Posted in Ducks & Other Birds, Hen Pecked

Turkey Wars & Transgenders

Keeping animals can be, in my opinion, a live and learn process. Its good to have books and to talk to people who have owned the type of animal for a good many years. Its good to have those things around for help when you need it. But at the end of the day, it’s still gonna be a live and learn kind of a deal. You won’t know it, won’t foresee it, won’t even hear about it, until it’s knocked you upside the head and put you flat on your arse. Such is the case, but not limited to, my crazy bunch of Turkeys.

In case you missed the post, last July, a few days after the fourth, I brought home two Royal Palm and four Bourbon Turkey Poults. They were all straight run. My plan was to keep one Tom, if I had one, and keep all Hens – if I had them. Straight Run, for those who don’t know, is a guessing game of what you might have. Its hard to Sex Poultry of any kind and even harder, when it comes to Turkeys—until they get a certain age. So when buying, its usually Straight Run. 

A month or so later, I bought five Broad Breasted Bronze, that were destined for the freezer—one day.

As for the July 4th Poults, though I kept them separated for a few weeks, eventually, a Polish Hen we had named, Elvis, decided she was the mother – along with about twenty-something other Black Australorp chics.

The July 4th mix, lived with the chickens and even thought of themselves as chickens until they started sorting out a pecking order. That’s when things got hairy. I had turkeys ganging up on other chickens, to the point, it nearly meant death. Have you seen Turkeys pick a fight? They don’t let up. And when one instigates it, all of them join in. The problem is, once a chicken is pinned down, they don’t let up. They go right for the head and start pecking until blood is drawn and then death. And if you manage to break it up, two seconds later, they are back at it again. This goes on for days, weeks, or until they have taken out the one they don’t like.

Now, this is strange, if you’ve ever encountered the ADD a Turkey is known to have. Meaning, they seem absolutely intelligent until they flipped the switch and become dumber than a box of rocks. Example, they can escape a fence by flying over it a thousand times, but then spend hours and hours and hours pacing back and forth–creating a DITCH—unable to figure out how to get back in.  Even though they have done this, as I’ve said, a thousand times. So for them to carry a grudge for this long with another bird, well, it’s mind boggling.

Regardless, after they pinned my Black Australorp Roo and damn near killed him and then started going after my lap-Roo, Scrappy, I knew, without a doubt, the Turkeys had to be separated. And that’s what we did.

Since my Bronze were fenced in the Garden-area (my master plan to fertilize the garden for next Spring—and the July 4th trouble-makers flew in and out of there with no problems, then that’s where I stuck em. That’s where they have been for months. Living with the Bronze. Side by side. I did have a problem with them flying the fence from time to time, so I clipped one wing. That stopped that for awhile, but not for long. Don’t let anyone tell you that clipping a wing will keep them out of trouble. I have one Hen who can climb a fence. She can fly, too, but she just likes climbing. Usually, I let her escape and stay with the chickens. By herself, she doesn’t cause any problems. But now if any of the others get out there, like my two Royal Palm Hens – Sally & Mae—then all hell will break lose. But that’s just because Sally and Mae act like they’ve spent their life in prison and just wanna instigate and be gnarly whenever they get the chance. Not with humans, mind you, but with all the other animals. However, if they fly over, I just run them back and usually once I run them back once, they stay for the rest of the day. The climber, well, I let her be. They seem to like picking fights with her and she only climbs to escape when it gets bad. By the end of the day, she climbs back unless Sally and Mae hold the grudge. If that’s the case, the Climber sleeps with the chickens for the night.

The plan was, keep the Bronze till Spring or even next Fall, then Butcher. The experts told me that they are ready at 22 weeks but others said they let them grow a year to get a whopper sized Turkey—40- something or more pounds. If they seemed stable—on their legs, since they are prone to have difficulty supporting their weight by a certain time – or so I am told—then I was going to take them as far as I could. Regardless, they clearly outweigh the July 4th Crew. The Bronze are not aggressive, though. They kind of stick together and do their own thing. They sleep together and don’t really muck around the July 4th Crew at all. The July 4th Crew escape the fence but the Bronze don’t. They crossed paths and rub elbows but that’s about the extent of it. All seemed well in Turkey Land except for the mischief the July 4th Crew seemed to cause, which I had learned to nip in the butt and how to bring an end to—at least until the next day.

