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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
Breed
Temperament
Weight
Egg Production
Mothering
Bluish Eggs
Egg Size
Khaki Campbell
Nervous
3.5 - 4.5 pounds
165-240/year
Good
<5%
75-85 grams
Fertility
APA Class
Foraging Ability
Conservation Status
Our Show Quality
Flying Ability
Origin
87%
Light
Very Good
Watch
Fairly Good
Maybe
England

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.

May 25, 2018

Male vs Female: How to Identify Adult Ducks


A common question we get is if a duck is a male or female. This can be determined using a few different methods. Most ducks can be identified by using a couple of physical attributes while others can be identified by their coloring.

Size

Simply put, male ducks are usually bigger than females. The size of the head and body are usually bigger and bulkier. Of course, there are exceptions such as with an abnormally small male or abnormally large female, but this is a good general start.

 

 

 



Tail

A male duck of all common breeds (except the Muscovy) grows a distinctly curled feather in its tail. The lack of a curly feather, however, does not indicate a female as it could have been pulled or molted. However, a curly feather does indicate a male. The curly feather appears within about eight weeks.


As an interesting aside, the reason all domestic male ducks (besides the Muscovy) have curly feathers is because they all originated from the Mallard breed and Mallard males have a curly feather on their tail. You look at all other wild ducks - Teals, Wood, Mandarin, Shoveler, Canvasback, etc - and none of the males have a curly feather on their tail. Only the Mallard male has a curly feather - so that is one of the reasons we know that all domestic ducks where the male has a curly feather originate from Mallards.

Voice

Sadly, the cute chirp of a duckling starts to change within several weeks. By eight to ten weeks males have a deep, raspy voice while females maintain the loud QUACK. For practice you can listen to our video of male and female duck’s voices.


Coloring

There are breeds of ducks that are sex-linked in their coloring. The best examples are the Mallard and Rouen breeds. Both males and females start as a black and yellow ducklings and turn brown once they get their first feathers. But when they start to get another set of feathers at about 12 weeks, the males begin to get their green heads, cinnamon chest and silver belly. For some other breeds like the Buff, Fawn and White Runner, Khaki Campbell, Welsh Harlequin and Silver Appleyard, the males will have a different coloration in their head and/or body feathers, though not as striking as the Mallard and Rouen.

Some breeds have a different colored bill for males and females. This is true of the Khaki Campbell and Welsh Harlequin where the males have lighter colored bill than the females.

If All Else Fails

If you still cannot determine the sex by the size, tail, voice, or coloring, there is vent sexing. We will be covering this in a future post, so stay tuned.

March 23, 2018

Golden 300 Hybrid and White Layer Ducks


Golden 300 Hybrid ducks
The Golden 300 Hybrid was developed by us in 1996 in order to meet customer demand for ducks that produce a high volume of eggs but are calmer than the Khaki Campbell. Several years after that the White Layer was developed as customers wanted a duck that had a lighter colored embryo for balut purposes.

White Layer ducks
The Golden 300 and the White Layer are our top egg layers, capable of laying 230 eggs in 40 weeks of production or 290 eggs if they lay for a full year. The only difference we have found between these two strains is the White Layer lays about 1-2% blue/green eggs and the Golden 300 lays about 5% of blue/green eggs. Otherwise they are identical in terms of egg production, egg size, shell strength, etc.

We crossed different breeds of ducks together to make the Golden 300, the breeds of which are a secret! Since the Golden 300 and White Layer are composed of different breeds, they have quite a bit of hybrid vigor and typically have less mortality and live longer than most other breeds. Their eggs are not as large as a Pekin but they produce many more and … produce much less manure!

Male Golden 300 Hybrid ducklings
As ducklings, the sex of the Golden 300 can be determined by their down color. Female ducklings are shades of brown including light brown, chocolate brown, and combinations of brown and yellow, while males are shades of black ranging from stark black to different patterns of black and yellow. As adults, the female can range in color from a light brown to a dark brown with patches of white. Adult males have a much darker plumage ranging in color from all black to black with a white chest to almost a male Rouen appearance. The White Layer, on the other hand, has to be vent sexed as both male and female are yellow as ducklings and white as adults.

If you produce babies from our Golden 300 they will not retain these characteristics of females being brown and males being black. You will hatch all colors, including white, with no relationship between the color and the sex. The White Layer, however, breeds true, meaning the White Layers will produce more white ducks.

Typically they also have great temperaments making them good as pets. We have had some customers, however, that tell us their White Layers and Golden 300 are very nervous and we have had other customers tell us their birds are calm. This is puzzling to us as the genetics does not change. So what causes this wide swings in temperament?

