Naughty Ducks! Confessions from the Coop (TM)

Yesterday, I noticed my ducks aimlessly wandering around the yard, which isn’t supposed to happen – I shut their run door.


Yet, there they were, happy as clams, playing in the horse waterers.


When I checked the coop, the door was open. Don’t ask me how.


But here’s what’s funny: NONE of the chickens bothered to escape! LOL! They must be happy in their coop, if they don’t want the sweet taste of freedom when it’s offered!


They got extra black soldier fly larvae as a treat!


I think this year, every chicken on the farm has decided to molt. There’s feathers EVERYWHERE.


I’ve been putting out the Fluffiest Feathers Ever! like mad because while the warm weather usually lasts through October here, it’s been such a weird year, that I don’t want them to get cold if it suddenly decides to snow!


We’re having a lot of fun picking up feathers.


One of the roosters is a barred rock, and very beautiful. I have no idea what we’ll do with all these feathers, but I’ll think of something!


I got my hatching eggs in, and the incubator has been fired up! And I couldn’t resist….I stuck some duck eggs in there.


The ducklings have feathered out, and they’re very beautiful. I couldn’t resist trying for more!


We definitely have a mix of male and female, so next spring, I’m going to have to bring in a couple new drakes and hens to keep the gene pool diverse.


In the incubator, we have a GREAT mixture. Some are my barnyard mix (it’s always fun to see what those chicks look like) and some purebred lavender orpingtons, silver laced polish bantams, russian orloffs, and a couple others.


I’m probably going to build additional runs and coops for the pure bred chickens, and possibly bring in some outside blood from a second breeder.

Ducklings That Spontaneously Reproduce?? Confessions From The Coop (TM)

So, either I can’t count, or the ducklings are spontaneously reproducing.


I’ll swear on the Bible that there were only 10 ducklings when they hatched, but they finally slowed down long enough yesterday for me to do a head count.


And there’s 11. Not 10.


So, I’m the proud owner of 16 ducks. Which is a LOT of quacking.


Some of the ducklings are starting to have voice changes – and at least 1 is developing a deeper, louder, more insistent quack.


If you don’t know, these quacks indicate they’re female. So, we might have a hen or two in the clutch!


I can’t believe all the different colors they are. I figured since the eggs were mostly khaki campbell and the drake is the same breed, they would all look like the parent stock.


Let’s just say they didn’t breed true, LOL.


We clean out and refill their pool twice a day, so twice a day, they have a good swim.


We’ve also been giving them lots of mealworms and shrimp to help them grow. They devour them, and LOVE that the treats float on water.


The Fluffy Butts Keep Escaping!

This weekend, we’re tackling adding trusses and a roof to my chicken run.


The fluffy butts keep getting out!


One night, we had LOTS of rain. While I’m sure the ducks were happy, a couple hens refused to return before night fall….and are regretting their waterlogged decision this morning!


They were more than happy to run into the coop for breakfast, LOL! They’re fine, just wet, and it’s still 90 degrees here. There’s PLENTY of places for them to get out of the rain on the farm besides the coop.


We’ve been giving them lots of Best Eggs Ever! and Fluffiest Feathers Ever! to help the hens lay again now that it’s not so hot all the time (herbs + calcium + protein = happy hen) – and it seems to be working!


Might We Have A Mouse As A Pet??

Feeding the chickens this morning, I kept hearing loud squeaks! It sounded like baby rabbits in some serious distress, so I searched the area and found a baby mouse that’s injured.


Now, I’m not a fan of mice. BUT I’m also not a fan of watching young animals suffer and not do anything about it.


The mouse is old enough that it should be weaned, so currently, it’s in a bucket of alfalfa, drying off (it rained ALL last night and the mouse is soaked – another reason I didn’t want to leave it).


Once it’s dry, we can see how injured it is. Fingers crossed it’s just a momentary thing, and we can release it later today.


Otherwise, we might have a pet mouse. Not that I want one.


We’ve been giving it Fluffiest Feathers Ever! – it seemed to like it and maybe it’ll grow fluffier fur?? LOL!

Confessions From The Coop ~ August 22, 2018

Duckling Update!

This weekend, the ducklings took their first official swim (that was outside of their water bowl, at least). They took to it like….well….a duck in water, LOL!


They had a ball, and also loved the shrimp I offered them. (That was a first for them, too!) It’s amazing that even though they’d never seen the tiny shrimp before, the ducklings still knew that they were food.

ducklings try swimming for the first time

Although I didn’t see the adult ducks (their parents) really interact with the ducklings, I know they were curious because I did see them sneak a few peeks at the little ones, and hovered about once I left.


