Beginner questions

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by sewsable, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. sewsable

    sewsable Out Of The Brooder

    16
    0
    22
    Nov 15, 2009
    Hi, I've just received my first 2 ducklings ever on Thursday. They're just over 3 weeks old and atm I'm feeding them chick food that was given to me with the ducklings. I also have some wheat, but they don't seem to be interested in that. They're also getting sow thistle and silverbeet from the garden and are on an area that's been bark chipped so are foraging under that too.
    Atm I have straw for bedding, but don't know if they need that, they seem to be spending most of their time in the temporary pool (kitty litter tray). It's the beginning of summer here so things are warming up. The current coop is fairly small, but is also secure from the local cat overpopulation.
    My questions:
    1. When can they go outside overnight? They'll be in the covered area till their feathers come in, I'm assuming they'll be big enough to teach any cats a swift lesson by then.
    2. Do they need food and water overnight or not? I've been giving it to them up till now, but their box is getting very mucky by morning and if they can happily cope overnight without one or both that would be much easier.
    3. Do I need to get grit, and if so would builders sand work or do I need something special?

    Btw, they're a mixed breed; Indian Runner/Rouen/Silver Appleyard.

    Thanks
     
  2. This comes from the Duck Research Lab at Cornell http://www.duckhealth.com/housmngt.html

    Optimum temperatures for ducks
    At the time of hatching, ducklings require a high temperature of about 86°F (30°C). They are not yet able to regulate their body temperature and must have supplemental heat such as that provided by a brooder. As they grow older they become better able to produce and conserve heat, and regulate their body temperature. After a duckling is fully covered with feathers and down, they are able to maintain proper body temperature even when the outside temperature is low. The recommended temperatures for ducks at different ages are given in Table 1.


    Table 1. Optimum Temperatures for Ducks

    age of days °F °C
    ------------------------------------------
    1 86 30
    7 81 27
    14 73 23
    21 66 19
    28 59 15
    35 55 13
    42 55 13
    49 55 13
    Developing breeders 55 13
     
  3. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Overrun With Chickens

    17,489
    89
    351
    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    Make sure the chick feed is non-medicated. I would use shavings if available. It is much more absorbent than straw and ducks are very messy. Whatever you decide about not putting in food or water at night, be sure you never leave food without water. Ducks need water to clean out their nostrils when eating food. They can choke without water. Personally I wouldn't leave them outside at night ever, but that's only because we have predators. Also, ducks need oyster shells not sand.
    Oh and by the way [​IMG]
     
  4. sewsable

    sewsable Out Of The Brooder

    16
    0
    22
    Nov 15, 2009
    Thanks for that, we're reasonably predator free here in NZ, but we do have a lot of local cats! Already had a couple sitting on the lawn licking their chops:rolleyes:. I always have water in the cage when there's food, that gets changed more often. I'll have to check where to get shavings and oyster shells. Being on the bark chips is helping with the droppings. I've got a friend out in the country who has ducks, they lose them to the stoats so if I was out there they'd be inside at night too. I will be adjusting their cage so we can open the end during the day and close it once they're in at night so they are safe from cattus nocturnus.
    Btw, heard a distinct quack from one earlier today in between the peeps so we have at least one girl!
    Thanks for the welcome:)
     
  5. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    Quote:I just want to correct some mis-information from above: Ducks do need grit! it takes the place of teeth in that it is retained in the gizzard and helps grind up any food that needs it, for young ducklings a good large sharp builder's sand will work, beach sand will not. Fine gravel is more the size the adults will select. Oyster shell is given as a calcium supplement to laying ducks, they need to replace the calcium used to make up the shell of the eggs. If you have a problem finding oyster shell save you chicken and duck shells from cooking, heat treat them to kill bacteria and dry them out, crush them up and serve them back to the ducks, usually only the laying females will touch them. Nice to have a kiwi on this board!
     
  6. sewsable

    sewsable Out Of The Brooder

    16
    0
    22
    Nov 15, 2009
    I'll pop into the landscapers on the way home tomorrow then for the builders grit, do I put it in with the food or separately? I take it you're a fellow kiwi Goosedragon?
     
  7. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    Quote:Fine gravel would be a better choice than builders sand, I never thought of a landscapers! young ducklings like about 1/8 inch (2-3mm) max dimension, adults usually select around 1/4 (5mm) size, Granite or other hard stone works best. Serve in a seperate container since they only take it when they feel the need. a double handfull will probably take care of three ducks for years,.
    No I wish I were a kiwi at times but I am in the state of North Carolina in the USA. I have been carrying on a email exchange with a female duck breeder in OZ for about 10 years now. She used to be in the suburbs of Melbourne but she moved outback some place off the power grid and the phone wires. keeps in touch by cell phone and only sends and receives email when she visits someone with a web connection. She told me that kiwi was not not considered impolite for your residents. G'day!
     
  8. 1lpoock

    1lpoock Spruce Creek Waterfowl

    Apr 20, 2009
    Sandusky, Ohio
    1. When can they go outside overnight? I wouldnt let your ducks outside overnight...i dont...you can expect them to be dead....no matter how old, they will get killed by a cat thats vicious enough
    2. Do they need food and water overnight or not? I never give mine food and water overnight...they can last without it, keeps the pen dryer!
    3. Do I need to get grit, and if so would builders sand work or do I need something special? You wont really need grit until they get older and start to lay, let alone they have to be hens anyway. But dont use builders sand, buy grit from a feed store or buy oyster shell, just offer it in a small dish, they will eat it when they want it.
     
  9. sewsable

    sewsable Out Of The Brooder

    16
    0
    22
    Nov 15, 2009
    I picked up about 5 handfuls of small gravel today for a couple of dollars so that's their crop taken care of so they can eat their food properly. Today for the first time they ate something from their food bowl when I was standing next to the cage which was nice, so they're gradually getting a bit more accustomed to me. Especially impressive as my youngest son was also standing next to me.
    Checked on the chick mash and it's not medicated so that's good! Oh, and I'm seeing the tips of the new feathers coming through.

    I'm going to start leaving them outside from tomorrow night, they'll be in the cat-proof cage and when I get a chance I'll make it so the end can open up for daytime use and close for night when I'm not around to defend them. Overnight I'll cover the whole cage with an old thermal curtain to keep the warmth in, leaving some room for air circulation.
     
  10. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    Quote:1lpoock there is no polite way to say you don't know the difference between grit and oyster shell. Grit takes the place of teeth and if the ducks are getting anything to eat other than manufactured food THEY NEED GRIT! Oyster shell is a calcium supplement laying ducks use to replace the calcium used in their egg shells. If given a good layer feed with enough calcium they can get along without oyster shell. recycling egg shells can provide a fair amount to make up any lack in the layer feed, BUT THEY NEED GRIT!~gd
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by