I even discovered what genders I had. The July 4th Crew, I had two Toms and four Hens. I was happy about the fourth Hen because she actually had us confused for awhile. I thought maybe she was going to be a transgendered — working out a Gender. That may seem funny to the rest of you but I swear, some days she would puff up and strut like a Tom and others, she’d peep and streak like a Hen. I think she chose, Hen, or figured out that’s what she was born as. She is actually my Climber.

As for my Bronze, I knew what I had there because I was able to order specific genders. Four Males and One female. My husband stuck the female in there, not sure why. He had a reason at the time, but God knows the mtn man can’t  remember to save his own life now. Anyway, that’s what we have and all was good to go with the plan I had – knock out one Tom in the July bunch since I only needed one—butcher my Bronze come Spring or Fall. As for my Royal Palms, I ended up with no Toms. I planned on either selling or trading for two Bourbon Hens. Sally and Mae need a man to keep them straight—someone to play warden unless I stumble upon a Royal Tom—then I may keep them because God knows there isn’t a dull moment with those two around.

All seemed well and good – as I said, before—except for the few problems I’d deal with every day or every other day, except for a few days ago. Then all hell broke lose. They decided to pick a fight with one of the Bronze, who did all he could do to get away from them. Since temps were freezing here, and I didn’t get outside for long periods of time, I didn’t catch it and they killed that poor Jake dead. Once they were done with him, they started on another. Needless to say, I lost two of my Bronze. Frantic, I ran to Backyard Chickens and hunted down a Turkey post. Luckily I found some Turkey people who told me the actual truth.

Now, when I say truth, I mean, they didn’t sugarcoat anything like people did BEFORE I got Turkeys. They didn’t tell me nothing but the joys of turkey keeping. They didn’t fill my head with butterflies and cotton candy.  While they specifically said how much they loved keeping turkeys, they also told me the cold hard truth—they are an aggressive, curious and trouble-making bird – which is what made them as much fun as it did a nightmare. Their suggestions – separate the Bronze and the July 4th Crew and keep them separated, even from the Chickens. As far as my Climber, leave her be unless she starts making trouble too. They said sometimes, they’d have one that just seemed better off with the other chickens and livestock. Maybe since my Climber worked out her Gender issues, she is now struggling with what she is. She might not know she’s a turkey, or may not know if she wants to be one. So, we will just let her work those lifestyle matters out.

But as far as turkeys, themselves, picture the Raptors on Jurassic Park. There is one HEAD B-WORD IN CHARGE. In my case, that’s Sally. Mae is her second in command and the Toms and other Hens just fall in line with whatever murder and mayhem they seem to be carrying out. The thing to remember, its all fun and games until someone actually dies. And with Turkeys, as I just learned, that will eventually happen. Dog. Cat. Chicken. Doesn’t matter. If they want to pick a fight, they will. And while they cant remember how the hell to get back over a fence, they always remember who they’ve singled out to bully. You can bet your bottom dollar on that.

Will I continue to keep turkeys? Yup. As the turkey people said, you gotta love them for the good and bad. Their bad, is what keeps them interesting. But they are prison-bound, though, at least at my place. They’ll get their own run and Coop. No more socializin, especially for the July 4th Crew who is hell bent on actin’ out the movie, The Warriors, or, The Gangs of New York, each and every day.

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Posted in Ducks & Other Birds, Hen Pecked

Some Common Problems with Raising Turkeys

This past year, I got turkeys. I bought five Bronze, to raise up for Meat and five Bourbon and two Royal Palms—just to raise for eggs, maybe to butcher, and perhaps, incubate and sell poults to put towards the “feed Fund” of the small farmette I have going on here. . If you have bought Turkeys or are about to buy them, then no doubt you have researched and learned all about “Blackhead disease”, the “fragile stages of Turkey Poults”, Feed types and whether or not they can be or if you will “Raise them with Chickens.” No doubt, you will have had decided most of this if you haven’t been doing it all along. I wanted to talk about some things—other problems—that might come up with Raising Turkeys. Things that are funny and things that will drive you bonkers.

