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I've never raised a duckling right out of the egg. I've raised them after getting them from the hatchery, in a large group, but never a single orphan. And all the rest of the ducklings we've had have been raised by their mothers.
I have a couple Muscovy ducks that co-nested and hatched 8 little ducks a couple days ago (so they probably started hatching 3 days ago). Now they are all out and about, and not still setting, so I went to remove the rest of the eggs. I picked one up, and felt an open area on the underside, and turned it over, and there was a large hole with little duck moving around and peeping inside the egg. I put it back in the nest and checked later. The two mothers were still out with their little brood, but then one came back into the coop (I was outside with the big door open, and she went in the small door at the other end - the nest was next to the big door) and walked toward me and the nest, looked at the hatching egg, and hissed a bit at me, but then left. Then 5 minutes later she came back and looked again, but then left again. Now in the past, if I've inadvertantly caught a mother duck off the nest, and they see me near it, they come rushing back all upset and chase me off. But this was like she was saying, "that's not mine, you can have it."
The duckling didn't seem to have made any progress so I carefully chipped shell away, keeping an eye out for any blood vessels - there were none. I chipped enough away that the duckling could feel the difference and started really trying to get out, and so I put the egg back down and let him fight his way the rest of the way out.
We brought him in and put him in a small critter cage with paper towels, a heat lamp, and a thermometer. I kept checking on him, and he seemed to be very wobbly, but again, I've never had one to watch right out of the egg. So long story short, I checked on him late this evening and thought he was dead. He was slumped over the thermometer right under the light. Seems rather that he was just very deeply asleep or maybe passed out. I held him in my hand and he slowly woke up and opened his eyes. I offered a bit of water in a small container and he got his beak wet and drank a small amount (probably mostly accidentally). But he kept getting perkier as I held him, trying to scratch his head with his feet periodically, and cheeping. He did still have a large mass of something (looked rather like poop and it came out of the egg with him) attached to his umbilicus so we removed that, leaving a length of umbilicus intact. He also seemed to have passed a bit of baby poop.
So now he's back in the critter cage, is moving about (still sort of wobbly), peeping, preening a bit, and now looks like he's trying to settle down to sleep.
Does this all sound normal? Do they usually have the poopy looking mass and just have it drop off normally when they are hatched in a nest under a mother?
Given that I'm the one that "talked him out" of the egg, and was the first one he saw when he opened his eyes, do I have a house duck now? :-)
Thanks DonnaB, I am going to try that because he really needs to know he's a duck (or she's a duck). This morning he is much fluffier and is alert and pecking at food crumbles and water.
If it doesn't work, should I "ducknap" one of the other ducklings so he/she has company in the brooder? I'm a bit worried that most of the other ducklings are various colors, and this one is nearly all white, so is obviously different and even if ducks can't count, they can tell something's different.
Well, I took him out this morning when I opened the coop and let everyone else out. I stuck him in the coop and he followed the last of the other ducklings out, and the one mother duck noticed him right away. They didn't attack him, but she kept poking at him with her beak and when the moms and the other ducklings went around the back of the coop, he followed them as best he could, and the one mother kept turning around to look at him and then poke him again. So they knew he hadn't been there before. But I left them all together and watched for a bit. They worked their way back around to where the food and water was and he stayed with them, but he was less mobile and kept getting knocked aside accidentally and wasn't eating or drinking. The other ducklings are three days old and are motoring around with no problem. He seemed to be getting cold and worn out so we set up a larger brooder and I "ducknapped" another duckling that is smaller (I think it's a Muscovy-Khaki hybrid) and put them together. Once he is fully as strong and mobile as the rest, I think they can both go back out and it will be fine.
well you did what you could. You can hand raise it and then put it with them when it is big enough probably next spring as winter will be headed your way soon. Yes getting it a buddy is a good idea. Don't worry they don't fight like chickens do not that I have seen with mine anyway
Oh, it's going to be warm for a while here yet. We don't usually get a frost until late Sept or even into October. I've had Muscovies hatch in September and do fine with their mothers.
He's doing really well - he's able to stand up and walk instead of scrabbling along on his belly, but he's just 24 hours old now so that's probably normal. He's all fluffed out and is a normal looking yellow fluffy ducklet! :) I will try putting both of them outside tomorrow with the others and see how it goes. His buddy is the same size he is, although a couple days older, so I'm pretty sure it's a Khaki hybrid - it just doesn't look like a Muscovy and does look more like a Khaki. It will be interesting to see how that one turns out.