Bluebell has been sitting on a nest of eggs for what seems like months now.

Her first attempt didn't work out, and she threw all of the eggs out of the nest and started over. Thankfully this round gave her 5 adorable, fluffy little ducklings! They are mutt ducks (the polite term is "barnyard mix" I believe) but she loves them all the same.

When you have an adult hen hatch some ducklings, your involvement isn't nearly as exhausting as with ducklings you raise in a brooder. (See my post: How to Raise Ducklings) Blue is keeping her ducklings warm, she leads them to eat and drink, and she will teach them to forage. In fact, there are only two things I needed to do:

Duckling safe water and food dishes. The adult ducks drink out of buckets, but the ducklings are too small to do this. You don't want to give them a water dish that is deep enough for them to drown in - and you don't want it to be easy to tip over, either. The ducklings love to get into the water dish but it must have low enough sides that they can get back out easily. A duckling that gets trapped in the water will get too cold and die of exposure. Food dishes should be similarly low sided and stable - I feed ducklings chick starter just like you would feed chicks. In the photo below you see the duckling's water tank, this holds almost a gallon of water and it has a shallow lip (the red part) so that they can easily drink without getting trapped in the water.

A safe place to grow. Even with Blue's protection, the ducklings are susceptible to a variety of dangers. They could get stepped on by other ducks or some of the larger farm animals, they could get eaten by predators like raccoons and opossum, they could fall into holes, ditches, or other ground obstacles in the pasture and barnyard. To head all of this off, I moved Blue and her brood into the kidding pen. It's empty until October, so she can safely raise her ducklings inside without interference from other animals, predators, or nature's topography. When they are a few weeks old she will be allowed to take them out of the kidding pen, and when they are six weeks old they will go live in the barnyard with everyone else. In the photo below see the little brick step I put next to the stall door so the ducklings could easily get in and out of the sheltering barn. Watch for big steps like this that might need modification for tiny duckling feet. Ducklings do jump and jump very well - they do better with steps like this than with a ramp.