Accidental integration

Accidental integration

How about this for a pretty sight:

The last thing I thought I’d see when I woke this morning!

Rewinding a day; yesterday I collected loads of Snowy’s feathers from underneath the water bucket.  She was moulting a bit since her last bout of broodiness but this amount in one place made me wonder if some kind of struggle had occured. I checked her over and all seemed well.  I also found a cracked egg in the nestbox, which is unusual.

A lot of Snowy’s feathers, all in one place

The ducklings are doing good, constantly getting bigger, unbelievably bigger. It’s hard to tell which is which most of the time. And they can be quite noisey!

This is a great shot of how big they are!

Some weird things happened today. 

The first thing was while I was in the run with the ducklings. The chickens were out in their part of the garden and started making some noise, as I looked round I heard and saw a squirrel walking along the fence. We’ve never seen squirrels here before and it instantly answered a question I had.  Yesterday the chickens were scratching around underneath the bushes and all of a sudden they went crazy, I looked over to see that Zazu had got caught in the Omlet fence trying to escape something.  I went over to help and she escaped by herself, there were no threats to be seen but I wondered what had spooked them, they weren’t happy for a while.  

I now think it was a squirrel. 

I couldn’t believe it.  He made his way over to the left until I approached and he ran across to the right

I then did some inconclusive research as to whether squirrels are a threat to chickens.  I also thought back to the feathers and the broken egg but that can’t possibly be the cause.

The next strange event was when I spotted a Seagull on the roof of the run. The chickens were stood outside near the bushes, looking up with confusion. I then watched as it started pecking the roof above the ducklings, surely it wasn’t trying to get them 🙁

It only looks like a baby, but I’m not a fan of them

Later on I locked the chickens in their outside area and let the ducklings out for a run on the grass.  The ducklings seemed to love it and explored the area.  The chickens were watching and pacing backwards and forwards along the fence, not wanting to attack but wanting to be on the grass too!

Jealous chickens!

Then, to my surprise, Star flew over the fence while I had my back turned.  I heard the flapping noise and when I turned round she was just coming in to land. This explains a few of the escapes and now that she’s figured it out I won’t be able to leave them out while unattended, which is a shame.

She didn’t go anywhere near the ducklings and was happy to have access to the grass.  I then decided to bite the bullet and let the others out.  And they all got along fine!

I really was surprised

It turns out that the chickens were leaving the ducklings alone, they were intrigued by them but didn’t peck them.  That’s until the ducklings pecked the chickens!  They were all sharing a dish of water and the ducklings seemed quite territorial over it.  Star ran off when she got pecked but Belle retaliated and pecked back so my eldest stepped in and moved Belle away. 

Then they all headed in to the run, and when one of the ducklings pecked Zazu, she then squared up and pecked back.  I quickly lifted the ducklings back to their run and called it a day, a good day though.

Once in the chicken run, they are outsiders

They put themselves to bed again and were snuggled under the heat plate!

Keeping warm

We have mice again.  I’ve moved the food off the floor and installed two Little Nippers that my Dad gave me.  

If they go in the shed they’ll be trapped
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Quick duckling update

Quick duckling update

This is a positive update.  Mr Drake (not his official name :D) seems to be stronger now.

Yesterday morning I let them out of the coop and both came jumping out, walked straight to the food and water then ran around.  Fantastic.  The chicken coop door hadn’t closed fully due to a blocked sensor, there was a 3″ gap at the bottom. While I was sorting the ducklings, Snowy appeared near my feet, she must have pushed her head through the gap and slid the door up. I could hear the three big ones who were still in the coop and it sounded like they were slightly envious!

I’ve been away so only been checking in via the camera and I haven’t seen him struggling at all. They’re either lay together resting or walking around foraging. 

Sam let them out this morning and all was well.  Right now they’re foraging in the chopped straw, waggling their tails and darting around the run. 

I’m not sure if the Niacin is helping as there was a slight improvement before I started giving it.  It can’t do any harm though so I’ll keep mixing it into their food.  It isn’t required once they’ve fully grown. 

Happily foraging as normal

It is such a massive relief that all seems normal again in the chicken (&duck) run.

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Is Niacin the answer?

Is Niacin the answer?

When I checked on the ducklings yesterday evening they’d put themselves to bed.  I always creep out of the back door in an attempt to sneak up and see if they’ve gone in, normally they haven’t.  As I got there they came out to see me.

It was then that I saw one of them was having issues standing up, it was the drake.  He was hobbling about on his knees.

Indian Runner Ducks do this thing where they’ll randomly drop their legs and lie down.  They’ll wag their tail, run around and then drop down. It reminds me of a playful puppy.  This is different.  I observed him and he really was struggling.  This is terrible.

Checking him over everything else seems normal, no visible issues, he’s eating, drinking and seems happy enough but struggles standing.

I quickly got a dish of water and they both had a big drink and rummage around in it.  They like looking for bits of food in the water so I sprinkled some in and he was eating it.  I then tried some probiotic yoghurt but they weren’t interested, I watered it down and they still weren’t interested. 

They then started hoovering around in the wood chips and seemed to be eating them.  I wondered whether they’d been filling up on wood rather than nutritious food and he was low on energy.

So next I made some mash from layers pellets and warm water, they ate some of that but also went to the dry food as well.  I was happy that I’d seen him eat some food and have plenty of water and locked them in the Eglu coop for the night.

Next up was to remove the woodchips and replace with non-chopped straw, I had just enough left. I cleaned and disinfected everything and put fresh food and water.

