Ducklings ate shavings

Amiga

Overrun with Runners
11 Years
Jan 3, 2010
23,213
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I am hoping to get some input on how old ducklings are when they realize that shavings are bedding, not food. A friend of a friend poo-pooed my use of old towels for bedding for the first few weeks. Pine shavings are much preferable for that person.

I had read that very young ducklings may eat pine shavings and that can hurt them. But here was a purported duck expert saying that is not so. I decided to try a closely monitored experiment.

Today I set up an indoor exercise area a few feet long by a few feet wide, and put down about an inch of shavings, just to see what would happen. Right away, most of the ducklings started eating the shavings. They were quickly removed from the area, the shavings collected, and an old sheet put down for their outing. Water was available, and everybody dabbled in that for a bit, with a few pieces of pine shaving coming out in the water (I grabbed the shavings and tossed them as they turned up). They weren't just tossing them around - they were swallowing them, or trying. Some pieces were too wide for their bills, so they gave up. Others were small enough to appear to go down the hatch.

The ducklings have plenty of food and water at all times. They are Indian runners.

They seem fine, and I doubt that one or two little slips of shavings will do any long term harm. But they were quickly removed from the shavings - I did not want to sit there and watch them fill up on the stuff.

Is this something that some birds do and others don't? Eventually the birds will be on shavings - certainly once they are grown and in their own shelter outdoors (the brooder is indoors). Is there a rule of thumb for how old they are when they get past the eating stage? Are there different grades of shavings, or just one?

hu.gif
 

redhen

Kiss My Grits...
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
May 19, 2008
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Western MA
Mine never did it..thank god..
I guess just keep them on the towels then until they get older...
also..ducks "mouth" alot of things..they like to test things out... thats normal...
but if they are actually swallowing them.. not good.
hmm.png
 

redhen

Kiss My Grits...
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
May 19, 2008
35,106
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Western MA
Also..i would try them on hay or straw first .... thats much harder for them to eat..and so i think they will get used to seeing it as bedding..not as food...
then..you can switch over to shavings slowly... maybe..
 

Sweetfolly

Songster
10 Years
Apr 17, 2009
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Kildare, Wisconsin
Quote:
My ducklings seem to have a hard time walking through straw during the first week - they have a tendency to get their little feet hung up on the straw and trip. I use straw as they get older, but in the brooder stage I use old towels. They're cheap (at the thrift store), you can hose them down, throw them in the wash with some bleach to disinfect them, and reuse them. The ducklings don't have any trouble walking on towels and they don't try to eat them, so that's what I use. It's just that washing them is a little more work than dumping shavings or straw into the compost - maybe that's why your friend-of-a-friend poo-pooed the use of towels, Amiga. It's not exactly efficient if you're raising a large number of ducklings. For me, with no more than 10 in the brooder at a time, towels work great!

I don't think any of my ducklings would try to eat pine shavings, but I don't like to risk anything. Besides, I don't have the time to make the hour-long trip to town to buy shavings every week - I live in the middle of nowhere (and have a small car that can't haul too much home at once), and ducklings go through a LOT of bedding!
 

redhen

Kiss My Grits...
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
May 19, 2008
35,106
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Western MA
Quote:
My ducklings seem to have a hard time walking through straw during the first week - they have a tendency to get their little feet hung up on the straw and trip. I use straw as they get older, but in the brooder stage I use old towels. They're cheap (at the thrift store), you can hose them down, throw them in the wash with some bleach to disinfect them, and reuse them. The ducklings don't have any trouble walking on towels and they don't try to eat them, so that's what I use. It's just that washing them is a little more work than dumping shavings or straw into the compost - maybe that's why your friend-of-a-friend poo-pooed the use of towels, Amiga. It's not exactly efficient if you're raising a large number of ducklings. For me, with no more than 10 in the brooder at a time, towels work great!

I don't think any of my ducklings would try to eat pine shavings, but I don't like to risk anything. Besides, I don't have the time to make the hour-long trip to town to buy shavings every week - I live in the middle of nowhere (and have a small car that can't haul too much home at once), and ducklings go through a LOT of bedding!

Thats true..they may not be able to walk on the hay....
yeah..stick with the towles or paper towels...or even newspaper??
 

Amiga

Overrun with Runners
11 Years
Jan 3, 2010
23,213
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Southern New England
Annarie,

Bless you, and redhen, too. I have 15 birds - really, not that much work. Yes, bedding gets changed 3 to 5 times a day, depending. But it just means shaking out a towel, rinsing it, hanging it to wait for a few more, popping them in the washer on "sanitize," with a little borax (bleach gives me asthma), and popping them into the dryer (in warmer weather I dry outside - but lately - not an option).

I find the same things Annarie finds - really pretty simple, and not that much work, even last night when I got home from a gig at 10:00 p.m.

Thanks!!
 

Duck_feeder

Drowning in feathers!
10 Years
Oct 22, 2009
519
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If you use newspaper, only use the nonshiny kind. That is nontoxic and other than the outside pages, it's sterile! The shiny surface paper used for coupons may contain toxic inks.

You can try putting large pieces of shavings that are way too large to swallow in their pen. Then they can play with it and learn that it's not food.
 

Amiga

Overrun with Runners
11 Years
Jan 3, 2010
23,213
2,820
551
Southern New England
Duck_feeder, that sounds like a good long-term solution, since we are not going to keep everyone on towels the rest of our lives. I cannot imagine . . . .
th.gif


Oh, the things we need to teach those youngsters!

Thanks!
 

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