Friday, January 12, 2018

What is the NPIP and a Form 9-3i?

NPIP stands for the National Poultry Improvement Plan and is a cooperative agreement between the federal government and poultry producers. It was started in the 1930s to eliminate Pullorum disease by encouraging farms to test and eliminate birds found positive for the disease. Pullorum was a major problem at the time and was the cause of nearly 80% of the mortality in baby poultry. Once Pullorum was controlled, the NPIP expanded to cover other diseases and pathogens found in poultry.

We test for Pullorum-Typhold disease as well as Avian Influenza and Salmonella. Pullorum is tested for annually, Avian Influenza quarterly and Salmonella weekly. If you ever buy birds from us, you will see on the upper right corner of your invoice three crests showing that we are clean of Pullorum, Avian Influenza and that we are monitoring for Salmonella. The crests act as our verification from the NPIP.

In the past the NPIP required a separate sheet of paper, form 9-3i, to be included with the birds. Now, to improve efficiency, the NPIP has approved our invoice to be used as an official 9-3i – a separate sheet of paper is not required. If you must provide a 9-3i to your fair, just give them a copy of our invoice.

Every week we must notify the NPIP of all the shipments we have made - what breeds and quantities were sent and to whom. This report is required for all inter-state travel and enables the NPIP to track birds if there is a disease outbreak.

When shopping for any kind of bird, please ensure that the hatchery is a NPIP participant for Pullorum-Typhoid, Avian Influenza, and Salmonella Monitoring. This makes it safer for you, your birds and the poultry industry.

If you do ship day-olds, adults or hatching eggs across state lines you must be a member of NPIP and test for Pullorum. For more information on how to join NPIP, or learn how to generate a Form 9-3 online, if you are already a member, contact your state's NPIP director from this list

Friday, January 5, 2018

2018 New Year's Letter

Dear Waterfowl Enthusiasts!

I first want to thank you as a very valuable customer. It is only with customers such as yourself that we can succeed and grow and therefore offer you new breeds and services. It is our hope that 2018 will be even better in supplying you fantastic day-old birds and unsurpassed customer service!

We have specialized in waterfowl for over 40 years but are now seeing a tremendous growth in the interest in our meat chicken strains. We have the standard Cornish Cross that is unsurpassed in terms of growth rate and feed conversion. Last year we offered the Rolin S, a red broiler that gives an excellent meat carcass in twelve weeks. This year we are adding the Big Sur, a bird with the characteristics many of you have been requesting: a larger breast than the Rolin S, more white feathers for cleaner processing and a bird that can thrive in a pastured production system.

In the past we only offered goslings in pairs – now you can order all males, all females or any combination of straight run, male and female goslings! Many of you have been requesting this for years - now we can do it!

Starting in February we will be hatching and shipping on both Mondays and Tuesdays. This will continue through early June before we go back to Monday hatching only. As long as we have the birds, you can order for either day.

Last year we introduced three breeds: Silver Appleyard, Saxony and Hookbill. We ran short of the Silver Appleyard and Saxony frequently during last season but have increased our flock size substantially for these two breeds and hope to meet all your needs this year. The Hookbill, however, were extremely difficult to hatch and we are not offering them this year. If we can figure out how to best hatch them, we will have them in the future – but not this year.

Salmonella continues to be a concern with day-old poultry. We are in the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) Salmonella Monitored Program. We encourage you to purchase all your day-old poultry from hatcheries that are in this program as this ensures that hatchery is vigilantly monitoring for salmonella and taking corrective steps if it is found.

Even though we are doing all we can, it is important you provide safeguards, too. Wash your hands after handling poultry. Limit or prevent children under 5, the elderly and those with compromised immunity systems from handling poultry. We are not trying to scare anyone. Salmonella has always been around – we just want everyone to be careful.

Thank you very much!

John and Marc Metzer

Friday, December 29, 2017

Mold in Your Feed

We all want good clean feed for our birds, but sometimes mold has a tendency of appearing. Knowing what is dangerous, how to identify it, and how to treat it is a priority should you come across a mold problem in your feed.

The mold itself is not what is harmful to your birds. It is the mycotoxin byproduct that is harmful. It is a microscopic toxin undetectable to the naked eye that is extremely poisonous in very small amounts. Mycotoxins can have adverse affects on your birds including unusual stools, deformed eggs, weight loss, a compromised immune system, lesions on the body and internal organs and just general unthriftiness and poor production. Unfortunately waterfowl are more susceptible to mycotoxins than chickens or turkeys. Therefore, you must be more vigilant in terms of mold.

Mold and their resulting mycotoxins can develop anywhere in the production process of the feed. It can start in the field where the grain is grown and harvested. It can start at the feed mill where the grain is ground and mixed into your feed. It can start while it is sitting on the shelf in your local feed store. It can start where you keep the feed once you buy it. The bottom line is there is no one definitive place your feed can produce mold.

Prevention is the best defense against mold. Mold grows best in damp and dirty areas, therefore, keep your feed in places that are dry and clean. You will have a harder time in humid climates to prevent mold, but it can be done by being diligent in how and where you store your feed.

