Beginner's advice please!


In the Brooder
6 Years
Sep 8, 2013
New York
Hi everyone,

I ordered 4 ducklings and they should be coming in next week! (Yes I know winter is coming) For the past 2 weeks I have been scouring BYC and Google for "raising duckling guides." I've read them all and for the most part am pretty confident that my ducks will live both happily and healthy.

This is now just a final checklist to make sure I have everything in check and to answer a few questions I am feeling a little doubt towards. Hopefully everyone here (with more experience :p ) can help out!


That's currently our brooder design (please comment any suggestions etc). My only concerns really with it are the temps under the bulb and the size--as it is holding 4 ducklings haha. I imagine I'll how to invest in a new one in a few weeks or so. Next weekend I will put in the bedding and try to elevate the food/water dishes. Of course also putting in the bulb guard.

I have a 125 W bulb, 85 W Flood Light, and 60 W incandescent. As of right now, after testing, the temps DIRECTLY UNDER the bulb can go up to 100 degrees but the surrounding areas like maybe an inch over or so is like 10-15 degrees cooler. Would this be alright for the ducklings? Especially since they will have the house heat as well on top of this? Should I just go with a 40W bulb?

Do I also leave the heat lamp on 24/7? When can I start turning it off?

(Okay just some general questions as they come to mind)

1. When they arrive I wanted to feed them GroGel. I was kinda hoping to feed them this off my hand or so to bond with the duck right away. Is that a good idea? Or should I just put it on top of the starter feed?

2. When I start feeding the ducklings the starter feed (day 2+) should I put water in it to make it mushier? So they can eat it easier? Or does the water bowl kinda answer this issue?

3. When do you think they can go on their first swim? I ordered the ducklings with a few friends and they are eager to have them swim. I've read A LOT of different opinions on this and was going to wait a day or two before a supervised short swim. What do you guys think?

4. Will the dust from the wood shavings be a health issue to the ducks? Should I just put a bedding down and then cover over it with puppy-training pads?

5. I've read that ducks naturally bathe and clean themselves in water. I have purchased some pet-baby-wipes so as to clean them off every once in a while. If they are pooping as often as everyone says how often should you clean them off?

6. Besides obviously loving them and taking good care of them, what are some good methods to bonding with the ducks? I've heard singing to them, and giving them treats. I'm a little anxious that my duck won't be as bonded to me as I'd like haha


That's really all the questions I can think of now, perhaps I will think of more once everyone gives a little input. I'm sorry if there are already posts like this, as I mentioned, I have read most of them and now just want these last little comments/advice. This is my first time with ducklings and I'd rather not lose any in this trial raising process.

So if anyone has advice or comments or answers that'd be greatly appreciated :)

Please understand my naivety on fowl care!

Welcome to Duckdom!

I want to make a few suggestions but have to take care of something first, so I may not be able to get back for a couple of hours.

Have you read the sticky at the top of the Duck Forum, on Duckling Raising? Good read.

Be really careful with the heat - don't want plastic gassing off or melting, and 100F is too hot. Recommended heat is 90 F to start, dropping about 5 degrees a week, and letting there be cooler areas.

Get a splash catcher for the water.

Moistened food is fine but you need to be sure to remove what is not eaten after several hours to avoid mold.

I think you will need Brooder II, just as we did.

On day two my ducklings bathed in a cake pan in the brooder with 90F water. Some have used those pans you use for paint rollers. Always supervise swim time! Till they are adults, anyway.

Thanks for the response!

I actually didn't know about the Sticky on top of the forum! But looking at it, it seems that I have read multiple articles in it just from searching these forums. Actually have read the one on duck raising haha

And I suppose a 40 W will be my best bet then, or having to elevate the lamp; good thing I have a week left to prepare haha.

I'll look into the splash catcher, ideally I was hoping the elevation on the water would take care of that.

I've heard of the paint roller being used actually! Most likely, I was probably going to use the bathtub with low and warm water. But the cake pan sounds like a good idea, and I may just have to check it out!
If you can't get duck starter remember to give extra niacin. Ducks and geese need more of it than chicks. And you still have time to make a platform for your water. Make a square (rectangle or whatever shape fits best in your brooder) using 2 x 4's standing with the 2" on the ground. Then cover it with hardware cloth and set it in your brooder with a pan under it and the water on top. The pan will catch the water they spill and save you from having to change the bedding every 20 minutes or having wet,smelly bedding. Make the platform big enough for them to stand on it. Once they are a couple of days old start using it. The plastic you have the lamp on is going to melt before it warms the ducklings up, You probably only need a 40 or 60 watt bulb in the house, but I wouldn't set it on plastic, either hang it or make a wire top. For my muscovy babies I used the same "bin" as a brooder that you are, as long as you don't have cats or dogs that can get to them it works really well. I didn't need a splash guard, they didn't splash the water all over outside their brooder. They need access to a lot more water than chicks. You might want to put their water under your guard and the light at the other end, because the sides of the brooder are low and the platform will raise the ducklings up even higher. Don't allow them to get chilled. Show them where the water is when you put them in the brooder and give the gro gel right away, you can mix it with their feed, but don't let it sit more than a couple of hours. After that just give the feed and water. Before you give them anything else they must have grit. Until they are feathered out you risk them getting chilled if they get wet, so if/when you give them swim time, use warm water and make sure they are dry & warm afterwards. I usually wait a couple of weeks before trying the bathtub. Good luck with your babies and enjoy.

^ That's the starter feed I purchased (18% Protein, non-medicated) that specifically mentioned Ducklings on the bag. Unfortunately, that's all there really was at my local CountryMax. I've heard of people using non-medicated chicken feed, so I figured this would be a step up from that. Looking at the ingredients, I don't see any Niacin. As for the Grit, to my understanding they are a bunch of little rocks to help break down food during digestion? With this, I would just mix a little amount in their food?

I'm going to look into the splash catcher as well, in my reading up I noticed a lot of people were elevating their food and water with hardware cloth to catch the water splashed. But if I were to elevate the water and make a platform for the ducks to stand in, wouldn't they hop into the water bowl or poo in it? I thought that was part of the reason for the elevation, so they didn't contaminate their drinking water?

I hope the photo isn't deceiving haha the heat lamp isn't sitting directly on plastic. We have cut a hole in the center and only the outside frame of the lamp is resting on the plastic. Of course I understand that part can get hot as well, so I am going to test it by leaving the light on a few hours and seeing the results. I can't imagine the frame getting too hot, especially with the 40-60W bulbs when the 85W doesn't make the frame too too hot. I'll post updates on how that goes. I may just get hardware cloth, however

I am actually familiar with the chilling and lots of water! Haha the wonders of forums!

Thanks for all the advice!

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