Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Raising Ducklings

Ducks are a great way to keep pests under control. They love creepy crawlies that make most of us cringe. They are sweet birds, but before you run off to buy your little, fuzzy baby there are a few things to think about before you bring home a cute nightmare.

Duck Facts
Ducks are messy. Plain and truthful. Ducklings stink. These adorable birds tend to spatter every liquid all over them and anything close to them. They will desecrate all things within four feet of them if contained with a supply of water and feed so be prepared for cleaning up a lot of messes.

Early Duckling Care
Fresh hatched ducklings will need a heat lamp like baby chicks do for their first few weeks of life. Adjust the height of the lamp so the ducks have a warm area on one end of their nursery and a cooler section on the other. If they avoid the heat area it is too hot. If they huddle under it - it is too cool.

Feeding Schedule
Offer feed and water every two hours or so to cut down on feed waste and watery messes. A separate feeding area would be ideal when ducks are in the early stages. They are like bad little kids and they will take every opportunity to create a mud puddle and stomp in it.

Housing Ducklings
I tried four options before I found an efficient way to keep my ducks tidy. I tried pine shavings. I tried dirt. I tried puppy training pads in a tote and in a kiddie pool. I finally set them in my bathtub. This final solution kept my sanity in tact.

Cleaning up after a duck is smelly and wet work. The shower and tub proved to be a great option. When some of their feathers began showing, they were ready for light showers and dips in deeper water.

*Please, supervise small ducklings when introducing them to water their first few weeks. They can drown if they are in deeper water than they can stand up in.*

The tub works wonderfully. This can be mimicked in an outdoor area that is secure from adult ducks and predators. They'll need a containment system that can be hosed out and a place they can dry off. Youngster ducks do not produce the oils necessary to protect their feathers so wait until their fuzz turns feathered before allowing extended swim time. 10 minute dips are fine when they are babies. Towel dry them off in the early development stages.

Ducklings with Pine Shred Bedding

Ducklings with Training Pads

Ducklings in the Tub

Water a Deep Necessity
Adequate water depth in a dish will insure your duckling gets the amounts of water it needs. Ducks will dunk their whole face in the water container. It does this to wash food down and to clear sinus and eye ducts. Keep plenty available for them and keep it clean best you can.

Nutrients for Feeding
Vitamins and minerals are very important to any living thing. Adding a poultry supplement like Nutridrench is a great way to get your little water birds off to a great start. I dribble about 6 drops into my duck's water dish in the mornings. One of my birds actually dives for the brown drops!

Niacin for Duck Health
Niacin is an essential nutrient that helps keep young ducks on the right track. I sprikle niacin powder in the water once a day and they drink it down. Niacin contibutes to strong feather growth and health growth. It can be found in flakes and in health powders like brewers yeast. I use capsules as they were all that was available to me.

Proper Feed
Chick starter crumbles is the best way to start your duck in the right nutritional direction. Be sure to avoid feeding the medicated formula. Past mixes were deadly to young ducks. Non-medicated is good feed for the first month or so.

After a few weeks, mix a little flock raiser in with the starter feed. This helps the transition to adult blends. Adding a bit of meat bird formula might help their protein intake, but don't give them much. Too many protein points isn't good for that young bird.

First Aid Kit for Ducks
Your cutie pie is going to need first aid care for one reason or another - eventually. Keep a bottle of Vetricin handy. This is a great product for wound care. It is easy to use and helps heal cuts and wounds quickly. Bandages aren't necessary. A duck won't keep them on long. You can try to use a self sticking wrap, but that usually gets taken off after an hour or so. Simple care of cuts or abrasions is the same as human first aid. Clean the area. Administer antibiotic ointment and tend often. They are resilient creatures. Consult a professional if something beyond a simple first aid kit arises.

Duck Housing
After a month or so, your ducklings are going to be medium sized and need more than a small tub for their living environment. An enclosed run and a shallow pool is great for daytime activity. At night, consider a small duck house for them to slumber in. Protecting them from possible preditor and extreme conditions makes for a healthy duck.

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, April 9, 2018

Spring Into Raising Chickens

Baby chicks with tray feeder
Baby Chicks with Tray Feeder

The weather is warming up and the appearance of baby chick in the feed stores signals Spring is here. Chicks are fuzzy, little packages of cuteness, but they are fragile and need a measure of care in their first few weeks of life to grow them to healthy adult stage. Before you bring that adorable birdie home, make sure to have all the elements the baby's home will need before it arrives.

Brooder Box Equipment
A brooder is the first home a chick knows once it is hatched via an incubator. Caging properly is essential to keeping baby chickens safe and comfortable. A naturally hatched bird would be tended by its mother hen and an ideal brooder simulates this condition. A stable temperature and clean bedding means a healthy bird and environment.

Many people use a large cardboard box for a brooder and this can be good if you are around to supervise continually. They can be easy to clean - just throw the soiled area away.

