Crested breeds are the result of a genetic defect, a gap in the skull that is covered by fatty tissue and feathers. Peanut's mother had a small crest. The only way to perpetuate crested breeds without giving rise to neurological disorders is to breed a homozygous carrier to a heterozygous carrier. The resulting hatch will have 50% crests, 25% non-crested carriers, and 25% non-crested non carriers.
Peanut's slow start may be due to an early hatch or may be related to the crest. Whatever the cause, I spent yesterday with a tiny duckling curled up against my chest. Sometimes I think babies need a break from the struggle. Birth is exhausting work, they need a rest, they need someone to take over while they gather their reserves and adjust to the outside world. There's a point at which we must let go. They're either going to make it or they won't. They have to choose to live. With a kiss on the tiny head, I placed Peanut into a small box under the heat lamp and went to bed. This morning I found the quartet of healthy ducklings snuggled up to Peanut's box. Inside, a much happier, fluffier duckling peered up at me.
According to Mary, Eggspert on All Things Chick, they have three or four days to decide whether or not life is a lemon. If you can get them past 72 hours, chances are they'll make it. Peanut has been alive for 22 hours, has managed to get dry, fluffed, and largely self-regulated, is able to stand and take a few steps, and hold its own with its larger siblings. We need to get the eating/drinking thing down before that clock runs out, because 72 hours also marks the end of the precious reserves the chick absorbed from its shell.
I try to be pragmatic. Realistically not everything can live - duckling #6 died in its shell because it pipped the wrong end, drowned in its yolk instead of reaching the air bubble. But I watched Peanut struggle for over 24 hours to successfully enter the world. I cradled it next to me for another eight hours. That counts for something, feeling a baby's breath against your heartbeat. Welcome to Ballyhoo, Peanut. I won't give up if you don't give up.