First off, one thing I have learned about my Bourbons and Royal Palms – especially, those Palms—they are Houdini’s, without a doubt. I don’t care if you built a structure like Alcatraz. Get ready, because those Turkeys will find a way around it. Now, that being said, I free range my turkeys some.  I have a pretty big garden that I fenced in and I put a dog kennel inside it that I can move around. The reason behind this madness – One, when I got the turkeys, I didn’t have a permanent structure built yet. Two, I didn’t know if I wanted one. And Three, I thought, “Why not let the turkeys help fertilize the Garden for next Spring?” This is the structure we built up. You can see it in the Background sitting inside the fenced in Garden.

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It’s not beautiful, but it does the job AND we can move it around the garden. I also dump my soiled rabbit bedding in there. I can’t wait to see what happens come Spring. BUT, this does present a problem or did. My Turkeys found out they can hop on the roosting sticks and then fly through a slit in the tarp above. We would seal and tighten the Tarps, but sure enough, the Turkeys found another one. Except my Bronze. They can’t fly that well. The feathers on their wings haven’t come in that great – even at 17 weeks—and they are rather heavy. But those Bourbans and Royal Palms? Gone like the wind every chance they get.

Now, at first I didn’t mind it and at first, I didn’t care. After all, they believed their Mother was a chicken. A Polish Chicken at that…

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AND they thought their sisters and one brother were a bunch of Black Australorps, who they were raised up with, too.

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And again, I thought it was HALARIOUS, the older they got, the more they loved to socialize with ME. If I was washing dishes, here they came, up on the Porch, just pestering me to come out and muck around with them.

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At night, my husband and my kids would laugh as it sounded like a stampede on top of our Roof. Yes, no matter how high the house, Turkeys love to Roost. Mine never even bothered with the Apple Trees or Hickory. They love the porch and the roof.

And, like I said, they were raised up with the chickens, so all of them got along as well. Except when they didn’t…

It started with a chicken, here or there, of those who weren’t the Australorps. Like a band of wolves, my Turkeys would go after that poor little chicken and without distraction, would bully them till they had them pinned in a fence or who knows where else. After pinning them, they wouldn’t let up. They would hold the chicken down—ALL OF THEM—and pluck the thing till it was bald. They’d grab the skin from the neck, and I feared, they would have ripped it’s head clean off. The chicken wouldn’t have been doing a thing, either. Could have been on the other side of the yard, but sure enough, one of the Turkeys would get a chip on it’s shoulder and take off, the others right behind, and pick a fight that seemed like it would never end. I even seen them trap one whose neck went through the fence. Swear, they would have killed that little thing if I didn’t run to save it.

It was only a matter of time, though, before they turned on the Australorps. Yesterday was that day. They had my Roo, who is not aggressive at all, pinned. They wouldn’t let up and even though I broke it up, I barely walked away and they were back at it again. Something had to be done. They were getting too aggressive with the other animals. They had to stay in the Garden.

CLIP the WINGS!!!!! I had been considering this for a few weeks now especially since I had someone come to my house to get their hair done only to find a bunch of turkeys jump the fence to bombard their vehicle. They thought it was funny but I knew not everyone would think so. Also, the amounts of poo on my back porch, on my freezers and who knew how much on my roof – that was getting to be enough right there.

With some online searching, I found some great sites and links with videos and pictures of how to clip wings. Here’s a LINK to a page full. HERE is the LINK I used. This website, a Farm, has pictures and everything. All I used was a pair of kitchen scissors. My husband held the bird and I clipped. They didn’t freak out – except for when we were catching them—so it doesn’t hurt. YOU ONLY WANT TO CLIP ONE WING—or so the experts say. I’m trying their way, first. You only want to clip the one so they can’t get air to take flight. Will let you know if it doesn’t work.

Another thing you want to be warned about Turkeys is that they have some major, MAJOR, Attention Deficit Disorder.  Its either that, or they have multiple personalities. One is as brilliant as Einstein and the other is as dumb as a box of rocks. Which is weird, because when they pick a fight with a chicken, that chicken can run, run, run and that Turkey won’t let us. This can go on forever. And while some of you out there have some pet turkeys and don’t agree, I’m telling you, mine will fascinate me by breaking out of a pin in the most clever of ways but then get stupid when it comes to something as simple as crossing a fence.

