Thursday, April 21, 2011

Newborn Ducklings!

That's right, four little ducklings. And you are correct, that is a White Orpington chicken that's raising them!

A month or so ago, one of our White Orpington chickens got a little broody, which means she didn't want to get off her eggs. This can be dangerous, as the hen sometimes stops taking care of herself, and it also pisses the other chickens off because she's always in the nesting box.

But if you're looking to hatch birds on your own, a broody chicken is just the thing. No worries about heat lamps or taking care of fertilized eggs. The hen does all the work.

In the video you can see how we set up the chicken coop to accommodate the hatching eggs and little ducklings (and by we I mean Chicken Man, I mostly provide the treats and do some cleaning for all the animals!)

I hope you enjoy! Please ignore the video turning sideways at the end there, for some reason when I shoot video vertically on my camera it shows up sideways and I don't know how to fix that.

(Also please ignore the low quality of my camera. I'm aiming to get a new one soon- any recommendations for a good point and shoot with a rechargeable lithium ion battery?)

I gave the chickens and Orpington a nice treat this morning of homemade chicken mash, thanks to a recipe I got from one of my favorite resource guides, The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery.

Carla recommended feeding the ducklings a mixture of cooked oats and some cooked eggs mixed with water, and greens that have been cut up with scissors. You can use non-medicated chick feed to feed the ducklings too, but we don't have any right now so I made the morning feed.

I used a mix of things we had around the house: oatmeal leftover from the Beet bulk food buying club, egg yolks from our many eggs, apple seconds that cost $3 a small bushel at the farmer's market and don't taste that great, and some chives growing in a pot on the back porch.

The the way, the apples in the background are more of the cut up apple seconds, those are bunny and chicken treats.

Homemade Duckling Feed

cooked egg
chopped apple (optional- if you have it)
Greens (Weeds are fine if they are young and tender, spinach, etc.)
Hot water

Mix all ingredients together in a heatsafe container. Pour hot water over the oatmeal and egg, and other optional grains or fruits until it is rather wet. Make sure everything is in small bits. Let cool a bit and add the chopped greens.

The recipe may seem like a bit of work, but a good idea is to make a big batch and keep it in some dedicated duckling feed containers in the fridge so you have it for the week.

I'll keep you all posted on the duckling news!

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