Ducks Unlimited

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle 

Ducks Unlimited

Most people think of chickens for the backyard, even though our web-footed friends can produce more eggs for a longer period of time, the male duck doesn’t crow, and they love to eat slugs among other yard pests. The disadvantages of raising ducks, still trying to find one.

David Proctor

 

 
  
 
 
 
From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 


Raising Ducks

by David Proctor


 August 8, 2019

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


Raising any animal in a suburban setting can be challenging. First, you have to see if they are even allowed and if so, do they require a permit. The next step is to put up a fence so they do not become an easy meal for the neighbor’s dog. But once these issues are taken care of, the rest is not hard.

Ducks do not require nesting boxes, they do not roost, and the male duck doesn’t crow. They still quack, and some breeds are noisier than others but are generally not that loud.
Ducks are social, so you should look at having at least two. Some companies won’t send fewer than two or three when they ship them. They do live for 7+ years so keep that in mind. The laying duck needs about three square feet of floor space per duck.

To keep the ducks corralled, it is best to put up a poultry fence that is 4’ high and depending on how many ducks, will determine the area to fence off. If you have a big enough yard, then you may want to confine how much room you fence off and move them on a regular basis. This will allow the grass to grow back and the ducks to have an area that is not barren and has a fresh supply of bugs.

To figure out which breed of duck that you get will depend on what you want from the duck. If the need is just for eggs then the Khaki Campbell, Silver Appleyard or Welsh Harlequin do well. Individual females have been known to produce 360 or more eggs in a year’s time, although flock averages are nearer to 275 to 325. Good foragers include Ancona, Cayuga Runner or Magpie ducks. They are all super active and will be best for weed and bug control.

Duck eggs come in a few colors; white, cream, pale green or black. Not the best for Easter egg baskets. Any breed of duck will lay delicious, rich eggs, and also provide lots of nutrient-rich fertilizer in the form of manure.

What about water, is a pond needed? The answer is no. The ducks would love to have a kiddie pool to play in but this is not required to remain healthy. They do need about four to six inches of freshwater to dip their heads in and clean their bills and eyes. Both the number and size of eggs will suffer if birds are frequently allowed to go thirsty.

 

Ducks

Ducks At Polyface Farm

To prevent unsanitary mud holes from developing around the watering area, it’s advantageous to place all watering receptacles on wire-covered platforms or locate them on the outside of the pen where the birds must reach through fencing in order to drink.
Ducks can eat the same feed as what you give chickens. To keep ducks laying the year around, they must be supplied an adequate amount of laying feed that provides a minimum of 15 to 16 percent crude protein. Do not feed ducks chicken laying rations that are medicated.

To reduce waste, pellets are preferred. Fine, powdery feeds should be avoided. The feed can be left in front of the birds at all times in a trough or hopper feeder, or it can be given twice daily in quantities that the ducks will clean up in 10 to 15 minutes.

The first method ensures that the ducks are never deprived of feed, while the second system helps prevent feed loss to rodents and encourages the fowl to forage during the day.

To produce mild-flavored eggs, feed containing marine products should not be utilized. Dr. George Arscott, formerly head of the Oregon State University Poultry Science Department, also urges that cottonseed meal not be used in breeding or laying rations since this protein supplement contains a toxin that can reduce hatchability and produce strange coloration in eggs, especially if the eggs are stored several weeks before being eaten.

You might also want to keep in mind that feedstuffs such as corn and dehydrated or fresh greens cause bright-colored yolks, while wheat, oats, and barley result in pale yolks.

While producing, ducks are very sensitive to sudden changes in their diets. To avoid throwing your birds into a premature molt and drastically reducing egg production, it’s wise to never change feeds while ducks are laying. If the brand or type of feed you’ve been using must be altered, do so gradually, preferably over a span of at least a week or 10 days.