I don’t think it registered that the ducklings are their children, but I do think they’re excited to soon have even more company!


Very soon, we’ll start work on a new area for them that’ll include a duck house, a pool, and lots of space.


During the day, the ducklings get to sunbathe – it’s very warm here still (it’ll be hot through October), so why not let them enjoy the weather?


And they’re growing so big – I swear, they’ve grown 10x the size they were just a week ago. Definitely not tiny little ducklings that’ll fit in a shell anymore!


Because ducklings have different dietary needs than chickens (they need more vitamin B), we’ve been feeding crumbles specifically for ducklings and adding brewer’s yeast (which we’ll carry in the store very soon) to make sure their bones grow strong.


You’ll hear stories online about how you can feed ducklings chick starter – don’t listen to it.


In my experience, all might be okay and… also might lead to ducks with poor bone development in their legs, which isn’t pretty and ruins their lives.


Just feed them the right stuff and sleep better at night.


The Lion Flock Grows Up!

Well, the clutch of chicks we call The Lion Flock are growing up – they’ve left their grower tractor and now are in the main coop with the Silkies and my bantam Cochins.


They’re so beautifully feathered, and now that they’re no longer in the tractor, I can get better photos to share with you.


One pullet (I’m pretty sure it’s female) has beautiful grey feathers and a young roo has a nice dappling of brown, white, and black feathers.


I can’t wait to see what they look like fully grown – they’ll be beautiful.

Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator Product Review

*** For this review, the folks at Brinsea sent us their Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator with fully automatic egg turner and digital temperature and humidity control test run.

Although we received the incubator for free, all the opinions in this article are true and accurate, and represent our own opinions. ***


What we reviewed

Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator with fully automatic egg turner and digital temperature and humidity control. Cost: $469.99 on Amazon (Buy here) or (accurate at time of print) $449.99 on Brinsea’s website here.

 Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator fully digital for backyard chickens

 Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator fully digital for backyard chickens egg cups


The Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator with fully automatic egg turner and digital temperature and humidity control is an electric egg incubator with an automatic turning element and forced air heating element.


There are 8 egg holders that can accommodate all species of domestic poultry eggs.


There are also areas for water to maintain the humidity levels. The temperature and humidity are digitally displayed on the top of the incubator.


The Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator comes with a manual that explains how to use it and how to set it up.


According to the Brinsea website:


“The Ovation 56 Advance is a sophisticated, high performance incubator ideal for a wide range of species and applications. The high accuracy digital readout of humidity and comprehensive alarms help ensure high hatch rates.

A simple and highly accurate menu driven digital control system gives:

  • Digital display of temperature and humidity
  • Automatic temperature control in °F or °C fully factory calibrated
  • High and low incubator and room temperature alarms
  • Programmable automatic egg turning
  • Periodic Egg Cooling feature
  • Fan assisted air flow with Induced Dual Airflow system
  • Ventilation control
  • Good visibility of the eggs
  • Robust hygienic ABS construction with Biomaster™antimicrobial plastics
  • 56 hen eggs capacity with standard egg carriers provided but suitable for a wide range of egg sizes (optional small/large egg carriers)
  • Easy water top-up with level indicator
  • 3-year warranty”

Our experience

Let’s just say that we gave the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator a real run for its money, and it came through with gold stars.


We tested it twice, both with duck and chicken eggs (mostly from my brahma chickens). We had to try it twice because on the 18th day of our first test run with 30 chicken and duck eggs, the cat knocked over the incubator and cracked every single egg.


Despite this error on our part, our experience with the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator was overwhelmingly positive.


The first test run of the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator

Setting up the incubator was easy, although I did have to consult the manual to make sure all the settings were accurate. The manual is well written and easy to follow.


I selected 30 duck eggs and enough chicken eggs to fill up all the cups.


Days 1 – 10 went uneventfully, and I appreciated how easy the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator is to use.


On Day 10, we pulled out the eggs that did not develop or were never fertile, and left the remainder to incubate. Out of 30 eggs, we pulled out less than 5. In any hatch, some eggs won’t develop, and it’s not a reflection of the incubator.


Before the incubator crash, we candled all the remaining eggs on Day 18, and they appeared to have embryos developed enough to hatch.


After the crash on Day 18, we had 5 chicks hatch immediately, and they were all healthy, and have lived to tell the tale. We lost the rest of the hatch, but it was no fault of the incubator.


The incubator itself was unharmed, which is a testament to its craftsmanship.


The second test run

The second time, we tested the incubator with 15 duck and about 20 chicken eggs. All went as planned, and we loved that we didn’t need to worry about the temperature levels, and adding more water to maintain the humidity was easy.