If you buy your feed sacked, there is not much you can do other than buy from a reputable source, keep it as dry as possible, and use it within a month. You have much more flexibility, however, if your feed is being made for you. Ingredients can be added to absorb mycotoxins or kill mold and you can test your feed for mycotoxins before it is fed.

The most commonly added ingredients are aluminosilicates such as clay and bentonite which bind the mycotoxins allowing them to pass through the bird with minimum absorption. Newer additives include complex indigestible carbohydrates from yeasts. These ingredients must be added during the formulation of the feed to ensure it is uniformly spread throughout the feed. Other ingredients like propionic and other organic acids can prevent the growth of mold and resulting mycotoxins.

Testing of your feed for mycotoxins by sending samples to a lab is recommended if you have a concern. You can also purchase kits that you can use yourself to determine if your feed contains molds or mycotoxins. These kits can be purchased from companies such as Bioo Scientific, Romer Labs, or Charm Sciences Inc. Many of these kits are quick and easy to use to detect common mycotoxins. If you are purchasing truck loads of feed, you can test the feed before accepting it from your supplier.

If you ever find mold growing on your feed, you need to throw away the moldy feed. Otherwise you are taking a great risk in feeding it to your birds. As stated previously, prevention is the best way to deal with a mold issue. Buy from a reputable company that tests for mycotoxins, keep your feed dry and use it within a month.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Why Has My Duck Stopped Laying Eggs?

Around mid Autumn we get a lot of questions on egg laying. Many duck owners do not know why their ducks have slowed down or stopped laying all together. The simple answer is that ducks are similar to chickens as laying is heaviest during the spring into summer and starts to decline or even stop during the fall and winter.

Keep in mind that this is for ducks not raised under artificial lighting. Ducks need at least 17 hours of light in order to continuously lay year-round. Without it production drops. If you would like to learn more about ducks under artificial lighting, please read.

Breed and environment are the two main factors when it comes to a duck laying eggs. Some breeds naturally lay more eggs than others. They also require a relatively stress-free environment and adequate day length.

Different breeds can lay a different number of eggs. A Khaki Campbell lays a lot of eggs throughout the year and is even likely to lay year-round. On the other hand, a Mallard does not lay as many eggs and is likely to slow or stop laying come fall and winter.

Stress affects how a duck lays. If a duck is stressed, it will not lay as well. Stress can come from anything such as predators, loud noises, or a change in their environment such as a new feed, animal or person.

Day length is a major factor in how a duck lays as the days start to get shorter in the fall. The longer the day, the longer ducks will lay while shorter days can stop them from laying. This affect is most obviously seen in Northern states that have a drastic difference between their longest and shortest day. In Southern states, however, this change is not as obvious as the time gap between their longest and shortest day is minimal. For example, a duck could lay longer in Florida than the same duck would lay in Alaska.

Bottom line is to not panic when your ducks stop or slow down in laying eggs. Ducks naturally decline in laying as the days get shorter. How much and for how long depends on the breed and their environment. Stress can cause issues with laying and day length affects how long the duck lays.

If you would like to see what kind of duck would be best for egg laying for your needs, we encourage you to visit our website and look at our Duck Breed Comparison chart.

Friday, December 15, 2017

How We Make Blown Goose and Duck Eggs

Blown duck and goose eggs can be used to make beautifully decorated egg art. To see examples, see our post on BlownEgg Art.

How the eggs are emptied and cleaned for decorating can differ from person to person. An older method of blowing the eggs is to poke a hole in both ends of the egg, swirl a stick in it to break up the yolk, and literally blow into the egg in one end and the yolk and white goes out the other end - hence the term ‘blown’ egg.

We do not physically blow our duck and goose eggs, however, as we would have fainting employees every day if we did! 

We start with a device that helps us mark the exact center of the large end of the egg. We want the hole in the exact center so if the egg is hung from the hole, the egg hangs perfectly straight. The egg is then taken to a Dremel drill and using one of their 192 carving/engraving bits we drill the actual hole which measures 5/32 of an inch in diameter.

The drilled eggs are then placed hole down over short pieces of small copper tubing that are connected to an air compressor and a water source. Initially air is blown into the egg which forces the egg contents out the hole. After the insides are drained, water is then pushed through the copper tube to rinse out any remaining contents. Then we use a soap solution to clean the inside. Finally, we rinse out the soapy water with clean water and use a final blast of air to get all the water out of the egg. 

Goose eggs are measured after cleaning. A tape measure is wrapped around the length of the egg, not the width, to determine the size. The eggs are sold by this circumference measurement and range from 8“ to over 12“. A 10“ goose egg, for instance, measures anywhere from 10“ to almost 10.5“ in circumference. Duck eggs, on the other hand, are measured by their weight when they are washed by our automatic egg washer and grader when they enter the hatchery. The duck eggs come in Pee Wee, Small, Medium, Large and Jumbo sizes. As duck eggs are much larger than chicken eggs, our Small is equivalent to a Jumbo chicken egg.

