KW Homestead

Pasture Raised Poultry from Our Family to Yours

Month: March 2015 (page 1 of 2)

How Much Feed and Water do Ducklings Need?

Now that you have your day old ducklings  in their brooder(seriously, aren’t they cute?)it’s time to feed and water them.

feed ducklings

baby ducks!

What to feed them?

We feed Non-GMO Starter, a 22% protein mash that provides all the nutrients and energy for fast growing baby ducks. We also like to throw in a chunk of sod from the pasture, to give them some exposure to soil microorganisms, grit, grass and bugs.

ducklings grass

learning how to graze pasture!

How much do they eat?

The rule of thumb for ducklings, and most other baby animals, is to give them free choice access to their feed for the first days/week. After this point, ducks that are being raised to breed, or for egg production, are best off being fed a restricted diet based on age. This helps to control excessive weight gain, which can lead to lower fertility and decreased egg production.

ducklings water

ducklings are very messy, the paper towels help somewhat to keep their bedding dry

Metzer farms has a great article on the daily feed/water consumption and manure output for ducklings based on age. According to this chart, our 67 ducklings should have eaten .5 lb of feed each over their first week of life, or about 33.5 lbs. total. Judging by whats left in the 50 lb. bag of starter, I don’t think they have eaten quite that much, but they were traveling in a box for 2 days, so that might have skewed the figures.

The chart also shows that each duckling will drink almost 1/2 gallon of water during their first week of life, and up to 2 gallons of water per week as they get older. I think that our duck nipple waterers help them drink more efficiently though.

ducklings funny

you talking to me?

As for manure output, after 1 week, ducklings deposit almost 1 pound each, and by 7 weeks they are dropping 7 pounds each per week! That’s a lot of fertility! Now, these numbers are “wet” numbers and are mostly water,but still, that’s pretty impressive.

 

*Tired of feeding chemical genetically modified chicken feed to your flock? Check out our freshly milled, non gmo layer feed!

Duckling House and Bedding

This video features our ducklings again!

Also included is an explanation of their house and bedding…

.:.

Non GMO Duck Starter

What do you feed 67 day old ducklings?

Non GMO Duck Starter!

In this video our new ducklings give their opinion on our 22% protein Chick Starter feed. It’s high in protein and nutrients for rapid growth and development of goslings, ducklings, and chicks and made from 100% GMO free ingredients with no antibiotics or hormones.

If you are in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Stokes or Rockingham county make sure to pick up a bag of the freshest Non GMO feed in the Triad. It’s duckling approved!

We also have layer, broiler/grower, pig, and any other livestock feed you can think of, as well as organic fertilizers and mineral supplements. Find out how to order here.

Welcome to Heaven: Meet the New Ducklings!

Today the new ducklings arrived at the post office, and we went to get them!

They were fantastic when they emerged from the box and very quickly started eating and drinking. They are very relaxed and literally the cutest things I have ever seen!

This video explains a little bit about them and the breeds we have…

Dodger the Goose

The other day we finished setting up the new goose paddock system. It consists of cut cattle panels wrapped in 2 inch chicken wire and has been pretty successful, other than needing to clip Audo’s wings (video to come soon).

Of course, the first day we set up the new fence, who else but Dodger came to check it out and lay on top of everything.

goose fence

Dodger and the Geese

He even went inside and snuggled with some goose eggs.

cat nest

a great place to nap

Dodgey!

Pseudo Straw Bale Potato Gardening

Last year we grew 9 different varieties of Irish Potatoes in our garden. We also grew sunchokes and sweet potatoes, and while there’s nothing quite like a fried potato, this year we decided to focus less on Irish potatoes, and more on other tuber crops.

