Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Duck Hatched Chick - Update

While we were off playing on the motorcycle the duck and chicken stayed in a pen by themselves. Monday while I was catching up on my barn work, I let them out. I could tell right away that things weren’t going well. Panda the duck was off with the other ducks, not paying any attention to the chick.

Since the yard was full of poultry I didn’t get excited about it, the barn cats have learned to stay away from little babies, because moms are quick to attack. After a couple of hours I could hear the chick peeping outside while Panda was in the barn eating. I went out, chased the little black chick into the mint patch. She came out with a name – Peppermint Patty.

Then I put Patty in with Panda and the others. She milled around, still peeping loudly. I debated if I should let her be, or chase her down to put her in the brooder. While I was working on the chores she seemed fine. So I let her be, wondering if she would attach herself to another bird, or stay with Panda.

By the time I put the horses to bed, there was no sign of Patty, but Panda was strutting around with the drakes. I got out the flashlight, looked in the usual bedding places, but couldn’t find her, and couldn’t hear her. I was afraid she’d gotten eaten by something.

This afternoon, the weather is raw and wet. I’m out with the dogs when I heard Patty peeping her loud distressed call again. Sure enough, she was following a disconcerted duck. I chased her around the pens, not able to catch her until she darted under Cookie the barn cat. Cookie looked embarrassed, her feline dignity compromised by this little scampering fluffy ball she couldn’t swat. I scooped the struggling Patty up, she was cold and shivering. Not a good thing for a two week old chick.

So Patty went into the brooder, under the big warm light bulb, while I finished letting the horses out. When I returned to the tack room, there was silence. Patty was under the light, quiet for the first time since she’d left the nest.

I checked her an hour later; she was making happy chicken noises, pecking away at the food.

I’m not a poultry expert. Therefore I’m calling off the experiment. I don’t think that Patty was happy as a duckling. She was constantly making unhappy peeping while she was with Panda. Now she’s warm and making happy chirps. That’s good enough for me.

Patty will stay in the brooder until she’s big enough to survive in the big pen, or until Smudge hatches her brood. Panda is not a good enough mother for this little bird.

Odd things happen - like Smudge's entire nest of eggs has vanished. They were all marked with green food coloring, which has made the mystery even wierder. However, setting 'new' eggs would mean Smudge spending another month with little food.

So, I've taken the opportunity to give Patty to Smudge. Yep, took the old eggs and slipped Patty under the clucking hen. This should work out for both of them. I noticed that Patty wasn't happy at first. She kicked up a fuss. I finally turned off the lights and stuffed Patty back under Smudge's wing. That shut her up.

Poor little chick is confused already.

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