THE Village Idiot's Australian Black Swans (Cygnus atratus) at Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm i

Discussion in 'Ornamental Fowl (Swans, etc.)' started by CanuckBock, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

    1,512
    925
    221
    Oct 25, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    My Coop
    Heel low:

    Here is a bit full of our own personal experiences and opinions in regards to Australian Black Swans (Cygnus atratus)...

    [​IMG]
    Summer of 2013; Pearl flapping, Fixins reclined, Ember standing in the foreground

    My spouse and I have been raising poultry, gamefowl, livestock, and canines for a combined 90+ years. Yeh, we have taken care of our family duties and now we are running amok on the property, having the times of our lives...these are my opinions on Australian Black Swans...a wonderful reality for us here.
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    It was always a dream of ours to eventually get some Australian Black Swans to add to our conservation and preservation farm here in Canada. Began that in 2009 and what a blast it has been...pinch us, it this really happening here! AWESOME!

    [​IMG]
    These are the two cobs; Smoke Stack (Smokey) in the foreground and Stove Pipe (Piper).

    In 2009, we brought in two cobs (one is a direct Holland import and the other, an Ontario/Alberta bred male). Over the years we have seen all sorts of inbred, poorly made up and SMALL Australian Black Swans shuffled thru the auction marts. Never ever wondered on why we were never tempted to purchase auction swans, eh. Poor things were crap! [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    These are the two pens; Black Pearl (Pearl) in the foreground and Fire Ember (Ember) in the background.

    About fifteen to twenty years ago when a bag of poultry layer ration was seven bucks a bag, you would expect to pay at auction $800 for a single Australian Black Swan...most were very dismal representations of the regal beings they should have been. People were breeding repeatedly, sisters to brothers for generations and it was showing how heavily inbred and depressed the genetic diversity of the stocks were--small pathetic birds when they should have been way, way more healthy! My husband and I figured we were not going to have any of that. Poor, poor creatures...indeed!

    Prices on feed have risen to $24 a bag from where they were 15 to 20 years back, so it goes without saying, poultry prices should reflect that increase since past facilities and labour costs, feed is one of the bigger input drains on your hobby's ongoing existence. Expect to pay double the purchase price now in 2015...so budget about $1,500 a bird or more and for a decent breeding pair (usually about two years of age, three year olds are better since they have had time to get their act together, eh), it can be even more money.

    [​IMG]
    October's eggs from Black Pearl, her second clutch


    One of the initial queries I see is "How much are swans?" and often that old saying that if you gotta ask, well you can guess the answer for proper birds is not going to be received too well. When decent stock is on offer, people that don't understand what implications are taken on in preparation for the bird's arriving, LONG before the birds even arrive...are taken aback at the price. We have had ZERO predation on our conservation stocks here since 2007...none, no deaths due to predators taking our birds. We take great pride in that.

    [​IMG]
    Smokey protecting Ember

    A Black Swan may intimidated a timid human, but coyotes, wolverines, foxes, stray dogs, cougars, lynx, eagles, owls, hawks, etc. etc. are NOT intimidated by flapping wings and bity bills...they EAT birds in this geographical location--many use to keep birds but get wiped out because, well we do live in the gnarly wilds, eh. What a sad end it would be to see our two pairs of Oz Swans snacked upon, or even just injured by predators or roving strays. NO thanks...so we house and fence well...triple perimeter fenced and that's just to keep all the riff raff at bay...never mind the individual housing and fencing in place. I am not going to be half dressed for work and running around putting things back where they belong.

    [​IMG]
    Smokey in foreground, Piper in back


    As with anything like this, simply put, you get what you pay for. If you have qualms about the purchase price of the birds right off, walk away is all we have to say. We personally are not going to purchase poorly bred birds...and make up excuses as to how much money we saved when Black Swans in captivity can live FORTY or more years! If you cannot afford the cost of the mere birds, you cannot afford to adequately fence for them, house them, feed them, and spoilt them rotten. I would not bother with any of this if we did not have the time, resources, knowledge or finances to do this as it should be done. Remember, these are our strict opinions, nobody else needs to be on board here...but man alive, are we having FUN, eh!

    [​IMG]

    Lookit the happiness...the wing flaps of joy and bugles of this is MY stomping grounds and I be happy!


