The ducks have been with us for a year. I have to say that our experimental backyard poultry operation has been a rousing success! We have wonderful eggs, enough to sell some to friends; we’ve found a routine that integrates the ducks into our "halfway homestead," and we’ve been able to keep the ducks happy and healthy.
The ducks have been laying eggs for five weeks now. We found the first two on September 28, and found at least one egg every day after that. After a week we were averaging three a day; after a month five a day. Now we get five to six each day, and we believe that all of the ducks are laying, so each of them lays an average of five to six eggs each week—pretty impressive, I think.
The ducks look like adults now. Their feathers are all in, and their wings, especially, have grown—as you can see in the photo. Most evenings before we herd them in for the night we let them wander around the yard, and they have started trying to fly. They will run across the yard, flapping their wings and hopping, and occasionally get a few inches off the ground.
They are turning into beautiful ducks. Each brown feather is tipped with white and their flight feathers are partly white, so that they provider a range of colors. From a distance they still appear solid brown, but the closer you look, the more beautiful they are. Until one of them craps on your shoe, anyway.
The ducks are now six weeks old and have been living outside for two and a half weeks. One morning in their fourth week, when I went in to the brooder to take them out to their grazing pen for the day, I found Patsy running around the outside of the brooder peeping at the top of her little lungs. (All the others were running around the inside of the pen peeping at the top of their little lungs. Where the heck is Patsy?) So I picked Patsy and the other six ducklings up, took them outside, and that was the end of life in the brooder.
The ducks have been here three weeks today. They are now living outside in their grazing pen during the day and coming inside at night to stay warm and safe in the brooder. We are securing their nighttime pen this week so that they can move outside for good in a few days—they are getting large and stinky. In the meantime they are enjoying the fresh air during the day and their baby pool, to which they have free access.
The ducklings arrive via U.S. Mail from Clearview Hatchery in Gratz, Pennsylvania. Most hatcheries have larger minimum orders, but Clearview would send us as few as six, which is what we wanted. Well, ok: they only charged us for six, but they sent an extra duckling. Number Seven is not marked, so we’re guessing it is female, but when we may find ourselves with a drake when their feathers come in. Until then, there’s no reliable way for an amateur to tell.