Yes, a Turkey will fly a fence just as graceful and as easy as you please, but then it will pace the fence on the other side until it’s left a path of dirt or mud. (Great if you have weeds growing up.) But it will do this for absolute hours. Complete dumb as to how to get back to the other side. And it does the same things three or four times a day—every day. Fly with clever grace but then pace like a brain dead zombie.

So, if you are thinking about Turkeys, I can promise you, there wont be a dull moment. *winks*

 

Posted in Ducks & Other Birds, From Scratch, Historical, Other, The Hungry Hen, Wild Game, Guineafowl, Birds, etc.

Braised Guinea Hen Recipe, Information & Cooking Tips

 

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A lady told me awhile back, “Once you cook Guinea, you won’t want chicken anymore.” Now while I still haven’t cooked a Guinea, I do recognize the fact that these birds can be multi-purpose. Eggs (Seasonal Layers), Pest Control and Meat (Compare to Pheasant). While some absolutely hate them—they are noisy and can bully chickens—hey, there’s a pecking order to everything—others love them because they make great alarms. Anything comes around, they are the first to catch wind of and make noise about it. They also work in a pack, might want to tell that to the snakes before they enter the yard. And snakes are just an appetizer. These things wipe out spiders, ticks, locusts, grubs, snails, beetles, WASPS!!!! AND THAT’S just the tip of the iceberg!

So, I am still considering bringing Guineas home. And if I ever get more land and that farm I dream of, then you can bet your best Sunday bloomers, I’ll be gettin’ em sooner rather than later. Until then, here’s the 411 on the bird.

Aside from what I’ve already said, Guineas are native to West Africa. Sometime during the 15th-16th century, the bird was brought to Europe and soon after, became very popular in Colonial America. They are great foragers, so if you get some, you will want several, as they hunt in a group or pack. If you bring them in as keets—babies—then free ranging is a cinch but if you bring them in as adults, you might want to consider locking them up for three or so weeks before setting them free to range on their own.

Guineas are compared to Pheasant as far as taste goes. In fact, I’ve heard them called, “Poor Man’s Pheasant” because it costs a fraction less to raise a Guinea than it does a Pheasant. Don’t let the nickname or cost fool you, though. In many Countries, Guineas are like our Lobsters. They are considered fine-dining without a doubt!

The darker meat, is darker and more rich than, let’s say, chicken. There is less fat, so it’s healthier. They have smaller bones but produce bigger breasts (again, in comparison to chickens). Hens, on the table, may average between 2 to 3 pounds.People prefer the Hens to Males because the Hens have bigger breasts and actually, are said to taste better. The breasts also have a better texture to the meat. 

Roast them like you would a Pheasant, even stuffing them using the giblets. If you are eating Guinea breast, remember that the meat can go dry. Usually, in Colonial times, they would wrap the breast in a fat, like salt pork. One historical way of cooking them would be to place them in an oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes—basting. Remove the pork and then roast for ten minutes allowing them to brown. Now days, one could use a thick sliced bacon, I’m sure.

Below, is a recipe our European and American Ancestors once loved….

Braised Guinea Hen

  • 1 Guinea Hen
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP of Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper (Black)
  • 1/4 tsp. Dry Mustard
  • 1 Garlic Clove, crushed
  • Dash of Cayenne
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Broth

Directions

Cut the Guinea in quarters and sauté in heated butter until all sides are brown. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over bird, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until almost tender. Remove cover, turn up heat and continue cooking until almost all liquid has evaporated. Wild Rice goes well with this. Serves 4.

 

American Heritage Cookbook

 

Posted in Ducks & Other Birds, Hen Pecked

Crowin’ bout Jive Turkeys

 

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This year, we got turkey poults on July 4th. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. Talked to people who had them, read up online and in books about them but just like everything else, the information was here or there. Half good, Half not. I learned a long time ago not to let the “Not” send me into a state of panic. Although, I’m going to also admit, at first, I nearly broke that rule.

