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Muscovy ducklings dead upon hatching  RSS feed

 
Dustin Nemos
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Location: Central TN
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2nd in two days. Found them outside of nest but not far away. Not sure what's killing them
 
Dale Hodgins
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Wes Hunter
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I've had that happen a handful of times this year.  Just one of those things, I reckon.
 
r ranson
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Sad thing about the baby ducklings.

There are several possible reasons for this.

1. is your duck house locked and secure from rats and other predators at night?
2. is there a night time predator prowling outside the duckhouse scaring the mum?
3. is she in with other ducks that might be bothering her (like a drake that wants to have rumpy pumpy five times an hour)
4. is it a first-time mum?  If so, is she raised by her mum or hatched and raised by humans.  Mothering behaviour seems to be very much a learned thing in muscovies.  Some first-time muscovy mums freak out and kill their young. 
5. maybe these are hatching too early and the main batch isn't ready yet.
6. is your duck a racist?  Muscovies can learn to be extremely racist.  I had one white mum that killed every coloured duckling she had and only recognised the white ones as her own.  She also fiercely attacked all other non-white muscovy ducks.  If the ducklings hatch and they are a different colour from the mum, this could be the problem - but it is learned behaviour and very rare.
7. how about a day time monster like a raven?  They will remove young from the nest.
8. the eggs might have broken and killed the young before they were ready - in which case the mum will eat the eggshell and toss the dead young away from the nest to prevent predators from finding her location.

I'm sure there are other possibilities.  Let us know how it goes and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask. 




 
Travis Johnson
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We had this happen one hatching season and it was due to humidity levels during the incubation period. Ducks are very sensitive to this. Since then we have watched humidity levels much more closely and had excellent luck.
 
Dustin Nemos
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Drinking water but currently no place to swim. Locked up tight from predators with s Pyrenees nearby to protect her and others. It may be the moisture thing
 
r ranson
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Muscovies don't need as much water as a normal duck.  Muscovies are considered a dry land duck and come from the Americas (whereas other ducks are all Old World descendants) and lack many duck-like qualities like the ability to coat their feathers in oil.  They are great swimmers, so long as they learn early to get out of the water before they get waterlogged - I've had to rescue more than one drowning duck, and lost a few in the pond that were out of reach.  Those ones came from a place where they had never learned to swim. 

The point is, Muscovies don't have the same needs as other ducks.  So long as they have fresh, clean water deep enough to submerge their head, they can remain healthy.  To keep them happy, I have a few of those shallow stock water buckets that hold about 20 gallons.  Wash it out and fill it up every third day and they love it.  They also have access to the pond, but most of them have had poor experiences with too much swimming - they are much happier with water less than three feet deep. 

With my flock, I noticed that the mums bathe daily for the first 30 days, then they stop bathing until 48 hours before the bulk of the clutch starts to hatch.  Then they spend a good hour or two bathing and drying off completely before returning to their eggs and staying there until the hatching is finished.  I think, like any eggs, humidity plays a role, but I don't think that Muscovy ducks have the same requirements as fully domesticated ducks.  I read something about this long a go, but I can't remember where. 


My biggest loss of ducklings is usually the mum herself.  If there is a racoon or anything that she thinks is scary outside her home in the night, she panics and the eggs break.  She then eats the shells and tosses out the ducklings because they hatched too early. 
 
Hester Winterbourne
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Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b)
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I don't quite get what you mean by "dead upon hatching".  Do you mean you find a duckling which has hatched and then died, because obviously a dead duckling couldn't hatch?  Do you think it died in the nest and the mother duck then removed it from the nest, or it hatched and wandered off and died?  Or you find the egg with the dead duckling partially hatched?  If it's fluffed up and dry and then died sounds like she is sitting too long and the ducklings have died of hunger?
 
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