Tonight – Earth Hour

earth-hour

Tonight All Lights Off From 8.30 – 9.30 Except For Incubators.

ARE A SMALL FLOCK OF DUCKS FOR YOU?

duckflock

A small flock of ducks can be kept in your garden for peanuts at a low cost. What you need for the first week are that the basic infrastructure and equipment needed to get started are a simple structure, like a partially enclosed shed, a home made brooder, inexpensive fencing, a feeder or home made trough made of wood and a simply constructed watering device. The Duck house shelter should be located on a well drained area of your garden. Naturally sandy or porous soil is preferred as so that it does not sog up and leave you wondering what is that wonderful stench about it drains well. The floor of the sheltered portion should be bedded with dry absorbent material like padi husks or sawdust. Low fencing is good enough for Pekins since they do not fly, but not for Muscovies which are rather adept to making their escape flight.

Ducks can be kept successfully on open ponds, provided a nearby dry sheltered area is available. Ducks kept on ponds may obtain part of their food from plant and animal life in and around the pond which include like snails, plus small amounts of insects, leaf material, prawns, crabs and frogs. You probably need to offer supplemental feed only when the food supply in the fields is inadequate. In our farm we combine duck raising on ponds with fish farming. Ponds are stocked with fish such as Tilapia and Catfish which are raised for our own consumption.

The duck shit dropping’s provide nutrients for growth of animal and plant life which the fish consume. You will need to limit the number of ducks kept on ponds as to prevent an over-supply of nutrients causing an overgrowth of plant life which will in turn stink up cause depletion of oxygen in the water and kill your fish.

Information on brooding chicks, available in poultry textbooks and other sources on the internet, can be applied to ducklings. If ducklings are hatched artificially, rather than by a broody duck, then you must provide the newly hatched ducklings with a warm dry brooding area free of drafts, with a source of heat, such as radiant or hover-type gas brooders or in our case a 25 watt bulb, and feed and drinking water located near the heat source so that the ducklings learn to drink and eat soon after they are placed in the brooder. We remove the heat source when they are 1 week old.

If ducklings haven’t learnt to drink within a few hours, it may be necessary to dip their bills in the drinking water in order to coax them to start drinking. In the case of earth or cement floors, the brooding area should be bedded with clean dry litter such as wood shavings, chopped straw or padi husks. Newspapers can be put down on wire floors for the first few days to guard against drafts. Ducklings should be allowed access to more of the floor area of the pen as they grow older.

Overcrowding ducks can be extremely detrimental to their health, growth or egg production. Please provide adequate floor space at each stage of development is basic to successful duck raising. While under crowding is not usually a problem, it is better to stock ducks at near the recommended density in cold weather so that body heat will help warm the room in which the ducks are confined.

Floor Space Allowances For Ducks

Age of days = Space/Duck (sq ft)

  • 1 = 0.31
  • 2 = 0.62
  • 3 = 1.10
  • 4 = 1.50
  • 5 = 1.90
  • 6 = 2.30
  • 7 = 2.50
  • Developing Breeders = 2.70
  • Laying Breeders = 3.00

You should avoid flooring that will or could injure the skin covering the feet and hock joints of ducks. The smooth skin of ducks is not as tough as that of land fowl, and is more susceptible to injury when ducks are confined on surfaces that are too rough, or abrasive. Slats, wire floors or cage bottoms may cause injury to the feet and legs of ducks, unless these surfaces are smooth, non-abrasive, and free of sharp edges. Stones, mixed with the soil covering the duck yards can also cause injury.

Ducks drink and excrete more water than chickens or turkeys, their droppings are over 90% moisture. It is therefore necessary to take extra measures to maintain litter floors inside sheltered areas in a dry condition. This will require regular addition of fresh bedding, on top of the bedding that has become soiled or wet, and when necessary, cleaning out the old litter and replacing it with fresh litter.

Under semi-confinement growing, in which case ducklings spend most of their time outdoors during the day (after the first 3 weeks), waterers should be located outside, as far away from the house as possible. This will reducing tracking water to the litter. Duck yards should be maintained in a clean condition by removing the upper few inches of soil and replacing it with clean soil (preferably sand) whenever necessary.

