Thursday, October 17, 2013

Building Unity Farm - The Poultry Grows Up

Last week I described our first year as farmers.   Just as we've grown, our animals have grown.

We started with 13 chicken chicks.   One was eaten by a hawk (Silver) and one died of egg impaction (Sunny).   The remaining 11 are happy and healthy, finishing their molt and preparing for winter

We started with 22 guinea fowl chicks.  11 have been eaten by predators because they have stayed out overnight sitting on nests or explored places they should not (fox dens, fisher cat habitat etc.).   However, we hatched 100 guinea fowl in August and kept 20 for ourselves.   They're now 8 weeks old and just about ready to leave the coop.   One alpha male (Mojo) was clearly very busy because 17 of the new guineas look just like him.

We received 10 ducks just 3 weeks ago and they've grown remarkably.  They enjoy eating a water soaked romaine lettuce and often stand in the bowl.   They live in a duck pen and spend the night in the duck house where it is warm.   Ducks don't care about wetness, so rain is not a motivator to go inside.    In another few weeks we'll let the ducks out to run around the property.  

Raising poultry is a remarkable experience.   All the chickens have distinct personalities and mannerisms.   There is definitely a pecking order.

Guineas are truly amazing to watch as they run around our 15 acres in search of ticks, worms, and other insects to eat.   They're excellent fliers and serve as a great alarm system, squawking whenever predators come close.  Their only downside is that are not skilled at survival in New England.   I'm sure that staying outside at night works in West Africa, but in the forests of New England, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, fisher cats, and weasels want nothing more than to eat Guinea fowl.

Ducks are remarkable.   They grow fast, live for water, and have distinct temperaments.  Some of ducks are calm, some of our ducks are nervous.  When we let the Indian Runner ducks out to circulate the property, it will be fascinating to see how they react to our wetlands.

At present we have 52 birds heading into the winter.  Hopefully all will survive until Spring.


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