SO IMPATIENT!!!!! - I am so excited AAAAARG!
Now that I got that out... We are trying some new things based on things we have seen or experienced and we will report on them along the way. Here is our set up we are going to try this time:
We bought a soft dog taxi approx 2-1/5' x 4' (10 sq. ft. - 3-1/3 sq. ft. per bird). This will go from huge to barely adequate for 3 birds (when it gets toward the latter, they will be making day trips out to the yard and only overnighting in the brooder so it will be fine then.)
Some design considerations:
* The sides of the taxi have fairly tough screens. This will allow us to see the ducklings easily and them to see us. Hopefully that will make them more social since they will be able to see us moving about even when we aren't directly giving them attention.
* The brooder is going on a table. At 50/51, we aren't as spry as we once were and this will make viewing and maintaining the brooder much easier. A strap will run under the table so even a nearly full sized Pekin diving into the side of the brooder won't be able to knock it off the table.
* We are going to use towels for bedding - at least initially. We have seen several people doing this for indoor accommodations on the house duck thread, and thought we would try it. There is enough depth to the taxi that we can go back to pine chips if we decide this doesn't work.
* The water will sit on a cookie sheet with aquarium rocks in it. (If they can't navigate it on the first day, we may remove it for a day or two.) That way any spills will immediately sink into the rocks where the ducks can't play with it. Hopefully this will let them make less mess. We will rinse the rocks in a strainer as required. Since they are aquarium rocks, we know that they don't have a coating that will hurt them (fish are more sensitive to things like that than ducks so it should be fine for ducks). The rocks are big enough that it will be at least a week before they could consider being eaten and they are nice and smooth so they won't be rough on the duck feet or the GI tract if they do get eaten. When the ducks get bigger (as well as the water containers), we will probably put them in a deeper container with sponges under the rocks.) We will see how that works when we get there... We will give them a nare/eye wash station once they have the hang of the brooder and are walking sure-footedly.
* The heat lamp hangs from a clothes hanging rod. It is supported by a chain so the lamp can be raised as the ducklings grow. It is currently adjusted for a 95 degree surface temp on the towels.
* To the side of the brooder we will have additional towels, their food, yeast and some washcloths for little messes.
* The electrolytes/probiotics are over by the sink where we will mix them in pitchers that we will use to fill or top off their water.
Now all we need are the ducklings.