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To do this you will need a small box with an electric light, torch or any other source of light in it. If you hold the egg against the light or strong sunlight you will be able to see if it is fertile or not. You can buy a brooder or make your own.


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Brooders have a source of heat to replace the heat that the young would have from their mother. In the brooder they are protected from animals and the weather. A simple brooder is made from a heavy box or basket and a hurricane lamp kerosene lamp as the source of heat.

A 1 metre square box will make a brooder for 25 baby birds. The lamp is surrounded with wire mesh to stop the birds from touching it. Troughs containers for feed and water must be placed in the brooder and the birds can be kept in it until they are 4 weeks old. Brooder When birds have reached 4 weeks of age they do not need the heat of a lamp and are too big for the brooder.

They should be placed in a fenced area run with a box covered with hay, straw, paper or cardboard. They can go into the box for warmth when they need it. Water troughs containers Birds will drink a large amount of water and in hot weather can drink up to half a litre a day. Water troughs must be clean and birds should not be able to get inside them. You can buy troughs or cover a suitable container with wire.

Water can also be given using a bottle held over a container. Ducks need enough water to cover their heads. They can splash water around which can cause problems. Placing the water container for ducks in a wood and wire mesh frame stops the birds reaching the muddy ground.

Water trough Feed troughs containers Feed troughs can be bought or made from wood. The troughs must be big enough for all the birds to eat from it. A good trough for chickens is made from a wooden base with two perches on each side for the birds to stand on to feed. The height of the trough varies with the age of the birds. Across the top of the trough is placed a pole which will turn around if any bird tries to perch on it.

My 6 Recommendations For Keeping Ducks In The Backyard

Ducks need shallow troughs or flat containers for feed. Feed trough Unit Brooding When the female bird sits on her eggs in a nest to incubate them she is brooding. Natural incubation or brooding is the simplest way of hatching a small number of eggs.

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A broody hen chicken will incubate her own eggs or those of another hen or a duck. Broody hens may refuse to leave the eggs to eat or drink. They can suffer from external parasites e. Care must be taken to feed the hen and treat her for parasites. Learning objectives After studying this unit you should know: 1 How to know that the hen is broody. The broody hen New breeds types of chickens may not be good brooders.

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A good test to check the broodiness of the bird is to put some white balls, or a few hardboiled eggs, in its nest for a day or two. If the bird stays in the nest, and will not easily move off, replace the eggs with 10 - 15 fertile eggs which have been checked see Unit Natural incubation is the simplest way to hatch small numbers of eggs and the broody hen can be used to incubate and hatch her own eggs or those from another bird.

A hen can incubate 12 to 15 chicken eggs or can be used to incubate up to 10 duck eggs. The broody hen The broody hen is kept in a nesting box.

Take her off the nest for 20 minutes each day to give her feed and drink. If a hen is used to incubate duck eggs you will need to sprinkle them with water for the last 14 days of the incubation period. The eggs of turkeys can also be incubated by a hen. A female turkey will lay up to 15 eggs but a brooding hen can only incubate up to 9 turkey eggs.

Care of brooding hens To ensure that the brooding hen does not have any external parasites Unit 56 , she should be treated with a suitable dusting powder see R15 Annex 1 before being placed in the nesting box. The nesting material should also be lightly dusted with the powder. This will prevent any parasites being passed on to the chicks.


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  7. Any holes in the box should be closed to prevent rats getting at the eggs and eating them. White diarrhoea disease kills large numbers of chickens. Do not hatch the eggs of birds which have been infected with this disease. The germ which causes the disease will be in the eggs and will infect the chicks. Ask your veterinary service about this disease in your area.

    Unit Internal parasites of chickens and ducks The gut of chickens and ducks can be infected with a number of different roundworms. Heavy infections cause weight loss, diarrhoea and poor egg production.

    The thin, red gizzard worm lives in the wall of the gizzard of ducks and is the cause of loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhoea and death of birds. Both chickens and ducks can be infected with very small parasites called coccidia which live in the wall of the gut. These cause diarrhoea, weight loss and can result in the deaths of very many young birds.

    Learning objectives After studying this unit you should know: 1 The problems caused by worm infections of chickens and ducks. Parasitic worms of chickens and ducks Chickens and ducks become infected with worms from soil, feed or water contaminated with worm eggs. Worm eggs survive in warm, damp conditions.

    A large white roundworm 10 cm long is found in the intestine. Small, fine hairworms live in the gut walls. Other worms, about 1 cm long, can be found in the lower region of the gut. Heavy infections can cause death. In older birds loss of weight and poor egg production occurs. Coccidia in chickens and ducks Coccidia cannot be seen without a microscope. Many different coccidia infect different parts of the gut in both chickens and ducks.

    Birds are normally infected with a number of different coccidia. Birds are infected by contaminated soil, feed or water and will suffer few problems if the infection is low. Young birds, especially under a month old, can be badly affected. Diarrhoea occurs and the droppings may be bloody.

    Coccidia can kill young birds within 2 weeks of the disease appearing. Coccidia are the cause of a dangerous disease of young chicks. Ask your veterinarian for advice on this disease. It may kill all the young birds in your community. Coccidia and worms in birds Treating parasitic infections of birds Worms can be killed by treating the bird with a suitable anthelmintic see R14 Annex 1. Ail worms are killed by tetramisole or levamisole.

    Can ducks and chickens live together in the same coop or barn?

    Birds are either treated separately or the drugs are mixed with the feed or water. Coccidia are treated with several drugs see R18 Annex 1 which are added to the drinking water or feed. Preventing parasitic infections in chickens and ducks Infection with all internal parasites in both chickens and ducks can be controlled by keeping birds in clean conditions and stopping them wandering around free.

    When you buy new birds ask your veterinarian or agricultural officers who is selling good birds which will not bring disease into your community's birds. Unit External parasites of chickens and ducks A number of lice and mites infect birds and cause severe irritation which leads to loss of feathers, loss of weight and low numbers of eggs.


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    Small ticks feed on the blood of birds and can carry germs which will cause other diseases. External parasites will hide in the walls, floors and bedding of the cages and houses where birds are kept. In order to control the parasites it is necessary to keep these places clean and kill any parasites there. Learning objectives After studying this unit you should know: 1 The mites, fleas and lice which infect chickens and ducks.

    Fleas, mites and lice infecting chickens and ducks Fleas: Fleas are small and dark in colour and can jump high into the air. They feed on blood and can live without food for a long time. The eggs and young of fleas are found in the birds' nests and cracks in walls and floors of buildings.

    Keeping Ducks

    One type of flea is found on the wattles and comb of chickens and does not jump away. Its bite causes ulcers to form and large numbers can kill young birds. It also infects ducks and is found around the eyes. They can bite people.

    How should I keep and care for my pet ducks? – RSPCA Knowledgebase

    Mites: A number of different mites infect birds and cause irritation and loss of feathers. The scaly leg mite can cause lameness. Red mites can kill birds and will also bite people. Fleas and mites Lice: Chickens can be infected with a number of lice which suck blood and chew the skin. Ducks can also suffer from infections with lice. The parasites can attack all areas of the body and are found on the skin and feathers.