After the egg contents have been removed and the inside of the egg has been cleaned and rinsed, the shell itself is carefully cleaned with a dilute solution of water and vinegar.

Once shiny and clean, the eggs are left to dry and then boxed and stored until a customer places an order for them. If blown and cleaned properly, an egg should never decay. For more information on the blown eggs we sell, please visit our BlownGoose and Duck Egg page on our website.

Friday, December 8, 2017

What is Blown Egg Art?

A blown eggs is an egg that has a hole drilled in it and the white and yolk are removed from the egg through the hole. The final result is a hollow egg shell that can be used for decorating. Cultures around the globe have given significant meaning to these decorated eggs; some practical, others ceremonial. Simple to elaborate methods to obtain various designs have been and still are used today. Organizations and guilds continue to further blown egg art, showcasing the intricate designs and encouraging others to follow.

The oldest known use of a blown egg was an ostrich egg in South Africa nearly 26,000 years ago. It is believed they were used as containers for food and water and that the scratches on them designated the egg’s owner.

More recently, blown eggs are used in various religious traditions and practices. For example, elaborate eggs are given as gifts during Easter symbolizing life and rebirth while golden eggs can be found hung as ornaments outside mosques in Istanbul. Decorated eggs in Africa are used to ward off evil while others are used in celebrating the New Year in some Persian cultures. Red eggs are used to symbolize Christ’s blood in some Christian Orthodox and Catholic traditions.

People produced these designs using methods of dying, painting, scratching, and carving. The most elaborate and well known blown egg art is called pysanky. Originating from Eastern Europe, women would use wax to block off areas before dying the egg. Using this same method now, very colorful and intricate patterns and designs can be made.  
Organizations and guilds have been formed dedicating themselves to old and new ways of producing blown egg art. In the US one such organization is the International Egg Art Guild. We encourage you to visit their website for more blown egg art.

Some individuals make a living making and selling blown egg art. Dan Stevens, our customer in Oregon, has one such business, specializing in Christmas decorations for the last 35 years. Below are a few samples of his work. To see more, visit his website at CountryChristmas Eggs.

If you are a customer of ours and would like your website listed on this or another blog post, please let us know.

Below are some more examples of decorated blown eggs.


Friday, December 1, 2017

Ammonia Causes and Effects

Where there are ducks, geese, and other poultry, ammonia gas will be produced and can be harmful to a flock. It is impossible to avoid the production of ammonia, but the harm of concentrated ammonia can be mitigated if preventative measures are taken.

Ammonia gas is produced by the breakdown of uric acid in poultry droppings by bacteria in the litter. When wet, the ammonia production is accelerated and is especially prominent in coops where there is a high percentage of manure in the bedding.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, people can start to smell ammonia between 5 and 50 parts per million (ppm) depending on how well they can smell. Anything above 25 ppm and the ammonia is now in danger of damaging your bird’s health. Therefore, ammonia can be harming your birds and you don’t even notice it!

Ammonia gas is acidic and can cause serious damage not just to your birds' throat, lungs, and eyes, but your own as well. Ammonia has been known to cause blindness, damage to the esophagus, and death via suffocation. A safe rule is that if you can smell it, you need to do something about it because 1) your birds are breathing that ammonia 4/7 and 2) put your nose 6” above the litter where your bards are. Notice how much stronger it is? A good rule of thumb is if you can stay in the coop while reading a book for an hour with no discomfort, then your birds have a great environment.

You may be thinking, “But I clean my coop every day!”. If you have a small flock, that's great and you should never have an ammonia problem. However, if you don’t have time for this (and we don’t necessarily recommend cleaning every day as the build up of litter allows moisture to travel down through the bedding and away from the surface and reduces total bedding use) there are other very effective ways of controlling the ammonia.

The best thing you can do is make sure that your coop is well ventilated. Many people, especially during winter, like to make their coops airtight in order to keep their birds warmer and to prevent predators from entering, but this can be detrimental to your flock. Openings can instead be covered with hardware cloth or chicken wire which will allow fresh air into the coop. Typically there are more problems caused by lack of ventilation than too much ventilation. Remember – your ducks and geese are designed to swim very comfortably in ice cold water. If you have snow, they will probably prefer to be outside than inside. So provide plenty of ventilation! They can handle it!

What we use!
If you are raising young birds in cold weather and have to limit your ventilation since your heater cannot keep up with the incoming cold air, there are many products to help neutralize existing ammonia that can be sprinkled on the bedding such as DooKashi, Fresh Coop, and CHICK Flic Odor Eliminator. Products such as these can be found at your local feed or pet store. We personally like to sprinkle iron sulfate in our bedding if we have a problem. It is a commercially available granular fertilizer that neutralizes the ammonia and makes your bedding even more valuable as a fertilizer for your garden!

It is important to make sure your ducks and geese are protected from ammonia. It can easily harm your birds but can also be easily controlled with litter removal, ventilation or neutralizers.

If you can read in your coop, you're good.