Can a Turkey Hatch a Duck?
I never even would have thought to ask this question, "Can a turkey hatch a duck?".....but it turns out, we had an incident.
This past year, we decided to raise heritage breed turkeys because they can (hopefully) breed, meaning perhaps we could learn to raise our own turkeys from scratch---meaning directly from the egg! We chose Narragansetts and White Hollands. Unfortunately, we ended up with four toms and one hen...and one didn't make it.
The Narragansett toms, we discovered, are a LOT more aggressive than the White Hollands, which are quite a sweet breed, it turned out for us. We have a rule on our place: No mean animals. Everyone has to get along and have a purpose.
Well, those Narragansett toms didn't make the cut. Turned out they ended up getting aggressive with not only the chickens, the White Holland tom, but also with me. That is NOT allowed. As we entered into the Winter months, we only had our sweet Little Lady White Holland hen and our very cool looking and handsome Caspar, the White Holland tom.
I don't know if this is unusual or not, although I hear it is---our Little Lady went broody in December! She discovered the nursery coop, built herself a nice cozy nest in the corner, and started sitting on her eggs.
Well, now along came the duck hens, those opportunistic partiers--and when they discovered Little Lady sitting away on her eggs, they decided to add theirs to the clutch. Little Lady graciously got up, let them lay their egg, then dutifully sat right back down on them.
Over time, Little Lady developed quite a collection! They were mostly duck eggs, unfortunately. (I have to admit: I would rather have turkeys than ducks. Ducks are fun and amusing, but they are MESSY. Messier than turkeys, for sure.)
Mr. V. and I debated whether or not to remove the duck eggs, but we just decided to let her go and keep them all---just as an experiment. But we wondered: How long does it take to hatch a turkey egg? And a duck egg? Would it even matter? After doing some research, we discovered it takes 28 days, approximately, for both turkey and duck eggs to hatch.
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Can a Turkey Hatch a Duck?
So, weeks went by. Time dragged. Little Lady just kept on sitting. I swear, that sweet girl was so patient. We'd go in to check on her, and she would allow us to lift her up to see what was going on....but nothing!
Finally, Mr. V. and I started getting worried. Surely Little Lady should have accomplished something by now? We decided to go get rid of the eggs and see if we could help her get her life back....but when we lifted her off the nest, Lo and Behold! There was a duckling! Sweet, fluffy, perky as you please!
Two more days passed....and nothing. Finally, that evening, we went to check on her again, and WOW! There was another duckling emerging from its egg. I've watched eggs hatch in the kindergarten classrooms, and it's always amazing....but THIS was the coolest thing: To see an actual bird hatch from right under its long-suffering mom.
So here we were: Two ducklings, no turkey chicks, and a very tired hen. She was looking a bit wan, if you ask me. Losing energy, losing weight, and appearing to be weaker than before. I felt like we should just get her out of there and cut our losses.
Not so, Mr. V. So we decided to allow her to sit for about three more days. When no other chicks or ducklings emerged, we checked out the eggs individually. EWWW! Some were rotten. Mr. V. said, "Don't break one of those! You'll wish you hadn't! The neighbors will hate us!"
That's because rotten eggs, if you have never smelled one before, are some of the rankest, raunchiest, disgusting, barf-inducing smells you can imagine. Usually they are green inside, and the scent lingers a LONG, long time. I'd liken it to the same amount of time skunk scent lasts---only dare I say, it's even worse?
We allowed Little Lady to hang out with her babies for a couple days, but then we had a very cold snap. Mr. V. and I brought those fluffy little cuties into the house, where they are now residing by the fireplace and being allowed to swim around in the kitchen sink.
Little Lady is back out with the poultry population, and Caspar is VERY happy to see her again.
And they lived Happily Ever After....
Seriously, Though---Final Thoughts
I love experimenting. As long as nobody is getting hurt---why not? Mr. V. and I laughed together when we allowed her to sit on both kinds of eggs, because we really didn't think we'd get DUCKLINGS, for Pete's Sake.
For sure, we thought there'd be turkey chicks....but we were wrong on both counts. So now we have two more ducklings to add to our little duckling flock of four, making six total.
If you haven't been getting the newsletter, then you'll not know we are planning on moving, and you can find out more here: Getting Out of Dodge. One of the many reasons is that we REALLY need more space. We're on less than an acre, and it's just time to go and get some pasture and room for our animal family.
One thing I love about homesteading is the experimentation part. You learn as you go. You learn as you do. You get an idea, you try it out....and maybe it works and maybe it doesn't---but you learn. There is something totally fulfilling about learning something on your own that doesn't come from a textbook. And you can do that anywhere you live! Just saying.
I'd love to hear your thoughts! Comments, questions you might have....have you ever had a bird hatch something not of its own breed?
Thanks for being here! I appreciate you!
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
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