I’m not sure when it happened exactly…but I’ve become a bit obsessed with poultry. When I moved to the farm last fall I knew chickens would be a prominent addition to my business plan – folks asked about buying eggs from the 4 chickens I had for my own needs! Several potential customers asked whether I’d also have duck eggs, so I began my research and decided they would be a fairly easy addition. The roommate wanted to add guinea fowl – they are great guardians and feast on ticks and other insects.
Heartland Hatchery carries both birds and last weekend I picked up 10 more chicks for my flock. After 1 day with an incredible amount of cheeping in the sun room – 30 baby birds! – the chicklets began their week of shelter-within-shelter in the coop. I felt like I got my brain back a little bit and was able to enjoy the fast growing newbies.
Why ducks? Don’t let the cuteness blind you (I know, that’s hard!) – many folks that are allergic to chicken eggs find they are able to consume duck eggs. They are also richer tasting and have higher nutritional values than chicken eggs. Ducks are quieter than chickens. It’s easy to have males and females together – males don’t crow and are gentler than roosters on their lady friends – so I’ll be able to grow the flock without spending cash. I chose Welsh Harlequins: these small birds can lay up to 330 eggs per year with eggs colored white, green, and/or blue.
The guineas are a completely new to me bird and fascinating to observe. They move as one whenever I open their brooder box to check food and water levels. They are wary of human interaction – they have zero interest in being touched and scramble away quickly. Their shrill cry when cold or hungry is piercing – if their adult warning cry is similar then my flock will be totally secure.
Ducklings and guineas grow more quickly than chicks and will be ready for outdoor time in less than a month. I could have duck eggs as early as August!
Am I done with birds for the year? I should be, right, with 34 in my care already? I need to show some restraint – the field will soon take up most of my day and I already spend an hour on animal chores each morning and evening as it is!