    [​IMG]


    If you cannot afford the purchase price of decent stock, then if you have not already paid for the building of or hired the persons to build you your facilities for them...brace yourselves for even more costs if you plan on doing this our way. Where we live, temperatures run from -53C (-63F) to in the 40's C (104F)...extremes and whilst the summers are gorgeous, you do have to provide heat and housing winter conducive for the Australian Swans...these are not swans that migrate to the Tundra each year like the Trumpeters that fly over our place twice a year, to and from their wintering grounds up North of here.

    [​IMG]
    One pair of Black Swans observing our Jacob Sheep flock grazing

    What makes me grin is that housing and fencing for the swans has run in the thousands for us and my spouse is a cabinet maker...so our labour and expertise was already covered. THOUSANDS of dollars...building supplies (not labour) was $5,000 for the Eden House and Pen...thousands were spent on wire combo panels for the fencing... Not for the faint of heart or determined to do this up right for keeping them well, safe and happy.

    [​IMG]
    Winter of 2009...house prepared and waiting for spring...CONSTRUCTION season here.​


    [​IMG]
    Building supplies (engineered trusses, metal ridge cap and metal roofing); paid for and brought in...awaiting spring to happen!

    Oh well, suck it up Buttercup...not everyone can afford to own even the land, never mind the facilities to keep Black Swans happy on. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    May...time to get on this project eh...

    [​IMG]
    My Hero builds the barn first (like measuring twice and cutting once)...dismantles it, paints it completely and then does final assembly...
    So he builds the barn, takes it all apart, paints it, then builds it one last time. He then affixes the hardware cloth wire to the ready for it pen walls. [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    Tenplast on the front...lets in light very nicely!

    [​IMG]
    Yee haw...strapped for metal roofing, she's close to being completed!

    [​IMG]
    Right on...one side roofed...pretty close to being ... done like dinner...


    [​IMG]
    Swan house...EDEN...


    [​IMG]

    Beauty...the Swan House (Eden), slips right on in with the two goose houses...see the tenplast sheet used as a wind break on the side of the pen...works fabulous!


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Pear-A-Dice meets Eden...

    [​IMG]

    My contribution past holding the dumb end (I don't build...in fact, I pretty much ruin good building materials, eh!)...but I do carve a bit...so artsy fartsy contribution of mine...the sign! [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    So all the building in the world, all the cabinet skills you can muster...all that really matters in the end is...
    Was it swan approved...I'd say SO! [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Many an hour of mine in the summer is spent in the shade enjoying the swans...many, many pleasurable hours watching them share their lives on jest be swans!

    [​IMG]
    Pen Pearl even does tricks...balancing romaine on her bill....

    [​IMG]

    She will do head bops for counting, 1+1, 2+2... [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    No water bottles are safe from inspection by Pearla Girla...

    [​IMG]

    She will even shine yer boots if you leave them there too long...

    [​IMG]
    Tastes like...Liquorice?


    The cobs...well they like to do the hokey pokey dance...you put the one foot in... [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Pretty kewl dance eh...feets in, necks swinging, wings a flapping...jest a shaking it all about... [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    The two pens...mimicking COAL LUMPS...having a nice peaceful nap


    We here laugh looking around at the sixteen foot combo panels we have used as part of the fencing systems we have. At $80 a single panel (excluding the posts, wire, staples, etc.), we have literally THOUSANDS of dollars (excluding our labour...our labour of love is FREEly donated, eh) invested in fencing to keep the birds and critters all safe and sound, never mind the houses, pens and corrals in place!

    [​IMG]

    Here is the pair of Ruddy Shels enjoying some time out on the grass...


    [​IMG]
    January 10, 2014

    Interesting thing about the Aus Black Swans, they have the longest neck for body size of all the swan breeds...loooong necked swans, eh! [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    May 7, 2014 - the first swan egg I have ever held...can you visualize my hand is trembling! [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Various EGGS: Center is Pearl's Black Swan egg (255 grams), top is a Silver Appleyard duck egg, right is American Buff Pied goose egg,
    bottom is an antiquity heritage Ronquières turkey egg, and on the left is Jumbo sized Chantecler chicken egg.


