Duckling rejected by parents

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by pipit, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. pipit

    pipit Out Of The Brooder

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    We have 2 Buff Orpington ducks, PJ and Penny. I had a chicken go broody so I just stuck a duck egg under her for grins. It hatched out right in the middle of the coldest weather we'd had in west central Florida, so we put it in our brooder. It's now 3 weeks old and starting to get feathers. I brought it out to the duck pen to see how PJ and Penny would react to it. PJ attacked it and made sure it did not go near Penny. I'm guessing it must be a drake. The problem is, what to do when it's time to put it outside. Will PJ attack it until it dies or eventually leave it alone? Will I have to separate it or will it ever be accepted by its parents? My DH says he's not building another pen for one duck.

    Gee, I wonder if a duck can be house broken? It seems to prefer being with my Cocker Spaniel than with other birds. Hm.[​IMG]
     
  2. AdamD77

    AdamD77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well you can get duck diapers and harnesses for indoor ducks but the best thing would be to intergrate them.

    There's bound to be some aggression and picking on the little one but a little time every day spent supervised outside together with you for the duckling to run to for protection should help things along.

    My boys wouldn't let the girls near them when we first got them. We let them outside together and inside we cut the duck area in two and put the girls in seperated by a fence and after about a week they were so much better with each other (though they're still seperated by the fence indoors). It's not going to be fine straight away so just give it time and see how it goes [​IMG]
     
  3. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    Most people wait till the duckling is around 12 weeks before putting them in with adult ducks. you might still have a problem but at least it will be able to survive better.
     
  4. ejctm

    ejctm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Pipit,

    Your ducks do not recognise this baby as their own. It is an intruder as far as they are concerned. PJ's job is to protect Penny from intruders. See where I am going with this...? [​IMG] It may or may not be a drake, I think that is irrelevant at this stage, it is just an unwelcome visitor in PJ's eyes.

    You have another problem too - Your duckling does not recognise itself as a duck. It thinks it is a chicken or a human or a dog or whatever it has imprinted on from hatch. Since you decided to brood this egg in winter, it needs added heat more than it would have done during the summer, whether from a chicken or duck mum looking after it, or a brooder, so you will have to take extra special care of it. Furthermore, it is alone, and had no hatch siblings so it will want constant company from other ducks, humans, dogs or whatever. It must be one confused and lonely little duckling. [​IMG]

    You cannot house train ducks, but if you are serious and committed to having a house duck, and dealing with years of changing daipers, providing the necessary water, etc indoors, putting up with the smell, then have a look for Nettie on this forum for ideas, daipers, and advice.

    If keeping it indoors forever is not a viable option (and if you have the space outdoors then I am sure this is where ducks would prefer to be), then you should keep it inside for a few more weeks, and follow Miss Lydia's and Adam's advice. You can set up a temporary pen with some bamboo poles and chicken wire, it is easy and cheap to do. It will only be suitable once the duckling is fully feathered and able to stand the cold weather.

    It will be able to stand up for itself a bit more when it is 12 weeks old, but it may never be accepted by the other ducks. Introduction should take place gradually and under supervision, keeping them separate but in view of each other first.
    They will have to establish a "pecking order" and it may not end up with a happy ending. If it turns out to be a girl, then PJ is more likely to accept her when she is at point of lay, say 20 weeks plus as he will see her as a potential mate, and he will be more than capable of keeping 2 ladies busy. If it is a drake, then you would be advised to rehome it as PJ will only view it as a rival. I would want to be sure of the sex before I made this decision.

    Another option would be to set up another pen and get some siblings for this duckling, but that is going to raise integration issues depending on how many you get of either sex, further pen building, and it sounds as though you never intended to increase your flock by that much.

    Shame that "for grins" can have ill-thought out consequences. I'm sure you will figure out what is best for the duckling in the long term. Great that you are seeking advice from an excellent forum. Good luck.[​IMG]
     
  5. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    The advise you gave is so good ejctm, much more in depth. I hope they read it.
     
  6. ejctm

    ejctm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Lydia, me too.

    Pipit - do give us an update with what you decide to do and how it all turns out. Best of luck.[​IMG]
     
  7. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    EJCTM, congratulations for good logical, common sense knowledge that you have provided in regard to this situation. There should be more advice of this nature and more attention paid to that which is common sense and logical. Animal husbandry is not difficult if you leave all of the misinformation and emotion out of it.
     
  8. pipit

    pipit Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 19, 2007
    Brooksville, FL
    Thanks for all the great advice. I had placed 3 duck eggs under the hen. The other two died before they were fully developed. I had hoped to get at least two ducklings. The best laid plans of mice and men...
    I'm pretty sure it's a drake now. The bill is getting lighter instead of darker and the feathers that are coming in are darker.

    It was warm today, so I took it out to our pond to let it swim a bit. After the initial panic, it had a blast. I have a 5 inch deep container in the brooder for it to splash in. I also have plush birds in there for it to cuddle with, which it does.

    PJ is very aggressive with everyone. He's been infatuated with our only bantam hen and goes after her all the time. Henry, our rooster, has gotten into a scrap or two with PJ, but PJ seems to have the upper hand. Henry is getting old and, I noticed from the chicken eggs that never developed under our broody hen, that he's most likely shooting blanks now. He's getting near 4 years old.

    So, I suppose when the duckling is fully feathered, I'll need to supervise it outside and maybe bring it in for the night for a while. If PJ continues to fight with it, I'll just have to re-home it.
     
  9. AdamD77

    AdamD77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Things never go the way you plan do they [​IMG]

    Oh well, keep an eye on the feathers coming through and also listen for voice changes, it's pretty hard to tell at 3 weeks [​IMG]
     
  10. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can almost never integrate very young ducks with adults. It's nothing in particular about your ducks--it's just the way it is. If your baby is indeed a drake, you will probably have to re-home him just because you will have problems if you have more than one drake in a small flock. However, if it's a girl, you can probably add her to the flock eventually when she's fully grown. Most flocks will eventually integrate a new ADULT duck if you give them time and the right conditions.

    I wouldn't worry TOO much about the imprinting. It's actually pretty difficult, in my understanding, to cause a duck to fully imprint on humans (or dogs or whatever). You have to be with the duck 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and interact with it on an almost constant basis, especially including letting it follow you around. Just the way a mother duck would be. Your duck is probably not imprinted, but probably IS lonely and confused.

    If you can find someone with another similarly aged duckling (within two weeks either direction is usually good), it would be great to raise them together for the companionship. Otherwise, give the little guy a cuddly toy to nestle under, and just keep him/her safe until he/she is old enough to either rehome or integrate at around 12 months (or re-home as soon as you can find someone knowledgeable and experienced who wants to raise a lone duckling or has other ducklings to raise yours with).
     

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