Does indoor brooding time vary based on breed?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by leah9114, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. leah9114

    leah9114 In the Brooder

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    May 14, 2013
    Cache, OK
    I adopted 2 Pekin ducks last Saturday from a local farmer. We love them so much, we want to get two Pekin ducklings soon as well. I'm new to ducks...learning fast, but new nonetheless. So my question is, how long will I need to keep my Pekin duckling inside with a heat lamp before they can free range in the yard with our other ducks and chickens?

    I have read the typical timeframe is 6-8 weeks and/or until the outside temp doesn't drop below 50 degrees at night. Is that true of all duck breeds? Because I've also read that Pekins mature faster and would be fully grown by that time.

    Timing is everything when ordering baby Pekins. I need to know how long I can expect them to live indoors with us before being able to venture outside for good. If it's truly the 6-8 weeks timeframe, I could order them for deliver this Thurs and expect to put them in the yard by March 20. If, however they will only be inside for a few weeks, I need to wait to order them and schedule a delivery date for early Spring so I can ensure the outside temps will be warm enough.

    Help? Am I overthinking this? :/
     
  2. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Songster

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    Apr 22, 2012
    Southwest Virginia
    My Coop
    In my experience with Pekin ducklings, it entirely depends on what the outside temperatures are, as you said. Some people feel the need to keep ducklings in for the full 8 weeks; after you smell them in your house, you will think otherwise!

    I go by gradual introduction to colder temps, ex. outside playtime a few times a day during warm temperatures starting at 2 weeks. I give them shallow, warm water, and always provide a strong source of heat on one side of the brooder and room temperatures (65-70˚F) on the other. The ducks will tell you when they are ready for the lamp to be raised by choosing to sleep towards the cold side of the brooder.

    By 3 weeks, my ducklings take longer and longer day trips outside in warm, sunny weather (nothing colder than 50˚F). If they do swim, they immediately go back under the heat lamp. Don't let them swim for too long as they can tire themselves out.

    By 4 weeks, they are outside all the time unless it gets below 50˚F.

    By 5 weeks, they are able to be outside, huddled with their friends as long as it does not get below 40˚F.

    By 6 or 7 weeks they should be able to handle down to 32˚F.

    By 8 weeks they should be able to go down to 10˚F.

    This is my general timetable for Pekins specifically as you're right, they do grow faster and produce more heat than other breeds of ducks. However, watch out as they also will stay "downy" for longer. I have also successfully (no losses) raised Mallards and Cayugas this way.

    If you have a larger number of ducklings, they will be able to huddle better for warmth, so if you plan to get only a handful of ducklings I would definitely be a little more cautious about putting them outside.
     
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  3. leah9114

    leah9114 In the Brooder

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    May 14, 2013
    Cache, OK
    Thank you so much for replying! I only plan to buy 2 ducklings, so in light of your wisdom and experience, I'm opting to choose a later deliver date for mid Feb vs ASAP, so they can be outside at the 6w mark without being too cold. I do have 2 Pekins that are 1 yr old (adopted last week). Will the welcome my new ducklings? Or perhaps they'll be a mean pecking order like my chickens have?

    On the subject of my newly adopted 1yr old Pekins, I've had them since Saturday and they hardly ever, ever walk around or get up and act like ducks. I've attributed this to the fact they came from a farm with over 300 various breeds of ducks and they were pretty crowded at their last home. Are they simply shocked at having an acre now to themselves plus my chickens? I go out to check on them all the time and they are always laying under their duck hut. Occasionally, I catch them going to eat or drink in the run and one I've seen play in the pool a bit, but 99% of the time! they just sleep in the same spot. Should I be worried? Perhaps they are much older than an yr like the farmer told me? I see no indications of scaling on legs or foot problems and eyes are clear, so I think they are healthy. Maybe just in shock? I'm hoping they will come around and not run from me when I approach them. I know they will likely never be as tame as my chickens...they jump in my lap and follow me everywhere. But I'm hoping the ducks will become more approachable. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
     
  4. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Songster

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    I agree, with your plan to adopt only 2 ducklings I would be careful about the weather!

    My Pekins are fairly "lazy" ducks compared to the others, only because their size seems to make it harder to get around (ex. the females can only lift off a little bit and the males can't fly at all). The large part of the day they spend sleeping. It does sounds like yours could be older. I would also consider that they may have other invisible health problems like parasites, though I am absolutely not knowledgeable about duck illnesses! Also check to make sure that the ducks aren't getting bullied by the chickens away from feed and waterers.

    For taming ducks, get some soft fruits and cut them into tiny pieces (sometimes I use grape halves, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, etc). These are a duck's favorite treats and are healthy so you can give them a lot. My ducks also get bread, corn, oatmeal, and grubs from the compost, though some duck people would tell you to absolutely not do these things. Mealworms are also a great duck treat. These will all help tame your ducks.

    On introducing the young ones to the older ones: wait until they are similar sizes. With chickens, I have had good luck introducing teenagers to adult hens and roosters, given enough space. With ducks, there is always such extreme bullying of the tiny ones by the big ones that I have to separate them out by age. I have had good luck introducing young ducks to adult ducks at 3-4 months old. Like with chickens, it helps to introduce them slowly and through a wire barrier before letting them freely interact with each other.

    Good luck, sounds like you're in for some duck fun [​IMG]
     

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