Friday, November 17, 2017

Treats Your Ducks Will Love!


Whether they are farm animals or pets, treats are enjoyed by all. Ducks are no different. Want to make their day? Listed below are our Top 5 Treats Your Ducks Will Love. After dispensing these treats, you'll believe your ducks are better fed than you are!

Word of Note

Remember, these are treats and should not be a large part of your ducks' daily feed. Doing so can and will unbalance their nutritional intake from their regular feed.

Snails, Bugs and Slugs

Ducks love slugs, snails, flies, earwigs – you name it, they'll eat it. We notice fewer flies in our duck buildings than our goose buildings because ducks chase after them! We have even sold ducks to citrus orchards to keep snails under control. They are especially good at eating mosquitoes, ticks, and other pesky insects, so they double as bug control. If your birds can't go after the bugs, you can always take the bugs to them. Collect all those snails and dump them in the duck pen. They will be gone almost immediately. Or give them purchased treats such as crickets that can be found at many feed and pet stores.

If you really want to give the little guys a treat, worms are a fan favorite. We offer Happy Hen Treats which are freeze-dried meal worms! They slurp them up like spaghetti.

Fruits

Apples and grapes.
Strawberries, blueberries, grapes, bananas, apples, peaches, pears, and other such berries and fruits are amazing treats for your ducks. Make sure to cut them up into bite-sized pieces. Just stay away from the citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.

Melons are also a great treat. I have it on good authority that ducks love watermelon. So when you're having some during the summer, cut a slice for your ducks! They'll love you for it.

Vegetables

Corn, zucchini, and salad.
While vegetables could already be a part of your duck's daily diet, there are a few they especially like. Peas, lettuce, carrots, corn, swiss chard, cucumber, zucchini, leeks, cabbage, and other such green veggies are great treats.

Don't have veggies? Most yard cuttings such as grass and weeds are considered good eats. No need to worry about what to do with dandelions as they will gobble them up along with other edible flowers and weeds you have.

Dairy

Feeding eggs to ducks might seem counter intuitive, but they have a whole bunch of vitamins and proteins from which they can benefit. Give them a hard boiled egg and watch them go at it.

Meats

Beef and turkey cuts.
Meats are rich in protein and, while ducks can eat them, make sure to offer them sparingly. Small pieces of cooked chicken, beef, and pork are excellent little tidbits for them to eat. Fish is, of course, a favorite.

Want to let your ducks have some fun? Release some feeder fish like mosquito fish or tiny minnows into a kiddy pool and let them dive after the critters. Food and exercise at the same time!


Friday, November 10, 2017

Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Other Items to Consider


Welcome back to our series of posts to help you get ready BEFORE your ducklings and goslings arrive!

To read our post on the brooder and bedding, go to Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Brooder and Bedding.
To read our post on water and waterers, go to Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Water and Waterer.
To read our post on feed and feeders, go to Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Feed and Feeder.
 
Listed below are items that are not necessary, but are good things to have on hand for when your ducklings and goslings arrive.

Vitamin Packs and Electrolytes

When your ducklings and goslings arrive, they may have been on a rough trip. A vitamin/mineral pack mixed into the water gives them the vitamins and minerals they need for a quicker recovery. Pedialyte is an excellent alternative as it is designed to provide not only the necessary vitamins and minerals but also the necessary sugars and electrolytes. Do not worry about the amount as they can't have too much if you mix it correctly.

Pedialyte
Vitamin Pack
 A vitamin pack is also our go-to whenever there are issues that crop up with the ducklings or goslings, so having one on hand is a good safety net.

Sugar

I know what you're thinking.

Are you suggesting giving sugar to an animal?

Why are you suggesting giving sugar to an animal?

In the past we have suggested adding a small amount of sugar to water, just to help perk them up a bit. We ran an experiment a few years ago, however, and found that those that did not have sugar water actually did better.

However, there are several customers with whom we have spoken, including those that breed and raise birds, and sugar works like a charm for them. Take from that what you will.

If you decide to give them sugar, keep it to a minimum. We suggest about 1/4 cup or less to a quart of water.

Hardboiled Egg

Boil an egg, let it cool, chop it up, and let them at it. The vitamins and minerals in the yolk is what they really need. Chicken eggs are just fine if that is what you have on hand.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Heating


Welcome back to our series of posts to help you get ready BEFORE your ducklings and goslings arrive!

To read our post on the brooder and bedding, go to Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Brooder and Bedding.

To read our post on water and waterers, go to Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Water and Waterer.

To read our post on feed and feeders, go to Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Feed and Feeder.
 

Heating and Heating Lamp

Ducklings and goslings are vulnerable after hatching and require a source of heat for a period of time. Originally, this was mama duck's job, but as there is no mama duck, you will have to find another source of heat.


