This morning, I received a box of carefully packed fertile duck eggs from Julie Gauthier, an ALBC member who raises show-quality Saxony and Magpie ducks, and is also a board certified vet, the co-author of Chicken Health for Dummies and an incredibly nice person. And so begins my second duckling hatch.
Anyone who has been following our Facebook page or blog for awhile is familiar with the Breakfast of Champions layer feed mix that I concocted for our chickens to eat. It's basically a base of a good quality layer feed with some supplements mixed in. I mix it up 50 lbs. at a time and that involves scooping out portions of lots of different products, unscrewing tubs and opening bags, as well as storing the supplements so that rodents or insects won't get in. It was a bit haphazard to say the least - it was clear I needed a more organized method.
We're still hovering between winter and spring here in Virginia. One day it is snowing and the next I find our first daffodills blooming...enjoy these few shots of our week on the farm.
Boredom can also lead to egg eating. Read more HERE about that nasty habit. I've never read anything to prove this next one, but I also think that boredom can result in more broodies being broody longer. I mean, if there's nothing going on outside and no outdoor 'action' they feel left out of, why NOT just sit in a nesting box all day long?
I have tried brooding chicks in lots of things - plastic kiddie pools (they quickly learn to fly out) galvanized tubs (snakes can get in, don't ask!), cardboard boxes (they get wet and I worry about the fire hazard from the heat lamp) and finally settled on making my own brooder box out of a plastic storage tote. It's quick and easy to make, inexpensive, durable, 100% safe, easy to clean and reusable. Here's how to make one:
One day it's 70 degrees outside, sunny and warm, and the next day it's below freezing here in Virginia. Such is weather in the South. This past week the weather has been on the cusp of spring, but as I sit here typing, it's actually snowing. The signs of spring are unmistakable however - lots of mud, flower buds emerging and the longer days heralding an increase in egg production.
To help clear up some of the confusion about what is toxic to chickens and what isn't, we decided to sort through the various misconceptions running rampant, and use some reputable sources such as the Merck Veterinary Manual and other scientific studies to share the facts with you.
We have been keeping chickens for several years, but have always bought sexed chicks so we have never had any roosters. Then this past spring, we hatched our own brood and out of 17 chicks, ten ended up being roosters. We obviously couldn't keep them all - the neighbors would have organized a lynch mob to protest all the crowing and our hens would have had something to say about it too - but I fortunately was able to find good homes for all but an Olive Egger named John Quincy Adams.