Caring For A Broody Duck
Allowing a duck to sit on eggs and attempt to hatch them can be a fun and educational experience for you. Going “broody” is the term used to describe letting a chicken, duck, or any other type of poultry set on eggs.
How to Make A Duck Go Broody
Instead of simply giving a female duck some eggs in the hopes that she will make a nest for them and sit on it, you’ll want to make sure she’s broody first. In reality, we cannot make a duck, chicken or any other bird go broody and want to sit on eggs. But there are a few things we need to know and things we can do to encourage her to do so.
First, make sure it’s the right time of the year. Longer day length signals to most birds that it’s time to have babies. Early spring to mid-summer is the best time. Then, give her a few secluded nesting spots that are away from the rest of the flock but still secure from predators.
The Broody Trigger
Once the duck is laying eggs in a chosen spot, don’t lock her away from the rest of the flock just yet. By leaving the eggs in the nest, and not collecting them for several days, you can help trigger her to go broody. The sight of a nest full of eggs is another trigger for encouraging broodiness. When she’s broody, she won’t leave the nest and may “hiss” at you when you look in to check on her. Once you are certain she is broody and stays in her chosen spot all the time, you can then secure the spot from the rest of the flock and predators if needed.
If you want your broody duck to hatch purchased eggs, simply swap out your eggs for hers in the nest.
A broody duck will only get off the nest once per day to get a quick bite to eat and take a speedy bath. She does still need to have access to a daily bathing spot. Broody ducks are more likely to get external parasites if they are not allowed to swim. Ducks are usually attentive, persistent mothers and require little more from us than to have a secure spot and be left alone with food and a wading spot.
In my experience, having a broody duck is much easier than having a broody chicken. Ducks are usually great mothers and are quite dedicated to their nest and subsequent hatchlings when given a chance. Leave us a comment below and let us know about your experience with having a broody duck.
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I have a female mallard (ordered from a hatchery) and I’ve tried so hard to get her to go broody, I’ve left the eggs in a nest box where she’s laying, I made sure it’s dark, left nesting materials, and she’s created a nest but no down over the eggs which would imply broodiness. There are 12 in the nest now and depending on when this comment is answered there will be more. She’s a small duck but she keeps laying eggs there but won’t sit. How much longer will it take for her to want to sit on them?
Also is there any way I could speed up the process? It’s probably been close to 2 weeks worth of eggs and no sitting. I don’t want them to go bad before she even starts
Hello CMD. Thank you for reading our blog! There’s really no way to “force” a duck (or any bird) to go broody. The lengthening days and seeing a nest full of eggs are what usually triggers the instinct, but domestic animals can be tricky, and not all of them will go broody. It sounds like you’ve given her everything possible to allow her to go broody, except for more time. Wait her out and see what happens, only time will tell now.
Thank you for the response, I appreciate it, and I’ll try to be more patient. One thing I realized is that my other hen (blue runner) is laying in the same nest box, everyday. Could this be a reason my Mallard won’t go broody, since some are not her eggs?
CMPd, not likely that 2 ducks laying in the same nest would prevent a duck from going broody.
I have one that will sit on the nest 1/2 the day then about 2pm get off for 5-6 hours. And usually only has one egg under her. And then I have another that sits on a nest for a few hours in the morning and while there she chases all the rest away. Are either one broody?
Hi Shari. From what you describe, it doesn’t sound like either of them are broody.