With their well-oiled feathers and a thick coating of down, ducks are resistant to cold and wet weather. For ducks in general, a windbreak that is bedded on the protected side with dry litter usually provides sufficient protection in areas where temperatures drop to zero degrees. For laying ducks, they will do better if they are housed at nighttime.

 

Ducks Water & Shade

Ducks’ Watering, Shade, and Poultry Netting

The duck house can be a simple shed-like structure, approximately three feet tall, and does not require raised nest, perches and dropping pits. When ducks are housed only at night, a minimum of three to five square feet of floor space per duck is recommended.

If you anticipate keeping your ducks inside continuously during severe weather, providing each bird with eight to fifteen square feet help keep bedding dry and sanitary.

For consistent winter egg production, ducks, like chickens, must be exposed to a minimum of thirteen to fourteen hours of light daily. Day length is extremely important since it is the photoperiod that automatically turns the reproductive organs of poultry on and off. One 25W clear or white bulb located five to six feet above the floor should do.

To purchase ducks, Metzer Farms sells ducklings. They are the largest source for ducklings in North America. They will ship as few as two or three ducklings almost year-round. You can even find them on Craig’s list.

The nice them about baby ducks or ducklings, is they aren’t susceptible to Coccidiosis like baby chicks are, so they don’t need medicated feed. Ducklings do need a bit more niacin than chicks do. Add a sprinkle of Brewer’s yeast over their feed and also add some raw rolled oats to cut the protein levels so the ducks don’t grow too fast and have leg problems.

Ducklings will need to be kept in the house, or shed, under a heat lamp for the first 6-8 weeks before they can go outside, so be sure you have a brooder set up that is safe for ducklings before they arrive home.

Even if you get an older duck or rescue duck, they will often lay well for 5-6 years, often several years past your average chicken. Just remember they are social and it is best to get two and preferably three, as a starter flock.

As you can see, I had trouble finding the downside of having ducks. Ducks produce eggs, keep the bugs down in the yard, are fun to watch and live for a long time with few requirements and sometimes less than most other critters on your urban farm.


Check It Out!

 

“No Messy Ducks!” – How to Raise CLEAN Ducks 8:24


Quick Tip

 

Duck Breeds


Bibliography:

Holderread, Dave. “How to Raise Ducks in Your Backyard | Backyard Poultry.” Countryside Network, Backyard Poultry, 3 Aug. 2017, countrysidenetwork.com/daily/poultry/poultry-poultry/how-to-raise-ducks-in-your-backyard/.

Steele, Lisa. “A Quick Guide to Buying Ducks.” Countryside Network, 9 June 2016, countrysidenetwork.com/daily/poultry/poultry-poultry/a-quick-guide-to-buying-ducks/.

Fontanes, Lori. “A Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Ducks in Suburbia.” Countryside Network, 22 June 2017, countrysidenetwork.com/daily/poultry/poultry-poultry/a_beginners_guide_keeping-ducks_in_suburbia/.

Steele, Lisa. “Common Duck Diseases – Countryside Network .” Countryside Network, 5 June 2017, countrysidenetwork.com/daily/poultry/feed-health/common-duck-diseases/.




 

Posted in Animal Husbandry, Magazine Issues Tagged with: ,

Travel

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle 

Travel

I am on a new journey now. I am not sure if my plans are on hold or if this is the path to get to where I want to go. Time will tell.

David Proctor

 

 
  
 
 
 
From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 

 


Travel

by David Proctor


 August 1, 2019

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


As I had written about before; Sold The Farm, this put me in a different situation than what I am accustomed to.

When I have gone on the road, I always knew where home was. I had an address, a place that was more than where you hang your hat. Now home is a license plate.

I’m not saying this for sympathy, on the contrary, it is somewhat liberating. Yes, I will miss my treehouse deck and the home where Molly and I raised the family, but times have changed.

I have to think that I was not going to be able to grow, and move forward as long as I was in my comfort zone.

I am definitely out of my comfort zone now.