Still, we figured we would try a low risk garden experiment this season by planting our seed potatoes in raised straw beds. Some advantages to this approach are that as the potatoes grow, instead of hilling them up with soil, we simply add more and more straw to cover the stems and encourage more tuber development. Because the potatoes grow in straw instead of soil, harvesting is easier and the tubers come out cleaner.

creative wedding seats

the first function of our wedding strawbales…. photo by Jenny Tenney Photography

Last fall, after our homestead wedding, where we used straw bales benches, we strategically stacked the leftover bales in our garden area along the same contour layout of our raised beds. The thought was to simultaneously kill off the weeds and grasses underneath the bales and prepare the soil for new beds while conditioning the bales for planting.

We ended up going in a different direction though when spring came around, deciding to instead raise potatoes above the ground, and constantly add layers of straw to the growing stems.

straw mulch garden

well muclhed and weed free

First, I had to move the strawbales into a big pile next to the planting area. This exposed the nicely prepared and weed free “bed”. Hopefully this new pile will smother any weeds under it and allow us to expand this experiment in a few weeks.   I then added a sprinkling of organic fertilizers and compost. I used a mixture of bone, blood, alfalfa, kelp and greensand, and then covered it with a nice layer of decomposing straw.

potatoes straw bale

Densely planted for high yields of tasty potatoes!

This is when I added the seed potatoes. I laid them out in multiple staggered rows, about 1 foot apart. I then went through and liberally gave each seed potato a handful of compost, and another pinch of fertilizer.

purple majesty seed potato

purple majesty seed potato

On top of this went a big layer of straw, probably 4-6 inches high, and then another light dusting of compost of fertilizer.

straw bale gardening potatoes

the compost and organic fertilizer should help break down the straw into humus and keep our potatoes healthy

I am fertilizing this patch heavier than I would normally because the straw is high in carbon, and will require some extra nitrogen to fully breakdown. The end result should be a beautifully composted soil, and a nice harvest of potatoes as a bonus.

This kind of planting will need a little extra attention in the beginning, especially during dry spells, because the upper layers of straw have a tendency to dry out. Once the straw is 18 or so inches high I don’t think it will be problem anymore. If the potatoes seem to do okay, we may just try some sweet potatoes this way as well. I can’t believe that it’s almost time to start sweet potatoes slips again!

Holy Duck: A Home for the Babies

Spring is here and you might already know about our first batch of Spring babies… Our 30 Khaki Campbell ducks!

We kept them inside for a little while and after the weather became consistently warmer we decided that it was high time they got kicked out (they were smelly and so messy!).

We wanted to be sure to build them a space that was near the house so they would be safer and easier to feed and watch. We also needed their space to be sheltered and secure, so a perfect spot seemed like the carport! Mind you, once we finish the poultry brood house (posts about this forthcoming) most ducks and other babies will grow up in there!

We need a bigger space than before so they would have room to run and spead out, but we were limited by the carport space, which actually worked out well… 2 cattle panels (oh, how we love to use cattle panels!), folded in the middle at right angles made a great 8′ x 8′ space for them. These panels were covered with chicken wire to keep ducks in and sneaky bad guys out (foxes, raccoons, possums…).

cage

The carport pen!

The dog crate that was their only home before, became the space where they could escape the wind and bask under the heat lamp.

crate

Inside their cozy dog crate.

We learned quickly that they really didn’t care much about the heat lamp beginning around 3 weeks old and for the past week or two we haven’t been turning it on very often! The dog crate was surrounded with plywood and cardboard which act as walls, and covered with a blanket to keep in their warmth.

crate

Not beautiful, but very functional!

The first few days they were outside we locked them in the dog crate at night to be sure they were warm and safe, but we’ve since realized that leaving the carport light on makes them safe enough and they really enjoy spreading out!

The entirety of the 8′ x 8′ pen  was lined with large cardboard pieces to keep the floor of the carport from becoming too stained and gross, and the cardboard was covered with leaves, straw, and pine chips to absorb their pooping and bathing shenanigans.

In one corner of their pen their 5 gallon water bucket hangs, suspended by an old metal pipe. Nipples (plastic ones, folks!) hang from the bucket and we refill their supply by pouring in water from the top. Pretty easy! Underneath the bucket is a large metal pan with hardware cloth attached on top. This collects any stray water droplets (and there are a lot!) and keeps the rest of the pen from getting totally soaked. We have to dump this pan out every few days so it doesn’t overflow.

water bucket

Water for the ducklings!

