Bucket-o-Questions... Fill me in, please?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by DarkWolf, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. DarkWolf

    DarkWolf Songster

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    Murray Kentucky
    Ok.. So... Chickens, I know... Ducks? Not so much..

    So, here's my list of Q's.

    1) I'm expanding my run from 128SF to 448SF.. Any issue with keeping ducks in with my 3.5x larger chicken run? Chickens would have 30SF per bird in the run, not counting ducks.

    2) Duck houses... I know people prefer the chicken coops to be walk in and I must say I love mine as such.. But the duck house.. They nest on the floor, right?

    3) What do you do with your plastic duck ponds over winter? I'm planning on getting a large rubber or fiberglass watering trough. Should it be drained?

    4) Anyone know much about the Gold Star sex-link ducks? I LOVE my sex-link chickens.. Great egg layers and have the BEST (friendliest) personality of all I have. What are the ducks like?

    5) They say you can feed the same for ducks and chickens.. I use pellets.. Any issues with this?

    6) What are the per bird requirements of square feet in the run and duck house?

    7) Over the winter, what do you do for water, since they need to be able to submerge their bills?


    I'm looking for a layer breed which can't readily fly. The run will have 7' walls to it, which is more than enough to keep the chickens in. People say Cayugas are quiet, but most videos I'd seen, they talk up a storm.. The Rouens on the other hand had been quiet as mice? I don't mind some noise.. Just don't need to end up with anything as annoying as a guinea.

    Breeds I'm really considering:
    Gold Star Hybrid
    Khaki Cambell
    Runner Ducks

    Opinions on those breeds vs the other?

    Thanks! Want to see about getting some next season, so no time like NOW to get things planned out and built.
     
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners 8 Years

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    Hi!

    I can tell you what I have learned from my runners, and I have read and follow quite a bit of advice from Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks.

    The runners aren't silent, but I live in suburbia (one acre lots) and still have one of the quietest homes in the neighborhood. I am told that while I am away, no one hears my ducks, but when I drive around the corner on my way home, the ducks start calling to me. The neighbors think it is cute (they hear the ducks if the neighbors are outside).

    I have eleven girls, by the way. The statistics on their egg laying range from 200 to 350 eggs a year, and that depends on a number of things (their nutrition and environment, as well as their DNA). My eleven are five months old, everyone has just started laying, and I get between six and ten eggs a day so far.

    They are sweet. All but one or two eats from my hand when I offer treats. They are fun, and several come up to me for pets. They are easy to clean up after, as long as I do a few basics every day (rake the top of the bedding, fluff the bedding, sprinkle a few shavings, fresh water, fresh pellets, some greens or a few peas, free choice oyster shell in a pan of water).

    Occasionally their night pen, where I keep water pans, needs to be raked out and refreshed. That depends on the weather (hot, wet weeks need more work than cool dry ones).

    If I recall correctly, Storey's recommends minimum 3 square feet per bird for their house, 10 sf minimum if they have daily access to pasture, 25 sf minimum if they don't. Mine have between fifteen and twenty square feet per duck with occasional access to garden beds. They only weigh about three to four pounds - small ducks.

    I have a water pan heater which I tested out last winter before the ducks arrived. It works nicely, coming on when the temperature falls below 35F. It is deep enough for them to wash in. I have black concrete mixing pans for bathing, and I will be using those during the winter (since our water is not distilled, the freezing point will be somewhere below 30, and the black pans, in the sun, will likely thaw out most days, so they should be able to splash around all but the coldest weeks in winter, if they wish.

    Their house is a 4'x8' double-walled plywood box with a sloped roof. Openings are covered with half inch hardware cloth. They nest on the floor. I have two wooden cheese boxes for nest boxes. I use shavings with a few sawdust pellets and a bit of peat moss to lower the pH and prevent as much ammonia from forming (that is also why I fluff the bedding - it reduces moisture and increases air).