Heat lamps are the easiest and most common way of heating your brooder. Here on the farm we use and offer heat lamps with 150 watt bulbs. The hood is aluminum and has a ceramic setting. If you want to find your own bulb, we recommend finding a clear white bulb. You can use a red bulb (infrared), but those are used primarily for chicks to prevent cannibalism which is rarely seen in ducklings.
Heating lamp in our brooder room
Heat lamps can be hung using chains from the ceiling or clamped onto a wall of the brooder. Temperature is controlled by lowering and raising the lamp. In the picture above, we have cut out notches in an aluminum flat bar and attached them to heat lamps to easily move them up and down.

We typically suggest starting at 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit under the heat lamp, but if you live in a warm area you may only need to turn on the lamp at night. It typically takes about a month or so for ducklings and goslings to start growing in their feathers. You can normally shut off supplemental heat within two to three weeks.

Make sure the heat source is off to the side so that they can leave the heat to cool off if they want. The important thing is to observe them. If they start huddling, you know they need more heat. If they stay away from the heat lamp, you can raise or remove it. If they start panting, then they are too warm and you can remove the heat lamp.

Brooder Thermometer

In order to know the temperature of your brooder, we suggest using a thermometer like the one we offer.

Warning!

Heat lamps can be a fire hazard if improperly handled.

Alternatives
If you decide a heat lamp is not for you, you can try a BrinseaEcoGlow Brooder. They make two sizes and Brinsea claims they are safer as they use 12 volt power for heating.


Hot water bottle and knit cover.
For those with no electricity, hot water bottles covered by towels are an effective alternative. Just be sure to switch out the water as the bottles cool, especially during the night.

We encourage you to get creative. There are many different ways of setting up your heat source.

What setup do you use?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Feed and Feeder


Welcome back to our series of posts to help you get ready BEFORE your ducklings and goslings arrive!

To read our post on the brooder and bedding, go to Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Brooder and Bedding.

To read our post on water and waterers, go to Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Water and Waterer.

Feed

A lot of people, especially first time duck owners, do not know what to feed their ducklings. That's fine though. We're happy to educate those that don't know.


Newly hatched ducklings and goslings need crumble starter feed as shown above which has at least 20% crude protein. Ideally you would find starter feed specifically formulated for waterfowl, but starter feed for chickens is fine so long as it has at least 20% crude protein. Any less and there can be growth problems in the future.

We do offer bags of waterfowl starter feed, but we do suggest visiting your local feed store first as shipping is expensive.

Feeder

Using a chick feeder allows them to get at the food, but not allow them to walk in it. This type of feeder will need to be exchanged for something bigger as they grow.

Feeder elevated on a 2x4. The feeder can be replaced with a shallow dish.
A shallow dish to hold the feed will work fine, but it gives the ducklings and goslings the ability to hop in and make a mess. Raising it up with a brick or block is an option - at least until they are older.

We offer feeders as well, but we still suggest visiting your local feed store first.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Water and Waterer


Welcome back to our series of posts to help you get ready BEFORE your ducklings and goslings arrive!

To read our post on the brooder and bedding, go to Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Brooder and Bedding.


Water

Water is the source of life. Regardless of when they arrive, make sure to get your baby birds to drinking water ASAP.



Dip their beaks in the water then leave them by the water. Make sure they tilt their head back so you know they drank. They will figure it out from there. Ensure they have access to the water at all times.

Waterer
The best way to provide water is to use a chick waterer. A tank sits on the top and slowly lets water into the small trough that circles the bottom. The trough is just big enough for the ducklings to get their tiny bills into it. They will need something bigger as they grow, but this is a good starting point.

Waterer assembled.
Waterer disassembled.
Some people try to use a shallow dish but this has two problems:
1) the ducklings can get in it and get themselves and their pen very wet.
2) there is not much of reserve of water – you will be repeatedly refilling it.
But if you must use a dish, elevate it with blocks of wood so they cannot walk in it.

Shallow dish on a 2 inch high octagonal piece of wood. The screws are there to keep the dish in place so that the ducklings do not knock it off.
You can also find this or similar at your local feed store. We also offer waterers on our website.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Getting Ready for Your Ducklings and Goslings: Brooder and Bedding


BEFORE your ducklings and goslings arrive, there is a lot to do and we understand that prep can be stressful for new duck owners. We are here to help! Future posts will cover more of what you will need including feed, water, heating, and things to have on hand for your ducklings and goslings upon their arrival.

Brooder
 
 This is a kiddie pool brooder with wood shavings. Please note that brooders should be in a well sheltered area, not outside.

The brooder is where the ducklings and goslings will stay for the first few weeks in their new home. A brooder can be anything from a box to a kiddie pool so long as they cannot escape and they have enough room to run.

