Tuesday 28 May 2013

Ducks and Pasha's knickers

The duck eggs hatched last week, and we now have 8 Cayugas and 9 Silver Appleyards. Three Cayugas died between internal pip and hatch, unfortunately. Highlights below:

Cally was allowed to look at the ducks, because she is an exceptionally gentle and trustworthy dog, and it was her birthday. :-)

Pasha also came into heat yesterday evening. The stud dog I want to use on her is some distance away, and he is aging and his sperm motility is not what it used to be, so I will be using progesterone testing to pinpoint the window that will give him and Pasha the best chance of conceiving. So this takes quite a bit of organising. Pasha's first test will be on Friday. Here are some pictures of her posing with Cally in her stylish knickers. Apologies for gloomy hallway. Outdoors is very wet and no better because of bad weather which will probably last all day.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Happy Birthday Cally

You are a funny girl, such a gentle girl. Even when I give you meat, you take it so carefully and put it down, and examine it and lick it as though you'd rather resuscitate it than eat it. And the passing of every year is bittersweet, because I know however much time we get together on this earth, it will never be enough. Happy birthday, my Thistlebonce. ♥


Monday 20 May 2013

Runty's necropsy

Runty's necropsy: still awaiting histology:

Necropsy findings
General condition:
Body condition 2/5.
Weight: 0.396 kg.

External examination:

Dermal abrasions in the left alular area. NAD.

Internal examination:

Subcutaneous fat absent.

Thyroids R: 5mm, L: 3mm. Both dark red. Parathyroids: R 1mm, L 2mm.

No pericardial effusion. Pericardial fat present. Heart red color. Systole. No cardiomegaly detected. No atherosclerosis.

Mucus in the nasal cavity. Normal air sacs, lungs (floating in water), trachea, and syrinx.
Small amount of clear free fluid in the coelomic cavity.
Liver: left lobe 4.5 cm. Right 5 cm. Brown. Full gall bladder.
Spleen 1 cm pale orange.
Gonads: pair yellow structures (immature testicles).
Kidneys: Urates in the ureters. NAD
Fabricious bursa: Well developed.
Oesophagus (empty), proventriculus (greenish content and grit), ventriculus (normal koilin layer and grit), small intestine (yellow content, NAD), Caecum (filled with brown faeces). Cloaca: green faeces and urates.

Brain and eyes: NAD

-Lungs: NAD.
-Liver: Congestion.
-Spleen: NAD
-Intestine: NAD

Faecal test: No parasitic forms detected.

Samples collected:
-Bacteriology from liver and faeces.
-Histopathology samples in formalin: Major heart blood vessels, apex of the heart, parathyroids, thyroids, lung, liver, small intestine, pancreas and duodenum, large intestine, caecum, Fabricius bursa, trachea, testicles, kidney, brain, and eyes.
-Histopathology samples in spirit: Lung, liver, and intestine.

Friday 17 May 2013


The ducks are expected to hatch on Wednesday, but I have taken away the autoturner because some of the eggs are smaller than others and look rather full, and already I am beginning to see shadows moving in some of the air spaces as the ducklings inside are orienting themselves into position ready to hatch.

Three of the Cayuga eggs are an unusual green colour. Cayugas are famous for laying coal-black eggs, but usually only the first eggs of the season are coal-black, as the black colour is a 'paint' deposited by a gland in the duck's laying tract. With subsequent eggs the black colour gradually diminishes until the coating leaves just a faint grey overlay. The egg underneath can be green or white according to the Cayuga standard. My old duck laid white, and most of the other Cayuga eggs I received in this batch are also white, so the green ones are a bit of a novelty. I will try to keep track of any ducklings from the green eggs, as these were obviously laid by a different duck to the others, and if they are of good type this might be an interesting trait to breed for.


Runty, the gosling who seemed to be recovering so well, suddenly deteriorated again on Wednesday night, and couldn't stand or walk, and this morning it unfortunately died. While goslings don't have personalities like dogs do and I don't get sentimental about them, this is incredibly frustrating, in part as it seemed to be doing so well for so long and went downhill so fast, and in another part because it was a rare breed and every individual is important to preserve the genetic diversity within the breed.
This leaves me with various quandaries. Fatty is now alone, and in need of an anserine companion, but as I strongly suspect that both Fatty and Runty have been affected by a contagious disease, acquiring another gosling carries the risk of Fatty infecting it as well, and Fatty could then die leaving exactly the same situation. Friday morning was spent driving to a specialist avian vet in Swindon with the dead goose, for a postmortem. I won't really know how to move forward on this until I get the results. Unless Fatty recovers properly and starts to thrive, there is not much point trying to keep it overwinter, and in this case it might be easier to leave any new attempt until next year and hope whatever caused this has gone from the environment by next spring. If Fatty does get better, it will be a case of overwintering it and trying to find another source of Toulouses in order to get it a mate. This will also be a case of us not having a roast for the winter...
I'm also back at square one with the West of England geese. To some degree this experience has put me off bringing in eggs from casual breeders, but on the other hand I do believe this is the best way to find unrelated stock, rather than relying on always buying goslings or eggs from bigger breeders. I will either need to find a goose and a gander from separate sources this year or try again next year with eggs.

Monday 13 May 2013

Fatty and Runty in the garden

Fatty and Runty got to go out into the garden for a few hours today while I was re-grouting the heatsink on my computer and washing the pots. Runty looks well now but still falls over occasionally and gets stuck on its back. Fatty is improving but at a slower rate, and one of its legs seems to be weaker than the other. It is at least standing with its feet underneath it instead of collapsing back onto its hocks now, even if it keeps falling over. I have still not been able to find out what caused this. I did get in touch with an avian vet, but it would have been extremely expensive just to see them and I did not feel it was worth it for only two geese that seem to be recovering. The closest I could find to the symptoms on the Internet was Derszy's disease, which seems to cause floppiness and lots of dead-in-shell goslings (these were the only two to hatch out of seven fully-developed eggs) but they have not had diarrhoea or discharge from their eyes or nostrils. I suspect whatever it is was infecting the eggs rather than being contracted after they hatched, because we moved here a few months ago and haven't got any other birds on site at the moment, unless it is something transmitted by mice or rats.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Geese again

No update for a few days because we had some lovely weather. Only a few days ago, we were eating dinner in the garden and enjoying the warm, still evening. Now the weather has turned foul and it looks like the garden has been vandalised by hooligans. The plastic garden furniture has been overturned by the wind, and the magnolia petals have all been ripped off the tree.

About a week ago, both of my geese became ill and I brought them back into the house. I do not know what is wrong with them, and the vet was not able to work it out from the symptoms. I am still awaiting faecal analysis on a poo I sent to a laboratory to try to find out what it is. The geese seem to be getting better slowly. Runty is active but can't get up if it falls over, and Fatty is alert but isn't standing and walking properly, hence it is tied to a 'safety rope in the video. I am hoping to get them back out in the shed tomorrow because the study doesn't smell very pleasant. I also hope I will get the results of the poo analysis back soon, as I don't want whatever has caused this to spread to the duck eggs in the incubator.