    My Hero built the Black Swans a home and we got down to keeping them well and happy. Then in June 2013, we imported two unrelated pens from the Southern States and I spent that summer with the two girls in quaratine...what a summer of pleasure that was...sitting pool side, watching me gals grow accustomed to their new digs...lovely, lovely...dreamy and delish!
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    Pearl on the left and Ember on the right


    This breed of swans are native to Australia and New Zealand (hunted to extinction but have been reintroduced). You do not usually require any permits to keep Australian Black Swans here in North America...not a native species, eh. Whilst the cobs (males) may be aggressive (especially in breeding season--May and October for us here in the Great White North), pens are often more laid back and friendly (got their old man to tye a licking on yah!) and friendly towards humans. The Black Swans are one of the more relaxed swan species temperament wise...not saying they will be cuddly and lovey, but groups of Oz Black Swans get along better than other swan species. Some nest in groups of 100 to 1,000...more a community swan I suppose. Both males and females share in the incubation (35 or so days) and raising duties of the cygnets (baby swans). They are not huge for swans, about ten to twenty pounds but a big bird if you look at the size of them, especially with flapping of their wings.

    [​IMG]


    Yes, they are vocal and their musical repertoire of sounds like piping can be carried great distances...we have Call Ducks and many crowing roosters, gobbling turks and drumming pheasants...have the proper zoning for poultry...you won't be hiding the fact you have swans when they begin to announce their presence, eh.

    [​IMG]
    Cob Piper

    Our pens are young and we have yet to raise any cygnets, but not in any rush...in captivity, Black Swans may live to 40+ years of age...we plan on enjoying them by sucking in all they have to offer over time; in slo mo thanks! [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Two months of quarantine for the two pens
    I did fecal floats to ensure all the Oz Black Swans did not harbour any noxious internal parasites

    [​IMG]
    August 15, 2013; setup for fecal floats on the two pairs of Black Swans...internal parasite check up
    And we had all of our swans DNA gendered...easy and economical!

    [​IMG]
    Piper looking at his blood drops on the sample card...DNA gendering

    HealthGene (nfi) will do blood (toenail blood is what I did for the two cobs) or feathers (did that for the two pens)...contact them via the web to get a sampling kit sent...very reasonable at about $12 a bird AND quick turn over time...we had our results back within a business week...in fact, I think we had an e-mail in two days after they received the sample...very nice frameable results too. I was VERY impressed with the service we were provided with...VERY!

    So in regards to the question, do you need a lake or a large pond for keeping Australian Black Swans...absolutely NOT and we personally prefer NOT to have some larger body of water for our waterfowl. The water gets contaminated with feed and fecal matter...quite disgusting AND dangerous for the birds themselves. Here, when the water gets polluted, mere easy tipping of the kiddy pool over and voila, refill and back into action...clean, safe, pristine...PERFECTION for our birds. You could not GIVE us land with a pond or lake...blah and BLICK! Can only fathom having to empty a lake or large pond to have only to refill it...and wonder if the bottom of the natural water body did not contain all the components for botulism! NO thanks!


    [​IMG]
    Pearl & Ember in quarantine, summer of 2013

    With the kiddy pools, I can empty and scrub them out, refill and have the ponds for each of the pairs (geese, ducks, swans, Ruddys) back in use in a matter of a few hours. Easy peasy and if it is EASY you tend to do that task because it is not so bothersome. My opinion on the provisions of water for WATERfowl. Do as you so wish, this is what we do and we adore it... [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Does not take very long for the swans to start messing up their water...so easy to dump and refill a kiddy pool and keep them in pristine and clean water....

    [​IMG]
    We buy cases of human grade romaine...let the lettuce float about in the kiddy pool--what the swans don't eat, gets dumped out when I drain the pool...
    Easy peasy and HEALTHFUL--no rotting vegetation to make the swans ill! [​IMG]

    So as we get to talking about foods...may as well address what we feed the swans...

    Like all waterfowl, cygnets should NOT be fed medicated feeds. Waterfowl does not live in the jungles where wild type chickens resided, and they most certainly will not find the same foods in the jungle compared to the swamps, ponds, rivers and lakesides where they prefer to live. Feed them the proper species foods...if someone at the feed store tries to tell you it is OK to feed chicken layer ration to a duck, run away fast...they do this because they do not want to provide the proper feed and you as the customer, should be feeding a decent feed made up for your kind of birds...that simple, that concise.

