Search Metzer Farms

August 03, 2018

Bird Shippers of America and Salmonella

Shipping poultry across the US is a very big industry. All across the nation, people are ordering birds and picking them up at their local post office throughout the year. Thanks to the internet, the industry is growing daily and information is being constantly shared. Because of this, everyone with access to a computer or a phone is able to bring poultry on to their property as pets and farm animals, yet many are unaware of what raising poultry entails.

Other than the obvious care and management required to keep poultry, many, especially those looking to keep birds as pets, are unaware of the health risks associated with the task. That is where Bird Shippers ofAmerica (BSOA) comes in. BSOA is an online organization dedicated to the education and safe practice of raising fowl. It endeavors to be a vital source of information for all of your bird raising needs and “ - to improve the Backyard Poultry Industry”. This includes information of different breeds of birds, various tips and tricks in raising them, and making people aware of the dangers of Salmonella and how to protect you and your loved ones.

Salmonella causes 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths every year within the US according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Most Salmonella infections come from food, but there are some strains of Salmonella that do not harm poultry but are carried by them and can infect people. It is because of these strains of Salmonella that those handling poultry must be careful.

To help educate our customers, we include a pamphlet from the CDC attached to the back of each invoice about the dos and don’ts when handling fowl.

  • Wash hands after handling live poultry
  • Adults should supervise hand washing for young children
  • Use sanitizer if soap is not available until you are able to wash your hands
  • Do not let those with weak immune systems, the elderly, or children under 5 handle live poultry
  • Do not keep live poultry in the house, bathroom, or any area where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored
  • No snuggling
  • No kissing

We invite you to read about Salmonella from the BSOA site and to continue to use its resources for any current and future poultry projects.

If you are involved with the mail-order poultry shipping industry, we also you encourage you to join the organization. Membership benefits includes the sharing of information within the poultry industry, access to updated information on research for the caring and shipping of day-old poultry, an avenue of information and response to any legislative changes that would adversely affect the industry, and a discount on postage for shipping your poultry.

Below is an infographic provided by the BSOA regarding precautions against Salmonella.

July 27, 2018

Improving Mobility in Older Geese

A customer contacted us about how she improved the mobility of her older goose, Oliver, with Cosequin.

“Hello to all,

I am sharing this in the hope that it may help another goose. I have a goose named Oliver that I rescued 12 years ago. He was full grown so I don't know his real age. About 6 years ago he started to walk less and less and began just staying stationary in the yard until being put in the barn at night. He got to the point that he would barely walk and had to be picked up and carried most of the time. He would get stuck in the bedding in his barn with his feet behind him just shoveling deeper holes.

I have a wonderful bird vet in Dr. Gary Riggs. Several years ago we exhausted every avenue to get Oliver mobile again. He had Adequan injections. He was on Gabapentin and Tramadol. He even had little Dr. Scholls gel insoles glued to his feet for part of the Summer. Nothing helped him. Dr. Riggs described his feet as "gnarly". His toes are not smooth and straight as they should be and look as they may have been broken or infected at one time.

So here is the thing. About six months [ago] I put the dogs on Cosequin. There are 3 different kinds and I actually bought all three. I contacted Dr. Riggs to see if it would be ok to try on Oliver. I started Oliver on the green label bottle simply because that is the first one I bought. [The pills are] shaped like a little dog bone. It breaks in half easily. I wrap each piece in a little ball of bread and pop it down his throat. In two weeks I "thought" I saw an improvement. Now six months later I see him doing things I haven't seen him do in years. Walking....not as much as the girls but he will get up and walk a bit and graze. I have actually looked out the kitchen window and done a double take in that he was in the pond - by himself. I used to have to carry him to get him to go for a swim. He gets up and comes to the barn at night when he sees me getting water buckets ready. He can hop up in the barn with a wing flap but no longer has to be picked up.

It is the only thing he is on at this point. I have no doubt it has made a major improvement in his mobility.

I hope this helps someone else.
Linda, Reebok, Oliver and Piper”

Linda’s story reminds us that sometimes solutions to your birds’ problems can come from obscure places. If you find that your older birds have issues walking, you can try this and see if there is any improvement. From brief searches (thank you Google!), we found that Cosequin is an over-the-counter supplement for older dogs and cats that help with joint pain and Boswellia is considered an anti-inflammatory.

We do not know if this actually works or not, however, as we are not a certified vet. If you do try this, please let us know the results! If you have found an excellent cure for other waterfowl problems, please write us with your story!

July 20, 2018

Indian Runner Ducks

Adult Fawn and White Runners
Indian Runner ducks are named as such as it was believed they had originated from India. They first hit English soil in the 1850’s and were admitted into the American Standard of Perfection in 1898. It wasn’t until 1901 that importers acknowledged that the ducks originated from Southeast Asia, not India. By then the name had stuck.

Baby Fawn and White Runners
Indian Runner ducks are unique from other domestic breeds as they stand upright and do not waddle, they run. A light weight duck, about 3¼ to 4 pounds, this breed was widely used as proficient weeders and snail eaters in fields. Southeast Asian farmers would have them walking fields during the day eating waste rice, weed seeds, insects, slugs and other bugs. At night they were put up in bamboo pens where the farmers would collect the eggs in the morning and release them to another field for cleaning.

