Far from ideal com­pan­ions

Country Smallholding - - Vets Forum -

QWe keep nine happy, healthy girls, along with two mis­chievous Khaki Camp­bell ducks. While wet weather does not help their con­di­tion, our three cop­per black Marans lost most of their breast and neck feathers dur­ing the wet spell ear­lier in the year. The other breeds and ducks seem fine. We have checked metic­u­lously for mites, all the girls are eat­ing well and they lay daily, giv­ing us 11 eggs most days. They get qual­ity food — pel­lets, mixed corn, sweet­corn and meal­worms as a treat — plus a lunchtime se­lec­tion of fruit and veg. They have gar­lic in their wa­ter, oregano and codliver oil. So I’m at a loss as to what to do to help them. Any ad­vice?

VR SAYS: Ducks and chick­ens should ide­ally not be kept to­gether due to the ducks’ wa­tery life­style mak­ing muddy ar­eas which can en­cour­age dis­ease. It may even be the ducks re­mov­ing the feathers from the hens, es­pe­cially if there is a drake. If the ducks are both fe­males, the risk of feather re­moval is less, but they will still make the area muddy due to their fil­ter­feed­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, en­cour­ag­ing in­testi­nal par­a­sites. Lay­ers pel­lets should be the main feed, as it is bal­anced and has all the in­gre­di­ents for the health of the poul­try, plus enough for egg pro­duc­tion. There are too many treats here, for example maize (mixed corn) is not ad­vised in warm weather as it is very heat­ing and the birds can get ag­gres­sive. It is also very fat­ten­ing. Whole wheat is bet­ter. You could add a sea­weed sup­ple­ment to en­cour­age strong feather growth which won’t hurt the hens that have all their feathers. It will just be wasted as it only works on grow­ing feathers, ie at a moult or if feathers are miss­ing. Check too that the hens are not push­ing their heads through wire net­ting as this will dam­age feathers.

Khaki Camp­bell ducks

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