Originally Posted by neetabeamie
How big are your tubs? I have a 3og for 4 ducklings . how long will that last?
Should i get a 50? do you put anything soft in the brooder for them to sleep on? kind of like a nest?
and at what age do you move them out to the duck coop/run?
The tubs are 32"x18" and 14" tall but I am not sure on the volume. I will have 8 smaller ducklings or 4 bigger ducklings per tub, maybe 6 if I don't have groups of at least 4 to keep together. I sell ducklings in groups of 4 or more but most are sold from the stage 1 brooder before they move to the stage 2 brooders (I have 6 of these tubs) at about 2 weeks old. We often have ducklings bathing in shallow tubs in our bathtub while I am cleaning the brooder tubs at the same time.
I don't give the ducklings any nesting materials but the heaters I use (Victor Ultimate Flea Traps) work like a nest. The ducklings cuddle up together under the heat as if they are under a mother hen. They can snuggle up around it as they get bigger and they will even sit on top of it when they are big enough.
The ducklings go outdoors when they have their angel feathers in, around 4 weeks old, as their flight feathers are getting ready to grow in. That gives them a good insulation and ducklings like to pile up together so they stay warm outside at night that way.
I keep them in a confined area with more shelter until the flight feathers grow in completely (blood recedes prior to clipping flight feathers). Once their wings are clipped they join the flock, although they hang out with their hatch group in the yard with all the small groups coming together at night for safety.
Australian Spotted ducks are reproductive by the time they are 4 months old and they start to show courtship behavior before they are a month old so they grow up fast. We set hatches every 2 to 4 days apart to keep our hatch groups small but close in age to combine hatches depending on color.
We sold all of our greenheads last year and kept all our silverheads plus we sold most of our bluehead drakes and kept most of our bluehead hens. Once they were all grown out we selected our breeding flock and we are continuing to sell breeding pairs in order to downsize. We sold far more ducklings than we kept but we still ended up keeping too many so we could select our favorite ducks to breed.
There is no way I could hatch and raise so many ducklings without a practical nursery set up. I know most people only raise a few ducklings for a short time so they just deal with the mess and odor of bedding material (not to mention the cost). We have to have a practical way of taking care of far more ducklings in a matter of months than most people will encounter in a lifetime.
We also hatch chicks and use a similar set-up for them but to me chick mess is harder to clean because it is not as water soluble. It requires far more soaking and scrubbing to clean the brooders after chicks have used them and the dust from their dander goes everywhere so I am trying to use our Silkies to brood chicks outside instead of keeping them inside until they are feathered enough to be coop ready. We hatch chicks year round so it depends on the weather as to how soon they can go out.
The ducks are our primary concern so we focus on hatching the duck eggs while we eat chicken eggs in addition to hatching them. I do not brood chicks with ducklings and I do not recommend people do it but with a small number of birds people can get anything to work well enough once or twice.