Adult Chocolate Runners
The utility of the Indian Runner as a working duck can also be seen in its egg production and meat it has to offer. For its thin size, it has a surprising amount of meat and was common on tables in Southeast Asia and even on ships as a living source of food where they were known as “Baly Soldiers” or “Penguin Ducks”. Indian Runners took the place of what chickens are today as they laid many more eggs. Asian cultures introduced unique uses for duck eggs including balut, where an egg is partially incubated before eating, and salted eggs, where the egg is put in a salt solution or salt mud until the salt has permeated the entire egg as a preservative agent. However, over 80 years of selecting for color, shape, and stance, but not egg production, has caused their laying abilities to trend downwards to where they are now only average in laying ability. Our data shows that Runners currently lay about 100-180 eggs a year.

Baby Chocolate Runners
Today, Runner ducks have other uses other than field cleaners, egg layers, and pets. Runners have a personality we classify as “nervous” and have a habit of staying together in a flock - where one goes, the others do, too. Because this type of behavior resembles the flocking instinct of sheep, they are used to train herding dogs.

Baby Blue Runners
We offer 4 color variations of Indian Runners: Black, Blue, Chocolate, and Fawn and White. The Black and Chocolate Runners breed true, meaning if you breed a Chocolate Runner with a Chocolate Runner you will get a Chocolate Runner, but the Blue does not. We have two pens of breeders in order to hatch Blue Runners. One pen has Black Runner males on Silver females. The other pen has Silver males on Black females. This gives us 100% Blue colored Runner ducks.

Adult Black Runners
Due to their utility, unique stance and varied coloring, Runner ducks are a very popular bird year-round. They lay a decent amount of eggs, are smaller than the average duck, and require minimal maintenance. If you are looking for a versatile and self-sufficient duck, the Indian Runner would be an excellent choice for any flock. 
Baby Black Runners
Egg Production
Bluish Eggs
Egg Size
Indian Runner
3.25 - 4 pounds
Poor - Fair
65-80 grams
APA Class
Foraging Ability
Conservation Status
Our Show Quality
Flying Ability
Very Good

*Chocolate Runners have a 75% chance of laying bluish eggs while Fawn and White Runners only have 37%.
**Chocolate Runners and Fawn and White Runners have a 86% fertility.

July 13, 2018

Khaki Campbell

The Khaki Campbell was first bred in the late 1800s by Adele Campbell in Gloucestershire, England. She had crossed her Fawn and White Indian Runners with Rouens in order to make a breed with exceptional egg laying abilities with larger bodies. Wanting the then popular buff color, she tried to breed her original Campbells with Penciled Runners. She did not get the buff color she wanted, but the color she got was similar to the khaki color used in British army uniforms so the ducks became Khaki Campbells.

The newly dubbed Khaki Campbell was introduced to the public in 1898 and made its way to the United States in 1929 thanks in part to Perry Fish of Syracuse, New York. They became a part of the American Standard of Perfection in 1941, despite the fact their numbers had languished for several years. This changed in the 1970’s when the Khaki Campbell population increased due to social movements to return to the land and duck egg demand increased due to Vietnamese immigrants after the Vietnam War.

The Khaki Campbell is a light weight bird, around 3½ to 4½ pounds, and a very prolific layer. In 1920 Aalt Jansen from the Netherlands started breeding Khaki Campbel
l imported from England. With careful breeding and testing, Jansen was able to produce a strain that averaged 335 to 340 eggs per duck per laying year. With a flock of 50,000 that is 16.75 million eggs per year which was extraordinary at the time. The Jansen flock was eventually picked up by the Kortlang family in England. John Metzer has visited the Kortlang farm and our own Khaki Campbells have some Kortlang blood in them.

Jansen Farms Letter Header April 15, 1978
Egg Production
Bluish Eggs
Egg Size
Khaki Campbell
3.5 - 4.5 pounds
75-85 grams
APA Class
Foraging Ability
Conservation Status
Our Show Quality
Flying Ability
Very Good
Fairly Good

July 06, 2018

Hardware Disease

Ducks and geese are omnivores. If they think it looks interesting, they will try to eat it. This especially includes shiny things like coins, staples, nails, scrap metal, and the like. Obviously, this is not good for their health and can cause some severe problems. The issues caused by the ingestion of metals is collectively known as Hardware Disease.

While the objects themselves can cause damage, such as a sharp nail piercing the lining of the stomach, it is the poisoning from the metals as they breakdown that is the real problem. Symptoms include but are not limited to:
  • Loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • weakness and lethargy
  • bright green or bloody droppings
  • difficulty walking
  • seizures
  • death
Poisons are typically fast-acting and once symptoms begin to show they should be treated quickly by a veterinarian. We have a list of veterinarians by state on our website that are knowledgeable in waterfowl care. If a veterinarian is not on hand or not feasible, there are some things you can do to help. Countryside Daily suggests feeding your ducks molasses or charcoal pills to flush out the toxins. Lisa Steel of Fresh Eggs Daily advocates more for prevention, though she does list several herbs such as bay leaves, dill, sage, and thyme mixed as a salad to help detoxify. For objects that would not pass naturally, such as a metal springs or larger pieces of glass, they will require surgery.

The best way to prevent hardware disease is to remove any potential objects your birds might eat. This means monitoring the pen or pasture for anything they might dig up or find. If there has been a building project, make sure all screws, nails, and staples are picked up. To be very thorough, a metal detector would be of help.

Example of things we've found laying around.