    Water is is a "veranda" with an earth/hardware cloth/sand/sawdust floor. The house floor is 3/4 inch plywood with vinyl flooring that goes up the wall several inches, with a furring strip across the top of the flooring. The house bedding stays pretty dry.

    Ducklings need three times the niacin chicks do, and there is some concern that medicated (one exception, I am told, is Amprolium) feed is toxic to ducks. But for laying, many use standard poultry layer pellets. I started adding a third layer pellets to the poultry maintenance pellets, to see if that did anything (my concern was that some birds are not eating the free choice oyster shell). I also add a handful of cat kibble to boost protein and calories. I will probably go back to the maintenance plus kibble plus oyster shell free choice when the layer pellets are done. I have noticed no improvement with the layer pellets. Not that they could do much better, really.

    Regarding height of house, the ducks' house is five feet high at one end dropping to four feet at the other. I am 5'4" and this is no problem for me. In fact, I rarely get in the house. It is up on supports, about eight inches off the ground, and the side door is a Dutch double door. I open the top of the door to gather eggs, rake droppings, fluff bedding, and freshen bedding. When I needed to remove all the bedding one time, I opened the lower door and shoveled it into a wheelbarrow. This is working well for me.

    I hope some of this is useful to you. There are many right ways to manage a flock of ducks. I pray you find enjoyment and success with your flock.
     
  3. AdamD77

    AdamD77 Songster

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    Hmm, I can help on a few of these I think:

    2 - As far as I know, Muscovies are the only ducks that need perches of any sort when sleeping, all others will sleep/nest on the ground [​IMG]

    3 - Last winter I just removed the layer of ice and let them carry on doing what they do. Obviously keep it clean and they should still enjoy using it.

    5 - We use layers pellets which are suitable for chickens as well. I think the main concern is when they are younger to not feed them medicated food, but I'm not exactly sure of the details of what's safe and not safe so someone else should be able to help you there [​IMG]

    7 - Just keep an eye on it to make sure it's not frozen. Just check a couple of times a day to make sure it's clear of ice. During the day it should be less of a problem because the constant use should help stop the water freezing over, the main concern is it freezing overnight, so just clear it in the morning and check on it before you put them to sleep.


    As far as breeds go, I only have runners, but I adore them [​IMG] They're very entertaining, interesting and different from other breeds because of their body shape, friendly (if you work at it [​IMG]), not the loudest (but noise varies from bird to bird), come in lots of different colours, produce a good amount of eggs and don't fly [​IMG] I'll let other people comment on the other breeds [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  4. aussieheelr

    aussieheelr Songster

    I have 8 ducks right now... 5 fawn/white runners and 3 cayugas, but mine are only 5 weeks old right now. As far as the water, we'll see how our plan goes but we're hopeing to keep the "pond" going durring the winter. DH dug out and concreted then seeled a 4x3 pond that is 3 feet deep, we have a stock tank heater that we're planning to use to keep it thawed. It only turns on when the water temperature gets below 35 or something along those lines. When we had to use stock tanks for the horses (before moving to creek side) it hardly changed the elec. bill at all, maybe by a few dollars a month.

    My ducklings get flockraiser for their feed right now. When they start laying they'll get the regular layer mash because of simplicity sake since we already buy it in bulk. We have some turkey poults too, seperate, and don't want to have three feed barrels and since ducks and chickens can eat the same at adult stage that's what we're planning on.
     