As they grow older they are able to store increasing amounts of feed in their esophagus at each feeding, and thus need to eat less frequently. By about four weeks of age, Pekin ducks can easily consume 100 grams or more of pellets at a single feeding. It is important to provide about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of feeder space per duck for about the first 3 weeks. Afterwards this can be gradually reduced to about half this amount so long as there is no crowding at the feed hoppers. Developing breeders that are being fed an allotted amount of feed each day should be allowed plenty of feeding space so that all birds can eat at once, which requires about 4 inches (10 cm) of linear space per duck.

As a general rule, ducks need twice as much feeding space as hens. Flock feeders are the most satisfactory types of feeders for ducks. Provide each duck with a feeding space of at least 12 cm (the equivalent of four 2 m flock feeders per 100 adults).

Waterers designed for chickens and turkeys are usually satisfactory for ducks, as long as the size of the duck’s bill is considered. Troughs, can’s or jar-type waterers can be used so long as the drinking area is wide enough for the duck to submerge its bill. The same requirement applies to automatic trough, cup or Plasson waterers. Nipple waterers, if properly adjusted for the duck’s height, are also satisfactory. If waterers are located indoors where the floor is bedded with litter, waterers should be located on a wire-mesh screen to reduce wetting of the litter.

Swimming facilities are not essential. However, pools can be made available where outside runs are provided. To limit wastage of eggs, it is advisable to prevent outside swimming until about 10.00 am, when most eggs will have been laid (most ducks lay their eggs in the evening and early morning). Although swimming water is not necessary, ducks do need plenty of clean drinking water. Birds should be able to immerse their heads completely and hence clean and prevent blockage of their nasal passages caused by food and dirt. Keep drinking containers shaded at all times. To prevent damp litter, place drinking vessels outside the shed or on a wire grid. Provide about 3 cm of drinking space for each adult bird.

The length of the laying period of ducks can be increased considerably if supplemental lighting is provided. If supplemental light is not provided, egg production will be seasonal and dependent on changes in natural day length. Adding artificial light to extend the daily light period to 14-17 hours, and preventing any decrease in day length, will provide adequate light stimulation for ducks to lay continuously for 7-12 months, depending upon their ability to lay, and other conditions.

If your ducks are confined to a building at night and allowed outdoors during the day (or if confined to non-lightproof housing), the usual practice is to turn artificial lights on at a set time before sunrise, off at a set time after sunrise, then on again before sunset and off after sunset, maintaining a constant light period (14 hours, for example) and a constant dark period (10 hours in this case) each day. Such a lighting regimen is usually implemented with the aid of electric time clocks that turn lights on and off at set times.

A light intensity of about 10 lux at the duck’s eye level is sufficient to stimulate adequate sexual response in both drakes and ducks. In practice, however, breeding and laying ducks are commonly lit to provide 20-30 lux at duck level. Artificial lighting is less important for growing ducks. Ducks are nocturnal, and can find feed and water in the dark. However artificial light is important the first few days to assist ducklings in getting started drinking and eating.

Encourage ducks to use nests because cleaner eggs result and fewer breakages occur. Furthermore, eggs laid in nests are not exposed to sun or damp. This may be difficult with breeds other than Muscovies.

Nests should be clean, dry, comfortable and only large enough to be used by one duck at a time. Build them from timber and place them in rows along the walls. A suitable size is 30 cm by 30 cm by about 40 cm deep. Nesting material should be placed in the nest to a depth of about 7 cm. Use shavings, sawdust, sand or shell grit. Broody ducks will further line their nests with their own body feathers.

The area selected for sheds should be gently sloping. If the site is too hilly, sheds will be difficult to build, if the site is too flat, drainage will be impeded. The shed should face north to north-east and should be at least 2 m high at the back, to give enough head room. Since ducks are very susceptible to excessive sun, provide adequate shade. Allow for housing growers and adults separately, and make sure there is no drainage from the adult housing area to growers. Whatever housing is chosen, a cheap and effective type of shed is one with a skillion roof.

The ideal method of housing breeding stock is in a building which has both litter and slatted or wire floor areas. This greatly reduces the amount of wet litter and improves overall production. Feeders and waterers are placed on the slats. The litter area is used by the ducks for mating and for laying eggs. A combination of litter and slats prevents possible leg damage to heavy breeding ducks, which may occur if they are housed on slats only.

