My wife and I keep pet birds, outdoor birds, not house pets. In the past we kept chickens only for eggs (having no rooster), and tried to raise baby pheasants. The pheasants didn’t raise any chicks, so we went with something easier, doves, and ducks.
Our first year with raising young pet birds was 2010 when we acquired a pair of proven Call Ducks. I also bought a trio of ring necked doves. It is easy to tell the gender of the ducks, the male had a typical Mallard duck pattern, while the female was more plain – suited for blending into the environment when raising ducklings. We were not sure of the gender of the doves and could only hope there was really a female in the bunch (sometimes birds are sold as trios turn out to be all males, or all females, but really should be 2 females, 1 male).
The ducks have raised ducklings now for two years in a row. The first year they had 6 ducklings, but lost one right away as it drowned. We feel bad but had no idea that ducklings can drown – the feathers become water logged.
The following year (2011), they had 3 ducklings but one got separated by the tall grass and died overnight when it was not able to keep warm. Normally they would hatch more eggs but many nights while she was laying eggs temperatures got very cold so the eggs would not have survived. Ducks (and most birds) lay many eggs before sitting on them so the eggs laid earliest would have been exposed to cold temperatures.
Incubation Period for Ducks is 28 days. These are our pet Call ducks.
Doves always lay two eggs, but both eggs do not always hatch. In the case of our birds, they did hatch one egg. Doves are a bit different from ducks and chickens because they feed their babies with something called crop milk. They spit this into the youngsters mouth. Their young are more helpless than that of a duck, or chicken, and the crop milk helps them grow very fast.
Incubation Period for Doves is 14 days. This is a baby ring necked doves.
In 2011 I bought a pair of bantam Cochin chickens. For a while it didn’t look like we were going to get any chicks. While the hen was laying eggs consistently, weeks passed without her showing interest on sitting on them. Finally one day we didn’t see her in the pen, and realized at last she was brooding the eggs (sitting on them to keep them warm).
The eggs hatched into nine wonderful little chicks on July 12, 2011. The chicks were kept in the coop for the first couple of days, but mother hen took them for a walk on the third day. Since the chickens are bantams, the chicks are very tiny, about 2 inches tall at birth, but they will grow quickly. We assume they will be black like their parents, but this is our first time with chicks.
Incubation Period for Chickens is 21 days. These are our pet bantam Cochin chickens.
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I want to warn people who might think that getting these animals for pets would be a good idea. I have 10 acres, and have time to spend with the animals. I know about their care, and even we have had some die. Sadly when people get pets that they know nothing about (chicks for Easter) death is all too common.
Published in: Rural Living