Ducklings will be here in two weeks? How do I take care of them?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by mrbstephens, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. mrbstephens

    mrbstephens Chillin' With My Peeps

    I found someone local to sell me 1 buff, 1 khaki campbell, and 1 rouen......all females and they will be ready for pick up on the 14th! So, how should I prepare for them and how do I take care of them once they are here?
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    If you can find a copy of Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks, or a copy of The Ultimate Pet Duck Guidebook, that will help you get set up and take care of them.

    Meanwhile, they'll need a brooder that can be kept at 90F if they are less than a week old, dropping 5 degrees more or less a week until they're about ten weeks old. If you've raised chicks you already know to protect them from drafts, other animals, feet, falling, and other dangers. Ducklings can get into all kinds of trouble, wedging themselves between things, eating things they ought not, and more.

    Ducklings need water 24/7 until they're at least a couple of months old. This gets quite interesting, because they are not physically equipped to be neat. They splash. More than you may imagine right now. They don't mean any harm, they just love water and have bills that dribble.

    So figure out how you are going to keep the brooder somewhat dry, because paradoxically, these wet splashy ducks can get very sick if they are in a damp environment all the time. Try a search of the forum for terms like duckling water, or brooder water. We have had some great discussions, and there are many good setups. I used a splash catcher.

    Ducklings need to be able to dip their little heads all the way in some water deep enough for that. They need that water to be available either all the time, or at least several times a day. This is needed to keep their eyes and sinuses and ears clean, or they can get nasty infections.

    It is okay for them to swim a bit, even at a few days old, if the water is warm (90F the first week, etc.), it's only about up to the tops of their legs, they are watched constantly and taken out when they seem tired or the water cools off, which for us was about five to ten minutes. They need to be returned to a dry, clean brooder, and if they're not preening right away, dry them with a dry washcloth.

    They need crumbles to eat at first, I added a tiny sprinkling of chick grit to their food once a day and began giving them very finely chopped lettuce when they were a week old. Ducks need three times the niacin chicks do, so if you are using chick starter, add niacin to the ducklings' water or sprinkle brewer's yeast on their food.

    They'll wet their food, so it must be replaced once a day once it's wet.

    They grow like nothing else I have ever raised. It seemed that overnight, their legs would grow a half an inch. Then their bodies would elongate . . . amazing.

    They need to have water with their food always. They could choke if they don't have water. If things get messy in the brooder, do not even think about removing food or water until they are a couple of months old (and then for only about 8 to 10 hours). Figure out some other way to manage. Hungry ducklings will gorge themselves then toss the food back up, and be quite anxious and not as healthy.

    There is a list of duck and duckling treats as a sticky on the forum.

    At a few weeks old, they may decide they are terrified of you. It is a stage many ducklings go through and requires patience and treats.

    I used a chick waterer and feeder for my ducklings, with a head washer setup and baths at least every other day. Carrying fifteen ducklings to the tub was a blast!

    If you give regular food to a duckling be sure you have given it some grit first.

    I know I am missing some things - these are just the things that come to mind.

    Oh, and they are so much fun! And can really become people-lovers if they are handled well.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  3. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    How do you plan to care for them? (free range or cooped or both)

    What age will they be? (hatchlings, pre-adult that are not laying, adults that are laying)

    What is your poultry keeping experience? (chickens, guinea, turkey, geese, swans, emu...)

    What area of the country are you in? (Southwest, South east, Northeast, Northwest, Central, mountains...whatever)

    Ducks are not -that- much different than chickens. They will need non-medicated start-&-grow until they lay eggs, they are omnivores (like chickens) but prefer veg. They will enjoy more water then chickens I have a wading pool for mine some people make a pond. Some ducks don't care for water as much.

    Some people grow duck weed to give to the ducks.

    If you plan on free ranging them know that everything that will eat chickens will also eat ducks, expect losses.

    If they will be cooped plan on cleaning it just short of twice as often as the same number of chickens - ducks are messier.
  4. mrbstephens

    mrbstephens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you so much for this information!
  5. mrbstephens

    mrbstephens Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have 10 chickens raised from day old. I live on Long Island New York. They will not free-range. We have numerous predators here including raccoons, fox, hawks, owls and dogs. So, they'll be in a pen 24/7 and locked up for the night in their house just like I do with the chickens. The ducklings will also be day old. Thanks so much!
  6. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    Great, they are just like chickens but messier. The girls are loud instead of the boys but no louder then hens (just more frequent).

    Get them unmedicated start-&-grow till they lay eggs.

    there are other feeding options too- they need the same broody setup as the chicks. (safe water, free food, heat)

    Watch out for water logging chicks if you let them swim at all they are not waterproof till fully feathers and using the oil gland.
  7. kara_leigh

    kara_leigh Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2011
    Bradleyville, MO
    I've had my ducklings for a little over a week now. I got the idea from someone on here to use disposable adult incontinence pads as their bedding. I got a giant pack of 120 of them at Sams for $23. They are super easy to change and absorb any water they spill or dribble (which is a TON!!! OMG they are SO messy!!). My brooder is an xl wire dog crate that we keep in our living room. It takes 3 pads to cover the bottom, and I tape them together. I change them once or twice a day, depending on if they got to go outside (less time for them to make a mess in it) and how messy they have been.

    I also got the idea to use a gladware container (or some type of container with a lid) and I cut a hole in the lid just big enough for their heads to fit through. It allows them to dunk their heads and drink, but they can't get in their water and swim at all. It has worked wonderfully so far! I have had to increase the size of the hole already b/c my biggest duck has grown so much.

    I give them two baths a day, starting from the day after I got them when my youngest ones were 4 days old. The water is deep enough for the biggest one (5wks) to stand, but the youngest ones can't touch the bottom and they do just fine. They swim really well, a lot better than I was lead to believe. I let them stay in there until I notice they aren't really diving or cleaning themselves anymore. Some days they stay in longer than others.

    Good luck, and have fun!
  8. mrbstephens

    mrbstephens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Can I get brewer's yeast from the health food store? I forgot to pick up the niacin when I was at the feed store today. :/
  9. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Yes, brewer's yeast has been sold at most if not all the health food stores I have visited.

    I am told you can use the niacin capsules that the pharmacies and some grocery stores sell. Someone on the forum warned against getting a certain kind of special niacin pill . . . rats, I wish I could remember. But just plain old niacin supplements, 100 mg to 150 mg per gallon of water is what Storey's Guide recommends.

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