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Duckling Questions

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by obsidianembrace, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. obsidianembrace

    obsidianembrace Songster

    Aug 5, 2009
    My call duck has been sitting on eggs for almost a full 28 days now. We're very excited [​IMG]
    I have a few questions though:
    1. The eggs were all laid within a week of each other. Will they all hatch at the same time?
    2. Is it possible to get the ducklings to imprint on me, not my hen?
    3. When can the ducklings swim? We got a shallow kiddie pool for them and we're working out a ramp.
    4. Would it be better to confine them to one portion of the yard until they're older? As opposed to giving them full access like our grown up ducks get? Can Bonnie protect them from the evil holes in the fence?
    5. Any tips? At all?!? This is our first hatch and I'm worried I'm going to kill the little guys. [​IMG]
  2. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Hi obsidian! I hatch in an incubator, not under a broody, but I can still help with some of your questions. [​IMG] Here goes:

    1. The eggs do not begin developing until the hen begins sitting on them. So usually the eggs will all hatch at the same time, no matter when they were laid. The exception is if the hen was setting on the eggs and another hen laid fresh eggs in her nest. In that case, the first eggs will hatch first and the later eggs will either hatch later or not at all. Often, once the first batch of eggs hatches, the broody will leave the rest to take care of her babies, and you will lose any that started incubation later.

    2. Ummmm.... yes, but only if you remove them from the hen upon hatching and keep them with you 24 hours a day, talking to them, holding them against you, and letting them follow you around the house. Imprinting is not, despite popular ideas about it, an instant event. Imprinting occurs over a course of days and requires 24/7 close contact with the object desired. Frankly, I don't think it's fair to a bird to cause it to imprint on humans--it can never live a natural life and will always be wanting things it can't have (like mating which is not possible between species, lol, and constant companionship which is not practical for humans). BUT, I suspect that what you really want is for the little ones to be sweet and friendly with people, and the best way to accomplish that is simply to spend time with them. If you remove them from the mother and raise them yourself, you can teach them to be very friendly without causing them to imprint on you. I raise all our ducklings in the house at first, and they become very friendly the more they are handled and around people, but we've never had them actually imprint on us, because we're not with them 24/7. I had one small group of ducklings that was raised in a classroom and handled literally non-stop by children from 8 am until 3 pm every day. They were the friendliest ducks I've ever ever met. But even they were not "imprinted" on humans. Still, they were a great example of the difference that frequent handling creates. On the opposite side, I have some ducklings that I raised but that are extremely skittish because for two out of their first four weeks I was not available (I was out of town one week and sick another), so they haven't been handled much and they are by far the least friendly ducks I've ever had.

    3. Ducklings can swim almost as soon as they can walk. However, most people don't let them in the pool until they are at least a week old, and then only under close supervision. Until they get true feathers, they are not waterproof and can get waterlogged and drown. Also, they aren't good at finding the way out, and can get chilled and/or drown even if there's a ramp. They are not the smartest crayons in the box. They must have a warm dry place to get dried out after swimming, also. The mother duck will take good care of them, but I still wouldn't give them access to swimming water without human supervision until they are a few weeks old. Too many dangers that mama duck may not be able to prevent.

    4. Yes. The other grown-up ducks are likely to not like the ducklings. Mine attack new ducklings, and the mother alone won't be able to protect them adequately. Bonnie won't be able to protect them from much, but I wouldn't worry about the holes in the fence--they won't stray far from her. I would be far more worried about hawks, owls, and jealous older ducks.

    5. Good luck and have fun. Ducks have been doing this for a long time without us, so if in doubt let mama figure it out. Still, there are a lot of things we can do to help her, so you're right to be asking questions. Have fun!!
  3. Birdcrazy

    Birdcrazy Songster

    Dec 21, 2009
    Firstly, grats on your new babies!!!
    To imprint you need to be there when they hatch, mostly so they aren't scared of you when seeing you a little bit later in their first hours - days. I agree that its not an instant thing, too.
    If they are staying with their mum i think its ok to let them in a pond. Mine hatched with their mum and tumbled into the pond with her as soon as they jumped out of the nest [​IMG] a mother duck will oil her ducklings so they dont get cold in the water.
    Im not sure about calls, but drakes can get agressive towards the babies and cause injuries - i know mine was, so keep an eye on if you decide to leave them with the drake.
  4. obsidianembrace

    obsidianembrace Songster

    Aug 5, 2009
    No egg cracks yet, I can't wait!

    Bonnie has been off the eggs a lot in the last 2 days. (28 days is in about 2 days). I read that now is the most important time for temp control, shouldn't she be on them? It's been around 95 degrees recently, so is she off of them because it's hot? What about humidity? I live in utah and it's very dry here, I'm 100% sure it's not at 70% out there.

    So with socializing them, just hold them all the time? (well not all the time, but a lot?). I want them to love to see me when I come out and they come over and follow me around. I'm worried that their mama will teach the ducklings to not like us so much.

    We live in a very urban area and don't have hawk problems. I mostly worry about wild cats we sometimes get around, but we haven't had a tom in a few years now. So i'm not too worried about the ducklings getting hurt by that. I'm more worried about my dog, mojo. He's a small dog, but he treats Clyde (my drake) very casually. He romps around with him like another dog (clyde loves it and plays too, i'm not worried about him getting hurt) but I'm worried that Mojo will try to do this with the ducklings and smoosh them. Does anyone have dogs like this? What do you do with ducklings?

    Also, how small would the mesh have to be for a 'playpen' sort of thing that we can use to put them in one area of the yard (and keep Mojo out) and have the ducklings not squeeze out?

    How tall are call ducklings?

    Lots of random questions, I know. I have more but I can't think of them right now, so this is good for now.
  5. callducklover20

    callducklover20 Songster

    May 5, 2010
    Bonner Springs, KS
    the babies are very small-half the size of any other duck I hatched, oh but they are my favorites. I have always hatched in a incubator from shipped eggs so I dont know about the mom stuff but mine are always in my house til at least 4 weeks but I have big hawks, foxes etc around here even being very close to the city. I would think that about 1/4 to 1/2 inch mesh would be good, because any other type of panel they could squeeze or jump right through. I to have just held mine lots, they have imprinted more on each other than me but they do like to be rubbed on the head and neck and held close to me with their feet and bodies supported. I wait 1 week for their first bath but like I said mine dont have a mom to preen them, I also use warm bath water so they dont chill. If it 95 out she might be cooling her eggs, I am pretty sure this is needed but hopefully someone else will chime in-humidity is not always a concern especially under a hen. Cant wait to see pics, good luck!

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