No matter if you get two or eight ducklings, start with a space about 2’x2’. For each duckling over eight, add ½ square foot. Double these numbers for goslings.

Baby ducklings grow quickly! As they grow, however, the space needed grows with them. By three weeks, the minimum space for ducklings is 4’x4’ and an additional 2 square feet for each duckling over eight is required. Again, double the space for goslings.

Bedding

Hay and orchard grass.

The bedding in the brooder is important. Keeping the growing ducklings and goslings on a slick surface can cause them to develop splayed legs.

Splayed legs is where the ducklings and goslings legs stick out to either side and they cannot stand or walk.

We recommend that the material be hay, straw, or wood shavings as they provide easy cleanup and absorb moisture. While sawdust might seem like a good substitute, the ducklings may decide to eat it which is not good for their health.

Our brooder room setup.

Another alternative is ½ inch hardware cloth. This is fine for the first few weeks, but extended use of the hardware cloth can cause problems and discomfort for the ducks later.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Supplying Food and Water in the Hatcher?

Less than one year ago, a company from the Netherlands, Hatchtech, introduced a new type of hatcher. What is so special about this hatcher? It has food and water in the hatcher so the birds can start eating and drinking immediately after hatching – and not have to wait for all birds to hatch and be transported to the farm!
Eggs ready to hatch with feed in the back.
I know that most readers of this blog are not looking for incubators and hatchers that can hatch 70,000 chicks at a time but I was impressed with the novel concept and wanted to share it with my readers. Besides, with a little ingenuity, the concept can probably be incorporated into a small, hobby size hatcher, too!

Chick drinking its first water in the hatcher basket.
It is generally accepted that the natural hatch window (the time between the first bird hatching and the last bird hatching) is 24 to 36 hours. Normally, during this period, the newly hatched chicks have no access to water and feed. However, their bodies are in the process of intensive development, during which they need water to prevent dehydration and feed (energy) for basic maintenance and general growth and development.

Chicks starting to eat while others are still hatching.
In the special HatchCare Basket, there is water along two sides and feed troughs on two sides which contain enough feed for 24-36 hours. When chicks are able to start eating immediately after hatching, the feed helps move the residual yolk into the intestinal tract, naturally stimulating the absorption of the important nutrients it contains. In this way, the external feed provides the chicks with the energy it needs for basic maintenance, while the high-value nutrition of the yolk can be used for its most important purpose: critical organ and immune system development.

Normally in large hatcheries, the eggs are transferred from incubator trays (where the eggs are held individually) to hatching baskets (where all eggs are loose and lying on their side) before they are placed in the hatcher. With the HatchCare system, however, eggs are not placed loose in a basket, but are individually held - just as in the incubator trays. This prevents eggs from bumping into each other and developing cracks, which can often occur during handling of loose eggs in a basket. The point-down positioning also makes it easier for chicks to pip out of the shell and hatch. 



You can see in the egg arrangement that every egg has two openings beside it for the chick to escape to the HatchCare Basket below it.




In addition to food and water, HatchTech also provides a well lit hatcher, which means the chicks experience less stress when the hatcher door is opened and the hatcher is flooded with light. HatchCare also uses fan motors with a noise level that is 18% less than those traditionally used. The sound of the motor, which can also create anxiety in chicks, is reduced to just a soft hum.

The way the HatchCare Tray and HatchCare Basket fit together functions as a natural separator. The shells and unhatched eggs stay in the Tray and the chicks escape to the Basket. This makes the traditional mechanical separator, as well as the counting machine, completely redundant. To determine the number of newly hatched chicks in the HatchCare Basket, simply count the number of unhatched eggs left on the HatchCare Tray. When chicks do not have to be handled or put through automated machines in the processing area, it further reduces the stress effects – and associated energy loss – that chicks experience in traditional systems.

Chicks starting to hatch.  They will drop through the holes to dry in the basket below and start to eat and drink.
Chicks never have to leave the HatchCare Basket – with its integrated feeding troughs – from the moment of hatching to their arrival in the poultry house. This means it is possible to continue offering them feed and water during storage and transport as well. Chicks hatched and transported with traditional methods in large commercial hatcheries never see feed and water until they arrive at their final destination.  We, however, offer GroGel which gives nutrition to the ducklings and goslings of those customers that choose this option.

HatchTech feels that the combination of optimal temperatures, constant access to feed and water, and a generally more comfortable environment leads to healthier and stronger chicks – and this results in a lower mortality rate and a reduced need for antibiotics and other medicine throughout their lifetime.

If you would like to study this method more or are interested in their machines, you can go to the HatchTech website at: 

So did you ever think about providing food and water in your hatcher? Unique idea isn't it?  I don't even use these machines - but thought them interesting enough to share with you.