Thursday, March 8, 2012

100% Hatch Ratio!

That's a lot easier to do when you are only trying to hatch 4 eggs. However we had to work at it this morning. My youngest went out to check on the last egg before I took her to school. We were expecting to find our fourth and last little duck all hatched out and playing with her siblings but my daughter came in and told me the egg was still in one piece and the same little tiny crack was exactly the same as the day before. She also said the baby inside was still alive. She could feel her moving and pecking but the movements were weaker than yesterday. I took her to school and came back prepared to do something about the last duck if necessary. And it was. The egg was exactly like it had been for the last day and a half. One tiny barely perceptible little crack and it was obvious the creature inside was fading. Now I know you
are suppose to leave them alone when they are piping. Mother nature knows best but I had already screwed around with mother nature by putting those eggs under that Silkie in the first place and I'm not one to stand around doing nothing. When ducks make a nest they place the eggs in contact with the ground so that the humidity is just right for hatching. These little guys were in a nice dry nest in a coop with bedding chips and under a bird that wouldn't go into the water on her own if her life depended on it. I had been putting drops of water on the eggs at least twice a day for the last week or so and I had a small piece of towel under the chips to absorb the moisture and release it back to the eggs when mom warmed it up enough. So in spite of all my efforts I was pretty sure that little one was still in that egg because I had screwed up. I took the egg up to the house gave it a light rinse with warm water and with the tip of a clean steak knife I started tapping on that egg right where the crack was. I just kept working across the egg like I thought a baby would do making sure none of the chips fell into the egg. As luck would have it her little beak was right where I thought it would be. I just kept chipping until I had almost half that egg off. It looked as if the inner membrane was dry and maybe stuck to the duckling so a few more drops of warm water helped with that.
You can see her beak in this picture. When she started stretching  and moving I figured that was enough "help" from me and I had better put her back under her mom to finish the job so I took her back out to the coop and put her with the rest of the ducklings that were huddled under warm wings and went back to the house to get ready to take the cat to a vet appointment. Did I mention it was also 29 degrees this morning?  Any way since I had a few minutes before I had to leave I decided to go back out to the coop to see how things were coming along. That poor baby was not under mom. I don't know if the other ducklings kicked her out or what but she was out of her shell, icy cold, and not moving at all when I picked her up. I was pretty sure
This is how I found her
she was a dead duck. So I took her up to the house. I just stood in the kitchen looking at her laying in my hand and kicking myself for taking her back to the mom in the first place. Her tummy was still open were the yolk of the egg is supposed to be absorbed and I thought that too was my fault for screwing with that egg.  Then I saw it. Just barely her eye opened and she was looking at me. My first thought was she had died but then her eye moved. Quickly I turned on the water in the kitchen sick and got it warm then put her on her back, nose and tummy up and let the warm water run into my hand but not enough to get on her tummy or her beak. I just warmed her up with the water until she started moving. I yelled at the man to go get me the lamp out of the garage. He set it up while I tried keeping her warm in my hands. Not wanting to put her down on cold paper towels I just put my hand under the light. The more she warmed up the more she moved but I was still

pretty sure she wasn't going to make it. When she dried off a bit and the box and paper towels had warmed up to  87 degrees we put her under the light along with a rolled bolster of paper towels to keep off drafts. Little by little that little fighter came back.

By noon she was walking around and trying to get out of the little box I had her in. I had to tape the flaps up to make the box taller. When the oldest got home she immediately started to spoil that little duck rotten.  Putting her on her lap and letting her walk on her computer while she did homework. When the youngest got home it got worse and soon that little duck didn't want to stay in the box and would just scream her head off.

Now it doesn't take long for a baby bird to imprint on people and this one had wasted no time doing so. I went to the coop and got one of the other babies and brought it up to keep this one company and to let it know it was a duck. They stayed in the house all night so that I could make sure the weaker one was going to make it. Buy morning she was eating and drinking and so far so good. After the girls went to school I went down to check on mom and the other two babies. Mom needed a poo break so I put her on the floor while I changed the wet papers in the brooder box. What a difference in babies. The two that spent the night with mom thought I was a monster. Guess the kids will be doing some bird socializing. It's so much easier to fix a bird in trouble if they are use to human handlers.

All four babies are now with mom so I will be keeping an eye on things to make sure the littlest doesn't get bossed around. I will end with photos of mom and babies. To see larger images just click on the photos.


Tom Stewart said...

I know they say not to help a baby bird of any kind out of it's shell. But in this case I would have tried to help too! I'm not sure that I would have known what to do (but because you described what you did so well, maybe I do now!)
And I'm glad that the outcome was so good.
You will have to come up with very special name for this one! Because now this one is a member of the family! And will want to move right into the house!

sista said...

Thanks Tom. The kids named him/her Bean and she/he is back with its mother and doing well. So well I can't really tell which one it is. So no house pets although the subject did come up.

Izzy said...

Awesome! I'm glad it all worked out. The photos are really cute. Just wait until they are out in the yard together Mom and ducklings, for the first time. That should be a fun photo!

Hallie said...

Thanks so much for commenting on my blog! You're right- our pictures and story are much alike!! I am so enjoying your blog and will be following you from now on! I so miss having ducks and will just have to enjoy watching yours grow thru pictures! :)