Episode 69.

We begin by sharing our frustrations with trying to identify some new breeds to incorporate into the flock, and then talk about an xylophone and swing we hung in the coop. So far, that coop is not producing music or trapeze artists.

Turning to the news, we talk about a Silicon Valley company that has developed lab-grown chicken nuggets. They will solve many of the world’s problems… if you can afford the $9,000 per pound price tag.

We received a question about recycled cardboard as a bedding option. Although we do not use bedding material in our coops anymore, we did try the cardboard stuff a few years ago. Unfortunately, we weren’t impressed with it and went back to pine shavings. Recently, we have been reading more positive things about using sand in place of bedding. Although it is heavy, it is less dusty than other options, and keeps chickens and coops cleaner. If you want to try this option, make sure you do not use fine powdered or mechanically crushed sands such as playground or filter sand. Rather, make sure you use natural sand that is composed of a variety of particle sizes.

Finally we answer a question about keeping chickens and ducks together. While we have not raised ducks, our research seems to indicate that it can be accomplished, but does take a little extra effort over raising chickens by themselves. In the brooder stage, ducklings can overdose on the Amprolium in medicated chicken feeds. You could vaccinate the baby chicks instead, which means that you could use non-medicated feed for both the chicks and ducklings in the brooder.

As they chickens progress to layer feed, a different issue arises. Layer feed has too much calcium for ducks. You can compensate for this by adding wheat to their diet. The ducks will alternate between the layer feed and wheat which will cut the calcium levels. If this sounds too easy, you have good instincts. The problem is that chickens love wheat and will eat as much of it as they can get. The wheat will take up space in their system that would have been filled with the balanced layer feed. The result is they will not get enough protein to sustain egg production. One clever suggestion we found on a blog is to put the wheat in a bowl of water. After the wheat sinks to the bottom, the ducks will happily bob-for-wheat to retrieve it, but the chickens will not stick their face in the water no matter how much they want it.

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