Archive for September, 2016

Notes from ‘Rivendale’ #15

Posted: September 25, 2016 in Chickens, Ducks

The chicken keepers’ worst scenario last wednesday morning. Checked the chickens a little later than usual. Found a fox had gotten into the duck house which I thought was impregnable due to its roof. A scene of carnage inside. The little hen sitting on the duck eggs slaughtered together with all the chickens and the one rooster in this pen. Five dead in all. Not even eaten. I noticed a duck looking sore and picked her up. She had a some bad injuries under her wing.I thought she’d need putting down but put her in a pen to recover anyway. I was so angry. I wanted to tear the fox apart, poison it, anything. I considered photographing the bodies to show everyone why people want foxes dead, why they put out baits but thought better of it. Instead, I worked all day on a door for one pen and strengthening the defences of others. They’ll all have to be locked away each night now. Somehow the fox missed my 9 growing babies in the divided pen next to the ducks. They got shifted to the main pen where they have settled in well.

The ducks gave the fox a fight , I think as one of the drakes was skinned down the front and looking sore but ok. I heard nothing, not a thing.

The antidote is of course birth. On the following days we had two turkey babies hatch successfully and one tiny chick. All are still ok so far. I put all the duck eggs the duck and hen had been sitting on straight into the incubator. We shall see if they survive. Their candling looks good so far.

The injured duck is still alive 5 days later. I treated her wounds with salty water  and Iodine spray. She’s not happy being locked up in a cage under the brooder but its too hard to treat her if she goes back to the pen. In a few days, she should be right to return. The poor ducks hate being locked up in their pen but I have let them out and supervised them closely every second day. The chickens and turkeys have had a few goes out to free range as well but also closely supervised.  Things carry on but I miss the hens who used to scratch in gardens near the house and the beautiful red rooster who was so keen to be with them. I wished them a beautiful life next time around.

 

 

 

 

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Notes from ‘Rivendale’ #14

Posted: September 16, 2016 in Chickens
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Update on hatchlings: Six chicks hatched last weekend: 5 Arauconas and one Isa Brown cross. None of the silkie eggs hatched! One little Araucona died due to a hip and feet abnormality which meant it couldn’t move to where the heat was. I held him in my hand for quite some time trying to warm him up but he didn’t survive. There’s an Isa Brown cross hatching at the moment and the the two turkey eggs that looked viable are waiting in the hatching section of the incubator.

Last Sunday I went to the Moss Vale Poultry Auction. I always find these exciting. You never know what you’ll end up with. There were over 200 cages of lots of different varieties of birds for sale. From fancy show birds like white silkies  to job lots of 5 week old chickens. For the first time there were dozen lots of fertile eggs for sale. I went around and wrote down the birds I was interested in and got my bidder number. There were about 70 people there to see the birds and bid. I warned a few that you don’t always get what you want especially if others are bidding too.The most consistent sellers were batches of Isa Brown pullets because they are the best layers. Some birds went for up to $90 each if they were attractive breeds and hens. Many of the magnificent roosters didn’t sell, but I bought a lovely big black Langshan rooster for $10, the first buy of the day. The next best buy was 6 black Australorp unsexed chickens approx 6 weeks old.  I got all of them for $2 mainly because people are afraid they’ll get roosters. Then I bought a beautiful Polish cross grey pullet with a divided frilly comb for $16. After her got a job lot of 8 Araucona unsexed birds for $16. They are black, white and grey. When I got them home, I realised some had foot abnormalities common apparently to this breed but most are ok, so again a very good bargain. The buy of the day (possibly) was a dozen ‘Polish cross Frizzle Fertile Eggs’. No one bid on them so I got them for $2. Felt bad actually, as the pen cost $4 to the vendor, however, I couldn’t give them more at the checkout as this would have upset the computer system. If they hatch, they could be magnificent as I have seen their pedigree on a local Facebook site. Wow! Big top knot heads and frizzle feathers- a truly Bowral bird, so we shall see.

I desperately wanted to buy some great Quails but they were at the end of the auction, and I felt I’d bought enough already.  Maybe next time, as I didn’t have a specific pen ready for them anyway. Getting out early was a bonus and the line to pay for the birds can be very long and tedious. All the new birds have successfully transported to their new home and and settled in. I can already see the young ones growing rapidly.

On a sadder note, the Tuckling was taken by a fox this week together with two other hens. The poor poultry are now all kept shut up in their pens because the fox comes whenever he knows they are out, as the neighbours have also warned me. Settling a cage fox trap- humane- with various inducements  has , as yet, been unsuccessful. I remain hopeful.

Notes from ‘Rivendale’ #13

Posted: September 9, 2016 in Chickens
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Being in Canberra and driving on its crazy roads with their curved intersections where you have to almost put your neck out to see what’s coming to the right, made me very happy to get home. So loaded with IKEA furniture- there are some …few …advantages in a trip to Canberra, we arrived home. The cut daffodils displayed out the front had all sold out busily making money for us while we were away and my son had kept all the animals safe and fed. There was also a lot of eggs to collect in nests.

However, the stand out activity at the moment on the farm is reproduction. The turkey has laid 7 eggs so far and hopefully will start sitting on them soon. Three of the earlier ones are in the incubator for good measure along with a bigger than average clutch of chicken eggs. I got a bit carried away as the incubator is a 21 capacity. There’s 25 eggs in the incubator which started out with a batch of silkie eggs I bought from a breeder for the princely sum of $50. She also gave me 6 Araucana eggs for free as she wasn’t sure of the rooster and couldn’t say they were pure bred. These ones are blue and look really pretty. Well after a week in, I candled the Silkie eggs and only three seemed fertile which was a big disappointment. Normally , I’d leave them in but with space needed for the turkey eggs , I tossed them out. In their place, I put a few of my own eggs including a Isa brown/ red ruff cross and some eggs from the Langshans, minature black birds I had in with some small roosters and our white Frizzle called Sizzle.

So you can see I was keen to get home from and check the incubator. Today, Day 20,  a small black chick hatched out first, one of the Arauconas and he has dried to a very pretty fluffy grey. Two more so far have followed – one Araucona and another of indeterminate breed and they’re all happily sleeping now in the brooder in the garage. The miracle of birth never ceases to delight me- I look forward to what has hatched tomorrow.

In the duck house, a duck and a chicken are sharing sitting on a whacking great cluck of duck eggs and possibly some chicken eggs too. This also is my fault. I looked at the dozen fertile duck eggs I was going to sell and thought, why not put them all back in the nest and see if a duck goes broody? And sure enough, one of the chickens got happy at the sight of so many eggs and started sitting on them. Then a duck thought she needed to get in on the act too and the two of them are sharing the sitting, ie both are sitting at the same time in the same nest. My dilemma is this: Do I want ducklings imprinting a chicken as their mother? I’ve already seen the consequences of a turkey raising a duck- see earlier blogs on the ‘Tuckling’. I should set up the hen in the garage on a few eggs and then sneak the hatched chicks from the incubator under her in the disguise of night. Well , it’s a thought but I’m too tired to do it tonight, it’s gonna have to wait until tomorrow and that might bring a lot more chicks out, let’s see.

Auf Wiedersehen