In the garden it is obvious that the spring sunshine has kicked off the mating season. Bumble has been busily fertilising the duck eggs for me and Erin is already starting to be a little broody, refusing to leave the duck house in the morning and then rolling any misplaced eggs into the straw daybed to make herself a nest.
Unfortunately I don’t have enough space this year for any ducklings so I am instead trying to break her broodiness. Every morning I collect the eggs up so that she has nothing to sit on and instead of leaving the door to the duck house open I make sure it is firmly closed until bedtime to try and break her from brooding. Unfortunately this means that any late in the day egg layers are laying on the straw daybed which she jumps on with gusto and then gives me a good bite when I remove them from under her.
At least when prevented from being in the duck house she eats, drinks and has a little swim and hopefully it wont take long for her to forget her broody ways, at which point I’m sure one of the other girls will start!
I am lucky that the three chickens won’t be going broody this spring, as hybrids it is very rare for them to go broody, and often if they do they will break midway through the sitting so they are not ideal mother hens.
They are also all getting on a bit, I can’t be sure of their age as they were ex-barn girls when they came to me, but they must now be heading onto 4 years old, which for a hybrid is a good age and all three are still in lay.
One of the girls although laying is suffering from soft and weak shells this spring so I have added a calcium tonic to their water, wormed them (although no signs of worms soft eggs can result from a worm problem) and made sure they eat plenty of layers pellets before they get their mid afternoon treat which has been reduced in size until the eggs firm up. The past few days I have had less softies so hopefully it is helping her a little.
The quails have also started laying again, but sadly I did have an incident with one of the girls. I suspect that when Sid was mating with her he pulled a feather out and this drew blood.
Unfortunately quails on seeing blood tend to go into somewhat of a frenzy and by the time I found the poor girl she had been scalped and was hunched up in the corner of the hutch.
I separated her out, cleaned her head and used an antiseptic spray and gave her some pain relief but unfortunately the damage was too much and she passed away shortly afterwards. It is always sad when this happens, but I have to remind myself that most of the time they are very happy and well looked after and that when keeping poultry sometimes things like this happen and the good parts outweigh the bad by far.
On a cheery note since the ducks have all started laying I have been getting some fabulous shell colours. Little Doobie (Runner) lays lovely blue eggs, Erin (Appleyard) and Alice (Campbell) white shells and Pingu, Holly and Daisy (Cayuga crosses) mottled shells. When giving people eggs they seem to love the mixed colours, and it is nice knowing that all the girls are laying despite not knowing what to do with so many eggs each day!