 

ducklings

The flock, keeping as far away from me as possible!

We finished the cage off with bird netting on top, just in case. We doubted that any hawk would be audacious enough to fly into the carport to snatch baby ducks, but stranger things have happened and we wanted to be safe.

The ducks are 5 weeks old now, and they are really starting to get adult feathers. Soon they’ll be big enough to move out into the real world–just in time for ducklings-batch-2 to arrive in about a week-and-a-half!

.:,

Non-GMO Feed Now In Stock!

We just received a ton of Non GMO livestock feed. Literally, 1 ton.

We got some high protein turkey starter for our Bourbon Red Heritage Turkeys, some 16% laying feed for the chickens, a bunch of 18% grower/broiler feed for the teenage chickens and ducks, some pig food, and a few bags of chick starter for our next batch of ducks that will be showing up soon.

Non GMO feed greensboro

40 Bags of high quality, freshly milled GMO Free feed

We are very excited to start feeding only GMO free feed to our livestock. For some of the reasons why GMO free is important us, check out this post.

It was very hard to find a source for Non GMO chicken and livestock feed in our area, but after months of searching for an affordable option, we are excited to finally be able to offer some of the highest quality feed available to other small producers and backyard growers in the Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Rockingham and Stokes County areas.

GMO Free Chicken feed Greensboro

High quality feed means happy hens, and happy hens mean delicious eggs!

This feed is milled fresh (as in 3 days ago) from high quality, 100% GMO free grains and without any medications, hormones, or antibiotics.

Pricing

All feeds in 50 lb. bags

  • Layer – 22.50
  • Broiler/Grower – 24
  • Chick Starter – 25
  • Turkey Starter – 26
  • Pig – 21
  • Sheep/Goat – 24
  • Cracked Corn – 17

Soy free feeds are available for an additional fee.

In the future we hope to offer some of the other supplements we use on our homestead (for both plants and animals) like kelp, rock dust, diatomaceous earth, and other types of mineral and protein supplements.

If you would like more information, send us an email at ourochreway@gmail.com or shoot us a message on Facebook.

Morning Chores!

We put together a short video of our morning homestead chores.

Emma feeds, waters, and lets the chickens out (both the laying flock and the teenage cockerels), while Jason feeds, waters and checks on the ducklings and the pot belly pigs.

The geese are okay until the afternoon, when they get some food, fresh water, and maybe a paddock shift.

Our morning routine is going to change somewhat when our batch of heritage turkey poults arrive, and also when our ducks graduate form the brooder to their new shelter.

*Don’t forget to pre-order your GMO Free Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving!

Goose Nest!

We found a secret goose nest the other day, filled with 10 eggs!

The eggs were completely covered with leaves and partially buried in the pebbles and leaf mulch surrounding our front porch!

goose nest

Goose nest right by the front porch!

The only reason that I noticed the nest at all was because China was laying in the leaves, totally flattened out as if she were dead. Since she’s usually very wiggly and noisy, I was surprised about how quiet and still she was! She didn’t move when I came close to her, and didn’t even blink. I watched to see if she was breathing, and I didn’t see any movement at all. I suppose she was holding her breath, but I was worried she was hurt (or worse)!

I even poked her with a stick and she refused to move.

I walked away to see if she would act normally once I left, and later I could see that her head was up and looking around. An hour later when I was back inside, I looked out the window to see her walking around the yard as usual.

That’s when I realized that she had to have been sitting on a nest! Geese will sometimes try to “lay low” by being still and quiet if they think danger approaches them and their nest.

When I checked out the nest I counted 8 eggs, and a day later there was 10!

Unfortunately the geese have not been sitting on them consistently (they trade off) so we don’t think they are viable eggs. But, we’ll see! Such an exciting springtime surprise, anyway!

eggs

First goose eggs of the year!

.:.

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