Excited, I brought six, three day old turkeys home from a man who incubates birds and sells them. He is a local and I have bought from him before – my Pekin Ducks. He keeps a very clean set-up, so I know I have a good chance getting from him.

Anyway, he explains what I should be feeding them before I leave his house. Check. ✔

Heat, shavings, water, tote to put them in, safe place. Check ✔

I have read online and talked to a few people that baby turkeys are rather fragile in the beginning. I keep this in mind but again, I don’t go into a state of panic. I clean the tote, constantly give fresh water, refresh feed, etc. However, I notice they are not devouring food like my baby chickens do. I quickly search online again. Yep, this seems to be a common problem. Getting them to eat. Someone says to put something sparkly in their food dish, so I run to town and buy these little sparkly, glass pebbles people use for Crafts, Vases, whatever. Again, watching them, they eat but they don’t really eat a lot. So I keep a close eye on them. They don’t seem to be sickly and they move around very well. In fact, it’s not long before I have to put something over my extra deep tote because the suckers can jump out. Their appetites’ do not improve, so I’m almost thinking they don’t like the food I am giving them. I read online where someone boils eggs, crumbles them and gives them that – because baby turkeys need a lot of protein in the beginning. This is why I am feeding them a High Protein Medicated Wild Bird Crumble, designed for small, baby game birds like Turkeys.

This goes on for a few weeks and I keep a close eye but honestly, none of them seem to be hurting health-wise.

Because the days here had been in the nineties, I decided to put them in a chicken tractor when it came time to clean the totes out. I stuck them in one tractor and then my baby Australorps in another right beside them.

Most may call me a liar but I swear, this seemed to change up everything. The minute I put them in the tractor, their entire view changed—literally. Their appetites picked up and I began to see just how curious they were. My yard birds would gather around them checking out the new neighbors but the turkeys didn’t spaz out of lose their down over it at all. They were curious, lively, less flighty and nervous. And their food bowls, by the end of the second day, I was having to fill it completely. Before, I hardly had to put any in it at all.
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By the pictures above, you can see they are much bigger now. As I write this article, they are roughly, more or less,  five to six weeks old. The pictures above were taken this morning. Every day now, I let them out of the Pen to run around with the other baby chics and big Hens. Hilariously, I have a Polish Chicken that I call, Elvis, who thinks she is the mother to them all. She keeps the big Hens from being too rough. To be honest, most of the big Hens aren’t even mean to any of them except for one Bantam Cochin, who I allowed to hatch out three of her own babies this year. We call her Hitler because she is just that mean—to everything. Every now and again, Hitler runs over and attempts to attack one of the baby chics – not sure on the turkeys—and Elvis lights her up for it.

The turkeys, though, are absolutely thriving. It’s as if the moment I put them in that chicken tractor and opened their eyes to a world other than the tote, they became alive with life. If I had to make a suggestion to anyone who is about the raise turkey poults, maybe do it when the weather is warmer so that you can take them from a tote and give them a view of the world. They just seem to do so much better.

The ones I have, compared to the baby Australorps, are so much more social and curious. When we first got them, we were unsure if we would have to pen them up. The man I got them from keeps his penned up. I admit, I hate that. I have no problem locking up my birds at night, which I do, but I like them to be able to free-range during the day. I’m beginning to have hope that I won’t have to keep my Jive Turkeys in a Pen twenty-four-seven. When I go out into the yard, my Black Australorps babies stay right with Momma Elvis (who unlike her adopted minions, is quite sociable). They have little to do with me but my Jive Turkeys will follow me all around. If I sit, they visit for a bit, not really making contact with me but just hanging out. I suppose being stationary is boring for them because its not long before we say our, “See-Ya_Laters”, and they are off, curiously investigating something else. My eleven year old daughter went out to the Garden last night to get a tomato. I heard her giggling as she got quite tickled that everywhere she went, so did a tiny flock of Jive Turkeys. Peeping away as she went, never making flesh to feather contact, but following all the way.

We haven’t named them, other than calling them Jive Turkeys. We have no idea if they are Toms, Hens or what. I am praying for Pairs, but will see how our luck goes. Either way, will Crow about it here once I know something. winks

Posted in All about them Chickens, Chicken Scratch, Ducks & Other Birds, Hen Pecked, Things to Crow About

Rabbits, Baby Chics & Turkeys!