I tried last year to reinvent myself but didn’t go as I had planned.  I have work in Auburn, Alabama that I will be on for a while.

The irony is that the office is located off Beehive Road.

I am looking at this as an opportunity to be led by the higher power. Sometimes what we think are the answers are not always the road we should travel.

The nice then was that I was able to visit with my girls on the way down.

 

Carolyn, King, Kelsey, and Lena

Carolyn, King, Kelsey, and Lena

Myself, Caitlin and Buster

Myself, Caitlin, and Buster

One item that I brought with me is this rock that has written on it “ From North Pasture Berry-Mollie Proctor From Rt1 Spickard, Mo 1972”, this is about the only item that I have left from the farm.

Rock From North Pasture Proctor Farm

Rock From North Pasture Proctor Farm

I keep it with me to remind me on days that I wonder why I do what I do, this is one reason, to have my own Proctor Farm/Ranch.




 

Posted in Magazine Issues Tagged with:

Industrial Agriculture

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle 

Industrial Ag

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

― Buckminster Fuller

 

David Proctor

 

 
  
 
 
 
From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 


Industrial Agriculture

by David Proctor


 July 25, 2019

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


When I use to sit and dream about how I wanted to farm, I tried to make that dream adapt to the existing reality.

The existing reality in agriculture, is the infusion of productivity, increasing production and innovation through increased scientific processes and economic charts and calculations.

We have to keep continuing in this path because we have to feed the world!

I had in my plan how to follow this train of thought and make it even more productive. You have to “Get Big or Get Out” if you are in agriculture.

I thought I had it all figured out and all I needed to do was put my plan in action, until a very wise neighbor, who listened to how I wanted to build my farm, asked if I had heard of Joel Salatin? The answer was no, of course.

I have written several articles about the Polyface farm that Joel and his family operate. That is because I realize how wrong my farm business model was.  It was totally unsustainable, as is most farming operations in the US and around the world.

My new model embraces inefficiencies in favor of animal and ecological wellbeing. The inefficiencies will be emulating the efficiency of nature to letting a pig be a pig, a cow being a cow and a chicken be a chicken.

I prefer this over some of the grotesque looking, superstar production species, that are being raised in confined quarters, being fed corn and soybeans that are supposed to be feeding the world!

I propose a farming model where instead of the food being a commodity, being sold at commodity prices and then being used as a base ingredient in fake food, to instead have food be food.

Food that is not perfect in appearance, doesn’t have a shelf life measured in half-life, has a unique taste as to the area that it was raised and grown, like wine does.

I know this would be a major disruptor to the commodity markets. The inefficiencies would require more labor, giving more people the opportunity to work. The model would be “Get Small or Get Out”.

Now I know everyone is thinking this would never work, and if it was even tried, the cost of food would go through the roof and there would be rioting in the streets and the apocalypse would be in play. Or would it?

The reason the farmers are being starved out, the ones that have gotten big, is because of overproduction.

This happens when the government gets involved with the interest of large business instead of the farmer.

We have so much subsidized milk production we don’t know what to do with it. You don’t see anyone drinking milk anymore, but you sure do see a lot of pizzas being sold with triple cheese!

Another example is what the “Right to Farm Bill” did to Missouri, it made it so people had to let large confined hog operations in and could not complain about the stench.

Which by the way these hog operations are owned and built by Smithfield Ham which is owned by the Chinese? By the way, nothing smells worse than a confined hog operation!!

When you travel by air, all you see when you fly, and look down, is CFOs (confined feeding operations). These are predominantly chicken operations since that is the cheap meat that we all want. The same holds true for these operations when it comes to smell.

For the animals to live, they have to be given antibiotics and growth hormones, to be sure that enough survive to make it to butcher. But keep in mind these drugs end up in us, causing ill effects in society.

You do not need to fight mother nature to raise and grow food. The best thing you can do for the land is not till it, but put cattle out on it to graze.

