We absolutely love our two Cayuga ducks – they are consistent layers, great foragers, and always entertaining to watch. They came to us last year as 6 week old ducklings, and have thrived as free rangers (even swimming in our homestead pond). This year, when we wanted to add a few more ducks to our flock, we had the good fortune of learning a trick from our neighbors down the road – hatch ducklings with a broody hen!
We had a broody hen ready to go, and procured fertilized duck eggs from the same neighbors. We set Snow White up in our brooding coop and placed four eggs in her nest. Then we marked the calendar for 28 days, and waited.
One day short of the anticipated hatch date, Ella excitedly informed us that the ducklings had ALL hatched! We peered in the coop and the cutest little fluff balls you can imagine were eagerly waddling about the coop, tended lovingly by their mama hen!
What has been amazing to me is to see how inherent certain duckling behaviors are. Although their mama is teaching them to scratch, peck, dust bathe, and avoid water, they seem perfectly content to adopt some of her behaviors, and to ignore her instruction where it just doesn’t fit! The kids were happy to provide “swim lessons,” and the ducklings were happy to participate!
Ducklings grow quickly, and ours have already figured out the lay of our land, wandering beneath the house, into the forest, and out into the pasture. They are getting a varied and abundant diet, and learning the art of foraging from their capable mama. In a few weeks, I expect that mama Snow White will deem them self-sufficient, and will go back to keeping company with the other chickens, but for now, she is as happy as can be to be chicken mama to a few fluffy ducklings!