Tag Archives: Bird

Ducks 101

We decided to get ducks! Why? ..My daughter said she would help take care of them. Other than that, I’ll let you know as soon as I know. For now they’re soft, cute and cuddly.

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I did a little research before I gave the final OK and here’s what I found out.

Basics Information (Ours are Pekins, the most common breed)

Ducks are water fowl. They get along with other fowl and also other friendly, safe, domestic pets. They like to swim and like to lay in the shade.

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Females are called ducks, males are called drakes and babies are called ducklings. Drakes are quieter than ducks and can be identified by a curl feather on their tail.

Ducklings are covered in down until feathers come in 1 – 3 months. They start laying eggs by about 4-6 months old and lay at least 200 eggs per year. Ducks will not sit on a clutch of eggs until there is about 15 eggs.

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Duck eggs are larger than chicken eggs, richer tasting and the yoke is a brighter orange. (I’ll let you know in the spring :)).

Most ducks are larger and heavier than chickens and larger ducks generally don’t fly.

Food and Water

Ducks don’t scratch like chickens do, but they do forage for bugs and some foliage and garden plants such as lettuce and strawberries. They don’t have teeth, so all vegetables fed to them should be soft. There main feed is duck or wild game starter, which are higher in protein and calcium than chicken feed.

Ducks like to play in water and can get things very muddy. It is not necessary that they have water to play in, but it should be deep enough for them to submerge their head, to clean their nostrils, eyes and to drink. Water should be kept clean, changing daily if necessary.

Housing

Ducks need shelter from the elements and predators. Something like a dog house works well as long as it is made predator proof from raccoon, possums, neighborhood cats and dogs. A safe area to stretch out and run around in will keep them happy and healthy.

Ducks don’t normally put themselves to bed like chickens do, but they can be trained to go in their coop at night. They don’t need nesting boxes, they’ll lay anywhere.

Litter may need to be changed daily if it’s getting wet. It needs to be kept dry to prevent bacteria and disease.

On to the scrap pile to build a duck house!

*Photos by Dena Speropulos

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Chickens 101

People ask me all kinds of questions when they find out I have chickens. Now that I’m at the market with a few of my girls, I get dozens of those questions every week. I thought a short, basic chicken lesson would help. For more information, there are hundreds of websites, blogs and pages about chickens. Or maybe someday I’ll write a part two. (“>

First, let me answer the most common questions.

  • No, not all “chickens” lay eggs. Only the female “hens” lay eggs.
  • Most young hens lay one egg a day, 5-6 days per week.
  • Hens start laying eggs somewhere between 4-6 months old.
  • No, not all eggs have chicks in them, only the eggs fertilized… by a rooster…before laying.
  • Males and females both have combs and wattles. Most males have more prominent combs and wattles than their female counterparts.
  • Most chickens can fly short distances, over fences or up into trees where they naturally roost.
Next, let’s get our terminology straight.
  • Adult females are called hens.
  • Females that are too young to lay eggs are called pullets.
  • Adult males are called roosters.
  • Males under 1 year are called cockerels.
  • Baby chickens are called chicks.
  • comb is on the top of their heads and the wattles are on the sides of their beaks.
  • Chickens loose their feathers once a year in a molt.
  • coop is a hen house with a roost to stand on and a nesting box to lay in.

Finally, here are some other helpful and interesting facts.

  • Hens need 12-16 hours daylight to lay eggs. Most free-range hens don’t lay during the winter due to the shorter days.
  • Chickens live about 5-10 years depending on the breed.
  • Some breeds are better layers while others are better for their meat, “broilers” or “fryers”.
  • Chickens eat most anything. Grubs, popcorn, leftovers and scraps. Feed, water and egg shells and they’re good to go!
  • DO NOT feed them citrus, avocado skin or pit, raw eggs, salt or sugar.
  • They put themselves to bed at sunset.
  • Chickens are very social and fun to watch.
  • Chickens are easy to take care of. Food, water, hay for the nesting box, a safe place to roost for the night and a safe pen to run around in during the day. Don’t forget to check for eggs!
Have fun!   (“>