    [​IMG]


    BASE RATION
    I have a waterfowl grower pellet made up fresh in one ton lots (2,200 pounds). My preference is to have this ration as a base for our waterfowl here (ducks, geese, Ruddy Shels, & swans), I add three grains to the mix and then provide GREENS for the Oz Black Swans as in spinach and romaine...I even grow a veg garden for me birds (and us too) so that we have plenty of real decent proper greens for the birds to consume. Greens are not all that nutritional but the happiness factors a bit of greens each winter makes for amazingly content and amused birdies. [​IMG]


    Waterfowl Grower Pellet - information off the label.

    This feed contains added selenium at 0.3 mg/kg

    GUARANTEED ANALYSIS:
    Crude Protein – Min. 16.0%
    Crude Fat – Min. 2.0%
    Crude Fibre – Max. 6.0 %
    Calcium – Act. 0.85 %
    Phosphorus – Act. 0.60 %
    Sodium – Act. 0.16 %
    Vitamin A – Min. 8,000 IU/kg
    Vitamin D3 – Min. 2,500 IU/kg
    Vitamin E – Min. 25 IU/kg


    INGREDIENTS: Manufactured using cereal grains, vegetable proteins and vegetable oils.

    FEEDING DIRECTIONS:
    1. This feed is designed for feeding ducks and geese from four weeks of age until market.
    2. If geese have access to good quality pasture, this feed may limited to 1 kg per goose per week until geese are 12 weeks of age. After 12 weeks, this feed should be available free choice.
    3. Provide insoluble grit, grower size, by sprinkling on the feed once a week at 1 kg per 100 birds.



    GRAINS
    The three main grains we use for Australian Black Swans are:

    OATS
    Excellent grain for poultry though some say they have issues with getting their birds to eat it. We feed whole oats and mix it in with the wheat and corn (in winter). All our poultry eats it but we start them on it as soon as we begin mixing grains into their starter rations, so they are use to it. We also have oat straw for bedding and find that some of the heads are left on. The birds love digging around hunting for the oats and it keeps them amused, especially in winter when it can be a bit boring for them. Oats has four times the fiber than wheat or corn and waterfowl especially tend to grow slower on oats (therefore are less fat) but have less physical problems (live longer, less leg or wing problems, produce more young, and have beautiful feathers). You may use oats to balance a gamebird ration if that is all you have access to; 1 part oats to 4 parts gamebird flight conditioner.


    WHEAT
    We use hard red whole wheat.


    CORN
    We use to use steam rolled corn but had issues with it not being put up properly and it would mold. So we switched to cracked yellow corn that is not too dusty. I feed this ONLY in winter to the Swans to help keep them birds generating adequate body heat. Corn has more energy, but less protein than wheat.


    I mix one part of whole wheat with one part whole oats, so a 50/50 mix. I then take 1 part of these mixed grains and hand mix it at a rate of about 1 part mixed grains to 2 to 3 parts base ration pellets— depending on the season. Corn is added to the grain mix during winter at a rate of 1 part to 4 parts mixed rations. I will add more oats when the birds are moulting. I watch what is left in the feeders to tell me what they are not eating and make adjustments accordingly.



    GRIT & OYSTER SHELL
    We always have insoluble grit (granite or marble aggregate) and soluble oyster shell (source of calcium) kept dry and available in each pen. Some people say having oyster shell available year round leads to internal organ failure but we rarely have any deaths in our flock past old age.



    ADDITIVES
    Here is what I "add" to my duck, ruddy, swan, & goose grower pellet; cracked yellow corn (winter), whole hard red wheat, whole heavy oats, along with free choice grit and oyster shell for our adult swans.

    - GREENS I feel that the more undomesticated/wilder the poultry species, the more important it is to ensure they receive fresh greens each and every day. Gamebirds, Ruddies, Mandarin and Wood Ducks, all the Swans kept in captivity, etc.; these birds would find greens naturally if not under our care and containment. Even with domestic geese, we provide “happiness” factors like celery, cauliflower, minced carrots; any of these items provide “crunchy” treats to satisfy some waterfowl’s basic natural instinctual needs. One has to figure they would be out and about, pond or lake side, rooting for tidbits of plant material. We feed our Black Australian Swans sliced spinach or romaine lettuce leaves if we have run out of spinach that day! Spinach does not keep as fresh as the Romaine will.

    - SUNFLOWER Black oilseed sunflower seeds may also be fed to dark coloured birds to assist with black pigments.



