Finally, on Day 31, after the excitement of hatching, nine of our ducklings had dried out and fluffed up and were ready to be taken out of the incubator.

We put them out on the tray to explore. We love the pictures of the little yellow duckling (bottom left hand side) waddling along and were fascinated how much their bodies sway from side to side as they walk.

As always, Finny was keen to have the ducklings first. He’s always the right balance of confidence, he’s calmly assured, whereas Cian is overexcited and overconfident and Ioan is always a bit anxious about hurting any living creatures.

Once the ducklings had hopped on to the tray, Cian took Finny’s place. We’d demonstrated how to pick up the ducklings gently and calmly.

The ducklings all waddled over to Ioan and jumped on to him.

We got some of the duckling feed out and the ducklings all crowded round.

The boys loved feeding them by hand.

The time had come to transport the ducklings back to the farm where they would live. Cian found the thought of the ducklings leaving very hard, but we reminded him that we were only hatching them in the incubator because the Mummy duck wasn’t very good at hatching them herself.

These eggs, come from a farm with free range chickens and ducks. They are mainly Aylesbury duck eggs. In this breed, the mother ducks often don’t go broody and sit on the eggs, so they have to be hatched artificially. The ducklings will then be returned to the farm and live happily.

We promised we’d go with the ducklings and visit the chicks that we hatched last year. This was one of them today, at 9 months old.

It’s funny seeing the chicks look like fully fledged hens, or in this case a rooster. As Cian said, “He grown too big!”

These were some more of our chicks today at 9 months old.

There is nothing they love more than feeding the chickens and ducks and collecting the eggs.

They are well and truly in their happy place here.

Time for one last egg collection, then time to say goodbye to our ducklings and see if there had been any progress with the remaining two eggs.

When we got home the black duckling had hatched and by that evening the final duckling was zipping (see post on ducklings hatching for more details on the hatching process).

By now the incubator was looking a bit dirty from hatching 10 (soon to be 11!) ducklings. We couldn’t clean it before these two ducklings hatched because when you take the lid off the incubator all the warm moist air is let out immediately. Once the eggs are pipping and hatching, a drop in humidity will cause the membranes to shrink and trap the chick inside. We had a very short window to remove the previous ducklings before these two started pipping.

Ioan was there with a constant stream of encouragement.

The eleventh duckling trying to stand.

The following day, we took the two ducklings into the garden to enjoy some of the gorgeous May sunshine.

Cici enjoyed telling us what he had named his ducklings. His were Dilly Dally, Dib Dab and Cici. Finny’s were Barry, Ducky and Cheep Cheep. Ioan’s were Dillo, Dollo and Dallo. Our two newest additions were Disco and The Dude.

I think Cian’s phrase, “Here y’go ducky…” will be one of my strongest memories of this experience. We’ve heard it a lot this past few days!

We offered the ducklings food and water.

Cici was showing how to hold the duckling gently.

He had a shock when he was lying down and a duckling jumped up on to his tummy, and just as quickly back off again!

Cian brought ‘Mummy Duck’ to see Disco and The Dude. Finny had made his own Mummy to show to them.

Then it was back to the farm to reunite all the ducklings and Cian was soon back on feeding duties.

When the grown ducks were flocking around Ioan, it was a very different sight to with the ducklings.

Happy boys and birds, after another fantastic hatching experience.

DfES Outcomes for EYFS and National Curriculum (2013)

Science Year 1 programme of study

Animals, including humans

  • identify and name a variety of common animals including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals

Science Year 2 programme of study

Living things and their habitats

  • identify that most living things live in habitats to which they are suited and describe how different habitats provide for the basic needs of different kinds of animals and plants, and how they depend on each other
  • identify and name a variety of plants and animals in their habitats, including micro-habitats