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For Mandarin ducklings, a few meal worms fed when they are 1-2 days old will usually jump start their eating reflex. That is especially important for the White Mandarins. It is not usually necessary for the domestic ducklings but they do love them.


Be sure to have spare parts, bulbs, etc. on handfor incubators and brooders before thestart of the breeding season. Entire batches of eggs, ducklings or chicks can be lost if one has to wait for parts to arrive.


Be sure to spray your breeding birds regularly for mites and lice. This is especially important prior to the breeding season. Do not assume that because they have access to swimming water, that waterfowl will not be bothered by those pests.


Do not worm waterfowl just before the breeding season as it could cause temporary sterility. Do not worm them in extremes of temperature as the worming adds to stress levels.


If you plan on showing at any spring shows, now is the time to go over potential show birds and remove any frayed or broken feathers. It can take 8 weeks to regrow a flight feather or other large feather.


Remember that medications, antibiotics in particular, may lose effectiveness as they age so pay attention to expiration dates. Also, be sure to store the meds properly.


Crumbleized feed if properly manufactured should remain in crumble form. If there are large amounts of fine dust at the bottom of the bag, it is significantly less nutritous and there is a lot of waste as poultry will not eat such dust.


Feed which is pelletized is probably the best for your poultry because each pellet contains the proper mix of ingredients. Pellets which do not contain the right amount of binder can fall apart. Do not tolerate such feed from your dealer.


Begin giving oyster shell to breeder waterfowl at least two weeks before egg production is expected. Do not give the birds the oyster shell after production is ended- it can cause organ damage at those times.


Mouldy feed can be fatal to all types of poultry. Protect your feed by storing it in dry, sealed containers such as garbage cans and always store it in a building.


Every poultry raiser should have some basic medications on hand. They would include a broad spectrum antibiotic, mite control sprays, anti coccidiosis meds, etc. Waiting while supplies come in the mail may cost the lives of sick birds.


Poultry supply sellers are to be found at most shows, especially the bigger ones. Make a list of needed medications, bands, etc. and pick them up at the show saving the cost of shipment.


Many experienced exhibitors bring both feed and water (in gal. jugs) to shows to speed up the adjustment for their birds to a new situation.


If one has a choice, always choose to arrive at a show the night before it begins rather than just before coop in. The birds will usually show better once they have gotten accustomed to their new surroundings.


Show birds either waterfowl or chickens need at least some coop training before they go to their first show. Some cooping used at home off and on to familarize them with the show experience will usually pay off.


Ducks and geese can freeze to metal surfaces if they rest on them after bathing in severe cold weather. Free them with hot water poured on the ice holding their feathers. Straw laid over metal surfaces can help prevent such problems.


It is vitally important to recognize when a duck or goose is ill. In my experience, the best indicators are the eyes. Eyes which appear listless are usually a sign that something is wrong. Other signs include loss of appetite and ruffled feathers.


While they will occasionally find some themselves, ducks should not be fed earthworms by their keepers since the worms can be intermediate hosts to parasites which can infest ducks.


Chickens which are shown a lot often get stale and lose their bloom. One way to revive them is to put them out in a range structure where they can benefit from the sunshine, greens, and the occasional protein from a bug.


Brand new show coopoing has a type of graphite on it to protect against rust. Do not put white birds into such cooping without being sure that the graphite has been removed. Do it yourself if necessary.


Birds at a show show not be fed anything but a treat prior to judging as feeding tends to distort their crop and makes them listless. Feeding them small amounts of a treat food once in a while will get them when a person (judge) approaches.


Mice and rats should not be allowed to become established  in outbuildings housing poultry. They can spread disease and will consume a surprising amount of the bird's feed. Rats can even become predatory.


Straw works well as bedding for waterfowl or chickens during the winter but it must not be allowed to become wet and matted down.


Even the toenails of young birds grow fast enough to adversely affect how the birds walk and should be trimmed periodically.


One good substitute for the spiral colored bands is a small size of colored zip tie. They will not cut into the bird's leg  as some spirals do.