Heritage Breed – Rouen Ducks

A couple of our Rouen hens have decided to set a clutch of eggs. Most domestic duck eggs will hatch in about 28 days.
The hens are working as a tag team and taking turns sitting on the nest.

Sometimes both of them will try to sit on the nest at the same time.

 Rouen Hens

Two Rouen Hens On A Nest

Often the drake or another hen will come into the nesting area to check out the egg progress and to give encouragement to the setting hens.
28 days is a long time to be sitting in once place. The hens will get off the nest maybe once or twice a day but they never travel far. They are off the nest just long enough to eat, drink and to stretch their legs.
I’ve noticed that the hens have rolled some of the eggs out of the nest and have discarded them. They must be bad eggs.

Rouen Drake and Hens

Rouen Hens With A Drake

I can’t remember how long ago the hens started setting the eggs so I have no idea when to expect ducklings. I would think within the next 10 days or so.
Broody ducks get treated with lots of respect around here. Ducks are in my opinion the most helpless and docile of all farm animals except when their maternal instincts kick in.

Rouen Ducks

Rouen Ducks In April

It has been my experience that a duck setting a nest or mothering new ducklings can be very aggressive and will attack humans if they feel threatened.
I wouldn’t dare try to move the above hens without wearing long sleeves, gloves and something covering my face.
When ducks attack they explode into action. Ducks will hiss, peck hard, grip onto clothing or skin with their bills and won’t let go when alarmed. They’ll also try to beat the perceived threat with their wings.
A duck attack can leave a human bloody.

Rouen ducks are a heavy and large breed of duck that originated in France. They have a color pattern similar to mallard ducks and are popular with the Slow Food people and gourmet chefs.
Rouen ducks are listed with the American Breeds Livestock Conservancy and they have a breed status of “Watch” .
When we first started raising Rouens they had a “Critical status” and were definitely not as popular as they are today.