Ducks are a very fun addition to a backyard!! Ducks are excellent layers as well as most of the breeds are very cold hardy. In this article all cover everything you need to know about raising ducklings to ducks. First lets go over the brooder, the place the ducks will be kept, and all the supplies you need before you jump into the world of caring for them.
Setting up a Brooder
Of course before you get your ducklings right away you will need a place to keep them safe and warm. This calls for a brooder. A brooder is a box, cage, or tote that is converted to meet a ducklings needs. It will need ventilation, which is of course vital for a duckling. If you decide to use a tote the best way to design it so the ducklings are able to breath is cut a big rectangle out of the lid and cover the hole with mesh.
When you first get your ducklings you may want to start out with little wood chips on the floor as the ducklings may think they are food. If you still think you want to use wood chips get the bigger flakes. For the bottom of the brooder you can layer up paper towels or newspaper to absorb water spills. And trust me, ducks are one of the messiest creatures!! They play in their water dishes and try to swim in them. This is why it is important to make sure their water dishes are NOT DEEP, as they can drowned. When a ducklings fluffy down gets soaked, the weight of the water in their down can make them sink. I like to have my ducklings water and feed dishes hang on the side of the brooder so that they can not dump their water and make a bigger mess!!Make sure the ducklings have access to water all the time, as they can choke on their food without it. I feed my ducklings crumble chick starter, but make sure it is not medicated feed, as ducklings can overdose on the medications. Adding Brewer's yeast to the feed helps grow strong bones and legs, as it contains niacin and other amino acids essential to a healthy life
Another healthy item you can put in their feed or give separate is chopped herbs. Ever heard of them? No doubt you have probably had experience with herbs by cooking them in a meal or growing them yourself. But have you ever fed any to your ducks or ducklings? Lets go over how herbs can help keep your ducklings healthy!
Herbs have been used for a long time, as far back as the Native Americans, for many different purposes, from helping treat an illness to cooking them up in a meal. Herbs help boost the immune system. They help protect and boost the body so that it is better prepared to fight a sickness. Even though herbs DO NOT prevent illness, they help give a body a better chance of fighting the disease. This is why it is good to give your ducklings chopped herbs. You should use culinary herbs like sage, spearmint, oregano, and thyme to name a few. Herbs also help repel insects and ticks too. You can also introduce herbs in another way. You can try making them a batch of herbal tea.
Making Herbal Tea
Things you will need:
-tea kettle or pot
-any culinary herb, but they are very fond of sage, thyme, spearmint, and oregano
-a stove of course!
Making herbal tea is pretty easy. First fill up tea kettle or pot with water, as much as you want, and throw a couple handfuls of herbs into it. Then bring the kettle to a rolling boil. After it has boiled for about 1-2 minutes turn the stove down to low or turn it off completely. Let it steep as long as you want, the longer it steeps the more flavor it sucks up from the herbs. I usually let mine steep for 10-15 minutes. You may notice the water taking on a different coloring. This is normal. All the boiling s making the herbs release their oils. After steeping you can either let it cool to room temp or stick it in the fridge. In the winter I usually let it cool to room temp, but in the summer I put it in the fridge. Then all you need to do is serve it to your ducklings or older ducks whenever!
Back to talking about the brooder. Another vital thing for a duckling is heat. If the ducklings had grown up in the wild the mother would keep them warm and heated but how can we keep them warm? The answer is a heat lamp. Heat lamps can be very scary, though. People loose their houses to fires started by them. Just make sure the heat lamp is well secure. Another idea for a substitute for heat is an BrinsaEcoGlowBrooder. It serves like a heating pad that the ducklings can go under to get warm.
Getting your Ducklings
When you bring your ducklings home from your local feed store or get them in the mail set them in their new brooder. 30minutes before you get your ducklings turn on the heat lamp to warm up the brooder.
As you place each of your ducklings into the brooder dip their bills into the water dish to show them were it is. I add about more than a pinch of sugar to their water for an extra boost of energy. You should check each duckling for pasty butt, a condition when poop dries on the vent of a duckling, making it so that a duck can not poop. This is a emergency case that mostly occurs in mail ordered ducklings but can happen to any duck. If you have a case of it, gently wash the vent with warm water. Check each day for signs of it again, but it should clear up in a few days. Make sure your new ducklings are comfortable in their new home and watch for signs that they are too cold or hot. Cold ducklings will be clustered under the heat lamp quaking unhappily while hot ducklings are as far away from the heat lamp as they can get and will sometimes start panting. Happy ducklings will run around the brooder excitedly. It is normal for new ducklings to sleep a lot as they are babies.
After a few weeks you will notice them perking up. Keep an eye on them every day for signs of sickness and consult a vet if you suspect a problem. Baby ducklings need lots of care and attention, especially if you only have one. Ducks are social creatures and need lots of love.
Introducing the Outdoors to your Ducklings
When your ducklings are around 2-3 weeks of age you can start introducing them to the outdoors. You can take your ducklings on short supervised trips outdoors for about 5-10 minutes if it is nice weather outside. Make sure you watch the ducklings very closely and don't let them get out of your sight.
Ducklings are fast and even wild birds can be dangerous. Ducklings get chilled fast so make sure its sunny and only take your ducklings on short field trips. Around 2 weeks you can introduce your ducklings to water. You can use a bath tub or big dish to fill up with warm water, not cold. Just make swims in the water quick as the ducklings down will get soaked and may cause the duckling to get chilled. After every swim dry the ducklings of with a towel and stick them back under the heat lamp. When a duckling is around 7-10weeks old(depending on breed and growth rate) they should be fully feathered in their new water proof feathers. Around 2-3 months of age you can move your ducklings into their new home outside. By then at night you can take away their feed and water at night. Never leave food without water, though, as ducklings and ducks can choke without water to moisten the food and clear their nostrils.
When Your Ducklings are now Ducks
Ducks mature pretty quick so it is important to spend time with them. When your ducks mature they will need swimming water available. You can use a kiddy pool or if you have a pond just let them swim in that. You should clean their swimming water a few times a week. You can keep your ducks with your chickens if you have some, they get along fine. You can tell a drake(male duck) from a female by its curly tail feathers. Adult ducks like attention just like when they were babies so it is important to spend some time with them. If you really bond with them they may imprint on you, and consider you one of their flock mates!!