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First duckling hatched: Update on Mrs Boss the bantam and the Indian Runner Duck eggs

day old duckling and pekin bantamLast summer we discovered that Mrs Boss is a brilliant foster mother. She was the heroine of the Farming Friends Cottage Smallholder interblog Guinea Fowl breeding event. She raised four strong guinea fowl from a box of six eggs that Sara sent us all the way from Yorkshire.

When she went broody this spring, The Chicken Lady suggested that she might like to sit on some Indian Runner duck eggs. The gestation period for duck eggs is 28 days.

The ducklings were due to hatch on Sunday so I made some final preparations the day before. Filled up the feeder with chick crumbs and topped up the baby water fountain to avoid any danger of the ducklings drowning.

Then I tended the castle grounds, racked the gravel clean and added a fresh layer. I found a small tile to use as a ramp from the Emerald Castle to the grounds. Everything was set to go.

By Monday there no sign of ducklings and I was getting concerned. Would they turn out to be unfertilised eggs?

I threw a scoop of wild birdseed to distract the rest of the flock, opened the gate and stepped inside the chicken run. When I gently lifted the side of the castle, Mrs Boss stared back at me with a glinty look. I carefully lifted her off the nest to reveal six unhatched eggs. She wasn’t keen to stroll in the castle grounds and hopped straight back onto the nest.

Then I heard the faintest intermittent tapping. I put my head right inside the castle to check. It repeated distinctly. But by the evening all was quiet on the hatching front.

This morning (Tuesday), when Mrs Boss heard me approaching the run she started to cluck. An urgent warning cluck that continued until I opened the castle wall and peered in. She was on red alert with her feathers puffed right out and beside her was a tiny duckling.

hungry duckling and Mrs BossAlthough a bit wobbly the duck was clearly hungry, stretching up and touching Mrs Boss’s beak. I moved the water fountain and feeder onto the capacious nest. In an instant Mrs B started to cluck and feed voraciously, turning her head to encourage the duckling to join her. After a few pecks at the rim of the feeder, the duckling found the chick crumbs and ate a morsel. The clucks calmed down and the duckling rushed down the ramp. Instantly Mrs Boss called the duckling back and it wheeled around and shot back into the castle.

I left them snuggled together as Mrs Boss patiently demonstrated how to drink water again and again and again.

duckling and eggsHatching can stretch over a couple of days. Perhaps there will be more ducklings in the morning.


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18 Comments

  1. Amanda

    Big love to Mrs Boss – super post Fiona and can’t wait to see how the Indian Runner Ducks look in a few months time. If they’re even half as beautiful as the one we encountered in the vets they’ll be stunning.

  2. congratulations – fantastic to have babies

  3. Kate(uk)

    Great pictures of Mrs Boss and the babe- such a nice combination of speckles and spots!

  4. gillie

    Well done Mrs Boss and such a diligent mother too. Someone has clearly gone broody chez Smellie because our eggs are right down, but I can’t find out where – somewhere precarious no doubt!

  5. Veronica

    So sweet! I love ducklings, they remind me of tabby kittens, and Mrs Boss looks like a wonderful mother. Magical … I look forward to seeing the other little ducklings!

  6. magic cochin

    My fingers are crossed for you and Mrs Boss – I hope more have hatched.

    Isn’t Mrs Boss a wonderful natural Mum – the picture of her feeding the duckling is beautiful!

    What a heart-warming post to read first thing in the morning.

    Thank you Fiona! (and Mrs Boss of course)

    Celia

  7. Pamela

    Fingers crossed for the rest now. I’ve been waiting with baited breath for their arrival, hoping each post was going to about the ducklings.

  8. Toffeeapple

    How wonderful and what sweet pictures, you must feel so fulfilled.

  9. Sally

    Yes, that is brilliant. I just love the photos of Mrs Boss with the duckling.

    Your description brought images of cartoon characters where little chicks break out of eggs and start calling the first beast they see, ‘mama’ be this a bull dog, cat, whatever. But here it is in real life it seems almost magical.

  10. Awwwwwwww How brillant!!!! The little duckling is soooo cute!!!! Congratulations Fiona and Mrs. Boss.

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