We love to get questions from you, if we get enough of one question we will put the question and answer on here. If you don't see an answer to your question on here please e-mail us, we are happy to help! Our policy is there are no stupid questions :)
Q: Can I let my chickens hatch out my eggs?
A: Absolutely! Although you need to make sure your chickens will raise and not kill the young, some like Polish will not lay on a nest and will kill chicks. We use our Banti hens in the Spring and Summer to hatch out our chicks. This way we save electric by not running our Cabinet Incubator all season, and we don't have to worry about whether or not its working or if it has enough humidity, the hens do the work for us. However we control how many hens we "let" go broody, usually I only "let" 3 or 4 at a time go broody. It's easier to keep track of your eggs. Also you dont want to use the same hens for the whole season, I have 13 of my hens on a rotation. If you use the same hens its very likely they will either get sick of laying on the nest and quit then your eggs go bad, or the stress of being on a nest all the time will kill her. You also want to make sure you know when the eggs are going to hatch, my experience is if you let a hen lay with a chick too long she will push the eggs aside and focus on the chick. If you don't want this to happen collect the chick and put it in a brooder, and the hen will go on laying on her nest. So if you let your hens hatch young make sure she is a "natural mother hen", I use Silkies, both Standard and Banti Cochins, D avers, our various egg layer hens, and even my Muscovy Duck Hens.
Q: Do I HAVE to separate my young from their mother?
A: No. If you don't want to you dont have to. Although if you want her to continue to lay on a nest it may be best to do so. We sometimes wait for all the young in a nest to hatch, then put everybody back in with mom. This way we dont have to run a brooder in the Spring and Summer.
Q: What can I do to train my young if I want them to run around the farm yard when they are older?
What we do when we have young like turkey poults or goslings that we know will be running around the farm yard one day is a " 5 week plan" .... We keep them locked up in the barn with mom for 5 days. By the 5th day we turn mom and babies out in a closed in predator proof pen( ours is a 10X10 dog kennel with chain link fence over the top, to protect the young from hawks and keep any one from flying out). We turn them out in this pen with mom for about 3 weeks. By week 3 we turn the young and mom out in the pen as usual, but about 2-3 hours before its time to go up we let mom out to run the farm yard. By doing this the chicks are being "Weaned" form mom and start to become more independent, we do this for 1 week. During week 4 of age we let mom lose on the farm and just turn the babies out in the pen. At week 5 we usually let our babies lose on the farm, by now they should know where to stay. You still need to be predator aware but dont worry too much, they will stick with mom and she will watch out for them and "finish" training them to stay on your farm.
Q: How long does it take an egg to hatch?
A: It depends on what youre hatching:
Pigeons take 16-20 days
Chickens take 21 days
Quail take 23 days
Guineas take 26-28 days
Regular ducks (I.E. calls, pekins,crested, runners,ETC..) take 28 days
Turkeys take 28 days
Peafowl take 28 days
Geese take 30-32 days
Muscovy Ducks take 33-37 days
EMU take 48 DAYS!
Q: What should I feed my poultry?
A: What we do is go to our grain mill and buy 500 pounds of a mix between Layer, Corn, Oats, and Oyster Shells, for our Show Stock, the birds that ARE NOT white, and the Egg Layers. For our Pheasants,quail and pigeons I mix pheasant/quail grower, our mixed grain mill feed, wild bird seed and pigeon grain, this mix of feed is high in protein which is what these birds need. Our white birds and our Emu get the pheasant/ quail grower mixed with Scratch grains. For our chicks we feed Chick starter grower until they are about 3 months then we start them on the grain mill feed.
Q: How do I breed my rabbit let alone know if she is bred?
What we do is a "3 day breeding plan".... We put our does in with our bucks for 15 - 20 mintues every other day for 3 days. Usually by the 3rd day of doing this your doe WILL be bred. You need to be careful not to over breed her which is why we do every other day for 3 days. After you do the " 3 day Plan" you will need to wait for about 1 1/2. Then you can pick your doe up, put her nose in the butt of your elbow and GENTLY palpate her stomach. What you are feeling for are little grape feeling things down towards her uteris area. If you feel them CONGRATS are in order in 2 -3 weeks you will be having little baby bunnies!! If you are no comfortable with palpating your doe, you can take her to your vet and he can do it or you can wait for 25 -30 days and see what happens.