Ducks are comical characters and are bound to make you smile as they go about their antics everyday.

ducklings1

REARING JAPANESE QUAIL

This quail is known by many names. Japanese quail, Pharaoh quail, Stubble quail, Nile quail, Bible quail and more. The Latin name of the quail we raise is coturnix coturnix. The coturnix quail originates from Europe, Africa and Asia as a migratory game bird. Since the twelfth century it has been raised in Japan as a pet, for meat and eggs and as a singing bird. We got our initial breeding stock from the Sunday market a few years back.

The Japanese Quail IS a fast growing hardy bird. They are mature at around 6 weeks of age and are laying eggs by around 7-8 weeks of age. I have to say they taste very delicious.

Males are characterized by a rusty brown throat and breast feathers while the hens have a lighter cream colored feathering on the neck with black stripes and dotting on the breast.

We read that grouping of one male to three females will generally produce high fertility but we group ours up as a flock. We maintain the temperature in our breeder house at between 70° to 80° F. You will need adequate ventilation as it is needed to replace stale air with fresh air and to remove any stink odors.

japanese-quails

Egg production is around 280 eggs per year. Eggs should be collected at least once daily and should be stored in a cool place and incubated with the large end up. Eggs lose a little fertility each day they are stored. Daily setting is best if you have a large enough incubator but eggs may be held for up to seven days.

Incubation procedures will depend on the type of incubator you use. Follow your incubator manufacturer’s directions. Natural incubation is also possible using your kampung hens. We have found that our lazy Coturnix females hens rarely set their own eggs.

Proper temperature, humidity, turning and ventilation are the most important factors in incubation. Failure in any of these areas will result in a failed poor hatch. The eggs should be turned a minimum of twice a day. If your incubator does not have an automatic turner you can place an X on the side of an egg with a felt tipped pen. Rotate eggs 180° so the X will be on top one time and on the bottom the next time. This turning does not have to be very exact.

Once a quail chick breaks pips the egg, it sometimes may take up to 10 hours for it to fully come out of the shell and it will take an hour or two for it to dry. Normally chicks will all hatch within 24 hours. Chicks can stay in the incubator safely for a day and then they should be transferred to a brooder unit. We just use a wooden crate with a mesh top. A light bulb at one end provides warmth. When chicks are removed from the incubator they must be placed in an area which is heated to 99 ¾° and an unheated area which is much cooler with enough room to move between the two areas as the chicks choose.

If chicks are too cold they will huddle together and on top of each other to try to get warm. If chicks are too hot they will spread out to the furthest edges of the brooder. If the temperature is right the chicks will be active and evenly spread out.

Several food and water locations must be supplied and water receptacles must be of an appropriate size to prevent drowning. You will see that the chicks are tiny even when compared to regular chicken chicks.

At about 4 weeks of age the quails can be placed in breeder cages or on the floor in breeder rooms. They can be placed in an outdoor pen if the weather permits.

Japanese quail can be brooded then grown out in cages or on bedding. In our case we use the grass cuttings and they seem to become very excited busy going through the cut grass. The cage trays that catch fecal material and bedding material should be cleaned regularly to help prevent disease, odor and fly problems. You must also make sure all feeders, water receptacles and other equipment should be sanitized regularly to help prevent disease.

RASING RABBITS IS FUN

Rabbits can fun to raise except when you have to enjoy the smell of their urine when the wind blows your way simply for enjoyment. I think there is huge potential too as a business as in the pet trade not forgetting for the laboratory, meat, and fur market. Personally I would rather forgo the laboratory and latter 3 bit. They are just way to cute for that. Well at least until the wind blows your way.

I did not expect to make money a profitable business raising rabbits to sell as pets. Here in Kuching there is only a very small number of those who raise rabbits making a living out of it. I just consider it as an enjoyable activity that has amazingly actually more than helped pay for itself. The thing is once you’ve eaten some rabbit had some rabbits, you want to keep them around and add more and more. I found out the hard way that out when I was raising too many and was reluctant to sell them being so cute and all didn’tell any, the rabbits were eating me poor! Now since i have begun to sell them and they are making some extra cash for the Farm! They go for RM30.00 a head at the Sunday Market!

baby-rabbit

THE PROBLEM WITH SALT BLOCKS

salt_block

Many Goat farmers do not realize unwittingly sabotage their mineral supplement efforts by giving salt blocks in addition to loose mineral supplements or mineral blocks. For many years now we have always been brainwashed advised to provide salt blocks to our Goats. These day complete mineral and vitamin supplement products that are specifically designed for goats already contain salt.

