Free Ranging the Ducks

The ducks were allowed out of the pen yesterday for the first time. It took 4 of us to herd them to the open field of clover and weeds, but they were very happy to be there once they got there and then figured out where the water was at. Since they’d denuded their pen of almost all greenery they were very excited to have a chance at more. The lower raspberry leaves seemed to be a particular favorite. It only took 2 people to move them this morning.

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I am trying to figure out how to build a different duckling brooder in my mind so that if we ever do brood ducks again, it will be easier to keep things cleaner and drier. Maybe an elevated brooder box with a wire floor set over a tote or a trough that has a drainage outlet to catch water, so I can attach to a hose so it drains outside when I want it to.

I think our number of female ducks is not as high as I want it to be. I guess at it every day, but all I know for sure is that one Welsh Harlequin is a female and 3 Pekins are females and 1 Pekin is male. Now I think there is more quacking than that going on with the Welshies, but I don’t know how many. But 3 drakes is pushing it a bit, which is what I think I have, but it might be as much as five drakes (I’m never sure who exactly is quacking) to 4 females and that won’t work. I don’t want to have too many boys to girls or the girls will be miserable. So we will have to raise more girls at some point to get the ratios right. Maybe next year. Maybe towards the end of summer. We can get them sexed from one hatchery and that may be the way we go. Although if I could find some adult female WH I’d pay the extra to get 2 or 3.

Considering that Pekins are big enough to butcher at 8 weeks old, without all the side effects that a Cornish Cross chicken may end up with, they are definitely a meat bird I want to raise again. Since Pekins don’t brood, really, it will mean incubating and raising them in a brooder for the first few weeks unless one of the Welshies will hatch Pekin eggs and raise the ducklings.

Maybe if I get some female WH ducklings towards the end of summer I can also get some Pekins to round out the order (they like to ship in batches of 15). Mom will be done raising her meat chickens by then and I can use that coop and run to raise them in. With 12 Pekins we could have duck once a month. And then have my 3 new WH girls would be old enough and big enough at 8 weeks old to add to the flock.

The husband got home some time in the middle of the night and late this morning we built the fence up for the straw bale garden, so now the chickens and ducks can’t go in there and devastate it. I will be transplanting this weekend at last and we will see how this whole thing works out. I have never done a straw bale garden before, but I am very hopeful based on what I have seen online. I still have to wait a while for 8 of the bales to finish conditioning, but I can plant six of them.

Tomorrow we will move the duck coop and then we will start on the turkey enclosure. The turkey poults and chicken pullets will go into a couple of the rabbit tractors while we are building it so they don’t freak out. Especially since we still need to cut out the hole for the ramp. I don’t know how long it will take to build. I am hoping it will go together much faster than the coops did, since it is really just a pen with a roof.

Two more hours and we can head out to go get my new red doe. I am excited to bring her home. Then I’ll just have to wait 4.5 months and I can start breeding her with Wildfire and I’ll get unrelated red kits. It seems like a long time from now, but I know it will go by quickly.

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