Thursday, 10 August 2017

Elvis to the rescue

For one reason or another much of our egg hatching this year has not gone entirely according to plan.
We tried to time it so that nothing complicated would happen while we were away on the Outer Hebrides last week, but the poultry had other ideas!
First there was the turkey hen who abandoned her eggs at the last moment only to sit on a clutch in the other house. Result: hatching due last Thursday, while we were away.
However, the turkey hen is still sitting. I coaxed her off the eggs yesterday. She is only sitting on five eggs and I would be very surprised if they hatch now. It was very late for her to sit, so the eggs may not have been fertile anyway. I'll give her a few more days sitting and then investigate the eggs if and when they don't hatch.

Then there was Elvis and her daughter Priscilla both going broody very late on in the season. With three successive clutches of Muscovy duck eggs failing under three different ducks, I grabbed the opportunity to put some eggs under the two hens. Their due date was this Sunday just gone, our first day back from holiday.

And guess what I found on Sunday morning.

Ducklings!
By Sunday evening all twelve eggs had successfully hatched. Goodness knows how they can hatch under a chicken but not under a duck?
Anyway this is good news, as the only other option for hatching Muscovy ducks would have been the incubator and this is reportedly tricky. Not only that, but there is the hassle of raising the ducklings. With a good broody hen, all this is taken care of.


Then on Monday morning Priscilla was off her eggs in search of food and water. I noticed that one of the eggs was cracked and there was movement inside. Fortunately she went back on the eggs and as I write this I have just moved hen and four healthy ducklings down to a new home in the chicken pen. No pictures yet as they are still getting used to their new home.

Now, as cute as they undeniably are, you must remember that this is a smallholding blog. In about six months time these ducklings will hopefully be big juicy Muscovy ducks, known in the restaurant trade as Barbary duck. 😋

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