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January 24, 2012

A Picture of Metzer Farms!

I have always wanted a picture drawn of our farm as I am sure many of you would like to see our layout.  Pictures on our website and blog may show parts of the farm, but not the total layout.

My niece is an artist and I asked her to draw the farm.  Below is her wonderful depiction of our farm.  Those of us that work and live here love her detail.  Notice the windswept trees from our daily wind.  See the sheep we have to control the grass?  Behind the farm are the fields of the fertile Salinas Valley - supplying the salads for the nation. Looks like the van is being loaded with eggs or birds to be shipped out!  Do you find the picnic table used for breaks on nice days?

Unfortunately we felt it necessary to remove this special drawing of our farm as it was recently displayed on the blog of a animal rights terrorism group as an example of a farm that would be "a prime target" for their organization since we sell animals.  This is the same organization that pridefully admitted burning 14 trucks at a California feed lot in January of 2012.

Although we have nothing to hide and pride ourselves in our animal care, we do not want to provide a map of our farm to someone that may do harm to us or the animals under our care.

Please keep this in mind when you are asked for a donation to support an animal rights organization or to vote for the legislation they sponsor.

1 - Hatchery
2 - Greenhouse (holding many of our small breeder duck flocks)
3 - Brooder Room (for small numbers of birds)
4 - Building 1 (duck breeders)
5 - Shavings and Hay Bunkers
6 - Building 2 (duck breeders)
7 - Building 3 (duck breeders)
8 - South Goose Breeder Pens
9 - Tool/Maintenance Shed
10 - Mallard Pens
11 - North Goose Breeder Pens
12 - Red Barn (brooder building for large flocks)
13 - Our Home (for our brood)

If you would like to know more about Metzer Farms and the birds we sell, please visit our website.

January 16, 2012

Want to Watch Ducklings Hatching on Your Computer?

We have a camera set up in our hatcher so you can watch our birds hatch each weekend.  Just go to our Live Hatch webpage.

The camera is running live from Friday morning through early Monday morning when we remove the ducklings from the hatcher.  Sunday probably has the most activity as that is when most of the ducklings are hatching.

We also have a Time Lapse showing two Pekin ducklings hatching if you don't want to watch our camera all day!

The third thing we have is a calendar of what we will be filming each weekend.  If you really love Cayuga ducks, for example, you can look on the calendar and see when we will be showing Cayuga ducklings hatching.

Drop by and watch those cute ducklings, goslings, keets and poults hatch!

January 06, 2012

Nine Steps for Effective Building Cleanout

Every year in November and December we have several buildings that have to be emptied, cleaned, disinfected and made ready for next year's duck breeders.  Whether you are cleaning a 7200 sq. ft. building or a backyard coop, the process is the same.  I will show you the steps we follow, using our Building 3 as an example.

Building 3 before the cleanout - White Layers, Buff, Mallard and Fawn & White Runners

1) Before you do anything else, make sure your rodent bait stations are full.  Typically you remove feed from the building or put it away for a brief time when you clean.  If you have any rodents, their normal feed may be gone and they will be looking for alternative sources.  They may now eat that bait that has otherwise been ignored.

2) Move your birds out of the building.  This may be as simple as putting them outside for the day or moving them to a new pen.  The best time to clean a building is when that flock is done laying - either they are molting or you will sell them.  We do not clean out the litter until a flock is leaving and a new one is coming in - once a year.  We add bedding once or twice a week so by the end of a year, it is up to 12" deep.

Moving the old breeders to our Sell Pen.

3) Remove all equipment from the building: nest boxes, fences, feeders, floors under waterers, etc.  Ideally you can use a pressure washer to wash all your equipment.  Remove all the dirt and organic matter with the first wash.  Then use a disinfectant to sanitize everything.  There are various types of disinfectants available: chlorines, iodines, phenols and quats.  Disinfectants containing phenols seem to be most effective in cleaning our buildings.

The divider fences are out.  Nacho, Juan and Guillermo are now removing nest boxes and feeders.

Nacho washing fences, ramps to the waterers, feeders, etc.
4) Remove all the bedding and manure from the building.  This is an excellent soil amendment as is or pile and compost it before adding it to your soil.  The carbon:nitrogen ratio is perfect for our litter so it composts quite rapidly on its own after removal.  When you remove the bedding, oxygen is added with all the mixing.  This oxygen rejuvenates the bacteria in the bedding and often we see water vapor rising from the heating piles of bedding within a day or two of removal.
Guillermo is using the Bobcat to clean near the waterers, notice the bedding is moist.
Juan is cleaning where most of the nests are - opposite the waterers - notice the drier litter.

Keep in mind that if you do not frequently remove your litter, a very slow composting process is occurring in the deep litter.  It will not heat up excessively as it is starved for oxygen.  But this low level of composting does provide some warmth to your birds during a cold winter.

5)  Use the same pressure washer to wash the interior of the building.  Follow up with a second washing using disinfectant - as you did with the equipment.

Nacho is washing the entire interior - ceiling and walls.

6) We have a 5' wide concrete pit with a wire floor along one wall of the building.  Above this are the nipple waterers.  Any leakage from the nipple waterers goes in these pits, along with the manure produced while the birds are drinking or lounging on the wire.  During the year we periodically pump these these pits but we empty and wash them completely at cleanout.

Juan washing out the pits.

PTO powered manure pump.

Pits after cleaning.  We put rodent bait stations below the white ramps.

7) It is best to let the building completely dry before you put a 2'-3" layer of bedding back in for your birds.  Then add your disinfected feeders, nest boxes and other equipment.
Installing the divider fences.

8)  Be gentle when you move in your new flock.  It is a major stress on them if it is a new environment for them.
Juan and Luis moving in a flock of White Crested breeders.

We use these coops to move in our Mallard breeders. Notice the feathers on the floor from our clipping their wings.

9) If it is a new flock of birds, monitor them carefully.  Can they find the feed and water?  Is anything disturbing them?  Remember, they might be in a completely different environment and it is stressful for them - just as it would be for you!  If you want to provide a low level of light during the night, get a night light from a local hardware or drug store.  Buy one that has a photocell so it comes on when the sun goes down and turns off when the sun comes up.  Just plug it into an electrical outlet.  Keep it below 10 watts.

10) You now have a clean building, clean bedding, clean equipment, fewer rodents and a group of birds that are ready to lay eggs for you.

Our young breeders in their new, clean building!