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Hubbard Life Blog

Your resource for advice from Hubbard® Life experts.


Wild About Waterfowl: Tips for raising ducks and geese

Spring is such a wonderful time in the Midwest because we can enjoy the change of the season and our warm-up arrives.  In many ways we experience “new life” each spring when grass, leaves and flowers emerge.  We also have baby ducks and geese arriving on the scene.  If you plan to raise some waterfowl there are some basic tips to consider.


Waterfowl (ducklings and goslings) need somewhat less heat than their chicken cousins.  The first week they should have a 92° F environment.  You can lower this in five-degree increments each week through the first 6 weeks.  After this, they are usually ready to do without supplemental heat.


There are three main considerations when raising baby ducklings and goslings:

  1. Brooding area
  2. Water
  3. Feed


Brooding Area
Choose a viable area before they arrive.  It can be located in a small building or in the corner of the garage or barn.  If you only have a few baby ducks, even a cardboard box will work.  You will need bedding down on the floor, preferably straw or hay.  Wet spots should be removed daily.  And there will be wet spots with ducklings since they love to mess in water.  You should avoid using wood shavings and wood chips the first two weeks as the ducks are more likely to consume those items and get blocked up.  Also avoid slick surfaces such as newspaper.


It is important for goslings to have good footing right after they hatch.  They are prone to a condition called splay-leg or spraddle legs, because they are quite unsteady for the first couple days.  If this does occur you can lightly bind the legs together above the hock for a few days, using a rubber band or light cord. 


Remember to be prepared with a heat source.  The best is a heat lamp with an infrared bulb.  Regular light bulbs don’t put off enough heat.  A single bulb, 250 watt brooder lamp will warm 30 ducklings.  If you have a larger group plan to use a 4 bulb, 250 watt brooder lamp to warm 100 to 150 ducklings.


Water
A constant supply of fresh water is necessary for ducklings and goslings.  For the first week, a chick waterer works well.  Keep the water level at ¼” deep so the baby ducks don’t drown.  After one week a chick waterer is no longer large enough to use for waterfowl because they can’t submerge their heads and clean their faces in the water.  This is essential for ducklings and goslings.    Avoid using a bowl of water however.  That is because ducklings and goslings may walk in their drinking water and leave droppings in it.  Also, they may stay wet too long and catch a fatal cold.  The best waterer to use is one that allows the ducklings and goslings to submerge their heads but not get in it.  One example I’ve seen is to use a flat pan and get some wire that the birds can reach through with their heads.  Bend the wire in a cylinder that just fits inside the pan and fasten it to the pan so the youngsters can’t move it.  Weight it down in the center with a big rock because you don’t want them tipping the water over and getting the brooding area wet.


Never feed ducks without water close by.  Water helps get the food down.  The water is also essential for cleaning their beak vents after a meal.  Always give the baby ducks access to water for at least an hour before feeding when they first arrive.


Feed
Waterfowl often fill their mouths with feed and then hurry to the waterer to get a big drink and wash it down.  Therefore, you don’t want the water too far from the feeder, or they’ll drop all the feed on their way there.  On the other hand, you don’t want the water too close to the feed either, because the feed will tend to get wet in the feeder and develop molds.  The molds can kill baby and growing waterfowl, so be very observant for this.  If your feeder is caking up due to water from their mouths, move the feeder and water a little farther apart.  And always clean out and dispose of the caked-up feed.


Feed should be available at all times.  Use a crumbled feed such as Hubbard® Life Homestead® Duck & Goose.  The crumble is sized well for consumption by ducklings and goslings.  Remember, they do not have teeth.  Some people like to feed their waterfowl a few vegetables.  I would caution you on doing that since it dilutes the nutrients provided by a good balanced complete feed.  If it is warm outside, let the ducklings and goslings have a short daily run.  They will pick their own grass and if they are getting greens, they will need to get some grit for digestion purposes.
 

Warning:  Never give young waterfowl medicated chick feed.  Ducklings are voracious eaters and can overdose themselves and die from medication that is proportioned for chickens.


Feeding Hubbard® Life Homestead® Duck & Goose is a good way to ensure safety as it contains no medication and it is all-natural, having no animal proteins or fats in the feed.


Swimming
A mother duck or goose knows just how long to let her kids swim and when to take them out of the water and warm them and let them dry.  We don’t really know how to do this.  If you really want to see them swimming, set up a swimming hole away from the brooder area but in a warm place and let them swim.  Always supervise their swimming and just for a short time daily because the ducklings and goslings are not good about pulling themselves out of the water even when they get exhausted.  Be very sure there is a ramp with good traction so they can easily get out of the swimming hole or they may tire and drown.  Return them to a draft-free brooder so they will warm up and dry off.  You can start the swimming after the baby waterfowl are 3 days old. 
 

Enjoy raising your waterfowl this Spring! 

Visit www.hubbardlife.com for more helpful information.

Posted on 4/8/2014 by Amy Brown  |  Category: Poultry
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Dog Food, So Many Choices…What’s the Difference and Which One Should I Feed?

The Pet Industry is GROWING!!

Pet food is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and a major industry in the US with sales of approximately $20 billion annually. Hundreds of millions more are spent on marketing these products even to the occasional detriment of the quality of the products inside the bags. Much of this marketing is focused toward the companion animal and the females in the household who make the majority of the pet food purchasing decisions.