Female Golden 300 Hybrid ducklings
I phoned Dave Holderread, waterfowl breeder and author, and he also agreed that some birds can be nervous and others calm from the same breed. His only guess is that there is a period in their early lives where they are very susceptible to and impressionable by fear. They are scared by a dog, or they are caught and handled by a person, or light movements at night scare them and they are not only terrified but are nervous from that point on.

Can we tell you when that susceptible period is? No. Can we tell you when that period ends? No. All we can say is to allow them to have plenty of room to move away from you in their pen (if they are running or flapping you are moving too close or too fast), warn them you are coming (rattle your keys, whistle, sing, knock on the door or simply talk to them as you approach) and do not overcrowd them. You can always give your birds treats from the very beginning but you cannot count on the treats to totally overcome a traumatic event that makes them overly nervous.

People ask how much egg production will drop in the second generation if our Golden 300 or White Layers are used as breeders. We do not know for sure but our guess is the progeny will lay 5-8% fewer eggs than the birds you purchased from us. We are also asked how much production drops in their second and third years of production. The rule of thumb is a drop of about 8-10% per year.
White Layer duckling
You cannot find a better egg laying duck than the Golden 300 or White Layer. Whether you just want a few ducks for your own family’s needs or you want a commercial flock to sell eggs to farmers markets, bakeries and restaurants, the Golden 300 and White Layer are the ducks for you.


Breed
Temperament
Weight
Egg Production
Mothering
Bluish Eggs
Egg Size
Golden 300 Hybrid
Calm
4.5-5.75 pounds
200-290/year
Fair
5%
75-90 grams
Fertility
APA Class
Foraging Ability
Conservation Status
Our Show Quality
Flying Ability
Origin
93%
NA
Good
No Rank
Not Shown
None
Metzer Farms



Breed
Temperament
Weight
Egg Production
Mothering
Bluish Eggs
Egg Size
White Layer
Calm
4.5-5.75pounds
200-290/year
Fair
1-2%
75-90 grams
Fertility
APA Class
Foraging Ability
Conservation Status
Our Show Quality
Flying Ability
Origin
93%
NA
Good
No Rank
Not for Exhibition
None
Metzer Farms





March 16, 2018

Feed Mill




For both commercial farms and backyard hobbyists, feed mills are a necessity of life. Feed mills are able to consistently produce quality feed for our animals with the nutrition they need. But what actually occurs in a feed mill?

L A Hearne has been our source of feed for over 30 years and we were recently invited for a tour of their mill located in King City, California. Their manager, Mike Hearne, was very enthusiastic about showing us around, starting with the outside of the mill.


Marc Metzer on left, Mike Hearne on right
Every Thursday a train car rolls in with a delivery of corn which is emptied into a vent under the rails. The corn is then transferred to their grain storage building which contains different kinds of grain including corn, oats, barley, and rice.


Train car that carries the feed.
The mill caters to hundreds of customers including feed stores and other commercial growers, all with different feed needs for different animals ranging from our ducks, to horses, to rabbits! The feed is usually sold in bulk to commercial customers and put in 20, 50 and 80 pound bags for their feed store customers. All our feed is delivered in bulk - meaning it is augered directly from the feed truck into our feed tanks, and each truck has 24 tons of feed.
Feed truck delivering feed to our farm!

Bag for rabbit feed!

Some of the grain storage.
Determining what grain and additives to use and in what quantities in a feed ration is a fairly complex process with several factors needed to be taken into consideration. We will cover this in another post in the future.

Feed is made in batches of two tons. Prior to being ground and mixed, all the grains are sent through a sifter to remove any broken pieces of grain and any contaminates. The sifted grains are then sent into a grinder in preparation to be turned into pellets. Different vitamins and minerals are placed in bags beforehand, ready to be mixed into the ground grains. We were lucky to be visiting that day as they were mixing our feed!


Mixer in the floor mixing ground grains.
Vitamins and minerals going into our feed!

Mike showing Marc the mixer.
The complete, ground ration is called a mash. For some chicken and swine feed, this is the product’s final form. For others, the mash is flash steamed to increase the temperature and then, pushed through a pellet die, kind of like frosting through a piping tip. As the ropes of feed emerges from the die a knife cuts it into pellets of the desired length. By flash steaming the feed, all of the bacteria is destroyed, leaving a clean food source.


Pellet die prepped.
Feed being pushed through the die and forming pellets.
The pellets are then sent through a dryer to remove any leftover moisture, preventing mold. For more information on mash, pellets, and crumble feed, take a look at our post on the different forms of feed.

The final product is then packaged and shipped to customers and feed stores.


Mike manning the sewing machine.
Bag of feed heading for the shipping dock.

Thank you LA Hearne for a tour of your mill! Keep up the good work and see you next week!