! I'm sure that stress didn't help either.

So a quick phone call to Norfolk Farm Vets and a pot of medicine was duly on its way by special courier. For the next five days the ducks' water, which they get through at an astonishing rate, was laced with said medicine. After just a couple of days there was a noticeable improvement and by the end of five days the ducks were, thankfully, back to full health.
We have kept them in their own special corner of the chicken pen and they seem very happy indeed.

Onto those newly hatched ducklings and boy, how they have grown! Poor Elvis doesn't know what she's hatched. Never before have her chicks shown such a liking for water! And never before have they grown so big and so fast. She has effectively been cuckooed.

The ducklings are now out and about in the chicken pen and are pretty much able to look after themselves, wandering around in a little gang making also sorts of squeaking and quacking noises. Elvis stays in touch and fought off a couple of the other hens in the first two days, but it is the gang of ducklings that lead her and not vice versa.

As most of the vegetables are now big enough to withstand a little chicken scratching, I've opened the door to the chicken pen again so the chickens are free to wander. They've got plenty of space anyway, so often don't bother to go wandering. However, yesterday Elvis led the duckling gang (or vice versa) out of the gate and into the big wide world. But no-one had accounted for Randy. He was straight over the rabbit fence which surrounds the veg patch (this is basically a flightless duck we are talking about here) and attempting to jump on the poor ducklings, his own offspring, though he probably didn't realise that. Not that it would have stopped him.

Sue hastily shooed him away and ushered Elvis and the gang back down the land.

So that's it for duck news at the moment, until the next lot hatch in amongst the pea plants. Then we'll potentially have gone from four to nineteen ducks in a matter of months.

Now I know they're cute, but we're currently researching at what age we can begin to eat them!
Sorry! But they're not pets.



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