Grit Blogs > Biggers Farm

The Great Duck Fight of 2011, Horn Knobs for Linda Lou, and Hank Gets the Lovesick Cow Blues

Samantha BiggersWe only have 5 ducks at the moment. We had more but some flew away last year and a varmint got another. This left us with a pair of Saxony ducks and their two daughters from the previous years hatching. The Saxonys weigh around 10 lbs each and the boy Mallard weighs about 3 ½ lbs. We want to raise more ducks. They have a lot more personality than any chickens I have had. A duck will straight up come start trying to talk to you. They are very vocal with their opinions.

Some ducks are even monogamous. Bill and Ladybird have been mated since they were mere months old. The lady we got them from referred to them as “married ducks”. Bill shows absolutely no interest in any other duck except Ladybird. However he has a big problem with male ducks trying to breed his daughters.

On a warmer day last week this resulted in our first duck fight. I had never seen a serious duck fight until that morning last week. We were giving hay to the Dexter cows when we heard a huge amount of whacking sounds (if you have ever had ducks you know that they don't actually make a quack sound, they say whack!) coming from beside a roll of hay. I automatically assumed that Bill was beating up the Mallard, but lo and behold the little 3 ½ lb Mallard had Bill down in the old hay and was furiously grinding his bill into Bill's head and pulling out feathers. He didn't want to let go either. I guess this goes to show the difference between a heavier domesticated duck and one that is a bit wilder. We had to separate the males.

My husband, Matthew, said, “That duck deserves a name now.” I said “Napoleon.” So now Napoleon has his two giant ladies and him and Bill can't fight. They do taunt one another still though. We would like to increase the amount of ducks we have. We have yet to raise any to butcher. Hopefully we can get some of ours to sit on some eggs this season. It is not quite time for them to get broody. Ducks can just be downright funny. Our house is above where our ducks live. Matt and I were eating dinner one evening and he heard the ducks fussing. We were really tired that evening and it was really late that we were eating but we threw our dinner aside and rushed down the mountain only to discover that what was heard was the sounds of passionate ducks. They are one of the few farm animals that seems to throughly enjoy “the act”.

Horn Knobs for Lou Cow  

We finally got around to putting brass knobs on Linda Lou's horns. We came close to dehorning all the cows with rubber bands but we decided that the Dexters are so well mannered that we would just put horn knobs on the tips of their horns. The knobs came from Berry Brooks Ox Supply. They are threaded and fairly heavy but I don't think they are heavy enough to turn her horns down as they grow. Berry Brooks sells horn weights if that is something you are interested in. I expected Linda Lou to not behave as well as she actually did. You have to file the horn down a little and twist the knobs on. Most cattle don't like having their horns messed with. She was really good in the stock. I hand fed her some sweet feed while Matt filed and twisted the knobs on. We put a squirt of epoxy on the inside threading to make sure they never come off. I think she looks pretty good with them on. She has a very nice set of horns that it would be a shame to lose especially if we ever can show her.

UPDATE: Linda Lou knocked her horn knobs off fighting with her mother Bessie so we have to figure out how to attach them better.

The Bull Calf and the Lovesick Cow Blues  

Our little bull calf is about a month old now and Bessie has come back into heat. Hank the bull has been very loud the last few days since he can't get to her. Hopefully he gets over the lovesick cow blues within the next day or two. We plan on using AI to breed Bessie to a red Dexter bull named Big Mac. Hank is just going to have to wait until Linda Lou is ready to breed back. She is due to calve in the next 2-3 weeks. She is bred to a bull that has been dead for quite some time. His name is Saltaire Platinum and she will be having one of his last two offspring. This is my only chance to get a daughter of Saltaire Platinum so lets hope it is a heifer. We have yet to name this years bull calf. It has to be a short one syllable name since he is going to be used as a single ox on the farm. Jack or Pete are the options so far but if anyone has any suggestions we will consider them.

Hank being loud He makes a lot of noise when he wants attention or in with his ladies 

Next week we hope to butcher another pig. Last week we did one that weighed about 500-550 lbs. We got 42 lbs of bacon! We have a 50 lb ham we are curing for a house warming if we can ever get this house done.  

Linda Lou 

Linda Lou eating alfalfa after getting her horn knobs put on 

Hope everything is going well for all you folks!

nebraska dave
2/25/2011 8:25:34 AM

Samantha, every spring love fills the air on the farm doesn't it? It is kind of funny the rituals that animals and birds go through in their mating season. Since I don't have any animals or birds I miss out on all the farm yard dancing and struting that goes in the spring. I guess Bill the duck is a lover not a fighter. It kind of sad but in the wild the ladies usually go with the fighter. I heard of wild turkey toms invading the flock only to have all the hens leave with them. I never knew that the domestic ladies would leave the flock to live in the wild. I wonder if they are ever sorry they left the warm coop for the call of the wild. Have a great spring day.


robyn dolan
2/25/2011 8:01:50 AM

Wow, Samantha, great update. I love dexters, they are gentle, and their meat is outta this world. Now I want to go get another piglet to raise - 42 lbs. of bacon!