    Getting your poultry rations right for each species is reflected by how your poultry performs for you. If they live long, happy, productive lives and replicate strong generations of baby hatchlings that are able to do the same in kind, then you are doing something quite right. Pretty inside and out! [​IMG]

    The thing about feathers is that something as simple as running them out of water may show up as a check in growth or colour pattern of the feathers.

    [​IMG]

    Swans out grazing on grassy lawns...if you keep the green grass short, they get to nip off tender new growth and web about much easier...

    [​IMG]

    However it is still kinda cute to see them periscoping thru tall growth...when the two pens were in quarantine, they came down the field to find the dogs and I while we were doing a bit of shelterbelt fencing...

    [​IMG]
    "Hey, what you doing? May we help too??"


    [​IMG]
    Pearl flapping for sheer joy

    If your birds are outfitted in glorious coats of gleaming, nearest perfect plumage, all the hard work, time, effort, and resources you have extended will tell on you…good or bad!

    Interesting thing about Black Swans...I always thought they were entirely black feathered...nope, the primary wing feathers are white...stronger feathers are white (no pigment in white feathers, eh) so would make perfect sense why they would have white wing feathers. Whilst the Australian Black Swans don't really migrate like other swan species do...they still fly and are nomadic in their countries of origin. Ours were pinioned in one wing as hatchlings...no worries they will wing over the four foot high fence panels.


    [​IMG]

    Since the swans lay eggs in May and October here and we get snow every month of the year, I have picked up some stone eggs as dummy eggs for the pens. Not quite the right size, goose egg size and WAY too small, but will hafta do for now until I find some bigger ones (three inches wide by four inches long). When one of the pens lays an egg, I put the dummy eggs in her nest so she does not feel like her eggs are being stolen (OK, they are but she has a substitute!) until she has enough for a clutch...then at least I will know that she will begin to incubate the eggs and not leave them out to be frozen...


    [​IMG]

    So that be that on my swanny wannies...

    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada
     
  2. tacklouis

    tacklouis Chillin' With My Peeps

    216
    2
    71
    May 11, 2013
    Belgium
    Hello
    Really nice of you to give such a great presentation, I breed coscoroba swans on a concrete pond but you also have a really nice setup, just 2 things how big are your aivery/pen for them and when you say they can live up to 40 years personally I think it is a bit long the oldest pair I know is 28 years old they tend to live up to 30 and some times you will have had to introduce new partners, but thank you for sharing the info and I think you have a great setup
     
  3. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

    1,512
    925
    221
    Oct 25, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    My Coop
    Heel low:
    Glad my post amused you. [​IMG]


    Smallest of the swan species, we like the Coscoroba swan (Coscoroba coscoroba) too. When figuring out what swans we would do the best with, discovered these ones do not prefer cold weather so whilst the Oz Blacks are obviously native to warm climates such as those found in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand, we knew we could accommodate the Blacks during our winters here because we have seen others here in Alberta keeping them.

    [​IMG]

    I can comment that the Blacks need additional heat and good food with decent winter accommodations to live here; the one person that advised us they would do fine at say -20C/-4F was very incorrect as far as our experiences have shown.
    [​IMG]


    Concrete anything outdoors with the addition of water does not do very well here. We can get freezing down like 25 to 30 feet in places (traffic areas like driveways may be worse when the frost is driven down into the ground). We get snow and frost every month of the year (yeh, don't last but we have had blizzards in August, two inches in 2001), so we don't do the "concrete" for pretty obvious reasons. Would be nice, as I am betting it makes it pretty good for you and your swans' enjoyments! [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Here's a patch of concrete sidewalk...pretty nasty and broken up. A pond in concrete would be an interesting endeavour, eh! I can see needing to patch it or at the very least, have a heated building over it to keep it from doing this. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The concrete sidewalk was here and already split when we bought the property. We have not bothered to put in concrete...we use crushed limerock (3/4" minus) for pathways.

    [​IMG]

    I use this oilfield spill containment tub over in the bird yard (for the bantam & heavy weight ducks). The limerock is a good base (no bills making muck pies by digging over the sides and returning with bills fulla mud!) for the pond to sit on and drains off pretty decently when I dump the tub after duck baths. Duck goo is pretty groddy against keeping the water in pristine shape. [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    The limerock (dig down to clay base and then layer it with the rock) takes the hot and cold weather changes quite well; heaves in the ground make no real difference as it settles pretty nicely.