I will have my farm someday. You may think that I will change my mind about how I will raise my cattle, but I don’t think so. When you can raise and grow food locally, provide people with food that is good for them and will make them healthy, I think that in itself will be in demand.

I believe we have a bright future in agriculture.

We do not have to fight the system, just build a new one that replaces the old one, even if it is older than the one in place now.


Check It Out!

 

Chicken Tractor

Chicken Tractor


Quick Tip

 

Get to know who grows your food.


Bibliography:

Just my opinion!




Posted in Animal Husbandry, Chickens, Health, Magazine Issues Tagged with: , ,

Sold The Farm

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle 

Sold The Farm

Last year I registered my bee operation with the USDA. That made my 1/3 acre in town a small farm. Literally living the Urban Farm Lifestyle.

David Proctor

 

 
  
 
 
 
From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 


Sold The Farm – Urban Farm Lifestyle

by David Proctor


 July 18, 2019

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


I have sold my home as part of my downsizing and also do to the traveling I will be doing this next year.
I was hoping that I would be able to expand this year and finally get chickens, but that was not to be, at least for now.

 

Horizontal Hives - 14 Frames

Horizontal Hives – 14 Frames Per Box

I have been looking at acreage in different areas and hope that after a brief stint of work and travel, I can settle down to a location that will allow me to graze cattle.

Having cattle on land is one of the best things that can be done for the land, as long as they are managed and moved daily.

I am looking at trying to find land that I can lease and manage a heifer operation.  This would also give me a chance to have my chickens, hogs, sheep, goats, bees, worms, and whatever else will fit on the land.

In the meantime, I had to get rid of my bees.  I started this year with two horizontal hives. One hive left and went into a Warre Hive that I had vacant by the house.

Me In Bee Suit

Me In Bee Suit

Thurman And I Preparing The Hive To Move

Thurman And I Preparing The Hive To Move

Steep Hill

Steep Hill

That hive populated and split then went to another vacant Warre hive.

Warre Hive

Warre Hive With Bees On the Outside Just Hanging Out

Smoking Bees

Smoking Bees Back In

I hated to see the bees go, but it was hard trying to imagine having four hives with at least 100,000 bees in a minivan, going down the road and nothing not happening that would probably be regrettable in the future. All it takes is one bee buzzing around your head to have problems while driving.

Thurman Burnley from Burnley Farm Apiary came and got the bees from me so they could have a new home.

Burnley Farm Apiary

Burnley Farm Apiary (Who I bought The Bees From)

Now what to do with the cat?

I have not missed a Thursday publication in over four years now. I hope everyone that opens their email that has my inbox magazine has enjoyed the articles.

I am trying to figure out if this is an ending article or just a change. I will keep you posted.


Check It Out!

 

Black Baldy

Black Baldy


Quick Tip

 

When moving bees wait till evening so they are back at the hive and not our foraging.

 


Bibliography: N/A




 

Posted in Animal Husbandry, Apiary, Chickens, Magazine Issues Tagged with:

EcoAgriculture

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Regenerative Lifestyle 

Polyface Farm

The farm of the future may not look like what we are used to seeing today. But it would look very familiar to our grandparents.  The Polyface Farm.

David Proctor

 

 
  
 
 
 
From Seed To Fork, Egg To Plate.

    We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.

 

 

 

 


EcoAgriculture – Polyface Farm

by David Proctor


 July 11, 2019

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine    Published Weekly


From a very early age, I always wanted to farm. The problem was if you have the money that it takes to farm, why would you farm.

Almost every farmer is up to his eyeballs in debt, just trying to make a living and never seems to be able to get ahead.  With all the expenses that it takes to buy equipment, buy seed, plant and fertilize the crops, veterinary bills, medications for livestock-  there is just no getting ahead.