The rest of the evening was spent trying to make sense of this – it seems that it’s a common occurrence in ducklings and is due to a Niacin (vitamin B3) deficiency.  They currently have “duck and goose growers” feed which as the name suggests is aimed at ducks and is correct for their age. 

It seems some ducklings require more Niacin and there are various ways to achieve it. The best being Brewers Yeast powder added to the feed and they usually bounce back in a few days.

This morning he was still struggling.  I checked on them via the camera throughout the day and they were lying together each time. Until about 4pm when I saw them both walking around normally. This is amazing!  Then another check later on I saw him struggling a bit again.

I went and got some Brewers Yeast.

Picked up some Brewers Yeast

When I got home I found them both walking about which again is brilliant but I noticed some runny poop.

To get some of the vitamins into them I mixed one flat tablespoon of the powder into some water and they had a good amount.  That was then followed up with a bowl of fresh water so they could clean their beaks and rinsed it down. 

Drinking the Brewers Yeast water

I then got them to bed and cleaned everything again.  The soiled straw was replaced with chopped straw.  The drinkers were disinfected and topped up with fresh water and some Apple Cider Vinegar and the food was replaced with fresh plus a layer of Brewers Yeast on top.

Fingers crossed this is the right diagnosis and I’ve caught and treated it early. 

Oh, I called the local vet but the receptionist didn’t know about ducklings and although the vet could see Mr Drake, they didn’t have Niacin in stock so I couldn’t start treating for at least another day. 

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The Penthouse

The Penthouse

Weeks ago I started building the Pentduckhouse in preperation for when the ducks hatched, the intention being that it would be built as a safer area for the ducklings and Snowy would be moved there with them.

But she abandoned the nest.

So the two ducklings lived in the house in the brooder cage that the chickens once stayed in.  This was great as we watched them grow and spent lots of time with them.  We all learnt a lot about ducks in this time, one of them things is that they get their food and bedding wet and the resultant smell isn’t great in the house!

It got to the point that the smell and also their size meant they needed to be moved out.  So on New Years Eve I worked on the Penthouse in an attempt to finish it.

My work was inspected regularly
Belle started making loads of noise, it turned out she wanted to lay her egg
I knocked a whole tub of screws on the floor 🙁

I got it to a point where only the door needed to be built, I couldn’t continue as I needed more timber, it was very cold anyway.  The roof of the Penthouse is weld-mesh that is stapled around the edges.  I picked up a cheap staple gun and it was amazing for fitting the mesh.  In the past I’ve used u-nails and hammered them in, arguably tougher but a lot more work.  The staples are very secure and easy to work with.

Just needs a door and plenty of wood chips
I’m quite happy with it
So I went back in the house and we spent a bit more time with the ducklings

New Years Day came and with the shops being shut I knew we wouldn’t be able to get the timber needed so the Penthouse lay vacant for one more day.  We spent most of the day at a local Zoo and saw loads of animals inlcuding some hens and ducks!

As usual that evening the ducks watched TV with us 😀

They are happy and playful when sat on your knee but also like to rest and sleep

On January 2nd I got the supplies, built the door, filled the area with wood chips and hooked up the heat-plate inside the Eglu coop.   It was time for the ducklings to move to their new home.  They travelled via a Debenhams box and once inside they ran around and seemed excited by the extra room.

Welcome to the Penthouse!
Checking out the coop- but will they put themselves to bed?

It turns out they didn’t put themselves to bed and I had to go and put them in.  The following morning we let them out and they happily lounged around, ran, ate and drank.

Meanwhile, we gave the chickens their Christmas presents, some “Chicken popcorn with garlic” and a Hentastic “Foraging treat”.  They loved the popcorn, especially Snowy who would grab it and run and not let anyone steal it from her!

Snowy running off with some chicken popcorn

Since then the ducks have put themselves to bed once, which surprised me, all other times they’ve been out when I get there to close the door.  Unless they are exiting the coop when they hear me coming out of the back door.

Life has been crazy busy for some reason over the last week or so but this picture from the 7th shows the size and colour of the ducklings now.  They are starting to feather and look to be the “fawn and white” colour.  One now sounds like a duck and the other seems to have curly feathers on the rump which I believe is the sign of a drake.

Compared to my last post they have grown a lot!

They seem to grow a lot quicker than chickens and should look very nice once they are fully feathered.  I am not sure what our plans are with regards to how long we are keeping them.  I would like to see them fully grown if possible.

As for the chickens, in particular the three big ones, they were intrigued by the newcomers presence but haven’t shown any aggression or made any noise.  Nothing like when Snowy arrived, but I guess it’s a little more intimidating as there’s two ducklings.  As for Snowy, I put her in with them and she hated it, the ducklings were following her around and she just wanted to get away.  It seemed that the ducklings took to her instantly, it’s a shame Snowy didn’t embrace it, she wasn’t aggressive towards them but I got her out as she didn’t like it.

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year

For over a week I haven’t touched a computer.  It’s been very refreshing as normally my days are taken up with them.  It has however meant that I’ve fallen behind with updating the blog.  I can update from my phone via the WordPress app but prefer to type on a proper keyboard.

Happy New Year!

I am purposely keeping this post short, it’s my last day off work and I have loads of jobs to do.

The next few posts will act as a catch up;

  • The ducklings are MASSIVE!
  • I finished enclosure for the ducklings (The Penthouse)
  • The ducklings spent their first night in their new enclosure last night – with the heat plate


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