Consumption of mineral supplements is regulated by several different factors like salt content, the hardness, molasses content, and other factors. The salt is added to the mineral mix not only to meet the salt needs of the Goat, but also to mask other awful bad tasting ingredients and to maintain proper consumption. As an example, Magnesium Oxide taste terrible is very unpalatable to Goats so salt along with other ingredients is added to hide mask the unpleasant taste. Although salt is added to the mineral mix to encourage consumption, it is also added to limit consumption.

What does this have to do with salt blocks? When salt blocks are provided along with a complete mineral supplement, Goats may get all of their salt from the salt blocks and consume none of the trace mineral supplement or they will consume some of both. While they do get some mineral supplement in this instance, they usually will not receive as much as they need. When you buy a mineral supplement, you will find a set of feeding instructions on the label. The desired consumption rate listed on the label is the rate that is formulated to deliver the full compliment of mineral supplement. For example, if the desired consumption of a mineral is 1 oz. per head per day, the presence of salt blocks may decrease consumption of this mineral to 0.5 oz per head per day. Let’s also say that this mineral is designed to deliver 100% of the daily-recommended allowances for trace minerals. In this case, the goats would have only half of their trace mineral needs met by this feeding scenario and in time could develop mineral deficiencies, especially in Selenium.

In all cases, it is important that you read and follow the label directions for any Goat supplement. NEVER provide additional sources of salt to Goats receiving trace mineral supplements unless the product label specifically instructs you to do so.

The cost of a good complete mineral supplement represents a significant cost in Goat production. You are investing your hard earned money with the knowledge that your investment will pay off in an improved herd health and increased productivity. To add salt blocks that decrease the effectiveness of your complete mineral supplement significantly decreases the value of your investment.

No matter what mineral supplement you choose to purchase and utilize, protect your investment dollars by reading and following the label feeding directions. Avoid wasting money and effort allowing goat access to salt blocks unless the mineral supplement specifically states to do so.

FEEDING MANAGEMENT FOR KIDS

Your young goats feeding management is important critical to the success of your farm (which I rather call a business here), whether the production system is for live animals, meat or milk. In any case, your young goat kids are raised either as replacement stock or for sale. Which of these categories these kids fall into will determine how quickly you want them to gain weight and what feeding program they should be put on. To make correct appropriate feeding management decisions, you have to keep in mind the physiological changes that a young kid’s goat’s digestive system goes through as they grow. These changes affect the types and amounts of feed that young goats can eat, and thereby their nutritional requirements. They also affect how management techniques should be carried out specifically pre and post-weaning management to minimize wastage and losses setbacks during these periods.

At birth, the digestive system of the young goat is very similar to that of you the human. During these first stages of milk feeding, the abomasum and small intestines play an important role with respect to digestion and nutrition. In young goats, the suckling reflex triggers the oesophageal groove to close so that milk bypasses the rumen and flows directly in to the abomasum where clotting and some digestion occurs. Milk protein is rapidly digested in the small intestine. If the oesophageal groove does not close, for whatever reason, then milk goes into the rumen where it ‘ferments’, allowing digestive upsets to become problems. You can refer to this post on The Digestive System Of The Goat here for a better explaination.

When the young goats begin to eat solid food, these feeds may stay in the rumen and lead to development of the microbial population. The rumen-reticulum and the large intestine begin to increase more rapidly at the expense of the abomasum and small intestine. The change from pre-ruminant to ruminant is a gradual process, fibrous feed encourages rumen development and appear to speed up the development of the muscles of the rumen wall, which are important in rumen digestion and mixing of rumen contents. These changes in the digestive system have a large impact on the feeding methods used in raising young goats and should be kept in mind during all feeding management decisions. To be successful, your feeding program has to be well adapted to the nutritional characteristics of the young goat and what the intended end use of that goat.

The milk-feeding period lasts from birth until the moment when the kid no longer consumes any milk. It could and can last for as little as three weeks, or as long as a few months more so if the kid is left with the doe. The first milk a young goat should receive is called the Colostrum and it serves three basic functions.

