Oh Feed...the never ending question...

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by JosieR, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. JosieR

    JosieR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 24, 2010
    Orange County, NY
    Just want to make sure I'm doing this correctly.

    I have 5 ducks. 1 male/4 female. My 2 Cayuga females and 1 Cayuga male are just about 12 weeks old. My 2 Runner females are probably a week or so older.

    According to Storey's Guide they are still in the developing stage and 13-14% protein is sufficient. But then it says for birds getting ready to lay 16-17 percent protein works. I want to avoid angel wing and am not overly concerned about how fast they grow or how big the eggs are. I should consider them preparing to lay, yes?

    I'm currently feeding (just switched yesterday from unmedicated Start and Grow) to Flock Raiser (20% protein) 4 cups of feed and 1 cup of crimped oats. They get this in the evening only. I let them out to free range early in the morning.

    I am not using Layena because 1) the drake doesn't need the calcium, right? and 2) I want them to be used to one feed but I will adjust what else I give them according to their needs (as I figure them out LOL).

    I am offering in a separate bowl oyster shell (started today), thinking those that need it will take it (someone here posted that).I sometimes toss out a handful of grit under my deck where they hang out, just to be safe. They also get about 2 1/2 cups of peas every day.

    I have stopped adding Niacin to their water since they have access to bugs. I assume I will have to start adding that again once the winter comes and they don't have bugs to eat anymore?

    They're just losing all of their feathers and look pretty ratty, is there something I can give them to help or will that improve on it's own? I'm trying to avoid the cat kibble. It has been very hot here the last few days (95-100) and I've been putting a bucket of ice in their water tank, is it the heat that is making their feathers look bad?

    Is this mix of food correct or do I HAVE to provide Layena?

    Thanks!!!
     
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    JosieR, sounds like you have matters well in hand. I have written this before, I think nutrition is as much art as science, and a good dose of intuition (which incorporates observation of your own flock) is a great asset.

    I am one feeding some kibble, with free choice oyster shell. I started when the ducks were probably about twelve or thirteen weeks old. It was when everyone had begun calling out for a drake. [​IMG] I offered them the oyster shell once a week until someone began to lay, now it is there from morning till nighttime (I just don't have room in the night pen, with two large water bowls and a feed pan.

    Anyway, since yours are foraging for some of their own food, I think they themselves will be making some adjustments in their protein and the amount of bagged feed they eat. But my flock doesn't get to free range much yet (I need to adapt the garden so they can forage without wiping out some of the plantings - that will take some time and planning). So I supplement with kibble, and a variety of invertebrates that I gather from the gardens.

    I found Storey's advice a bit of a conundrum. How, I asked myself, do I know when it is four weeks before they begin to lay? So I followed my gut, which said, if they are so very desirous of mating, then they must be within weeks of laying. (What do I know?[​IMG])

    As it turned out, I guessed correctly. This morning, at four and a half months of age, the flock of eleven runners produced five eggs (three from chocolates, three from blacks). The first layer began at sixteen weeks, three days. Storey's says the smaller the breed, the sooner they tend to lay.

    I don't plan to use layer feed, though I have considered a 50/50 layer/grower mix, like Annarie does. But what I am doing seems to be working now.

    About your ducks' feathers - they are going through their first molt. Mine did that, and finished up two or three weeks before the first duck laid her first egg. They will get through it on their own. The heat may have accelerated it, but mine molted before the heat came on.
     
  3. JosieR

    JosieR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 24, 2010
    Orange County, NY
    You're the best! I actually added the oyster shell because of you LOL My runners are at least a week older than the rest and one has been bobbing her head which I read is a mating behavior.

    Storey's Guide just confused me a little because they are both in the development stage (according to their age) and getting ready to lay. And I'm paranoid about niacin and their protein levels.

    I'm probably worrying too much though, you're right. They will self regulate. Everything they need is in the yard and they can decide. Ducks were ducks long before I was keeping them!!

    Thank you [​IMG]
     

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