We are all very impressed with how much the Muscovies have grown over such a short period of time. Granted, they eat more than the chickens, but I imagine that will slow some as their growth needs also slow. We have picked the 2 drakes we intend to keep to maturity and cull the other 4 next month. In the end, we will cull to just one after we decide which one does the better job with the girls.
Ducks grow fast…
I ordered a dozen Muscovy duck eggs and hoped I would get at least a 50% hatch rate. Sadly, they were delayed in the mail as, all of my live orders have been since covid, and we had only 2 live hatches. One died a few days later. I had one lonely duckling and so we turned to Craigslist and found someone who had hatched some Muscovies a few days before us.
Suddenly, we had 10 ducklings and they filled their brooder quickly. It began to get difficult for them to move around without bumping in to one another. We took them outside on hot sunny days to give them a little more space until bedtime.
But this would not do for the long-term.
I gathered some leftover lumber, some cattle panels meant for the garden, bought a heavy-duty tarp from Tractor Supply, and repurposed some other odds and ends. Now my 10 little ducklings have a roughly 8×8′ duck pen to call home. I am sure it will evolve over time, but it is in a hard fenced area and will be adequate for the summer.
It was time to clean the brooder so we took advantage of the kiddie pool lid and let them splash about while we emptied the old bedding. They had a blast and my garden has a little more mulch. Afterwards, we slid the fence off the pool and set it in the grass. They romped around in the grass, then settled down and started preening while I refilled their bedding and got their heaters set up. Once back in the brooder and preening was done, everyone took a long 15 minute nap.
Our hatching did not go as planned. The days the eggs were due to hatch, I was away on vacation for my wedding anniversary. My husband had planned a trip for us for our 11th anniversary. We had originally intended to go on our 10th but Covid happened. I did not want to postpone again.
Instead, I trained my adult children to watch over the temperatures and the humidity. They had 2 eggs hatch and another that had pipped and was starting to unzip, but died in the egg. One of the ducklings died over night the night before I got home. We had one lonely duckling.
My husband jumped on Craigslist and found a post for baby Muscovies that had hatched a week prior. I called them up and they hadn’t sold any. They had nine ducklings that needed a home and I took them all. Our little duckling is much happier now. Have a look:
I placed the water catchment in the bottom of the pool and put the drying racks on top. The catchment is just a foil pan from the grocery store. I used two racks to make sure the holes were small enough. I could not find anything on the internet about how big a hatching’s feet would be.
I surrounded the catchment with rabbit bedding (bag claims better absorbency) and put the brooder plate in. I keep the legs uneven in height until I know how tall the babies are and adjust accordingly. Right now there’s about a 1 inch gap at the near end and a 3 inch gap at the far end. If the legs settle too much, I’ll drop some 2×4 blocks in to keep it from sinking.
I put the feeder and waterer in to check that everything fit. The red one will be for food, the blue for water. If you follow the cords up to the right, you can see my temperature monitor on the greenhouse rack. My daughter used it for her gecko. It’ll shut the power off at whatever temperature I set it to and I can see at a glance what temperature it currently is. Once I get that stabilized, I’ll add a blanket to put around the back side to reduce drafts. Then we just wait for the eggs to hatch. ^_^
Step 1: I decided to put the hardware cloth around the outside of the kiddie pool to give my ducklings the maximum floorspace. I wrapped the fence around the pool and gave myself a 4 inch overlap.
Step 2: I made sure the cut ends left me some wire to bend and fasten the ends tightly together. Where needed, I cut the vertical wires away from a horizontal to give me longer wire to work with.
Step 3: In order to make the top of the fence fit inside of the kiddie pool lid, I cut darts into the top of the fence to angle it in. I cut 8 squares down and overlapped 2 squares. You have to feel out the fit a few times with whatever lid you use.
I made 8 cuts so the top looks a little like an octagon. Now to finish up with the lid…
Step 4: I drilled 2 holes in opposite sides of the lip of the pool lid. I wired the top onto the fence. One wire acts as a hinge, and the other acts as a closure and holds the lid steady. I’ll post again when I have all the gear inside for the ducklings.
As you can see, we’ve been busy making homes for our new additions. The adult rams have been moved to the lower pastures to work on those. Once these new sheep have passed quarantine, they’ll join our other ewe and the baby rams will be removed to their own pasture until breeding season.
The piggies are currently getting wire trained (they do not like the ouchie wire) and have a waterbarrel with a pig nipple to drink from.
The garden is coming along, though I am late getting my beans in. Tomorrow is another day!
Chickens were our first foray into farm animals. They are funny little creatures; our breeds are inquisitive, gentle, and they have sweet dispositions. Perhaps we raised more chickens than we need but the work they do is invaluable. They have reduced the amount of ticks, grasshoppers, and other insects on the property all while feeding themselves extra protein. Their eggs have fed our family and sometimes we are at a loss to find another recipe to cook to use all the eggs. This spring, they helped us knock down all the old straw bales and spread them out as mulch for the walkways.
I can’t say enough about our humble little chickens and our little homestead would be much poorer without them.