Ask the Swan Specialist
Date: 9 April 2015
There is NO reputable swan breeder or swan caretaker who would sell you cygnets 3 weeks old and then tell you that you can place them in the pond at 3 months of age. Apparently, an unscrupulous breeder, and we have seen many, has taken advantage of the lack of any swan laws prohibiting the sale of a cygnet prior to 6 months of age. In the state of Florida, you cannot take a puppy from its mother prior to 4 weeks of age. But, again there are no such laws for taking young cygnets from their parents. So, you are now going to be left with the dubious honor of assuming the role of parent swan to these little ones for the next 4-6 months.
Because the cygnet’s waterproofing and mature feathers will not develop for several weeks to months depending on the individual bird, you cannot drop them off into the pond to fend for themselves. They will drown or be predated by predators looking for an easy meal. These cygnets were never taught by their parents how to care for themselves on the pond. Therefore, they can never be placed on any pond unless it is completely fenced and the cygnets are brought indoors at night. They will perish otherwise. The earliest you can place them in a pen to introduce them to the pond would be 4-6 months of age. Again, the pen must be totally encompassed top to bottom so that no predators can access the birds.
A reputable swan breeder Would Not state that the cygnets are male or female at 3 months of age unless a DNA sequencing test was conducted by a reputable laboratory. Then, you would have received the paperwork. We are assuming that this also did not occur. You cannot just look at a cygnet and determine the gender at this young of an age. You might get lucky, but there are no guarantees. Probing is another form of sexing. Probing done prior to one year of age may or may not give you the gender. We have seen many individuals probe swans at 6 months of age, state the gender and find out in 6 more months that the genitalia was not formed at the earlier age. So, probing can be just as unreliable when the penile node is not developed. You need to ask the person from whom you bought the cygnets to provide you with the laboratory DNA sequencing documentation. Since the sale has already been made, the unscrupulous breeder will probably state that he/she does not have to give you anything as you already bought the swans.
A reputable swan breeder Would have provided you further documentation regarding vaccinations, pinioning and any other veterinary care that may have been rendered to young swans. Are you sure the cygnets are pinioned? If they are not, they need to be pinioned before they get older as the procedure should be conducted 1-3 weeks of age. After this time, the procedure is hard on the swans, they have to be placed under anesthesia and some swans especially younger and older birds may not make it through the anesthesia. You will need to have an avian veterinarian exam the cygnets and determine if this procedure has been conducted. You need to do this ASAP. There is an exotic/avian veterinary group (Exotic DVM online) in the Ft. Lauderdale area.
Pinioning is required by state law and if your birds fly, you can be charged $500.00 a day per swan, the costs for the bullet and manpower used to kill them to prevent them from starting a feral population.
A reputable swan breeder Would have provided you written documentation that if anything happens to the young birds before a month of age, he/she would replace the birds. As much care as you may provide, young cygnets are fragile and there are no guarantees that they will make it one month of age. The unscrupulous breeder Will Not assume any responsibility if one or both of the cygnets die.
A reputable swan breeder Does Not sell cygnets at a young age and profess that the swans are hand raised by their children, the family, etc. There are NO guarantees that any handling of the cygnets by children or anyone else will determine its disposition as it gets older. Swans are not like ducks and geese, they cannot be readily domesticated. If there was only one cygnet, then you might have a more domesticated situation as the cygnet would possibly imprint on humans because it has no other swan (cygnet) to relate.
A reputable swan breeder Will work with you to help you develop a safe, secure and adequate habitat for your swans.
We know that this information is rather disconcerting, but it is our responsibility to be truthful and as informative as possible. It is not only fair to protect you as the consumer, but the swans and other wildlife that others may take advantage.
If you feel like you have been sold cygnets by an unscrupulous breeder without proper documentation or any other concerns, PLEASE contact and report this breeder to your local Better Business Bureau and Wildlife officials to let them investigate and shut down this swan mill. And, this is exactly what it is, not a puppy mill, a swan mill. The Regal Swan