Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ducks for Eggs, Meat or Both?

Ducks are one of the easiest of all poultry to raise. Ducklings are a great animal to start with. Whereas chicks grow into chickens quite quickly, ducklings take their time to mature. Which gives the kids a longer time to play and handle them. They greet you when you come by  and will follow behind you.  Ducks are great at foraging and getting rid of bugs, slugs and other creepy things. Some ducks have been know to eat a snake, mice and small vermin.

Many people feel duck eggs are unbeatable for baking and pastries. And some people that have allergies to chicken eggs can eat duck eggs (or quail eggs)

Some ducks are very prolific at laying eggs - Khaki-Campbell are strictly an egg-laying duck. They will lay 300 - 325 eggs a year! They continue through the winter. They will be good layers for 3 to 4 years. The females are seal-brown and the males are the same with touches of darker brown. They are excellent forages and withstand cool climates very well. They weigh about 4 1/2 pounds 

The Welsh Harlequin is a fairly new breed, developed by Leslie Bonnett in Wales from two off-colored Khaki Campbell ducklings in 1949.
They are excellent egg layers, and will still set on a nest - a trait that has diminished in some breeds.
They can also be sexed just after they hatch by the color of their bill: darker is a male and lighter are females. This disappears after a few days. They also have a pretty feather color and are just a nice duck to have around..

Indian Runner ducks are raised for eggs. Because of their size, they are not used for meat.
Under refrigeration (34 to 40 degrees) eggs can be kept safely for up to six weeks. By sealing freshly laid eggs in a plastic bag their refrigeration life can be lengthened to two months, as the bags help prevent moisture loss from the egg. Duck eggs also have a longer shelf life than chicken eggs.

White Pekin:  The most popular breed for meat is the Pekin (also called the Long Island duck) and is the major breed raised commercially. They are large white ducks, with the males reaching 9 pounds and females about 8 pounds. They are a bit high strung and are not good setters.
The Pekin dress out nicely because their white skin looks good roasted.

Muscovy (Mus-coh-vee): These ducks have the best tasting meat - some compare the meat to veal, with less fatty taste compared to other ducks.
 The drake weighs about 10 pounds, and the duck about 7. They reach market weight at about 8 - 10 weeks. (Although, if they are kept for breeding, they do get larger)They are great setters, but do not lay a lot of eggs - about 40 - 45 eggs a year).
Some people consider them ugly because of the large red warty caruncles above the beak and around the eyes. 
They are one of the only ducks of the larger breeds that fly very well. Many states require breeders to clip their wings to prevent them from flying away. They do like to roost in trees.
Although the Muscovy is a tropical bird (originally from South America) it adapts well to cooler climates and can thrive in a climate as cold as 10 degrees F

Rouen ducks look very similar to the ancestor of most modern duck breeds - the Mallard duck, and, as such, the male has a beautiful green head. Because of this, Rouen ducks are popular for various ornamental reasons, and the fact that they are pretty docile ducks.
 The Rouen is a popular farm flock breed, and is a very good meat breed.  It is slower growing than the Pekin, but it reaches the same weight over the 5 to 6 month period of feeding and foraging under farm flock conditions. 
 They are poor layers, producing only 35-125 eggs yearly. 

Swedish is a medium sized duck that weighs between 6 1/2 to 8 pounds; the male usually weighs more than the female. Blue Swedish ducks are very calm and make good ducks for beginners and will go broody. The Swedish is considered a dual-purpose duck for both meat and eggs.

 Blue is the standard, but there is Black, Silver, Yellows and Splash color patterns.

A good layer, the Swedish will lay about 130 -180 eggs per year, and reaches table weight by about 16 weeks.

The Swedish may also be crested.

So which duck do you choose? For eggs production we prefer the Welsh Harlequin. The ducks lay a lot of eggs, and are a pretty duck that seem relatively calm. The Khaki Campbell is too flighty a bird for me.
For meat, the Muscovy is the best tasting with a less greasy taste (which turns off a lot of people)

My all time favorite duck is the Rouen. I like their calm personality (they come when you call them). They do like the schedule and want to go into the barn at night... which makes it easy for us to keep them safe. Every night they will walk single file from where they were foraging to the barn and patiently wait by the door.
And the males are pretty ducks with the green Mallard colored head..

Why Raise Ducks?

Why would you want ducks?

Ducks are a very hardy bird. They seem to do well in all kinds of weather. They require less attention than a chicken. They don't forage as well as most geese, they do augment their diet by foraging, and lowering your feed bill.
Ducks need very little housing and do not require a pond or creek, but if you have one, they will be very happy birds!

They will rid your garden, yard or orchard of snails, earwigs, slugs or any other bug they can find. They will fertilize your soil and you can collect their flowers to make earrings, feather dream catchers, etc.