 

Really, What’s the Difference?

Once you get past all the marketing, it really comes down to the quality of the product in the bag. I like to keep dog food simple in terms of how I compare brands against one another and choose the brand that best fits my needs. In most cases the first 5 ingredients make up around 85% of the total formula by weight in each bag of food we purchase. In these first 5 ingredients you‘ll usually find a protein source, a carbohydrate source and a fat source. These three key components are required for any mammal to meet daily maintenance needs and come in a wide variety of ingredients available in the industry. The remaining 15% of the formula, though, can still play a key role in the health and longevity of your pet even though the original 85% drives much of the cost of feeding.

 

Digestibility is a Major Factor

Let’s look at the digestibility of these ingredients and determine if they are derived from plant or animal sources first. Animal proteins are more digestible as a rule vs. plant proteins and manufacturers generally prefer to have them listed earlier in the ingredients. However, certain ingredients can be misleading due to moisture content. For example, while whole chicken sounds great, it can contain as much as 80% water vs. a chicken meal containing 12-15%. This means chicken meal can contribute 4-5 times as much protein when compared to the same amount, in pounds, of whole chicken.

 

Cheaper Foods May End Up Costing You More

It’s important not to base decisions on which food to buy strictly on the price of the bag. Based on the ingredients used and the digestibility of the formula, it’s often possible to save money by feeding a higher priced food because you can feed much less. For example, a $25 bag of food with low digestibility and plenty of fillers might end up costing you more than a much higher quality product that costs $40 per bag. Even worse, all that extra food provided by feeding more of the cheaper food often just ends up becoming a much higher volume of waste in your yard.

 

Choose a Trusted Source

In deciding the appropriate food for your pet, it’s also important to understand the company making the food. Are they interested in their greatest return in investment or the health of your companion animal? Do they use a reputable and safe manufacturing facility and processes? 

 

Understand Your Labels

It pays to educate yourself on labels and what they mean. There’s good information available on the internet to do your research and make informed decisions. Pet food labeling is regulated at two levels. The federal regulations, enforced by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), establish standards applicable for all animal feeds, proper identification of product, net quantity statement, manufacturer's name and address, and proper listing of ingredients. Some states also enforce their own labeling regulations. Many states have adopted the model pet food regulations established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

 

Finally, Be Attentive to Your Companion’s Needs

You can usually tell by your pet’s appearance and behavior if their diet is simply not supporting their overall health and well-being. Make sure your canine companion has some say in the matter of which brand you chose to meet their needs and goals too.

 

We strive to provide you quality products that will keep your companions happy and healthy…from puppies to hard-working dogs, Hubbard Life and Kinetic have the pet products to meet your needs!

Posted on 3/10/2014 by Steve Ries  |  Category: Dog
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Game On With Game Birds

If you’re like I am you’ve noticed our wild game bird populations have declined recently. Mostly due to weather, but also due to less CRP, less food sources, and less natural cover for game birds to thrive. This affect has even hit states like South Dakota where Pheasant Hunting is huge business and brings thousands of dollars in tourism income into the state. This has created a nice demand for those that raise pheasants and quail for public hunting preserves and private hunting farms. The ultimate goal for those that purchase game birds for hunters is to provide them the hunting experience that closely represents wild bird hunting.

Can you tell the difference in pen raised vs. wild birds? Well that depends…I’ve experienced both good and bad hunts  and can tell you there’s nothing more disheartening than having your prized bird dog catching birds on the ground because they aren’t able to fly well. If you’ve got a pointing dog, that’s a big issue as old Spot you’ve been steadying to wing and shot, can have serious issues to overcome once he starts catching poor flyers.

Causes of poor flight birds can range from improper nutrition, lack of exercise area for flight conditioning, overcrowding, poor health, under or over weight, and poor feather growth. As you can see many of the potential issues are directly related to proper nutrition. To prevent this from happening it’s important to select a good reputable nutrition company to work with like the folks at Hubbard® Life. Secondly you should follow the feeding directions as close as possible to maximize performance and eliminate secondary effects. Medication options are available to prevent health challenges and maximize growth potential. It’s also important that you feed the proper products to your birds to provide the correct nutrition for each life stage.

For flight birds that will be released use the following directions;

Hubbard® Life Game Bird Starter – Feed as the sole ration (free choice) from hatch through 8 weeks of age. Birds can then be switched to Hubbard Life Game Bird Flight.

Hubbard® Life Game Bird Flight Feed as the sole ration (free choice) from 9 weeks of age and continue until release.

Water – Birds should have access to clean fresh water at all times. When starting day-old birds or after moving or transporting birds, give access to water before putting feed in the feeders.

Grit – When birds have access to coarse litter or whole grains, an insoluble grit should be fed. Limit intake of grit to 1 pound per 100 pounds of feed or 2 pounds per 100 birds per week. Grit can either be blended with their regular ration or offered free choice in a separate feeder.

For further nutritional information on the Hubbard® Life Game Bird Feeds go to www.hubbardlife.com

Most states allow Hunting Preserves to operate through the month of March so get out and enjoy some late season hunting while getting you and old Spot some exercise.

Best of luck!

Posted on 2/18/2014 by Doug Rowse  |  Category: Game Bird
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