farmfresheggs

Introducing the Newest Babies on the Farm

Mama Sow with her day old piglets (she is the big, black spot part covered with straw)

Mama Sow with her day old piglets (she is the big, black spot part covered with straw)

The Newest Farm Additions:  Bacon Seedlings (aka baby piglets)

As I was hoping last week I get to share pictures of the new piglets with you today.  Last Saturday saw the arrival of the first wave of babies arriving on the farm.  During the nice warm weather break our mama sow delivered her spring litter of piglets.  When all was said and done she is successfully raising five babies.  Every morning when I go to feed her the babies are becoming more active.  She is such a good mother that they are fattening up daily.  Pretty soon they will be wandering away from their mom’s watchful eye to explore the barn outside their stall.  When they start to venture out we start putting a pan of their own food out so they don’t have to complete with mom.  By the time they are four weeks old they will start to actually leave the barn to explore the great outdoors.  When their six week birthday rolls around they are exploring farther and farther away from the barn.  This is the time of their life when they are ready to wean from their mom.  We now put them into their own portable shelter and mom goes back out to her forest pasture.  After a month or so when her milk is dried up we put her babies back with her.  They will stay together until the babies are big enough to butcher.

Winter is Back!

Maybe?  One last winter storm.  Time will tell.

Maybe?  One last winter storm.  Time will tell.

As we were expecting, winter has revisited us with a vengeance.  The snow and wind started again last night giving us a new six inches of snow overnight.  The snow is not expected to end until tonight with an accumulation of eight to ten inches. 

 

Pipping Started This Morning!

“What in the world is pipping”? Well, I will attempt to explain it with words.

A mixture of duck and chicken eggs in the incubator

A mixture of duck and chicken eggs in the incubator

  It all started four weeks ago.  I put 150 fertilized duck eggs from our Khaki Campbell hens in our incubator.  The eggs have spent this whole time in the incubator where conditions mimic the natural temperatures and conditions of a mama duck.  Because Khaki Campbell ducks have been developed as an egg laying duck they have lost some natural instinct to hatch their own eggs so we do it for them.  The hens supply the eggs; we supply the ideal hatching conditions.

An incubator tray with some eggs already hatched.  The bits of shell are what the babies have pipped, then left behind.

An incubator tray with some eggs already hatched.  The bits of shell are what the babies have pipped, then left behind.

Today is the due date for them to start hatching.  For the last two days I have been peeking in to see if there are any signs of the hatch starting.  This morning when I took a peek I could see that some of the eggs had little concave pecks in them.  This is what pipping is!  The tiny ducklings are equipped with a sharp little spear-like appendage on the top of their beaks.  They use this to peck the eggshell from the inside all the way around basically cutting the top off the shell.  They create a little hinge on the shell.  When they have worked all around the shell they have to take a big stretch and push their way out of the rest of the shell.  By this time they are played right out. 

Two day old ducklings from last spring's hatching

Two day old ducklings from last spring's hatching

They will quietly lay there for quite a while to regain their strength.  During this time their feathers dry off and they become cuddly little balls of fluff that make a lot of noise.  Once the feathers are dry and fluffed they become very active.  They will run around the incubator “terrorizing” (not really, but they don’t watch where they are running and will run across the other (lol) ducklings that are still hatching.  It doesn’t hurt the ones that are still hatching; it is just funny to watch.  It can take up to forty-eight hours to go through this process.

When the new hatchlings are about thirty hours old we transfer them to the brooding area where they are watered and fed and get to be under a nice warm heat lamp.  They will stay here for about three weeks as they are growing and getting more down and guard feathers to keep them warm once they are allowed to be outside. 

At about four weeks if the weather is warm enough they will be moved outside into a portable shelter.  Here they are protected from the farm cats and other predators.  Between six and eight weeks of age they are released to go live with the adult ducks which have been free-ranging.  The older ducks will teach these juvenile ducks how to stay safe and to find food on their own.