Ducks have personalities! They frolic on a pond, waddle mechanically in a line to some distant object. They make very good pets.
As an 8th grader, a friend and I did a science project involving 8 ducks. When the project was over, we found homes for 7... haha. It was my way of keeping the duck. I named him Dandelion for his yellow duckling down, but he turned out to be a very large white Pekin. I would fill a baby pool full of water, and sit outside with him as he splashed and cavorted around. He would follow behind me where ever I walked.

Some ducks are great for egg production, and some are good for meat production. There isn't a dual purpose duck. Duck eggs are wonderful for baking... a little larger than a chicken egg. They can also lay almost as many as a chicken!

Ducklings 101 - Feeding

If you buy your babies from a hatchery, you will need to dip their beaks in water to give them a drink first thing. A good way to to this is as you take them out of the box, and you count them to see if they are all there and healthy, simply dip their beak, and set them in the brooder you have set up waiting.

If you are going to feed a commercial feel, be sure you do not get a feed that has any medication in it. The medication is for coccidia  a common parasite that chicks could get. Ducks are not able to have that medication as it can be deadly.  The protein content may be too high for them also. 20% is all that is needed.
A good duck or turkey starter would be a good choice.

The duckling will eat a little, swish their beaks in water and eat a little more. Water is very important as they can choke on feed without water.

If you would like to feed your ducklings a homemade feed, here is a tried and true formula:
Feed 3x a day:
BREAKFAST: cooked oatmeal, covered with a little water.
LUNCH: scrambled
eggs covered with a little water
DINNER: homemade whole wheat bread covered with a little water, or milk.
Tender young green leaves should be offered at each meal.
They also like chopped green onion,s and dandelion greens. Watercress is also a favorite.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The secret to online safety: Lies, random characters, and a password manager

A password manager helps you create long, complicated passwords for websites and integrates into your browser, automatically filling in your usernames and passwords. Instead of typing a different password into each site you visit, you only have to remember one master password.:
This site will give you more information

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Duckling 101 - water and baths

Many people like to think that their ducklings can just be put near the creek or in the bathtub and will just swim and swim... like you see in the wild.

Mother ducks have an oil gland at the base of  their tail, that they use to grease their feathers to make them water proof. She will also do this to her ducklings. The ducklings oil gland is not developed yet.

If you want your baby to swim, provide a small pan with warm water, and an easy way for them to get in and out and quickly under a heat lamp.

By doing this, their oil gland will develop and they should be swimming by the time they are 6 - 7 weeks old!

If the duckling gets water logged, you may have to dry it with a hair dryer, or it could easily get chilled, and possibly die.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

How to can or dehydrate kale and other greens...

If you are thinking of canning your greens...

But if dehydrating is the way to go:

She has a list of the "easiest of the easiest" for beginners, and greens are on that list.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sometimes the good-byes lead to joy

We delivered Mariann's horse this weekend.

I have been putting off finding her a new home for a lot of reasons, but it was time. She's 23 and we knew she needed to be somewhere she could live out the rest of her life.
In delivering her, we met a wonderful couple who wanted Princess for their neighbor girls - These girls have wanted a horse all their lives - you know how girls and ponies are.
Judy and David were the type of couple you wish to aspire to be like. Loving, giving, gentle. We knew Princess was in a good home. In fact, I was surprised that I didn't cry - and I really thought I would! But I felt so good about her new home, that I was relaxed when I left her.

After a very hectic weekend, I finally had a chance to look over my email, and I received probably one of the most descriptive and gracious emails I have ever read.:

Good morning, dear friends,

Just had to let you know how much Princess has already won our hearts, and the hearts of people in the neighborhood. Our oldest grandchild came over a few hours after you left and her daddy hopped her on and gave her a ride. Last evening another son brought his girls by for us to babysit, and Hannah, their oldest daughter, wanted a ride. (the pictures sent) So did Jenna, our dau-in-law. Princess has been fed carrots, stroked, whistled to, and loved all around.

This morning in the new freshness of dawn I walked out to see her. The sun was spreading long shadows across hill and dale and the smell  of drying hay hung in the air. Guess who I found at the fence? Jenna stopping by on her morning walk to again say hello.

Half an hour ago there was a knock on our door, and there stood the smiling faces of our neighbor's girls--Sarah Dale and Grace Marie.  We went out together, introduced ourselves all around and they are still out there, taking turns riding Princess bareback.

Your sacrificial sharing has, within 24 hours, already blessed the community. Princess will be loved and sought out for company on a daily basis. Thank you!
We've been looking for a horse for months--I cannot help but feel the Lord had His hand in making our paths cross.

Wishing you God's blessing and peace in the days ahead.
Rest in His grace, David and Judy Yoder