    [​IMG]

    Here is some limerock we have as an apron around our fish pond and waterfall. We use a 450 gallon plastic stock tank as the pond, fitted inside a metal culvert, bedded in sand.

    [​IMG]
    March 30, 2015

    Few years later I put the circle of coloured brick around the edge too...more pretty than practical but sometimes, why we do things is only about making it look better I suppose.


    [​IMG]

    The first stock tank (green one shown below) we put in...was not encircled by metal culvert. What a ROYAL pain! The first year, we tried water in the pond over winter...real stinky...next year, wintered it with no water inside and the frost heaved and pushed it up and out...made a glorious mess and more work for us. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Pond and waterfall in 2006


    We took this green pond out and will be installing it as a water garden in our orchard (we ordered and brought in enough metal culver to do two ponds)...

    [​IMG]


    Still no want to set up in ground ponds/pools for waterfowl. The kiddy pools are so much quicker and simpler to keep the water in good shape. I truly don't want to have to deal with botulism if able. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Wannies just can't WAIT to get in the pool...

    [​IMG]

    Simple for them to get into too. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    I cannot say how long Australian Black Swans live from first hand experiences yet. Goes from 10 to 40 years off these sites.

    https://potawatomizoo.org/animals/birds/black-swan: http://www.wildanimalsonline.com/birds/blackswan.php:
    http://www.beardsleyzoo.org/blackswan-fk1:
    sfzoodocents.org/notebook/FactSheets/AVES/ANSERIFORMES/SwanBlac…:
    http://www.wildadventures.com/Attra...07/Animal/60/australianblackswan/Default.aspx:
    So no idea if these persons are valid or all citing the same stats. [​IMG]

    If you know of 28 year olds, that's a good thing then. Longer than most chooks is a given and sorta like parrots or even Koi Fish...sometimes you gotta include them as inheritance items in your will...so long lived, eh, they are a generational commitment.

    Guess I am just gonna have to beef up on the good livin', drink lotsa prune juice, and make sure we live longer than Piper & Pearl, Smokey & Ember...bwa ha ha...the race is on, eh! [​IMG]



    Now you asked about dimensions...of the aviary/pen area.

    Know that the majority of the swans' day light hours are spent outside both the internal house and the pen area. The whole point was to have them out and about as much as possible ON grass and snacking on clover plus having dips in their pools. Being that they are a big grazing bird, we confine them for their own safety. Obviously before dust, they go inside the pen and house. These are meant to be the sleeping and bad weather quarters.


    [​IMG]
    Each swan pair resides in an enclosure that is six feet wide and twenty feet long; the house portion is eight feet deep and six feet wide...the pen is open area in front thar, and that area is again six feet wide and length is twelve feet long.

    When Rick built the facilities for the swans, the house was like a smaller version of say a calf shelter. Because he builds within the limitations of the building materials, the depth of the house was eight feet deep (length of the sheet material).

    [​IMG]

    So this is a side shot of the house part, showing full eight feet of sheet material. The house is built on skids so if needed, could be pulled by our tractor to a new location. We do not move the house but having the option to do so is nice. Example could be we pass on and the swans need to be taken to a new place to live...the house and pen is easy enough to dismantle being the house part is fully contained on skids and the pen would dismantle into fully self contained sections.

    The heavy wooden planks are a deterrent to predators digging inside. The planks also save the structure from prematurely rotting out.


    [​IMG]

    Now the pen part...

    [​IMG]
    Pearl the pen in the pen...May 20, 2014. She is nest building here...for her very first clutch of eggers
    Seven engineered trusses make up the roof of the pen...the entire pen enclosure is twelve feet by twelve feet. Lots of room in there for a pair of Blacks in one half...even room in there fer the nest building...

    Reason for this 12x12 dimension, again the building supplies--sheet material in eight foot length, one full length and one cut in half = 12 feet. The hardware cloth we use is three feet wide, so it means four sections. So the wire width (the bottlenecked feature is the three foot width of the hardware cloth) is the limitation and is used to make out what dimensions are needed to accommodate for it.

    When he built the Duece Coop, he wanted wider than three feet doors on that building's elevated outdoor run pens...so he ordered in special wider hardware cloth. Four feet wide if my memory serves me right.

    [​IMG]
    He wanted the look of a wider door and got it with wider hardware cloth


    Again for ease of dismantling should it ever be needed, each section on the Eden Swan building...the sides and front are fully contained and supports itself in sections.


