Monday, March 26, 2012
Duck, Duck, Duck
For the last few years, I have had some ducks. Initially I just purchased from our local ag store some ducklings.
By chance I happened upon choosing two of the preferred breeds for the area I live in. I encourage people to take the time to read about the characteristics of each breed. Not all ducks are the same.
Since I live in a very cold wintery area (-50 degree night time temps possible) it was critical that the breeds I selected were suitably cold-hardy.
The Mallard breed of course is one such breed, but so is the Black Swedish duck or the Blue Swedish duck. If you want more egg production though, you may want another breed. If you are wanting a brooding type duck, you will want to consider different breeds other than the Swedish however.
I primarily want ducks for meat, but also for eggs. So I want cold hardy dual purpose breeds or at least some that are cold-hardy and prolific egg producers, while others are cold-hardy and good brooders, so that those hens can become the foster mothers of the egg producers.
To accommodate hatching success, by a foster mother, I've decided to add muscovy ducks to my flock. My first flock was a mix of mallard, black swedish, & blue swedish. However, rather than just deal with those breeds, I've decided to use mallard hens, swedish hens and muscovy hens, bred to muscovy drakes. This way the offspring will be meat animals, but my hens will maintain their own breed's qualities.
I've taken an old wicker trunk and cut into its side wall, to create a nesting box for the hens.
The new additions to the flock aren't the only ones to be arriving this year. I will be also getting some young ducklings via an order from Ideal hatchery, that I made earlier in the spring. Those will arrive at the end of April. In preparation
I have made a home-made brooder.
It is made from a reclaimed plastic tub, that is missing its lid, which I wouldn't have used for this purpose anyhow. I got the tub from the Habitat ReStore. I drilled two small holes near the rim of the tub, and threaded some synthetic twine through the holes.
Then mounted a window screen, that I had also spaced holes along its framework, to match the holes in the tub. By so doing, I'm able to make a hinged screened lid. The screening is wire, thus reducing any risk of the heat lamp melting the screening material (which could happen with the plastic screening materials).
The clear walls of the tub will allow me to readily view the ducklings without disturbing the lid. It also prevents drafts from crossing over the young birds. I added a small thermometer to monitor the temperature.
The thermometer is a small wall mounted styled unit that I usually had hanging out on my porch. Nothing fancy about it, but it works!
I want to be able to read the temp, when the lid is down, so rather than have it facing into the tub, I chose to mount it facing toward the wall of the tub, and I merely read it through the clear plastic.
My mounting material that I used to adhere it was duct tape. But I'm not sure if that is a good choice, with young curious ducklings who will likely peck at it. We shall see! Otherwise, I may have to find another way to mount it.