It’s convenient for you when a hen decides it’s her job to hatch out ducklings! But how can you tell if a duck is serious about brooding? Have you even given a hen a nest, only to discover she was fickle and undecided? Here are 5 signs of a broody duck, how you can tell if a bird is truly ready to set!
An Infatuation With Eggs
When a duck hen has the mothering itch, she’ll develop an infatuation with eggs. Those left within her reach will often end up in her nest, irregardless of who laid them!!
Aggression Toward Humans
A ‘hen in the mood’ doesn’t like anyone who gathers her eggs. In fact, she may strike and hiss at any hand or foot that comes near her treasure. As you walk away, the hen will likely follow, flapping her wings and nipping at your heels.
Don’t be afraid of her. She really can’t hurt you with her smooth, round beak and those funny webbed feet!
But do these two behaviors mean she’s ready to set? Not necessarily. At this point a hen may only be thinking about going broody.
If your hen is also displaying the following 3 signs, she’s usually in earnest about becoming a mother.
A Carefully Constructed Nest
Much like a wild duck, your hen will take pains to construct a nest with whatever material is available. Grass, straw and hay will be carried to the chosen spot. If nesting on the ground, she’ll often take time to enlarge the nesting bowl as well.
Removal of Breast Feathers
After constructing her nest, a hen’s final pre-brooding act is to pull out some of her own downy breast feathers. She uses these to create a soft lining in her nest. Once accomplished, she’s ready to brood!
Refusal to Leave the Nest
Last but not least, you know a hen is serious when she refuses to leave the nest she’s taken such pains to create! Your presence only causes her to more firmly plant herself on the nest. She’ll refuse to budge and put up such a fuss in such a determined manner, you won’t be able to refuse her request!
If she only has a few eggs, you can take as many as necessary from the other hens. Your average sized duck can manage up to 15 eggs.
Slip them under the wanna-be mama and leave her to complete the task.
These are 5 signs of a broody duck!
This post is more of an inquiry than a comment. My lovely 20 week old duck just laid her first egg. She didn’t build a nest for it and is not acting as though she is interested in sitting on it. I’m new to this and am wondering if a duck lays eggs and only sometimes becomes broody? She has a companion who we believe is a male , however they have never been sexed by a professional. If she is not sitting on it at all, does that automatically mean that the egg is unfertilized? Sorry to ask so much, however you seem to know what you are doing and I need some guidance. BTW, my ducks are Peking ducks.
There’s no such thing as a silly question! Most ducks only go broody in spring-summer. And unless they’re a heritage bird that is noted for mothering skills, many duck types have the brooding instinct bred out of them. Your pekin may try to set on eggs, but it’s not the norm with your breed and she probably won’t make a good mother. Most ppl have to hatch pekin eggs under another breed of duck or in an incubator. If your hen IS ready to set, she won’t actually start brooding until she had a collection of 8-12 eggs. Hope that helps!