Friday, 27 June 2008

Now we have ducklings!

The four birds on the right are Samson, Thelma, Louise and Delilah, our Muscovy
Ducks. Unlike "regular" domestic ducks, they are not descended from mallards.

The wattling around the face, more noticeable in the drake, is an obvious
physical difference. The don't quack like mallard type ducks. The drakes are virtually mute, making no more than a hissing sound, and the ducks make various pipping noises.

Their eggs take 35 days to incubate, unlike other ducks which take 28 (
see entries about Wee Curly elsewhere in this blog), and the offspring of a
muscovy/mallard cross will be infertile.

We put 2 dozen of their eggs in the incubator 6 weeks ago. We know they are true Muscovies, as we have all parents, so we knew it was going to be a long incubation (5 weeks).

The first hatched out 2 days early, and the last 2 days late. A few started, but never made it out. I suspect I had the humidity in the incubator too low (60%).

The small incubator has another 8 eggs due a week later (tomorrow!), and I have the humidity up at 74%. We'll see if that produces better results.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Leghorn Chicks - Cock & Hen - 5 weeks

The chicks are looking more like hens now.

For the next few weeks, the only real changes will be in size, although as can be seen from the photo of the male, they are now learning to perch.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Leghorn chicks at 4 weeks - Cock & Hen

Changes are more subtle now. The birds are slightly larger, the feathering to the head is now complete, and comb and wattles are more developed in the first bird shown.

This is the same bird as that shown at 3 weeks. Given the difference in "head furniture" between the two birds, I am assuming that the first is male and the second female.

A yellow band can be seen on the leg of the second bird. I ring all birds at about this age (when the rings won't fall off), so that I can track which hatching a bird came from, once they have been introduced into the main flock.

The weather is very warm now, and the chicks no longer need to be under a heat lamp, even at night. They are getting bigger also, and I have moved them from the (now crowded) brooding pen into a larger stall.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Lola's goslings aged 3 weeks

After 3 weeks , the goslings are thriving.

They have been out on the grass every day with the adults and are now 3 times their original size.

Experience over the last 3 years tells us that fairly soon they will start looking scruffy, before the feathers start to develop.

Because we didn't breed these birds, we don't have any real idea what their final colouring will be.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Leghorn chick - 3 weeks old

At 3 weeks, the chick appears almost entirely feathered.

There are bare areas on the sides of the bird where the down has gone but the feathers have not yet appeared, and the head is still largely covered with down.

The comb has started to develop colour, and overall the bird is beginning to look more like a hen than a chick.