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We specialize in raising the effervescent call duck. We breed grey and white calls. Our ducks are used to people moving around them, and do not startle easily. They enjoy basking in the sun, preening their feathers, and swimming in their small pond. We make sure they receive greens, and they always obtain layer ration and cracked corn, a favorite for them. Call ducks are excellent flyers, but are quite tame, and once they get to know you and the area that is their home, they have a tendency to remain close by. We have had call ducks "call in" flocks of geese flying overhead, who try to land in the small pond with the ducks, but much to their dismay, are too large to maneuver themselves into the small area of water between huge trees.
Each spring, just as the snow is starting to leave permanently, the hens become very diligent mothers, and most of our duckings are hatched "Mother Nature's Way", with the ducks doing all the hard work. Call ducks are amazing mothers, and will defend their ducklings against cats, and even the helping hands of their humans. Such great spirit in such small birds is always inspiring. Often, the mothers co-operate, building a huge communal nest, and then taking turns incubating their large brood. If you have ever seen a brooding call duck hen, you will definitely agree that the far away look she gets in her eye is indicative of her determination to sit on her eggs at any cost. I always imagine that she is in some far-away land, enjoying the feel of warm water around her, and picturing her ducklings surrounding her.
As the ducklings hatch, the call duck hen busily talks to them, and very quickly, takes them outside to peck at food, and have a long drink of water. Ducklings are amazing creatures. Only a few hours old, and they can already withstand the cool air temperatures that they encounter, even if it is for only a few minutes. When they have had enough, they quickly pile under the mother duck, to warm up. And then they are off exploring again. When duck eggs are incubated artificially, I have found that people tend to keep brooder temperatures much too high for ducklings, making them rather soft and unprepared for ambient air temperatures. By one week of age, ducklings are normally out from under the mother for an hour at a time, or more, but in the brooder, they are still under 80 to 90 degree temperatures constantly. That's why naturally hatched ducklings are much more hardy than those hatched in incubators.
Snowy calls enjoying a leisurely swim with their ducklings.
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Laura Browne, R.R.#1, Carstairs, Alta., Canada TOM ONO