Friday, December 23, 2011

Three Ducks A-Layin

Monday we had two eggs, and have had two each day since then, and today there were three, so certainly we have three layers, with one more to go.  So now it will be...
Eggs for breakfast,
Egg salad sandwiches or hard-boiled eggs on salads for lunch,
Quiches, omelets & souffles for dinner.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Egg in the Nest Box

I found another egg this morning, and it was in the next box.  I didn't see it at first, but the next boxes had a lot of the wood shavings pushed out of them.  When I shoved the shavings back in, something went bump, and sure enough, there was another egg.  Two days in a row; I guess we're in business.  Thanks, girls!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Egg!!!

First Egg - 12/15/11 - Ducks at 27.5 weeks old.
Way to go, girls!  They've done it.  One egg was found this morning, right in the middle of the duck house.  Wahooo!  I don't know who laid it, of course, but my guess is "Orange", the duck with the orange band on her leg.  She has seemed to me the most mature and has the most distinct blue on her wing, indicating she's the most completed with her molt process.  This morning she's being pretty vocal, as well, more so than the others.  Now we'll need to train them to lay them in the nest boxes.  I put it into the box and will leave it there a bit to give her the idea that's where it belongs.  Keep up the good work, gals!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Slacker Quackers

These slacker quackers still have not laid any eggs.  They are now 6 months old (27 weeks).  We have read different ideas as to when they should commence, and had hoped that we would have eggs by now.  In Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks, David Holderread mentions in one place that they should commence between 16-20 weeks of age.  In another place he suggests 20-24 weeks.  This assumes adding artificial lighting in the fall to imitate spring.  Another resource I found on the web said 22-26 weeks.  When we hit 25 weeks we were still hopeful.  In Ducks and Geese in Your Backyard, Rick Luttman says they won't lay until the first spring after hatching.  He may be right.  Dang.  We really wanted to have eggs by now.

We've tried to "imitate spring" by adding light and increasing that light 15 minutes per week, as suggested by Holderread.  Since it's been so cold (below freezing nightly, and sometimes all day long), we've added heat in their house at night.  The ducks may appreciate the cozy warmth, but still no eggs.

On another note, we butchered Whitey and Drakey a couple of days ago.  It's just the four girls remaining.  Whitey (the White Appleyard) wasn't so cute anymore, which was the reason we kept him around for a while.  He was bossy and protective of his girls, which wasn't unexpected.  He would frequently put his head down and run at us like he was going to come get us.  Funny, really.  We'd been calling him "Christmas" for a bit, and he just may be our Christmas dinner, depending on how many we'll be feeding that day.  He's a LOT bigger than the others were.  He dressed out at a little over 3 1/4 lbs.  Drakey was about 1 3/4 lbs.

Now that winter is here, we found that on the coldest days, which have not been above freezing, the water freezes even during the day.  Usually it isn't so cold that the ducks can't break through the surface of ice to get water, but on some days it got awfully thick between times they went to drink, and it was a mess.  We ended up putting out an electric dog bowl, which is working well.  On the coldest days even it freezes a bit, but it's much better.  At night, they don't get water, which is what we've done for quite some time.  They are locked in their house with no food or water.


We've also provided for them a nice shelter, to keep out the wind and snow and keep it off their food.  It's working out quite nicely, with the down slope on the windward side.

Boy, these ducks have the swankiest duck house and yard.  You'd think they would return the favor and give us some eggs in return.  They just don't know how good they've got it.