As a laxative to aid in the excretion of the muconium lining of the digestive tract, as nutrition providing an excellent energy source for the newborn and for energy reserves in the newborn are limited, and the high fat content of colostrum serves that purpose well. It also gives protection as it contains antibodies (immunoglobulins) to protect the newborn goat until its own immune system begins functioning about 3 weeks of age. It is always advisable to keep a reserve of frozen colostrum on hand to supplement those goats whose dams did not have sufficient quantities.

The key factor determined to affect growth rate is quality of the milk (fat content and dry matter content). Kids will grow just as well on good quality milk replacer as on goat milk. Feed efficiency appeared to be higher (less milk for the same weight gain) with goat milk especially during the first 30 days. If using milk replacer, the question often comes up whether to use goat, lamb, or calf milk replacer? What is important is the quality of the replacer. Kids perform best on replacer where the protein is 100% milk protein. The fat content of the replacer is basically used by the goat as an energy source. The type of fat does not appear to be important as the type of protein with respect to gains, but the amount of fat is (no higher than 30%). Milk fat (butterfat) is the preference (but is costly). In Kuching, we are UNfortunate to NOT have high quality goat milk replacers available commercially.

Kids fed with nipple devises have fewer digestive problems and less bloating than those fed with a pail or pan. Cool milk also prevents them from greedily drinking large quantities of milk at a time, again reducing digestive problems. Kids fed cold milk do not diarrhea as quickly as those fed warm milk, for the same reasons. Free choice access to milk is preferred especially with respect to health and less digestive problems. Economics, however, often dictates just how much, or how little, milk replacer you can afford to feed. Satisfactory growth, and not necessarily maximum growth has to be emphasized. The amount of milk consumed by the young goat depends on the level of solids (concentration) of the milk. The more concentrated, the less amount consumed in terms of volume.

How young goats are fed after weaning will be determined by whether they are replacement doe kids or intended for market. Weight gain will vary according to the level of dry matter intake and particularly the level of energy intake. Generally, with market animals, maximum rate of gain is desirable. The quicker an animal reaches market weight, the lower the daily cost of feed, and hopefully the potential for a good ringgit return.

 

With replacement animals, emphasis should be placed more on rumen development and gut capacity, with rate of gain being secondary. As adults, goats with greater gut capacity will have the ability to consume more feed and thereby, meet nutrient demands for higher production. Avoid too high a level of fattening in young replacement does as this can have a negative impact on future performance, especially in terms of milk production.Type of protein can also affect growth rate. Fish meal gave the best results right after weaning, followed by soybean meal. Urea can be substitutes successfully for part of the soybean meal, as long as the percentage of urea does not exceed 2.25% of the grain but awful taste palatability problems can be experienced with urea, and it is also important to ensure that the energy content of the grain mix is sufficient for efficient use of the protein.

Although there is not much information are still large gaps in goat and especially, young goat nutrition, sufficient data on the internet is available to enable producers to do a good job of feeding and raising young goats. As with all young livestock, it cannot be emphasized enough, that how young goats are fed in the first 24 hours of life, the first week of life and the first month of life has a very large impact on how well they grow in their first year, and how well they produce (kids and/or milk) throughout their lifetime.

 

PAK LO DUCK

There were these two dead ducks in the freezer. A idiot customer had ordered them for the Chinese New Year but never picked it up despite my reminders and eventual screaming down on the telephone. Anyways that was a few weeks ago and after some what recovering from the traumatic experince my experience in slaughtering them sending them to duck heaven i decided to cook them Pak Lo style.

pak-lo-duck

Finger Smackin Good.


MAKING YOUR SMALL FARM PROFITABLE

making_your_small_farm_profitable

The way to plan and start your small farm, a practical step-by-step guide to operating a small farm in the new millennium examines alternative farming enterprises. This books talk about making a sustainable, profitable family farm, and the livestock to do it with.

MORE UNWELCOMED PHYTONS

reticulated-python

The weather has been very sticky exceptionally hot these past few days after all the  very wet weather and has begun to bring out the Pythons, unwelcomed killers visitors to the farm where they seem to have taken to the notion that there are ready made dinners is a buffet spread out for them every night. We have lost countless farm animals over the years, everything from chicks to young goats.

I think the catch and release policy is not working in our favour. I think it’s time we develop a taste for phyton soup.

STILL A KICK OUT OF IT

hatching-egg

I still get excited a kick out of watching eggs hatch.

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