An update on our little flock...
We now have four ducks, 3 Welsh Harlequins and 1 Pekin; they are three years old. After several months of getting "dud" eggs pretty consistently, we finally determined one of the Pekins was throwing the duds, so we retired her. The duds were deformed shells: soft, like the membrane without the hard shell, sometimes with a string of shellish mass hanging off the end; or sometimes little to no shell at all--just the white and yolk in a splooshy mess with a little membrane-ish stuff along with it. After seeing one of the Pekins lay these a couple of times, we began calling her "Dudley", and soon after that we had her for dinner. She was not good. I wondered if being an older duck would make her tougher, and it did--I should have made soup or stew, I suppose, rather than put her on the grill. As it was, we couldn't eat it. Nice try.
With the four remaining ducks, we do still get an occasional dud here and there--they seem to be coming from the remaining Pekin (our current "Whitey"). On very rare occasions we get four good eggs in one day. I know that the 3 Welsh Harlequins lay good eggs, I'm just not sure if "Whitey" is done with her egg-laying days or merely a bit off for a while. We don't really want to keep feeding a non-productive duck! I've been encouraged by two days with four eggs in the past week.
One duck has begun to lose feathers, and I suppose the others will soon, too. Along with the loss of feathers, egg production will drop off and stop as they molt. Another year done. Hopefully this coming fall/winter they will begin laying sooner than last year.