Ducks

Our first duck eggs… plus some egg-laying tips

Marges First Egg (duck eggs)
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Each morning, I start the day by going outside to let our Welsh Harlequin ducks out of their Quacker Box, while The Tyrant fights heroically for a few more minutes of sleep.

The Quacker Box - duck tractor, coop, house... via tyrantfarms.com

Our ducks demanded a house worthy of their exquisite plumage. Enter the Quacker Box…

Once the ducks are out, I give them fresh food and water. Then I talk with them about whatever happens to be on their minds. Welsh Harlequin ducks are wonderful conversationalists.

Ours are particularly fond of talking about British politics, world events, and fresh home-grown seasonal produce finely chopped into duck-bites.

Our oldest flock: Lady Margaret Thrasher (wearing white) and the three men (Sir Winton Duckbill, Lawrence of Afradia and Baby Duck).

Our original flock: Lady Margaret Thrasher (wearing white) and the three men (Sir Winton Duckbill, Lawrence of Afradia, and Baby Duck). If you’re an intending duck parent, please note that this is NOT a good male-to-female ratio to have in your duck flock.

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been expecting our oldest female, Lady Margaret Thrasher, to lay her first eggs given her age (about 20 weeks old). Since ducks are somewhat notorious for hiding their eggs, we were certain she was just pulling an “Easter Bunny” and hiding her eggs from us somewhere around the garden where she forages.

We’ve searched the bushes and beds in Margaret’s realm almost every day over the past week to no avail. Not one hidden duck egg was found. The Tyrant even considered squeezing Margaret to see if an egg would pop out (no, ducks don’t actually work like this, so don’t try it).

Lady Margaret Thrasher keeping an eye on the egg-hunters.

Lady Margaret Thrasher keeping an eye on the egg-hunters.

What do you do if your duck or chicken isn’t laying eggs on schedule? 

As it turns out, sometimes ducks and chickens that reach egg-laying age but haven’t laid any eggs just need a little extra help to get going. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them.

So, to help Margaret realize that she needed to start laying eggs for us, we made two small additions to her life:

  1. a golf ball
  2. ground up oyster shell

A few rounds of golf and an oyster roast… What more does a duck need to produce it’s first eggs? Actually, the reasons for these two additions have a logical explanation:

1. Golf ball in the duck nest. 

We placed a golf ball Lady Margaret’s nest to make her think she had already laid an egg (a white golf ball looks pretty similar to an egg, at least as far as ducks are concerned).

Apparently, this can help trigger whatever physiological processes are required to get a bird to actually lay their own eggs. If you want to make certain your ducks are chickens are fooled by the fake eggs, you can even get ceramic eggs on Amazon

2. Flaked oyster shell. 

We wanted to make sure Margaret the duck had access to the dietary calcium needed to help produce a good healthy egg with a well-formed, hard shell.

This oyster shell was put in a separate bowl, not mixed in with the duck food. Why? Female ducks (and chickens too) will only eat the oyster shell if they need it, and the males could care less about it.

June 2019 update: For whatever reason, out of all the calcium supplements we’ve tried (and we’ve tried quite a few), the only one our ducks will eat is Scratch-and-Peck’s Flaked Oyster Shell. They’ll also eat their own crushed egg shells, but you’ll still want to make sure to make an additional high quality calcium supplement available since calcium-depleted ducks make calcium depleted duck egg shells.

The results of golf balls and oyster shells? Our first duck eggs! 

We don’t know if it was due to correlation or causation, but within 48 hours of us providing Lady Margaret Thrasher with her very own golf ball and ground oyster shells, she produced two beautiful eggs.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 will go down in Tyrant Farms history as the day that we (or more accurately Lady Thrasher) produced our first ever duck eggs!

Lady Margaret Thrasher's first two eggs.

Lady Margaret Thrasher’s first two eggs.

Raise heritage breed ducks & chickens!

We hope more people will continue to raise heritage breed ducks and chickens (especially the breeds on the “Livestock Conservancy’s critical, threatened, or watch list“) so we can keep these wonderful creatures from going extinct.

Growing healthy food isn’t just about altruism, economics, or our own general wellbeing. There’s something indescribably magical about the process, whether that food comes in the form of a plant or an animal. There’s a knowledge base and a sense of connection to the earth that you can’t quite put into words.

Some things can be learned, but they can’t be taught.

Our first two duck eggs in hand!

Our first two duck eggs in hand!

We hope you’ll decide to start your own garden or raise your own ducklings

Know It or Grow It!

Aaron & Susan

Other duck articles you might enjoy:

and even more duck articles from Tyrant Farms… 

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