The temperature stayed a constant 99.6 degrees F throughout the entire incubation period, except when we replaced the water in the humidity trays. When the temperature dipped a few decimal places because of the water, the incubator returned to 99.6 degrees quickly.


When we removed the top of the incubator to candle, again, the temperature returned to 99.6 quickly. Candling the eggs was easy, although I had to be careful to grasp the eggs tightly to remove them from the turning element safely.


We kept the humidity at 55%, and removed the chicken eggs from the turning element on Day 18.  The duck eggs remained in the egg cups, which protected them when the hatched chicks rolled around to get their bearings.


On Days 18 – 21, all the chicks hatched, and are healthy and now happily running around our farm. Because of the automatic turner, we didn’t have to open the incubator at all while the chicks hatched to turn the duck eggs, allowing us to incubate both types of eggs simultaneously.


The duck eggs remained in the cups until Day 28.


We removed some duck eggs before the final 3 incubation days (the eggs were never were fertile) and all of the remaining duck eggs hatched on Day 28 and Day 29. We now have 10 healthy ducklings.

ducklings try swimming for the first time

The Good

This incubator is very easy to use, and is as close to set and forget as you can get with an incubator, at least until it’s time to remove the eggs from the turning element to hatch.


The temperature stayed the same the entire time, and the humidity was consistent as long as the water level was constant.


The egg cups that are part of the turning element are easy to use, and accommodates our very large Pekin duck eggs well. For goose eggs, the manual recommends laying the eggs on their sides, which we had to do with a couple Pekin eggs.


We noticed that the incubator did not draw a lot of energy, even though it maintained 99.6 degrees for well into 2 months, so it seems to be quite energy efficient.


Some key points about the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator

This isn’t bad per se, but more of a piece of advice: Consult the manual carefully and keep it handy when setting up the egg cups and automatic turner.


In the confusion of the day 18 crash on our first test run, we panicked to get all the eggs back in the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator as quickly as possible to avoid shrink wrapping.


I had to consult the manual to figure out how to place the egg cups so they lined up with the automatic turning element because I completely forgot how they fit together, and it wasn’t 100% intuitive in the heat of the moment.


If not set up correctly, you run the risk of the eggs falling out of the cups, which is initially what happened when I tried setting up the incubator for the 2nd test run. The eggs were unharmed, but it’s best to keep the manual on hand.


Some other points:

The timer for the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator automatic turning element is set to go off every 45 minutes by default, so be sure to consult the manual to select an interval that works for you. We set it to turn the eggs every 2 hours.


We couldn’t figure out how to turn the beeping off completely for the timer, and it kept my husband up at night, but it didn’t bother me. If you’re a light sleeper, take this into consideration when deciding on a location for your incubator. Because we have special needs children and cats who get into things they shouldn’t, we kept ours in the bedroom where we could keep an eye on it.


[UPDATE: Brinsea contacted me after this review posted, and let me know how to turn off the beeping sound:


  • Press all 3 buttons simultaneously to unlock the calibration menu
  • OK < >  will show on the screen
  • Keep pressing the OK button until you see TURN ALM
  • Press the OK button
  • The screen will now show
  • T ALM: 1
  • OK 0 1
  • Press the – button to select 0 (off)
  • Keep pressing the OK button until you save and exit.]


The heating element on top of the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator isn’t easily removable, so it made it difficult to completely clean it between hatches.


When I emailed my contact at Brinsea for help, I was promised a reply with the information, but didn’t hear back with instructions for cleaning around the heating element.


[UPDATE: After this review posted, I did hear back from Brinsea about the cleaning instructions, and you can view them here. They are easy to follow, so print them out and keep them handy. Their customer service was friendly and very interested in helping us solve the cleaning riddle.]


Overall Experience

GREAT – I love this incubator, and had great hatch rates. The fact that we got 5 healthy, beautiful chicks after the crash speaks to the quality of the product. I haven’t lost a single chick or duckling that hatched, and they’re all healthy.


While a bit pricey for beginning chicken and duck keepers, the peace of mind and craftsmanship is well worth it if you plan to incubate eggs frequently.


I plan to use the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator again and again, and it’s my prime recommendation for a mid-priced chicken egg incubator.

Confessions From The Coop (TM): Ducklings!

This month so far has been a notable one – we have ducklings!


Yep, we’ve been testing out a Brinsea incubator (read the review here) and we now have 10 beautiful ducklings of all shades!


A couple were “shrink wrapped” (the humidity fell below 50% so we were keeping an eye on them) but hatched successfully with help, and one egg I’d marked as “likely a dud, but let’s wait and see” hatched a beautiful fawn-colored duckling.


