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Lou's Tips

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If you use portable plastic pools for your ducks, remember that moulting birds lose much of their ability to repel water. Always provide a ramp the birds can use to get out of the pool. An inverted V shape piece of hardware cloth makes a good ramp.


Be sure to treat regularly for mites during the warm weather. Birds are already stressed when they moult and mite infestation will further weaken them.


Continue to provide high quality feed to your birds (waterfowl and chickens) during the summer. When they moult, they need quality protein to to regrow their plumage. Scrimping by just feeding corn would be a mistake.


As the breeding season ends, remember to stop making oyster shell available to the birds  (waterfowl) as it can do organ damage to them when not needed for egg shell production.


Be careful about the shelf life of medications you depend upon. Some antibiotics, for example, begin to lose their potency. Have such products on hand rather than having to send for them when they are needed.


Try to never let young chicks, ducklings or goslings go without water for more than an hour or so. If they have been without for an extended period, give them room temperature water in small amounts. Large amounts of cold water can kill them.


Having trouble hatching waterfowl eggs in an incubator with an automatic turner? Turn it off and hand turn the eggs (laid on their sides) three times a day 90 degrees.


Incubator tips: Clean out debris and unhatched eggs each time a hatch comes off. Bacteria thrive in such a situation if the incubator is not kept clean. Use distilled water in the incubator. Minerals in tap water can ruin moisture trays.


Incubator tips: One key to good hatches is proper hatching egg storage. Store them in a cool place and store them no longer than one week if at all possible. The egg surface should be as free of dirt as possible but with waterfowl, try not to remove the protective coating. Rinse eggs gently with water warmer than the egg surface.


Eye infections are common in waterfowl, especially during the winter. They can be minimized by providing clean water for bathing all year around. Opthalmic antibiotics should be used to treat such infections which can result in the loss of sight in some situations.


Be sure that ducklings and chicks in their first week of life do not paste up over their vents. If they do and it goes unnoticed, they could be in serious digestive trouble within days that could prove fatal. Pick any manure that collects in the fluff around the vent area off. Once they get to 10 days or two weeks old, it usually is not a problem.


If you intend to exhibit at a spring show, go over the birds you intend to show 6 weeks prior pulling frayed and broken feathers and clipping toenails.


Before starting up that incubator, be sure to disinfect the interior thoroughly using Oxine or diluted bleach water. Then, change out the wafer on wafer based thermostats. The cost of a new wafer is insignificant compared to the cost of a machine full of cooked eggs. Test run the incubator for 48 hours prior to setting eggs.


Do not expect to purchase good breeding/show stock in any type of poultry as the breeding season is about to start. It does not make sense for a breeder to stand the cost and risk of over wintering good birds only to sell them at that time unless he gets a price that offsets the loss of potential youngsters.


Begin feeding oyster shell a few weeks prior to when you expect the first eggs. Doing so should help avoid shelless eggs early in production.


Both artificial heat and light can trigger a partial or even complete moult in both chickens and ducks. Both should be used carefully and sparingly. The daylight should be extended by no more than one hour per every two week period.


The introduction of clean, fresh water pans or shallow pools often stimulate both ducks and geese to breed.


With heavy feathered breeds of chickens, pluck or trim the area just below the vents on both males and females for better fertility.


Change over to breeder feed about one month before you want egg production to begin. Begin making oyster shell available about the same time.


To get good fertility when using lights to stimulate winter egg production, put the males under the lights for at least two weeks before the females are introduced.


Remember that the vitamin package in your feed is the most fragile component of the feed and has the shortest shelf life. If one is using feed more than a few months old, it may be good to supplement the vitamins.


Be sure to treat poultry for mites and lice during the winter prior to the start of the breeding season. An infestation of mites in particular can reduce productivity and fertility. Best to treat every six to eight weeks.


Do not resort to heat lamps to provide heat at night  during the winter unless you are prepared to have your birds begin to lay out of season.


Be sure to provide bedding which is at least one inch deep during periods of severe cold. Nestling in the bedding will help the birds maintain their body temps. Pine shavings or clean straw make good bedding materials.


Bantams in particular can find it difficult to maintain proper weight in extremely cold weather because of their small body mass and high metabolism. It is important to provide them with grain such as corn which is high in fat at such times. one third of their ration in whole corn during at least January and February would be wise in cold climates.