The only solution is to specialize and produce more. More cattle, more chickens, more hogs, more land for more row crops, more everything.  But who really gets ahead? Is it the business that sells the equipment, that sells the seed, that sells the fertilizer, the Sell Barn that buys the cattle, hogs, etc.  The farmer is the only entrepreneur that “buys at retail and sells at wholesale.”

I wanted to see a farm that is truly successful, that is not up to their eyeballs in debt, produces diversity in food, and is producing healthy food. I saw that farm today, The Polyface Farm that is run by the Salatin family in Swoop Virginia.

 

Driveway To Polyface Farm

Driveway To Polyface Farm

I was amazed when I got out of the car, the farm had animals, I could hear them, I could see them but I didn’t smell them.  What was going on here, how can this be?

Hogs

Hogs

Happy Pigs

Happy Pigs

 I can remember when I took a motorcycle trip from Missouri to Minnesota.  I rode through Iowa, I couldn’t believe the smell, it was terrible. And here, this farm had hogs and I couldn’t smell them.  What was being done differently?  Everything is the answer to that question.

As an urban farmer, I wanted to see what ideas I could bring back.  I can’t have cattle, hogs, or sheep, but I can have up to four chickens. So, I decided to see how they raised their chickens. 

They do not keep their chickens in little cages or cubicles, they are able to move around, and have plenty of fresh air and grass to eat.  Some are kept in what is called a chicken tractor.

Movable Chicken Cages For Broilers

Movable Chicken Cages For Broilers

Chicken Tractors - Laying Chickens

Chicken Tractors – Laying Chickens

The chickens run around and eat bugs and grass, then are loaded back up in their movable home to the next location. Others are kept in a caged area that is moved by pulling a wire rope and the whole cage is moved along with the chickens to fresh grass.  The difference in the accommodations is for laying hens and broilers.

Where I live, a chicken tractor would not be applicable, but the movable cages might be something to try. The chickens would be protected from predators and have coverage, then in the evening could be brought into a chicken house.

Movable Chicken Cage

Movable Chicken Cage

I also saw where they have rabbits and the chickens run around under the rabbit cages. Some of the rabbits were out in a grassy area that allowed them to eat the green grass and still be protected. The difference here is what the rabbits are being used for, for meat or producing young.

Rabbits Grazing

Rabbits Grazing

Each of the locations that had animals was set up for a specific reason. Some locations were set up to accommodate the different age groups of the animals, whether it be little chicks, or chickens laying eggs or chickens to eat. While others were playing their role to help in the symbiotic relationship with the other animals. These different but important roles of the animals are what makes this farm unique compared to conventional farming.

Rabbit Cages With Chickens Underneath

Rabbit Cages With Chickens Underneath

A Sheep With A Watch Dog

A Sheep With A Watch Dog

The farm of the future is the old McDonald farm with a few different twists. I know you’re thinking that can’t be. There is no scale to that type of farm, no specialization, no way you could make a living. I saw differently today. 

This family is not only making a very good living but a healthy living, without chemical, pesticides, herbicides, and all the other “cides” that go along with conventional farming.  I hope to learn and practice these techniques on a small scale and hopefully try them on a little larger but maintainable scale.

Farming Operations

Farming Operations

Polyface Farm

Polyface Farm

The Polyface Farm, if you would like to read more about their methods go to http://www.polyfacefarms.com/ where you will find books and seminars about what they are doing.  Joe Salatin has written several, books and is a well-known speaker on the subject of agriculture.


Check It Out!

 

I have really enjoyed this book, you may too.
 
YOU CAN FARM | THE ENTREPRENEUR’S GUIDE 
TO START AND SUCCEED IN A FARMING ENTERPRISE
by Joel Salatin


Quick Tip

 

Once you stop using herbicides and pesticides, you are organic!

We are not here to conquer nature but to work with nature.


Bibliography: N/A




 

Posted in Animal Husbandry, Chickens, Health, Magazine Issues Tagged with: ,

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