Now it’s time for these guys and gals (hopefully some are female!) to grow up!


This time of year in Southern Missouri is perfect for hatching young poultry – it’s VERY hot outside, so we don’t need a heat lamp. During the first week of life and then at night until they’re fully feathered, they stay in the cabin to make sure they’re warm enough.


And I’m pretty sure this flock of ducklings is related to jumping beans, because even though they’re in a brooder (we use kiddie pools, which work GREAT….normally), they kept escaping.


The first week of life, I tucked them into their brooder at night, but every morning, I found them wandering around the cabin!


We have crates around their brooder to prevent escape, but it seems I have some sort of Houdini ducklings.


It’s great to know they’re so healthy, but I wish they would stay put.


We’ve now transferred them to the large rabbit crate I use as a tractor for very young poultry, so at least they now can go outside AND stay safe!


Once fully feathered, we then have the task of building them a super secure coop!


These ducklings and baby chicks are trying their hardest to grow up, which means all sorts of new experiences… escaping their brooder non-stop. And running around the cabin….far away from their feeders and waterers.


The ducklings have already taken to water – we haven’t given them their first swimming pool swim, but they’ve been playing in their waterer non-stop.


I can’t wait to introduce them to swimming – it’s still a bit hard to believe we now have 15 ducks (and we’ll have more – I want to do one more hatch before fall sets in).


At any rate, they’re happy and growing up and always ready for some fun!

Do Ducks Molt? Here’s What You Need To Know!

We all know chickens go through a molt every year, but did you ever wonder “do ducks molt?”


In short, yes ducks molt. In fact, they molt quite a bit every year – possibly enough to build you a whole new duck.


In fact, I’ve gone outside and wondered whether the drakes, hens, and young ones had a pillow fight the night before and didn’t invite me!


Do ducks molt? Here's everything you need to know!


You might even wonder how such a little bird can have so many feathers hidden – more on that in a minute.


Our hen Henrietta, a Khaki Campbell is molting presently – and she looks quite a bit disheveled. Not sleek and bright like the younger ducks in her pen!


Like chickens, ducks molt to replace old feathers with new growth, and they do it every summer. So, expect it to be an annual event.


How do ducks molt?

Ducks molt different than chickens, and in the main summer molt, both duck hens and drakes will lose feathers.


Chickens molt by losing them on their head, neck, and back, and then regrowing them in the same top-down pattern.


Ducks, on the other hand, just lose their feathers all over the place and all at once, including their primary ones. They’ll also scratch and pluck them out with their bills to speed things along or just relieve the itch.


Henrietta has been caught with bits of plumage all over her bill – she dunks herself in water to clean it off!


Do ducks molt? Here's everything you need to know!


You might also notice your ducks aren’t playing or interacting as much – again, this is normal. Henrietta has been staying a bit back from the younger ducks as she loses her feathers.


Additionally, drakes (male ducks) will undergo an additional molt after the spring breeding season has ended – they will lose their fancy colored plumage for duller colored feathers – this is an evolutionary adaptation that protects ducks from predators.


Why do they lose so many feathers?

As you probably know, in addition to their primary plumage, ducks also have a large padding of down feathers (the same down you’ll find in coats and other winter apparel).


So, ducks will also lose their down during a molt, which is why it can look like a crime scene in their pen – and you might take a headcount, wondering how a predator got into the duck house.


Rest assured, it’s just natural feather loss.


In fact, ducks lose their primary feathers (such as flight) all at once. In the wild, they will be flightless for about a month – no big deal since ducks are usually close to water, keeping them safe from predators.


This is less of an issue for domestic ducks, although the sight of it can be overwhelming. Just grab the broom and sweep them out.


As Henrietta has molted, she’s looks very disheveled, and her color appears mottled – this is a result of losing feathers as well as loose ones that haven’t yet been shed.


Eventually, glossy new plumage will appear, and the ragged hen will look sleek and beautiful again.


Just remember, that the length of time it takes to complete a molt will vary from duck to duck.

What about egg production?

While your ducks molt, you might notice the hens’ egg production goes down – this is normal. Like chickens, growing new feathers requires a lot of protein for ducks.


We’ve noticed that Henrietta is laying less, and when she does lay an egg, they’re smaller. Again, this is totally normal, and once she’s done molting, production picks back up.


If your ducks stop laying completely, don’t worry – it’s normal, and they’ll start again eventually.

What should you feed during a molt?

When your ducks molt, it’s a good idea to give them extra protein. You can give them more feed, or offer treats of dried mealworms floating on water (it also provides extra entertainment). Giving them high-nutrient treats such as kale or parsley will help as well.


You can also switch to a higher protein feed.