We will be having a hatching weekly for the next six to eight weeks.  We try to be finished by mid June.  This gives the ducklings plenty of time to reach mature weights so they can be butchered in the fall.

Thanks for stopping by.  We love sharing what is happening on the farm this time of year.  There are so many new things to share with you.  Come on back next week to hear about more new adventures!  

Please share this with your friends if you think they would enjoy these updates as much as you do.

Remember that orders are now open for pastured pork, grass-fed beef and lamb.  We invite you to have a look at our “Products Page” here, fill out an order form to reserve your meat packages to stock your freezer with all that healthy, convenient goodness, and then enjoy.

Chicken Eggs/Duck Eggs: What is the Difference

The brown ducks are Khaki Campbell ducks

The brown ducks are Khaki Campbell ducks

Size

  We raise Khaki Campbell ducks for our egg layers.  They are a breed that was developed in the UK specifically for egg production.   Another noticeable difference is shell quality.  Duck eggs have a much thicker shell and stronger membrane just under the shell.  The first time I ever used duck eggs I was making scrambled eggs.  I tapped it on the edge of my cast iron frying pan just like I would with a chicken egg.  Nothing happened.  Not dent or crack at all.  So I ended up giving it quite a whack before it actually cracked.  This more durable shell does have an advantage though.  It provides that egg with a much longer shelf life if refrigerated.  I have used duck eggs that were up to six weeks old with not deterioration in visible quality.  I do recommend though that the fresher they are the better.

Chicken Egg and Duck Egg

Chicken Egg and Duck Egg

Our duck eggs are slightly larger in weight when compared to the chicken eggs.  Most of our duck eggs will fit in a regular egg carton.

What Our Hens Eat

We use only certified organic laying ration for all our laying birds.  They also get a mixture of certified organic wheat and peas.  These are sprinkled on the floor of their house to encourage the chickens to scratch around and stir up the deep bedding in the winter house.  This helps keep the house dry and cozy for both the chicken and the duck hens.  In the spring, summer and fall when they are outside free-ranging they only receive the laying ration as they are always on fresh pasture.

Nutritional Qualities

Eggs, both chicken and duck, are considered a powerhouse of nutrition.  Both types of eggs contain selenium, manganese, zinc, copper, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium and iron.  The amino acid profile is similar also.  They both contain threonine, isoleucine, tryptophan, leucine, methionine, lysine, cystine, tyrosine, phenylalanine, valine, serine, glycine, proline, aspartic acid, histidine, alanine and arginine.  Duck eggs have more Omega 3 fatty acids that are thought to improve everything from brain health to skin health.  Duck eggs are also an alkaline producing food.  

Egg Comparison Chart.jpg

Taste, Use and Storage

We do not notice any difference in taste between duck and chicken eggs.  Duck eggs are highly sought out by professional bakers.  They report that because duck eggs are higher in albumen they cause cakes to rise higher.  Pastries have excellent flavor and texture because of the higher fat content.  

  

Fried onions with pastured eggs ready to be scambled. The darker eggs are chicken; the lighter egg is a duck egg.

Fried onions with pastured eggs ready to be scambled. The darker eggs are chicken; the lighter egg is a duck egg.

Our favorite special occasion cake is a made-from-scratch chocolate sponge cake.  It bakes up so light and fluffy with a rich delicious flavor. 

When frying, scrambling or poaching duck eggs you need to be careful that you don't overcook them as the yolk will become very dry and the white will be rubbery. 

All our eggs have been washed shortly after we gather them.  Because they lose their natural barrier when washed they must be stored in the refrigerator.  It is recommended that temperatures are between 1 C and 7C.  We are a direct farm-to-comsumer farm.   We do not ship our eggs to a CFIA egg grading station.  This guarantees the freshness of the eggs you purchase from us.  It is also our way of assuring you that the eggs you are using for your family are actually from our farm.

 

We have both chicken and duck eggs available year round.  For current pricing and/or to place your order either type of these exceptional eggs you can contact us through the "Contact Us" page.  We deliver to both Grande Prairie and Edmonton Alberta.