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.
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).
What Do You Do If Your Duck or Chicken Isn’t Laying Eggs On Time?
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. So, to help Margaret realize that she needed to start laying eggs for us, we made two small additions to her life:
- a golf ball
- 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 – to make Margaret think she already laid an egg (a white golf ball looks pretty similar to an egg, at least as far as ducks are concerned); and
(2) Ground Oyster Shells – to give her a boost of calcium needed to help produce a good healthy egg with a well-formed, hard shell. According to the experts, female ducks (and chickens too) will only eat the oyster shell if they need it, and the males could care less about it.
We don’t know if it was due to correlation or causation, but within 48 hours of us providing her with her very own golf ball and ground oyster shells, Margaret laid two beautiful eggs. Wednesday, October 30 will go down in Tyrant Farms history as the day that we (or more accurately Lady Thrasher) produced our first ever eggs!
Raise Heritage Breed Ducks & Chickens!
We hope more people will continue to raise heritage breed ducks and chickens (especially the breeds on the “critical list“) so we can keep these wonderful creatures from going extinct. Growing healthy food isn’t all 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.
Aaron & Susan