    [​IMG]

    Roof trusses attached with those metal screwed on roof clips.

    [​IMG]



    Door and side panel.

    [​IMG]

    Easy to dismantle...should the need be necessary.
    [​IMG]

    There are doors on the front of the house part...on hinges and hung securely on chain.

    Cleaning of the pen and house is easy peasy...river sand, rubber mud flap under water bucket to try and keep water source cleaner longer (HA!).


    [​IMG]

    Little slab of wood to ensure the swans don't sustain any leg injuries going in and outta the pen door.


    [​IMG]

    We use oat straw as bedding. Works well and composts GREAT in our ruminant pastures with the rototiller on the tractor! We purchase some of the oat straw in square bales (trying out round bales for just general supply for bedding and seems to be working out well) to provide amusement for the birds and a bit of a wind break or privacy area too.



    So to answer you question on building size, the overall dimensions of the Eden facilities is a twelve by twenty feet building;

    - House is six feet wide by eight feet deep TIMES TWO for each side (roofed house building with two doors is 8' by 12')

    - Pen is six feet wide by twelve feet deep TIMES TWO for each side (roofed pen building is 12' by 12' requiring seven trusses)


    Aim is to have the two swan pairs out and about as much as possible on the land...but we all know that can't happen. At night, predation is the issue...lots of night flying birds of prey here. Never mind the four legged wild ones would love a swan added to their diet. The birds retire to the pen and house to be shut in safe for the night.

    So the swans are housed at night in pen and house but objective is to have them out and about in their yard...pending safety and what they can do to the land if you let them abuse their privileges.


    [​IMG]
    Jacob Sheep mowing

    When it is wet, I look over the condition of the land to see if the waterfowl can be let out on it. You wear the hat of responsibility as in the title of Keeper of the Land often more so than keeper of the creatures. You have to become that for the sake of keeping the place running along nicely. It is not so much meeting the wants of the critters! They would happily turn their spots into a waste land; be it mud, killed lawns or a desert dust bowl. In the bird yards when I let say the bantam duck bevies out on the grass...I budge time of about half an hour to wash down the plops...get the hose going and nozzle turned to blast to water down the duck crap so it does not choke out the grass.

    [​IMG]



    Grass sure does end up being GREEN for the manure but hey, not without some help...compost never seems to just happen, eh? [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Now outside grassed and clovered (oh how they love their clover!) swan yards are some 1/3 of an acre...give or take.


    [​IMG]
    Smokey on clover...


    [​IMG]

    I know there are areas they don't even go, so that's a good indication they have enough area to roam happily on.

    [​IMG]

    I find they cannot keep up on the grass growth in their areas...so Rick mows it or we put the ruminants in there. Round about August and forage growth seems to slow down.

    [​IMG]

    They seem to like hanging around pool side and splashing...go figure on WATERfowl? [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    I have put down some rubber mats (used often in the back of pickup trucks as box liners) to keep the bill fulla whatever swilled in the pool water down a tad...a tad, eh!

    [​IMG]


    Size wise they are indeed a large bird...especially when flapping and piping! [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Another interesting thing I have observed in the Oz Black Swans...they get cleaner white in their wings as they get older with each moult. [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    Ember

    Ember is about six months younger than Pearl and has less white in her wings. There are minute differences, but have a gander, you'll see tiny differences like Ember's fifth primary has a black lace but also a black tipped edge on the front of the feather also. Pearl's fifth primary is only laced in black.


    [​IMG]
    Pearl


    If you liked this post on the swans we have...you may enjoy the one I did sometime ago on the Mandarins and the Taj Mahal that Rick built... [​IMG]

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...r-aix-galericulata-mandarin-ducks-mega-photos

    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada
     
  4. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

    1,512
    925
    221
    Oct 25, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    My Coop
    Heel low:

    Ah lovely indeed...just past the longest day of the year...summer solstice and enjoying our two pairs of Australian Black Swans, between hail storms and thunder showers...egads!

    Few snaps of one of our pairs, Piper and Pearl. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Pearl enjoys eating dandelion seeds...as do our Ruddy Shel (Tadorna ferruginea) pair.


    [​IMG]

    Cleared out their summer quarters on May 28, 2015...

    [​IMG]

    So whilst I cleared out their quarters with help from Inspector Styra Foamer...

