Incubation And Rearing
Food and Drink, Incubation Periods, Brooding, Rearing
IncubatorsThere are "still air" and "fan forced" models, each with a different set of operating instructions. Always follow the directions carefully for your particular incubator. Most incubators can be fitted with an egg turning device to save the operator from the task of manually turning the eggs by hand several times a day. First decide what type of incubator best meets your needs. Incubators are included in many poultry supply catalogues. There will be descriptions of their capacities and the mode of their operation (still air or fan forced).
Our aim is to provide equipment for the specialist breeder, and since the early seventies when Dr Anderson Brown built the first machines for the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge, our company has grown to meet these special needs.
More recently the Game Conservancy has given us their formal approval, having tested and used one of our Multilife Game Setters over a number of years for both Pheasant and Partridge eggs at their Fordingbridge Hatchery.
The Multilife Game Setters were developed to meet the needs of the farm and small syndicate shoot who wish to hatch and rear their own stock. Our products are now extensively used by many Professional Breeders, Zoos and Wildlife Parks around the world, where our equipment with it's special features has enabled many to obtain success, not only with rare Pheasants, Partridge, Quail and Waterfowl, but now Ostrich and Ratites, not to mention Parrots, Penguins, Birds of Prey and Reptiles.
We believe we can offer one of the most advanced ranges of Setter / Incubators and associated equipment available, using and adapting the latest technology to achieve the best results. Should you require any further information or would like a formal quotation, please do not hesitate to contact us. In the meantime thank you for your interest in our products and look forward to supplying your needs in the future.
Incubation PeriodsChickens: ~ 21 to 22 days
Ducks: ~ 28 days
Geese: ~ 28 to 35 days
Quails: ~ 16 to 30 days
BroodingFor a few weeks after hatching, all young birds require to be kept warm. Normally this is done by the mother but, when rearing artificially, we need a source of warmth. Fortunately young waterfowl can walk and feed themselves within a few hours of breaking out of the egg, so their care is very simple. Once your ducklings have hatched, leave them in the incubator for a couple of hours to dry off and then transfer them to a brooding pen or hutch. The simplest arrangement is a small rectangle with wooden walls laid over newspaper on the floor of a garage or shed. The walls need only be twelve inches high and a wire mesh top will prevent the little birds jumping out(very neccessary for Muscovy or wildfowl . . . they climb!). As mentioned previously, a source of heat must be provided. For most ducklings, an ordinary 60 or 100-watt light bulb will be perfectly adequate for up to 40 ducklings. Use additional bulbs for extra units of 20 birds. Begin with the bulb positioned about seven inches from the floor and adjust the height by observing the behaviour of the ducklings. If they huddle together beneath the bulb, it requires to be lowered while, on the other hand, if they stay at the perimeter of their pen, the bulb needs to be raised. Keep the bulb on constantly for the first two weeks, raising it an inch every three days. During week three, turn it off for an hour on day one, two hours on day two and so on and then, at the start of the fourth week, provide heat only during the hours of darkness. If weather conditions are normal for the time of year, you should be able to dispense with artificial heat by the end of that week. After a week indoors without heat, the young birds can be transferred to an outdoor pen which is best constructed with wire mesh in a suitable corner of the garden. Do, however, provide a hutch or covered area so that the birds can obtain shelter from heavy rain.
Food and DrinkFeeding ducklings presents no problems at all. For the first four weeks, feed them on ordinary chick crumbs which you can buy in small quantities from any good pet shop. Ducklings will eat those crumbs immediately upon hatching. From four weeks of age until feathering, the young birds should be fed grower's pellets which, once again, can be obtained from a pet shop or agricultural supplier. At all stages, simply feed ad-lib, leaving a constant supply of food with the birds and allowing them to eat as much and as often as they want. Sometimes they appreciate a few greens to augment their diet and the easy way of providing these is to hang a lettuce in their pen for them to peck at. Clean water must be available constantly but it must be provided in a manner which prevents the little birds taking a bath in it. Although day old ducklings will swim in the wild, they are able to do this because they are waterproofed by a film of oil which they get from their mother's plumage. Your hand-reared ducklings will not have this protection and will chill if they become wet. The best type of drinker is the inverted jam jar model which suppliers like Eltex can provide very cheaply. A larger model will be useful after the first week or so but be sure to put some small stones around the exposed area so that the birds cannot clamber in for a swim!
Eventually, at the age of seven or eight weeks, the day will come when you can release your birds into the garden. Ducklings can go straight out to a suitable pond and see how much truth they give to the phrase "taking like a duck to water". Provided there is sufficient plant life in the pond (to harbour insects), you need only scatter a few scoops of food around the margins to supplement the natural feeding which will be available. It is wise to avoid hand-feeding duck any more than is absolutely necessary as they tend to become over-tame and fall east prey to predators. The sheer satisfaction which can be enjoyed from rearing ducks is incredible. Looking after those birds over the spring and summer takes very little time and effort.
* Beware slug pellets are intensly fatal to ducklingsand goslings as are some fly sprays . . . read the label to check . . . if harmful to cage birds they also kill poultry.
* Ducks and geese are also allergic to salt so watch children with crisps!