birdyard

Relocating the birds to their new yard was mayhem. Poultry do not like change!

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PoultryYardWe decided to do a major switcheroo in how we are housing our poultry. Thus far, I had been letting them run loose during the day. At night they’d naturally roost in their A-frame houses, and I’d just close the doors and open them back up in the morning. They had about four acres on which to range, and they made full use of it.

One advantage to this system is that there are fewer equipment costs. Just some night structures, and one set of community food and water dispensers. Not having food and water in their night houses keeps the mess down in there, requiring less bedding expenses. Letting them free range all day tends to lead them away from the food bin, so they harvest m ore of their own food and consume less purchased feed. And it spreads their manure out all over the place.

But the biggest downside is also: it spreads their manure out all over the place!

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Eggs Spring is in the air, and it’s making the ducks go all broody. I’ve had two sneak off and hide nests of eggs. It’s hard to find them sometimes, they could be anywhere! Kirk found this one: by nearly weed-whacking this duck’s head off before he spotted her in the grass! :-0 Of course, the ducks insist on staying on their nest to the death, so he left her in a little tuft of un-whacked grass. 😀

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EggsSome days I don’t find as many eggs as I expect to see, and I get suspicious. It usually means a chicken (or duck) has gotten “broody” and started a nest somewhere in the yard.The other birds seem to follow suit, and add eggs to the nest; so that in a day’s time, most of the eggs I seek are in some secret hiding place rather than in the proper place in the bird houses. This time of year when the days are rapidly lengthening really seems to encourage this secretive nesting behavior.

But it’s kind of fun looking for the spot; not unlike Easter, there is a certain triumph in finding hidden eggs!

Here is a rather poorly chosen nest in a wet and muddy place with very little shelter or cushion. It was on the edge of a hill, and some eggs rolled out of the nest down into the driveway. Which was the hint I needed to see the nest up above! 😀

imageI’ve been having some crested ducks crop up, somewhere from this mix I have of Magpie, Swedish and Runner. I must have had a duck who carried the gene, but did not express it.

I’m not keen on crested ducks. For one, I don’t like it that humans have purposely bred oddities and mutations into domestic animals, just for the sake of fancy, when there is no utility to the trait. And two, the crest is caused by a skull deformity, and ducklings that get a double dose of the gene will die in the shell due to an incomplete skull formation. Ew! (And I wonder if this is contributing to my poor hatch rates?) And three, I’ve read that cresteds themselves have a low rate of successful breeding. So, I’m going to cull these over time and get back to keeping only Magpies.

But, I will say, this crested duck is kinda cute. She ended up with reasonably decent Magpie markings and a uniformly shaped crest, so she’s a distinctive-looking duck.