    [​IMG]

    Them swannies, they frolicked in their kiddy pool. [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Nothing says SUMMER like dips in the ponds! [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Then of course, everyone's a critic...Pearl inspects their digs to see if it is up to snuff... [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Yeh, figure Pearl will be a bit later this year with her egg laying. Maybe not so much May as I collected up a few more shed feathers over the past few days. Makes me wonder if she will lay in October too like she did last year...we shall hafta see, eh.

    [​IMG]
    Pearla's and Ember's feathers, bottom left--jest a few.​

    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada
     
  5. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

    1,512
    925
    221
    Oct 25, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    My Coop
    Heel low:

    [​IMG]
    Omelette anyone? [​IMG]


    Knew Pearla Girl was getting ready to begin her third clutch...her feather moult was over and she was bound and determined to make one big old nest in her house.

    [​IMG]
    Black Pearl & Stove Pipe


    [​IMG]

    This is her first egg laid yesterday evening--262.9 grams (3.8 times an Extra Large Chicken egg and Pearl weighs all of ten pounds!). [​IMG]

    Here is her very first egg at 251.8 grams, May 7, 2014.

    [​IMG]


    Here is her first egg second clutch at 255.4 grams, October 6, 2014.

    [​IMG]


    Progressively getting larger...kewl!

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]


    Discovered that the packaging that L'Eggs panty hose came in (since discontinued) is the perfect size for our Black Swan eggs.


    [​IMG]

    Fill with sand and next time Pearl decides to lay when our weather is freezing, I will have fake eggs to replace the eggs I remove and store in cool but not egg splitting temperatures. When she decides to set, I can return her full clutch and let her get on with it. My only hope is that the other pair (Fire Ember & Smoke Stack) don't decide to begin laying at the same time...the four fake eggs are all I currently have. [​IMG]

    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada
     
  6. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    Love those eggsies.... I just scrolled back through the pictures...

    Are your Black Swans Pinioned?

    deb
     
  7. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

    1,512
    925
    221
    Oct 25, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    My Coop
    Yes, pinioned.

    First post right above photo of Pearl sitting with her fake rock eggs in the snow: The Ruddy Shel pair are pinioned too.

    These are both wild waterfowl species but unlike the Mandarin Ducks (who are NOT pinioned--they need to fly), the swans and Shels do not have to fly UP into a tree nest in the process to make more of themselves.

    Whilst doing more chores (and an excuse to click a few more pics)...I noted that Pearl & Piper were pretty ACTIVELY involved in their kiddie pool together. [​IMG]

    Yikes...we may have cygnets this round... [​IMG]

    Tara
     
  8. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    I have been toying with the idea of having my Guinea breeding stock pinioned. so they can fly four feet up.... this is good.

    deb
     
  9. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

    1,512
    925
    221
    Oct 25, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    My Coop
    I would wing clip feathers over amputations like pinioning. Remember to clip wing feathers each time after they moult when they become fully flighted once again. [​IMG]


    Some pics I clicked of the one pair enjoying their kiddy pool the other day this week.

    [​IMG]
    Australian Black Swans have the longest neck to body ratio of the wannies...



    [​IMG]
    "Stand back," says the Black Pearl..."I'm about to..."


    [​IMG]
    What absolute joyous splishing...can you hear the laughter all abouts?? [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    Good GACK! So that's how the pool gets emptied so quick...kicking it out now are we Piper?? [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Nothing revels more in a good ol' bath like the waterfowl do, eh?

    [​IMG]

    And after one baths...out one goes to preen and dry out one's plumage--fluff fluff, ruffle ruffle!

    [​IMG]
    Stove Pipe - air drying.


    Bath time...most certainly something to FLAP about!!

    [​IMG]

    Hope you enjoyed the view from my shoe on a nice summer's day, pool side in the Great White North. [​IMG]

    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada
     
  10. CanuckBock

    CanuckBock THE Village Ijit

    1,512
    925
    221
    Oct 25, 2013
    Alberta, Canada
    My Coop
    Heel low:

    Egg count update...regular like clock work. Tic, tic and talk!!! [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Out to Eden for morning chores...


    [​IMG]

    A massive eggy every two days... [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    What a fine pair, eh! [​IMG]

    Doggone & Chicken UP!

    Tara Lee Higgins
    Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm, Alberta, Canada
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by