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Our Rabbit Hutches are nearly finished. I am painting some protective trim that will go over the edges of the wire – hopefully adding some extra protection in case bear comes by—but the outsides are painted and the rabbits all seem settled in. Currently, we have 6 breeder rabbits and 6 babies.

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27 new baby chics arrived today—I am like a kid in a candy store. I decided to go with the Black Australorps which is a great dual purpose bird. For those who don’t know, dual purpose means you can butcher them as well as use them for egg laying. These gals will be for eggs but if ever I need to Cull, and eventually, sadly, we will, I know they wont be wasted. Next year I hope to breed and sell the babies in order to make money back for feed. The feed bills are piling up, lol, but we couldn’t be happier. These animals bring us so much joy.

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I am also in heaven because we FINALLY got some turkey poults!!!! The mixed colors above are Bourbon Reds and the white are Royal Palm. I have no idea what I have. We had to buy them in Straight Run but I am praying my Royal Palms are a breeding pair and that I have at least one male and some hens out of the other. Again, I hope to begin incubating next year to make money back so we can put it towards feed and fencing. There are a lot of people around me mixing breeds and selling them. I don’t know why but this just bothers me so. Maybe it’s a fear that we will lose our heritage breeds or maybe I am opposed of reinventing the wheel without true purpose. So this is my way to make a little extra cash to take care of all these animals plus preserve what is—keeping it as is.

We have meat turkeys coming in August that will be kept long enough to go into our freezers for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Trying out the Broad Breasted Bronze for that adventure.

Needless to say, I am tons to blog about but I am staying busy. Very Busy. I love it.

Posted in Ducks & Other Birds

Pekins 2 Weeks Later : Baby Ducks Are Lots of Work!

So on March 12th, 2016, I took off towards Deerfield to nab myself some baby ducks. Read all about that and more information concerning the breed I got, HERE.

2cacae63626e91d6887608bf51217907Here it is, almost two weeks later, and I’m here to tell ya folks, I have worked my butt off! There have been no days off. Not one. If I leave for the entire day and come back, my bathroom reeks of ducky- poo, which let me say right now, isn’t adorable nor does it smell of dandelions.

Compared to baby chics, I am putting in twice, if not three times the work. Makes me wish I had a building or barn—to keep them out there. Right now, because I don’t have a building or barn, I’m keeping them in the bathroom—mine, since I have the most room there. Within’ a week of having them, I divided them up between two totes. Some are larger than others and between the mess, I wanted to make sure the itty-bitty babies were getting’ as much food and water as the giant ones.

Honestly, I was also hoping this would mean I wouldn’t have to change the wood chips out twice a day. Wrong. I do. Now I have to do it in two totes but at least now, I can get into the evening without the bathroom smellin’ like a poultry house. That bein’ said, if you know someone who cuts wood, might want to ask them to save their shavings. I am spending a lot of money on those at Tractor Supply. My ten ducklings are going through about a bag every two and a half days.

I usually have to give both totes fresh water several times a day, too.They burn through that and also get it mucky with food. They need help eating the crumbles so use the water – also, burnin’ through food as well. The bigger ones eat more but they devour a lot.

 

So, here are some screen shots of the Pekin, nearly two weeks later.

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They are very skittish, too, which is odd since the kids hold and cuddle them a lot. I even try to hold them and they see me constantly giving them fresh water and food. That doesn’t seem like enough to earn their trust, though. lol. It will be interesting to see if they warm up to us once they are outside with the chickens. See, the chickens, or some of them were skittish of us, too, at first. Then, we put them outside and now many of them sit on our laps or come a’runnin’ the minute I open the door. Would be nice if the ducklings turned out like that, as well.

 

Posted in Ducks & Other Birds, Hen Pecked, Misc. Nature

And We Have Baby Pekin Ducks!

Last year, I was checkin’ out a Yardsale site in my area for…well, for whatever caught my eye. Low and behold, a lady had two ducks for sale. I think they were 4-6 weeks?IMG_4871

Anyway, I had been wantin’ some ducks because obviously, I have a bird-fetish. Had tried to buy some off Craigslist once, which led to a not –so – pleasant experience, which led to me just givin’ up. That is, until I stumbled upon the two Blue Swedish this woman was selling.

