Approved activities Category
27. Artificial insemination 5
28. Semen collection 5

Semen collection and artificial insemination in poultry requires skill and experience. If the teacher or farm assistant wishes to demonstrate the collection of semen and/or artificial insemination to students, they must first seek approval from the SACEC to demonstrate these category five activities. This approval is conditional upon the operator being able to demonstrate appropriate qualifications and experience. Application is made by completion of Application form 4 and submission to the Schools Animal Welfare Officer.

Hand raising ducklings and goslings

Although ducks and geese have the natural ability to become broody, hatch their eggs and raise their young, it is common practice to take the fertilised eggs away and hatch them using an incubator, raising the ducklings or goslings by hand. This method ensures much higher success rates and an increased production level.

While this is done for production purposes, many schools also choose to hatch and raise ducklings or goslings by hand to provide students with an opportunity to observe the process and learn to raise and care for a baby animal.

In general, ducklings and goslings can be raised in very similar conditions to chickens and most methods of chicken raising can be applied. Duck eggs take approximately 28 days to hatch depending on the breed and goose eggs take 35 days to hatch. Eggs are placed in an incubator, which keeps the eggs warm, at a suitable level of humidity and rotates them as the mother hen would turn her eggs to ensure warmth all over. The period from hatching until the ducklings/ goslings no longer require supplementary heat is called the ‘brooding period’ and usually lasts for 3–6 weeks. Ducklings and goslings need supplementary heat when they first hatch, because they are unable to maintain their body temperatures. The heat can be supplied by a broody goose/duck or when being hand raised, with a heat lamp.

As the ducklings and goslings grow, they develop adult waterproof feathers instead of down and the brooding temperature can be gradually reduced, until supplementary heat is discontinued at about 3–4 weeks. Before adult feathers are developed, caution must be taken when letting ducklings and goslings swim as their down is not waterproof and they can drown easily. Swimming should be restricted to a shallow trough with easy exit points and should be monitored. During the brooding period, the ducklings and goslings need warmth, shelter, fresh air, proper food and clean water. It is very important to have a brooder well prepared for the ducklings and goslings prior to hatching.

Brooding and rearing ducklings

Brooding and rearing goslings

Space requirements

Age/type of bird Birds/m2
Ducklings to 10 days 50
Ducklings to 8 weeks 8
Goslings 1-2 weeks 10
Goslings 3-4 weeks 5
Goslings 5-6 weeks 2.5

There are commercial companies that provide a clutch of fertile eggs, the necessary equipment to hatch and brood the eggs and information to support the activity within a school, in return for a fee. Teachers need to consider the fate of the hatched ducklings/goslings, the type of ducks/geese used and the ethical issues of producing animals for the sole purpose of education, prior to engaging with such a program.

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