Raising heritage fowl off the grid challenges us on how to increase the flock. Not enough power for a typical incubator. Difficulties providing consistent heat for babies when they hatch or come from mail order. We have been experimenting in using the old fashioned way…..a broody hen. Simple so you say…let the mama do it. Well there are some points to consider.
You are at the whim of nature. This plays out in several ways. The sex of your hatch is up in the air. Not just pullets (females), guaranteed a few or most will be roosters. Are the eggs fertile and will they take? Candling is an art to figure out. The learning curve is accelerated by the first rotten egg you experience. Will the broody hen be a good mama or will she abandon the nest for some reason. And with ducks, all domesticated ones except the muscovy came from the mallards, and have had the broody instinct bred out.
Fortunately for us we were able to convince the sort of broody duck hen to sit for 28 days on her nest. So now we have 4 ducklings. They escaped the black snake by the savvy mother getting them out of the nest when they were less then 1 day old. She did abandon the 4 other eggs. One was actually hatching, so some quick thinking, a hot water bottle, and wool sweater sleeve allowed the duckling to survive. All are doing well and growing so fast. Still don’t know if they are hens or drakes, that will take awhile to figure out. And the black snake…it got away. Let’s just hope it’s pulling double duty on the voles and mice!