Poultry Notes

hicks that are given outdoor freedom are seldom, if ever, bothered by leg weakness. The trouble almost always makes appearance in flocks that are confined indoors on wooden floors. The moral to this is obvious—get the chicks out on the ground at the earliest opportunity. 

                                                                                                                Reprinted from The Almanack of 1922

Killing and dressing turkeys is much simplified if one learns to bleed and kill turkeys correctly. When killing the birds, the back lobe of the brain should be pierced so that the feather muscles relax. This loosens the feathers and the bird is then much easier to pluck.
                                                                                                                                     From The Almanack of 1972
The biggest problem with chickens is that they usually will lay eggs for two-ish years, but they can live for up to 10. Once a hen stops “paying the rent”, she becomes one of two things: a pet or coq au vin for dinner! . If you’re doing this mainly for the eggs, coq au vin is the choice that makes the enterprise cost-effective.

The hen must not only sustain her own body, but to manufacture eggs must take in a variety of feed containing certain food values such as protein, fat, lime, and carbohydrates, of which the eggs are composed. 
Chicken poop breaks down easily, and if you have plenty of litter (wood shavings or wood chips work great) the poop — and the smell that goes with it — disappears via the miracle that is composting. Putting in plenty of litter is way easier than trying to keep the coop clean. Once a year, shovel it out, use it on your garden. Or not: A deep-litter coop can go a very long time without cleaning.
Ducks love to mix feed and water which will create a filthy waterer. They do not do it to be mucky, they need the water to soften the feed for digestibility. Separating the area helps to keep the feed a bit drier and the water a bit cleaner. However, do not completely remove water as it is imperative that ducks have easy access to water with their food.
As far as treats and snacks go ducks love leafy greens, zucchini, peas, corn, veggie peelings, berries, bananas, watermelon and grapes. They also love to eat slugs and do not generally destroy the plants in the process. Ducks also love splashing around in ponds so they help to keep pond vegetation under control too. Chickens will enjoy most of these as well.
Some of the more common health issues ducks can have and the recommended actions to take are listed below:
     Impacted crop: Just like chickens, ducks can get an impacted crop from eating the wrong things (bits of string, hardware, elastic bands, etc.). Treatment is similar to chickens: a massage, water, olive oil and grit.
     Botulism: This is common with ducks that swim or eat in water contaminated with dead mammals and stagnant water. If you suspect your duck has this then immediately take them to a vet as this can be fatal.
     Bumblefoot: It is caused by bacteria entering a cut or open area on the foot. Antibiotics will help heal the infection.
     Eye infections:  These can be caused by irritation or injury to the eye. Again, antibiotics will help to clear this up.
     Vent prolapse: The vent prolapse generally occurs after egg laying but can be a result of mating. It usually fixes itself

Apple cider vinegar ACV) is a healthy water additive.  By adding about 1 – 2 tablespoons per 4 litres of the hens’ drinking water, the acidic properties of ACV alter the PH of the water, helping to keep harmful organisms from growing. ACV will also help lessen slime in the water, help your hens to battle the stress of very hot days, help your chickens to digest their food better, and also encourage the good bacteria to thrive in their digestive system while discouraging the bad.

Ducklings are remarkably messy animals. They have no shame in dashing through their water, splashing it all around, tipping over their feed bowls, and tracking droppings into their water.

You can keep a brooder cleaner by limiting the goslings water, providing just a small trough for drinking and even removing their water for a few hours at night. But, unfortunately, even with great care, you will still find yourself cleaning the brooder quite regularly.

A duckling brooder should be between 90 to 95 degrees for the first week of life, and then come down by about 10 degrees per week until they are grown. Heating a brooder is best done with a regular light bulb or two, though you can use a special heating lamp. A heat lamp can be a fire hazard, but carefully placed it will keep the brooder nice and toasty. Keep a thermometer in the box so you can monitor just how warm it is for your ducklings. 

NEVER feed ducks without water. Water helps get food down and keep the duck’s beak vents clean. Always give baby ducks access to plenty of good, clean water for at least an hour before feeding.

Water should NEVER be more than ¼ inch deep. Make sure ducks can easily escape the water quickly.  Baby ducks love to play in water but are known to easily drown if they tire.  

Ducklings don't start producing e waterproofing oil for their feathers until about 4 weeks of age. In the wild, mothers apply it. Allowing the ducklings to swim too early have led to death from chill or even drowning from fatigue.


If you want to raise geese in order to enjoy the good, lean meat that they provide, you might want to consider the Toulouse breed of geese. 
Geese are effective weeders because they like grasses and stay away from broadleaf plants.

Geese can remove grass and weeds that, because they are close to other plants, cannot be removed by hoeing. In addition to weeding traditional crops, geese can be used to clean up forage on dikes and ditches that are difficult to maintain with equipment. Geese work all day long , removing grass and weeds as new growth appears. Geese will not damage the roots of crops. Geese will also graze when the ground is too wet to hoe. Using geese as weeders also adds fertilizer and organic matter to the soil.

Geese have a talent for telling the difference between regular, everyday sounds and sights from those that are unfamiliar. They are also very territorial. As a result, they will sound the alarm when there are intruders (of the two- or four-legged kind). Using geese as guard animals is not something new. Geese were used as guards by the Romans. Geese are the most effective as guard animals when they are kept in a flock. The flock, when threatened, will make a lot of noise!

When hatched, a chick weighs about one and a half ounces. It doubles this weight in six days, and under normal conditions, can be made to weigh up to two and a half pounds in just 12 weeks, which is more than twenty-five times its original weight.

Cabbage is one of the best of green feeds for poultry and a head a day hung up in the brooder house any time after the chicks are three weeks old, will be greedily eaten and the chicks will get exercise while picking the cabbage to pieces. Also, if the chicks are kept busy in this manner, they are less likely to start feather-picking or worse, cannibalism.
Red mites can stop hens laying or sitting on eggs as they irritate the hen. Tampans can cause paralysis and death. Both pests can be controlled by insecticidal powder registered for chickens.
Sticktight or hen fleas are small black insects that gather around the eyes and combs of chicks. They can be killed by a thick layer of Vaseline, as it stops them breathing.
Chickens also suffer from roundworms and tapeworms. If you slaughter a chicken, cut open the intestines to see if these are a problem. Worm remedies for poultry can be bought from your local co-op.

Although commercial birds are automatically vaccinated, this does not always happen in backyard flocks. Vaccines are available that can be dripped into the eyes of young chicks, used as a spray on birds in cages, or mixed into the drinking water. Buy them from your local co-op; full instructions are included on the leaflets or labels.
Newcastle disease is a virus that is deadly to unvaccinated chickens. It can kill your entire flock in a very short time and must be treated with the help of your local veterinarian.

Avoid using chemicals or special “washes” to disinfect the coop. Instead,  use a natural, homemade solution.