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Farmers have been using ducks
in Asia to help grow rice for centuries.
Once the rice gets to 25 days
old they start releasing ducks in small groups of 10 or 20 depending on
the size of the field.
Using this method avoids
costly pesticides and fertilizers and you get the duck eggs and meat
as a bonus. Maybe this process could be modified to work for
cranberries or some other kind of bog crop?
It seems like every
spring, one of our hens goes broody. Unfortunately, our success rate
with those broody hens has been close to nill.
we learned the hard way that the broody setup needs to be perfect. The
nest box should be on the ground so chicks can pop back inside easily if
they're chilled, and it definitely shouldn't be in a spot that can get
wet during rains.
Another year, a Cuckoo Marans did an admirable job hatching eight chicks
in an area she chose for herself in a little-used corner of the barn.
But we couldn't catch the hen and her chicks to move them
somewhere safer...and slowly but surely the chicks got picked off by a black rat snake.
several other years, we've missed the boat, watching a hen start to go
broody...and then watching her relinquish her mothering instincts when
we failed to set up a good nesting spot in time. So this year, I decided
to be proactive. Even though it's January and surely a terrible time to
be incubating eggs, when one of our Australorp mixes began hopping the
fence to hide her eggs in the garden, we set her up in an isolation coop
complete with nest basket, food, and water.
So far, she seems to be
settling in --- not clucking angrily about being separated from her
fellows, but instead spending time on the nest. I currently have five
golf balls in the basket to simulate a clutch, but if our hen begins
setting seriously, I'll replace the golf balls with fertilized eggs.
Perhaps this will be the year a broody hen comes through for us?
Youtube user 50 Ducks In A
Hot Tub has a clever video on how he converted an old
bath tub into something
his ducks can enjoy.
The drain pipe can be
directed toward a row of berries to take advantage of the rich duck
Pull on the black pipe that's
sticking up and the tub drains without the need for reaching in the
We've got a creek nearby our
ducks use during the Winter, but this tub would be a lot less work than
the 5 gallon bucket we used this past Summer.
We like to raise new hens every year for optimal egg-laying, and recently we've mostly started those chicks by hatching our homegrown eggs. However, last year I opted to branch out into ducks,
and that meant that we went into winter with a very small chicken flock
--- just three hens and a rooster. Since all four of our chickens are
siblings, I felt like that was too much of a genetic bottleneck, so I
opted to start from scratch this year rather than hatching our own
Of course, buying chicks
will also give me an opportunity to experiment with new breeds,
something I always enjoy! In addition to our tried-and-true Black Australorps,
we'll be experimenting with Dominiques, New Hampshire, Rhode Island
Red, and Buff Orpington this year. (The photo shows Buff Orpington
chicks at Cackle Hatchery, where we placed our order.) Here's why I
chose each new breed:
- Buff Orpington --- one of the parent strains of our beloved Australorps, good winter layers
- Dominique --- reputed to be excellent foragers and good winter layers
- Rhode Island Red --- very prolific, good winter layers
- New Hampshire --- good winter layers
To learn more about the breeds we've already tried and deemed wanting or perfect for the homestead, check out my ebook Thrifty Chicken Breeds.
And, in the meantime, if you're planning a chick order, be sure to put
it together sooner rather than later! For dependable laying of your
pullets before winter, you'll get best results if your chicks arrive by
the end of March.
by Kenneth Grahame
All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!
Ducks' tails, drakes' tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver,
Yellow bills all out of sight
Busy in the river!
Slushy green undergrowth
Where the roach swim--
Here we keep our larder,
Cool and full and dim.
Everyone for what he likes!
WE like to be
Heads down, tails up,
High in the blue above
Swifts whirl and call--
WE are down a-dabbling
Up tails all!
Happy New Year's from our ducks, who brave sub-freezing weather to dabble through the backwater!
Have you ever wanted to know
how much feed is in the feeder?
Prepforshtf.com has a clever project that lets
you know when your chickens don't have any feed without going into the
coop to look.
Gravity pushes the red flag
when there's no feed to hold it in place.
Wondering if your neighbors
might complain if you start raising chickens?
Why not make a stealth
My Mom lives in an urban
setting and decided to hide her coop by attaching it to the back of a
large garden shed.
Our ducks seem to like to throw problems at us. First there was the dirty-egg dilemma, then the ducks-refusing-to-go-to-bed disaster, and now...their eggs have turned green.
No, I don't mean the
pretty tinge of color that's sometimes present in a duck egg's shell.
Instead, about two weeks ago, I started cracking open duck eggs...and
finding unpleasantly green yolks inside.
At first, I guessed that
cold weather might be causing some kind of chemical reaction with the
yolk, a bit like you sometimes get a green layer on the outside of a
hard-boiled yolk. However, weather warmed up and the eggs stayed green,
so I did a little research.
The consensus on the
internet is that green duck eggs come about when your flock finds some
sort of wild food --- possibly acorns --- that affects the yolk color.
Luckily, the eggs are still safe to eat and seem to taste about the
same. So, if you find some green eggs in your egg nests, don't be like
Dr. Seuss's character and refuse to eat them. Instead, you may find
yourself saying, "I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you. Thank you,
The new 2
gallon chicken tractor bucket waterer is a nice upgrade.
We have 3 hens in our tractor
and it's usually enough for all week.
5 gallons would be too heavy
and make it harder to move.
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It Yourself heated chicken watering apparatus can be cobbled
together with parts from most common hardware stores.
A more simple solution would
be to get in on the next order of our modified
heated Farm Innovations 2 gallon bucket waterer.
Coping with frozen water in
your chicken coop can really take the fun out of tending to your flock
in the Winter. If I had to guess I'd say this heated bucket saves us a
little over an hour a week compared to the old fashioned method of
dumping the frozen ice out and refilling.