About to be a 1st time duck owner

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by soccrkep1, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. soccrkep1

    soccrkep1 In the Brooder

    Jul 30, 2014

    I have 3 ducklings coming from Metzer next Wednesday - a Welsh Harlequin, White Layer, and Buff - all females. I've never raised ducks, or any bird for that matter, but have been doing a lot of reading and searching on the internet.

    FEEDING: I'm having some trouble figuring out what to feed them. I want something organic, non-GMO. I called my local feed store, but they only carry organic in chick starter. I know I can add Brewer's Yeast to it, but is that really acceptable? Are there any specific brands for game birds or water fowl y'all would recommend? Also, how long should they be on starter? How early can I start them on soft fruits and veggies (I'm getting conflicting info)? I think I will make my own food for them later, if y'all think that is acceptable. I don't like fillers, which is why I raw-feed my dogs.

    HOUSING: How large do you think it should be? I want a small pen or run attached, but once they are old enough, they will free-range during the day. Do y'all have pics or plans of something suitable for 3? I've never built or framed anything but have a ton of 2x4s from an old basket weave fence. I need something that I can hide behind a shed.

    BROODER: I go back to work in another week and a half. I'm assuming they will still need to be inside at that point, though it's a lot colder in my house (78) than outside (high 90s). Should I go with a lamp and keep them inside or put them outside in the shade in a small box/pen? Speaking of those lamps, do I need one of those special heat lamps or can I angle a desk lamp over their box?

    How loud are these 3 types of ducks? My city allows 3, my HOA does not, BUT...the HOA lost authority over our section of the neighborhood, so I'm in the clear, just don't want to piss of the neighbors, you know?

    I have a pool - is this going to be a problem? I know not to let them in the yard unsupervised when they are little, but are they going to constantly poop in it when they are big? And if they get in, will they be able to get out using the steps?

    What else do I need to know? I feel like I'm going in circles with all the reading I'm doing! Help please! These will be pets and I want them to have a great life. Thanks!
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England

    Chick starter with brewer's yeast works for many people. Some add some plain niacin (100 to 150 mg) per gallon of drinking water the first 8 weeks or so. Either or.

    We used starter for two weeks, then slowly added increasing amounts of grower so that by three weeks they were on grower. I cut the protein (27%) of the starter by adding chopped dry rolled oats (not instant) - one part oats to 4 parts starter crumbles.

    Joybilee farm has a recipe for DIY animal feed you may want to look at, and I think Mother Earth News has some information as well.

    Wait a bit for non-crumble treats, this will help guide you.


    They need a little chick grit in their tummies so they can "chew" food. A little. I sprinkled a teaspoon on their food once a day until they were outdoors.

    I would give them each 6 square feet, that would be 18 square feet (this is for their shelter) minimum, so a 4'x5' house would be good unless they will need to be confined due to extreme weather, then give them as much more space as you can.

    Be aware that predators will come out of the woodwork. Please please make the house, the pen, the yard as secure as you can. And then make it even more secure. Really. Go read the predators and pests forum a little bit. I made a rectangular box (big box) with Dutch door on the side and sliding door to a porch wrapped top bottom and sides with half inch metal hardware cloth.

    Do a search on "duck house" and "duck coop". All kinds of good stuff out there.

    Set up a brooder a.s.a.p. and get a non-mercury thermometer, set it in there. I would keep them indoors for a few reasons. Predators, temperature extremes, mosquitoes and black flies.

    Also, please look this over and get your water management system in place.






    Also please keep asking questions and let us know how it's going.

    Oh, and have you read the sticky on raising ducklings? Worth a read.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014

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