Monday, 18 April 2011
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Sunday, 16 May 2010
We arrived home and went straight to check on the ducklings. Broody hen had brought them out into the run for some refreshments. But there were only four. Looking into the nest the unhatched egg lay there unchanged and abandoned. Picking it up I was sure it was dead. It was stone cold and there was no sign off life. However, when I pulled away more of the shell it moved. We rushed it indoors and switched on an incubator. I carefully pulled away more shell and tried to release the ducklings head. It was almost tied in a knot. It was wrapped right round itself and this was obviously the reason it had been unable to hatch!! There are people who say that if they can't hatch themselves then we should leave them to it, but not me, I wasn't going to leave it! The poor duckling looked very strange, it's neck appeared to be three times as long as it should have been! I know they are Runners, but seriously?
Anyway, poor little chap was kicking furiously and getting nowhere so I eventually freed it from the shell and gave it some water. Things were still not looking good, it couldn't stand up or hold up it's head. I realised it couldn't stay in the inccy much longer and started to set up the brooder. Brand new and not wired up yet! Probably not the thing to do quite late at night and after a few glasses of wine, but it had to be done! Anyway, I wired it up wrong and managed to electocute myself in the process. Eventually gave in and asked my neighbour for help. Nice chap and was still up watching the grand prix! Finally got it sorted and I set it up next to my bed and had a very restless nights sleep.
But this is what I found in the morning;
That looks much more like a proper duckling! I couldn't believe the difference! Very wobbly on it's feet and walking right back on it's legs rather than up on it's feet, but wow it's head was on straight! After plenty of TLC and exercise courtesy of the kids it began to look better and better.
And this evening it went back out to the broody, who accepted it straight away. Within a couple of hours it was waddling around with the other ducklings as if it had always been there. So to those of you that don't intervene - up yours :P
Friday, 14 May 2010
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
The Cayuga eggs are too new for me to know, I am a novice candler after all. The Maran eggs are at day 7 now so are fairly obvious. I noticed two definates, one maybe and 3 that I think are infertile.
The Pheasants are more tricky. The eggs are small and thick shelled. They were definately fertile but it looks like they were found too late. They don't appear to be any further on than they were when I first looked. They do have obvious signs of development, but I think it was my tired eyes that told me they moved. I can also see what I think is the start of blood rings, which I believe usually appear when the embryo dies. So it doesn't look good for the pheasant eggs, but I'll leave them a bit longer and candle them again. Not too long though, I don't want anything exploding in the incubator!
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Monday, 10 May 2010
Anyway ten minutes later and Sanchez was pecking the hell out of the new hens! My cousin had told me how violent they can be but I didn't expect him to be like that with his girlfriends! So Sanchez spent a night in solitary in the shed, partly to give the girls time to settle in and partly so he can think about what he has done!
This morning I have clipped his beak just a little bit and popped him back in. Things seem to be much calmer today, he is chasing them around a bit but doesn't seem to be trying to peck their heads off!
My new Cayuga duck eggs are now in the incubator, a nice Brinsea 20 borrowed from a friend. At least I don't have to turn the eggs. My other incubator currently holding 6 Maran and 7 Pheasant eggs is manual and that's quite a chore to remember to turn them all 3 times a day! And we are only on day 5! Now all that's bothering me is that 28 days is so long!!
At least my Indian Runners are nearly cooked. They are due this weekend, so expect some wonderfully over the top posting from me in a few days! I have had a few panics about them hatching. I bought them from Ebay and was ecstatic to find all six were fertile and developing well. Trouble is when they are under a broody you can't monitor the hatch very well, and I am worried that they will not have been moist enough. I really don't want to lose them at the last minute! Ducks is new to me so it's all trial and error.
On a different note, the family is sad, we have lost one of our dear Bengal cats. He has been missing for over a month now. Just went off one day and didn't come back! A Bengal was found a couple of weeks ago in a village not far from here but was sadly not ours. He had been missing from elsewhere for 3 months though. It does give us a bit of hope that he will stroll back in one day or that someone will find him and check him for a microchip. All we can do is wait.....
Sunday, 9 May 2010
My quail are Japanese or Coturnix Quail, they are one of the plainer types of the species but are a good 'starter' bird. I got my birds from my cousin at six weeks old, they were literally just off the heat lamp so spent the first two weeks coming into the house at night as it has been so cold. At first they were kept in an old rabbit run on the open ground, with a cat box shelter. Unfortunately one became ill, very dehydrated, and died. I then decided to take them off the ground and found a great big hutch for them.
Quails are very flighty birds so must have plenty of head room. They have an amazing springy quality to them which I can only describe as boingy! The best time to see this is first thing in the morning. When it is cold at night I cover them, when I pull back the cover they let their little over-night wound springs go, and boing from one end of the hutch to the other. When they first arrived I was amazed at how calm they were as I had heard about them being flighty. It didn't last and they were soon difficult to catch to move in and out of their night quarters! I loved having them in the house in the evenings though, they make the most comforting noises. A bit like when you walk in a pet shop full of finches.
Apart from their skittishness they are easy to keep. Mine are just fed on chick crumb, but you can buy them fancy quail mix which is, of course expensive. They also love meal worms for a treat. They are messy and seem to thrive in spilling their water all over a clean bed. They also get through chick crumb faster than I ever imagined for their tiny size.
Quails come into lay very early, anywhere between 7 and 10 weeks I have heard. Mine are now around ten weeks, but I still haven't had an egg! The one thing I am really looking forward to is my first hatch. For any of you that have seen quails eggs you will know how tiny they are. My cousin describes them on hatching, as resembling big bumble bees!
Anyway, as I currently have two males and only three females I am popping back over to my cousin's tonight to pick up some more hens. They will then have to be separated into two clans as, believe it or not, it is the hens that will fight not the cocks. They can live quite happily with a couple of cocks and several hens, as long as the ratio is about 6 hens to each cock, and as long as they were introduced very young. I have been told that quail can be very aggressive and can head peck so badly they will go through the skull! I am not risking that!
So hopefully soon I will have plenty of eggs to sell for both eating and hatching. Quail eggs are fantastic for baking! Obviously if anyone is interested - let me know!