Today we drove up to Full Fork Farm in China, Maine to pick-up our seven silver Appleyard ducklings! Anson, with whom we had connected via Craig’s List, met us when we arrived, and we had a chance to meet our ducklings’ parents, as well as some goslings that were having their first outing. Our ducklings were waiting for us in the house. After spending some time with them and picking Anson’s brain, we transferred the ducklings into a cardboard box with pine shavings that we had brought with us for the hour-long drive home to Rockland.
As a sidenote, we were thoroughly impressed with Anson and his work at Full Fork Farm. In addition to being a super nice guy and very knowledgeable, he went above and beyond by giving us some free pea shoots to bring home. Full Fork Farm is mostly about providing food for the salad plate at present. When it comes to the Appleyards, Anson is interested in helping to preserve the breed, which is listed as “threatened” by the Livestock Conservancy. This is his first year rearing Appleyard ducklings. We’ll provide more information on the breed in a later post.
The ducklings did great on the drive home and were super active pretty much the whole time. Five of them have black markings, while the other two have no markings, and those two are the smallest of the lot. We do not know the sexes yet, but we’re hoping for more hens than drakes. Time will tell.
Prior to leaving home, we had set-up a simple brooder using a 50-gallon Rubbermaid tote. We have a Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder on order that will arrive tomorrow, but for now we’re using a 250-watt infrared heat lamp about 20 inches over the bedding. The bedding is pine shavings several inches deep. For their water, we crafted a contraption from a plastic paint roller tray covered in hardware cloth upon which we set their waterers. For the waterers themselves, we are just using short plastic containers with holes cut in the lid that are large enough for them to get their heads in (but not their bodies!).
We’re using a small chicken feeder for them so that they don’t walk in their food and poop on it or overturn it. For food, they are getting a 19% Dumor chicken starter crumble (non-medicated). We’re offering them tiny green shoots that we’ve thinned from our garden greens, as well as some tender dandelion leaves, so they are also getting some crushed granite Chick Grit. We plan to add Brewer’s Yeast to the starter crumble beginning tomorrow to address any potential niacin deficiencies.
When we got home, we transferred the ducklings to the brooder, and then introduced them each to the water and food. They all caught on immediately and much fun ensued. The height of the heat lamp seems right at the moment as they snuggle under it when they sleep and then move about the brooder when they are awake.
So we’ve got ducks at Three Bird Farm, and we’re pretty darned excited about it!
Stay tuned for more…