A large plastic tub works well, but would needs air holes drilled every so many inches around the chick's head height. Drill several holes in a succession about five inches from the floor level. Two to three rows should provide adequate ventilation. The lid may be fixed with a window of hardware mesh or left open. Do NOT affix a solid top to the bin. Chicks will suffocate quickly. Clean and replace bedding often.

Pine shreds are ideal small animal bedding.

Provide Adequate Warmth
Until recently, a standard heat lamp bulb was personally used in the brooders. The heat lamp provides steady warmth and light, however, the issue of light 24 hours is not an ideal situation for budding chickens. Comfortable heat without illumination would be preferable. The chicks need a given period of darkness for them to properly rest. A good sleep helps living beings regenerate and heal their tissues and nervous system. It also allows for the body organs to fully flush toxins.

Ceramic bulbs allow for steady heat without light and are safer for a coop or cage. They do not have a heat element or a glass fixture subject to malfunction or fure hazard. Affixing one of these clever bulbs is as easy as screwing a regular bulb in.

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Adjust the exposure by using a thermometer in the rest or heat area. Ideally, cage temps should be slightly higher on one end (95° F) and cooler on the other (89° F) so the tender creatures may adjust as needed. This author places water and feed containers in the cool side so that the warm section has plenty of resting space.

If the chicks are steering away from the warm area, adjust the lamp distance. The area may be too hot. In contrast, if the chicks are huddled together, the area is too cool.

Feeding Young Chicks
Young chicks have a varocious appetite. They consume chick starter it seems almost as fast as you can put it in the feeding trough or dispenser. A good recommendation for feed is one quart sized feeder per 6 birds. This dozen are wiping out their fresh supply in about an hours time. They will let you know when it runs out. Their peeping sounds will get your attention! Medicated feed is not used with this flock. The start and grow is sufficient to sustain them and help keep them fed.

If you have enough room, the strip type container is ideal, but the bottle dispenser is easier to tend to. Keeping several feed bottles ready to go is another advantage of this type of feeder. The tops of the strip type tend to get messy from perching chicks.

Meat type bird will tend to devour feed quickly. They are specially designed by Nature to increase in weight quickly which means a very active appetite. Feed may have to be rationed and birds separated into like groups.

Brooder, Cage, and Coop Sanitation
Keeping a brooder clean is a daily task. Remove droppings often and change bedding every few days as needed. The plastic tub may be sanitized with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. Bleach may be used for disinfecting, but vinegar is easier on the senses and does just as good a job. Leave a light mist on the sides and base of the container after wiping away debris for full disinfection. Allow it to dry naturally. Place birds in a temporarily holding area until this task is completed.

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, September 9, 2016

Watermelon Vines Cover the Desert Floor

Watermelon vines have taken hold in my backyard and I couldn't be more delighted. The fabulous fruit is a personal favorite and to have it growing live in my garden is a sweet event. I'll say this in the dear old southern granny voice, "It just makes ma heart swell!"

Last week's count of established and newly forming fruit numbered over two dozen. The monstrous patch of leaves is covering a former corn bed that is seven feet by seven feet and furrowed like real farm rows. The channels allow for deep watering and saturation to direct moisture to thirsty roots. These wonderful fruits require a lot of water, especially during the very hot months. The melon plants are hearty, cool leafy strings with bulging striped fruits. Their beginnings were just a few seeds in a couple of small pots. What I have now is the equivalent of a mini-jungle.

The flowers are tended neatly by bees and flying nectar loving things. The flowers on the vines are abuzz with bee activity early in the mornings just after sunrise. Attracting these important creatures is key for any successful planting. Once the bees know that you have these sweet flowers they will visit faithfully. Their presence means healthy fruit!

Watermelon Plants - Starter Pots

Recent Garden Tour

Allow me to introduce you to my backyard urban farm. 
Walk along with me and my chickens as we inspect a few things around the garden beds. 
The watermelon patch is highlighted for bragging rights. 

I believe these watermelons are Sugar Babies, but I may be wrong. They look more like the Crimson Sweet watermelons below. There are a wide variety of the fruit vines on the market. Plant them in late April in Nevada and watch the melon magic begin! Watermelons take up a lot of space so be careful where you plant them. The vines will need to stretch 15 to 20 feet all around the planting area. They will climb over and around everything in their path.

Order seeds for your next garden here at Direct Gardening. Most of them are under a dollar for the basics and quite affordable for more exotic varieties. Once these get going, collect the seeds from the melons and save for the future crops. The ideal seeds are the darker, mature ones. They are usually fatter than the rest of the seeds in the fruit. This is true of most seeds in fruit and vegetable varieties. Ask people to be considerate that are eating the fresh melon and spit the seeds in a pre-planned watermelon area so the yard doesn't end up with wandering vines. 

Crimson Sweet Watermelon