  5. sonew123

    sonew123 Poultry Snuggie

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    Heres my pathetic experience with my ducks that Ive had for over a year

    Quote:
     
  6. treldib

    treldib Songster

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    Alright...I see your other questions have mostly been answered. There is no such thing as a "Gold Star Hybrid"...this is what McMurray Hatchery calls Golden 300 Hybrid Layers that they buy from Metzer Farms and then ship to you (name change to avoid copyright issues?). They are not sex-linked at all what so ever after about 2 weeks old. McMurray is a great place to get chickens...but I don't think they even have a permanent flock of ducks. Their duck pictures and availibillity dates are exactly the same as Metzer Farm's but the price is usually about a dollar more. Metzer Farms is one of the best Duck Hatcheries there is and they have wonderful customer service (drove 4 hours to go pick up or ducks from them...we didn't feel like shipping [​IMG] ) www.metzerfarms.com also click on the Duck Breeds Comparison page for detailed info on many breeds. I say go with the Swedes or Cayugas for Aesthetic pleasure and the Golden 300's or White Golden 300's for better personality and huge amount of eggs (We have a Golden 300, a Black Swedish, a Cayuga, and a White Golden 300. All female, all from Metzer)
     
  7. treldib

    treldib Songster

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    Also, all breeds of domestic duck (Mallards and Muscovies excluded) are not capable of flight at all. You could consider them...flightless lol.
     
  8. DarkWolf

    DarkWolf Songster

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    Murray Kentucky
    Thanks for all the feedback, folks.. Really appreciate it.. [​IMG]

    Amiga: So space requirements in the run and house are similar to chickens.. kk.. That's what I was figuring. Far as food goes, so you're saying it's best to start them out on a duck based feed while they're immature and then it's OK to move them to layer pellets? I don't feed medicated to anything, so that's a null issue. I get in the chicken coop daily, but it's also storage for food, tools and whatnot.. Think 5' sloped would be fine for my needs, as well.

    AdamD77: I figure I could always use a fountain and a watering trough de-icer to keep the pond somewhat open and able to be used? Or at the very least a bubbler and de-icer. So how noisey ARE runner ducks? They're very cute.. Also, what's the minimum fence height to keep them contained? Granted, the run fence is 7' for the chickens, but I also want to let them out into the yard while out and will need to put up a little something as a containment for that.

    sonew123: How much space per bird (chicken and duck) do you have in the run? I don't have any grass in my chicken run ATM and don't expect there to be any once I expand it (3.5x the space) either. Though I'm going to be seeding parsley around the edge and putting up a barrier to keep them from decimating it. That way they can only eat it as it grows beyond the barrier... Far as nests go, I was thinking of putting in some plastic baskets with straw in them to use. The duck house floor will be like the coop, pine shavings. Didn't think about the dog waterer.. So the runners are quieter than the cambells? Thanks.. [​IMG]

    treldib: "Gold Star Hybrid" is alot like cinnamon queens or red stars.. They're all the same.. Which I expected.. But, are you saying they're not "sex-link" birds, in that they can not be easily sexed by feather color? That's perplexing. Thanks for the info on Metzer.. Always nice to hear of new sources. I'm not much looking for "flash" as I am for a good overall, friendly personality.. It's shocking how sweet my red sex-link chickens are..

    Thanks! [​IMG]
     
  9. treldib

    treldib Songster

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    Quote:What I'm saying is that you should buy them from Metzer Farms instead of McMurray Hatchery...if you have any problems you can talk to the people who breed and hatch them instead of the middleman. Golden 300's (what you call Gold Stars) are very friendly and are wonderfully sweet.
    Read this thread about them https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=374602 As babies they are indeed sex-linked to some extent but not after about 2 weeks old.
     
  10. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners 8 Years

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    DarkWolf,

    Yes, the feed difference seems more critical before they are 12 weeks old. They really need that extra niacin for neurological development. There are a number of ways to get it. Niacin pills (100 to 150 mg niacin per gallon of water if no other source of niacin available or signs of niacin deficiency), brewers' yeast sprinkled on food, worms, bugs, etc. I used the waterfowl starter and then grower. At this point I could switch to layer pellets but I like to keep their diet fairly consistent except for a variety of seasonal treats (jewelweed more in spring and early summer, smartweed mid to late summer, slugs when it's wet, etc.). That is why I give them oyster shell in addition to the maintenance ration and whatever they can forage in the pen and gardens.
     

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