The story was, she had bought them for her kids – small kids—to teach them responsibility. Now that the ducks were getting’ too big for their tote, it was time they moved on. For twenty bucks, they could move on to my house. And for twenty bucks, they did.

Unfortunately, they were skittish—real skittish—not wantin’ much to do with me or my own hellions. So we couldn’t handle them much but once they were moved outside with the rest of the chickens, they seemed to integrate well. I bought them a small, plastic, swimmin’ pool which they loved and eventually, when I sat outside, they started to come “near” me with the other chickens. Not to let me touch them but they would Quack their way to my neck of the woods keepin’ themselves at a cautious leg-length.

IMG_4856Sadly, somethin’ nailed the female over winter. Never figured out what since there were no remains. Coyote or Fox perhaps? Regardless, the male has seemed rather sad even though he stays right with the other chickens. That bein’ said, this year, I was determined to get me some more ducks no matter who I had to deal with — except for the one bat-sh&t crazy person I had a run in with last year on Craigslist. But anyone else – other than HIM—I would totally deal with IF it meant, more ducks.

I was actually gonna order some from a Hatchery. I know some don’t like those but believe it or not, I have had a real good experience with the one I’ve tried so far—Meyers.

Didn’t have to go that route, though. Found a breeder out in Deerfield, Virginia and around 7:30 pm Saturday night, I loaded up my daughter, great niece and husband – he was drivin’ us since this was his neck of the woods—and away we went.

 

file7261280700558This time around, I went with Pekin Ducks. That’s the kind I went after before the unfortunate run-in with the “crazy craigslist person”. Not to fear anyone from Craigslist – I still get livestock and such from there and I have met a lot of nice folks sellin’ on that site—BUT this person was just a crappy-crazy-should-exit-society-altogether-kind-of-cracker-jack. Just sayin’.

Ducks in general, or so I have found, are GREAT as far as nailin’ flies, yellow jackets and all kinds of other unwanted pests hangin’ around the yard. Pekins are great dual-purpose birds. That means if you are going to butcher them for meat or use them for eggs. As far as a meat bird goes, they say a Pekin is to ducks what a Cornish- Rock cross is to Chickens. They mature fast, have great feed conversion and because of their feathers—easily cleaned. The feathers are more loose and fluffier, which makes them easier to pluck, BUT, that also makes them less repellent where mud is concerned. They are great layers, though, and happen to lay all through winter even when the other chickens shut down. And they say, this is only what I have read, if you are going to try eating a duck, well, the Pekin is King.

Pekin is not a broody bird, so if you are wantin’ to increase numbers, you will need an incubator. And baby ducks themselves are slightly different than baby chickens. They don’t require as much heat.

 

90-92 degrees for the first 3 days, then 85-90 degrees for days 4 to 7. Thereafter, drop the temperature by approximately 5 degrees per week until they are fully feathered. They must always be able to get away from the heat. Panting and drooping wings are a sign that they are too hot. Once they leave the brooder, it is a good idea to give them a heat lamp at night for the first week or so, unless the weather is very hot. Always make sure they have some shelter and a place to get out of the sun. Source

Also….

DO NOT GIVE BABY DUCKS MEDICATED—I REPEAT: MEDICATED—FEED.

NON-MEDICATED ONLY!!!!!!!

DSCF0144 (2)Sorry to throw that at your eyes in such a big and bold way but a lot of people don’t know. I didn’t until I got these duckling, even though thankfully, I don’t use medicated feed anyway.

Baby ducks are way messier, than baby chickens, too. Keep that one in mind as well. And they drink way more water. So make sure to keep them a fresh supply.

Pekins are only fair, as far as foraging goes, so you will have to make sure you have proper feed. They have a calm temperament and originally originated in China. Drakes, that’s the boys, usually get to be around 10-11 Ibs. and the female, 8-9 Ibs..

The next duck I’ll be bringin’ in this year will be the Khaki Campbells. Talk about egg layers. They can lay up to 340 medium sized eggs a year! And while maybe nervous, happen to be great foragers!