Q: What happens if I over breed my doe?
A: Most likely your Buck will lose interest in her, and not even attempt to breed her when you put her in the cage. Or your doe will shut down her reproductive system for a while from being breed so much. If you stick to a every other day plan for 2-5 days. He doesnt get soo used to her being with him, and you have a better chance of him breeding with her and her getting bred.
Q: What and when do I start feeding my baby rabbits?
A: Baby bunnies grow very fast. By 1-2 weeks their eyes should start to open, by 3-4 weeks they start to try to eat solid foods. We start our babies out with Carrots when they are about 2 1/2 weeks of age, Carrots are a good solid food to start them with. They are healthy, the babies can bite into them easily, and they are naturally hydrating. What we do is put the carrots in their food dish on top of the regular rabbit feed, we do this for 3 - 4 days. By day 5 they should have the idea of eating solids foods down and we just give them NICE Grass, Timothy, or Alfalfa hay for the rest of their time with us. We will on occasion put a couple carrots in with them,but for the most part once they are 4 1/2 weeks of age they are on the same diet as mom and our other mature rabbits. You will however need to keep your babies with mom till they are 5-6 weeks then you can wean them, and find them new homes.
Q. Is it OK to buy a Doe already bred?
A. Its fine, however you want to be extra careful with her when you get her home (dont stress her out anymore than she already will be). She will be in a new environment, with new sounds and she will be very stressed out. So to insure she carries full term and doesnt abort her kits you need to put her in a cage BY HERSELF,(we run all our does together, but if we buy a doe thats already bred we put her in her own cage until the her babies are ready to be weaned). And you need to leave her alone for a few days, only go to the cage to feed and water her. And its been my experience that you shouldnt switch foods on the doe, ask the person your buying her from for the name and brand of the feed, and if you could have a tiny bag that will last you a couple days, so you have time to get to the feed store. I have bought bred does four times and three out of the four I didnt ask what food they were on and just fed them my feed, and all three does babies were born dead (since then these does have had several healthy kits for me). This has also happend with does we had bred here then sold. I dont know if its from them stressing out or the feed switch, but the fourth time I bought a bred doe, I bought lion head doe and kept her on the same feed( from her previous owner) and she had 4 goregus healthy broken pattern babies. So Id be safe and keep the doe on the same feed. And remember try to keep her from any unnecessary stress! Also make sure you have a nest box in the cage for her by her 28th day, and during her pregnancy and while nursing she should get extra feed. Follow these guide lines and you shouldnt have any problems buying a doe thats already bred.
Q. I want to breed my doe, would she have problems if I bred her to a buck bigger than her?
A. If it is her third or fourth litter she shouldnt have any problems, her cervex should be stretched out enough from her first and second litter. But its her first litter I wouldnt breed her to a bigger buck. You run the risk of her having bigger babies than she can handle both during birth and while nursing, breed her a couple of time and if you still want to breed her to the bigger buck go a head.
Q. When can I tell that if my Baby Bunnies are ready to be weaned?
A. NO BABIES WILL LEAVE BEFORE AT LEAST 7 weeks some exceptions may apply please email for those details. What we do is a 6-8 week program, for the first 6 weeks the babies stay with mom all the time. And by the 6th week IF they are eating well enough on their own we will remove their mom. We then keep a VERY close watch on them and how well each one is eating and drinking on their own (fat little bellys and hydrated skin) for the next week to week and a half. Then if they are eating well enough on their own by week 7-8 we sell them. If they dont eat we will put mom back in with them for another week. We do this to ensure the babies are ready to be on their own, there is nothing worse than a baby dying on a person you sold it to because they werent ready to leave mom.
We are located in La Rue, Ohio