Friday, January 9, 2009

poultry keeping down under

An interesting few weeks down in the farm learning the perils and pitfalls of rearing chooks and ducks down under. It is certainly an uphill struggle dealing with the inherent stupidity of the species combined with external factors such as weather and predators.

The ducks were not proving to be overly maternal at first, so one of the overtly broody silky comedy chickens was drafted in to rear a clutch of duck eggs. The tiny little chook was very proud of her ducken/chickling brood and reared them well, but was a bossy mother and terrified of water so the offspring were marshalled away from the dam and never learned how to swim!

One duck then built a nest and became broody, but did not see incubating eggs as a full-time job and kept wandering off to see what her mates were up to, so the eggs either got too cold and the chicks did not develop, or got so hot in the midday sun that they exploded. Coco the spaniel will never steal an egg again after an overripe one exploded in her mouth with extremely loud and unpleasant results.

Another broody duck kept losing her eggs which was rather mystifying until a metre long goanna was spotted popping into the duck shed for a light snack. One duck had a good nest and clutch of eggs going, but the pile of eggs kept getting bigger and bigger until she was perched on a Giza sized egg pyramid and the fertile ones kept rolling out from under her and perishing- the lazier ducks had spotted her nest and decided to lay their own eggs in hers so they could bugger off for a swim and a mooch around.

A successful hatching by one of Australorp chooks was short-lived when a squadron of purple 'meat ants' invaded her nest and consumed all but one of the chicks. There is also an unidentified chook who has gone rogue and become a cannibal and steals and eats eggs from nesting mothers. She will be one for the pot once she has successfully been identified from a line up........that's her, the brown one with the red comb and yolk round her beak!

Meanwhile the disadvantages of buying in fresh stock is that they have not grown up with the routine of being locked away at night and go AWOL at bed time. Five out of ten are now missing in action.


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