Happy Hatch Day to #lotsaflocka! I cannot believe they are one year old already. It has been quite a journey and I love them more now than I could have ever even imagined loving a duck when we first considered getting them.
One little duckie, Dayz, has given us quite a few worried days, and she likely will continue to do so, but I will not give up on her until she tells me it is time. Even with their nutritious diet, she has trouble forming normal eggs. This causes her a lot of discomfort and could be fatal, so we asked our local vet to do an implant that will prevent her from forming eggs for a while. So far, it seems to be working well. She has not had to lay in over a week now, and seems to be feeling pretty good.
I would have never guessed that that would be something we would be dealing with when we got ducks. Needless to say, we have learned a lot about them in the last year, so we want to pass on our knowledge to you. Most of what we know has come from both internet research as well as from an amazing group of Instagram duck lovers who share their stories to help educate as well as entertain.
Here is a quick list of things I have learned since we got them:
Appreciate every egg you eat. The amount of energy that goes into creating a good egg is underreported. It is physically taxing and not all fowl are physically able to produce a good egg all of the time, even if their bodies insist on trying. After seeing all of the trouble Dayz goes through to make eggs, it hurts my heart to think of all of the hens out there in industrial farming settings who suffer alone. As consumers, we don’t get to see all of the ugly eggs and the hens who struggle to lay them.
“His” and “Hers” quarters are a must! The next time we build an enclosure for these turkeys we will at least make it possible to separate them easily, even if they seem to be getting along. There are those times (aka spring) when the guys just can’t control themselves, and “toxic masculinity ruins the party again”. In the meantime we will supplement with dried chamomile flower in their morning water to help keep everyone as calm as possible. I slacked off for a bit, and it may have been coincidence, but things got pretty crazy for a bit and just might be leveling out a bit since I re-started.
Plan for the water. We go through so much water so this year we are planning on growing a lot of stuff that needs water! I think we need a watering can too. We have made three raised beds in the back yard and are going to plant all zinnias in the front yard. We also have talked about a way to recycle the water, similar to aquaponics.
Ducks are so smart. As ornery as they can be, they are so quick to pick up new tricks and will do almost anything for a pea. I feel it is important to make them work for their treats sometimes to keep their mind busy. The boys, especially, get really bossy when they are bored.
People dump domestic ducks all of the time and think it is ok. It is not ok. It is so sad and heartbreaking. I am afraid to go to a park right now because I am fairly certain that now that I know what I am looking at, I will find ducks who should not be there. Domestic ducks (Pekins, Khaki Campbell’s, Magpies, Runners, Muscovy, etc.) cannot fly to get away from predators, they do not migrate, and they depend on us to provide shelter and nutritious food to keep them safe and healthy. Yes, they can fly up and then fly back down, but they are not going any significant distances. With proper care and good health, a duck can live to be at least ten years old. They are not a short-term commitment.
People love ducks! I can tell you we were nervous to welcome them to our urban backyard. I was worried that the neighbors would be upset about them and complain. The actuality is that our neighbors love them. So many of them sneak peeks when we don’t even know about it. They come to watch them when they are feeling stressed and just need to unwind a bit. Ducks are so fun to watch and very therapeutic when they are just going about their business.
Ducks are tough. I have already thought we were going to say goodbye to Dayz several times in the last few months. She has looked so tired and has bounced back beyond belief. Someone said the other day, “there is a reason that this descendent of the dinosaur is still here today”. Boy were they right about that!
Happy hatch day duckies! Thank you for all of the joy you bring into our lives and thank you for allowing us novices to do our very best to make your lives as perfect as possible.