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Feeding observations and age questions about my Pekin girls

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by RachG75, Jul 7, 2016.

  1. RachG75

    RachG75 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 5, 2016
    Central Illinois
    Why, when I bring TWO dishes of salad to my ducks, Opal and Pearl, do they insist on eating out of the same bowl and then the other. I've been bringing two because I want to see how much Pearl is eating.

    ALSO, Why the heck won't they forage when I'm not outside with them??? They just hide. I never see them come out except when I show up and then they run out and start chowing like they are starving.

    Pearl won't eat peas, corn, broccoli, quartered grapes or pretty much anything except crumble, what she forages, kale, romaine and occasional blueberries. It seems like she always hangs back and lets Opal eat first.

    Neither of them will eat oats or oatmeal?! Or spaghetti/pasta? I keep reading that everyone's ducks seem to love those. Do I have really picky ducks? How can I tell if Pearl is underweight for her size? What's interesting is she has ALWAYS been the bigger of the two. She weighed a half pound more when I took them to the vet a month ago. (And, FYI, if you ever have to give your ducks antibiotics, slipping the pill in a blueberry works like a charm.)

    Last, I picked up my girls at a farmer's market from a lady who purchased them from a farm sale. She didn't know when they were hatched. I've been guessing at their age and saying they were hatched around mid April. Their feathers were coming in around May 24th - June 10th. Now I see they are losing and regrowing feathers again. What age do Pekin ducks do this?

    My girls are on instagram as opal_and_pearl if anyone is interested.

    Sorry, Lots of questions! You all have been an amazing help to me! I'll underline questions.

    (Here's my good eater, Opal, begging for food while I drink my morning coffee!)
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Welshies

    Welshies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    Okay... I will try to address this in order.
    Flock Dynamics
    Because ducks have a strong flocking instinct, they want to eat out of the same bowl all at once. Also, they are concerned with what the other has, too, and instead of running back and forth, they go easy- one first, two second.
    Foraging
    They're probably really nervous. Did they imprint on you? If so, you need to spend less time with them, because this bond is super strong. I suggest keeping watch on them (out of sight) while they are locked outside for a day or so. This "tough love" will get jem foraging in no time!
    Eating Habits
    A lot of ducks aren't picky, they just are uncertain. My ducks dove into oats. Yours may need encouragement. Mix oats in with their feed- they're probably not sure if they can eat oats. If they've tried them, and don't chase for the treat again, you can assume they dislike it.
    Healthy Weights
    It sounds like you have a dominant and suboordinate duck which is VERY common. No worries. Make sure they start foraging on their own, and also, make sure they have adequate feeder space (I like 4-8 inches of feeder space per bird, but this is roomy). They will take care of the rest. Two birds aren't going to result in one starving bird. Twenty birds? Yes, probably. Two? Heck no! If you're still worried, pick her up. You should be able to feel the center ridge in her breast bone (basically a duck sternum), but the breast bone should feel fleshy (not as fleshy as a chicken, but it should not be rock solid). An unadequately fed bird will appear listless, loud, lethargic, plucked, dull feathers, dirty, or nervously darting in for food.
    Molting
    They were born around early to mid April, correct. At 6-8 weeks (for Pekins, since they grow so fast) they have their first molting. Then, they go through the eclipse phase (adult plumage comes in) and molt again at 12-18 weeks. The drake sex feather will come in at 16-28 weeks. After they are done molting and their abdomens drop, they are ready to start laying.
     
  3. RachG75

    RachG75 Chillin' With My Peeps

    138
    11
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    Jun 5, 2016
    Central Illinois
    Thank you so much for all that great info. Regarding imprinting...if they were hatched early- to mid-April, and I got them on May 13th, could they still have imprinted on me? I doubt it, but I'm new to this. Although...They totally follow me around.

    They already are locked outside everyday. We have a few acres, a pond and a lake. They've only gone in the lake twice, and I had to go in first! Lol. I lock them up at Dusk. They hide under my deck whenever I'm not out. As soon as I go in the door, they run under the deck again. Even if I just go around the corner of the house, they run under the deck. Once, when it was raining I did see them swimming in their pool and leaning over the side foraging on their own. I guess the wet salad everywhere was too hard to resist.

    I've never felt a live chicken breast bone, but her's does feel hard to me. She doesn't seem listless and her feathers are perfect. She has always been the more shy of the two; I don't think her behavior has changed. Maybe a I don't see her eat as much because she's more wary about me and prefers to keep her eye on me instead of eating when I'm around? The other will climb on my lap and lay down if I'm sitting on the ground.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2016
  4. Welshies

    Welshies Chillin' With My Peeps

    867
    74
    116
    May 8, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    Thank you so much for all that great info. Regarding imprinting...if they were hatched early- to mid-April, and I got them on May 13th, could they still have imprinted on me? I doubt it, but I'm new to this. Although...They totally follow me around.

    They already are locked outside everyday. We have a few acres, a pond and a lake. They've only gone in the lake twice, and I had to go in first! Lol. I lock them up at Dusk. They hide under my deck whenever I'm not out. As soon as I go in the door, they run under the deck again. Even if I just go around the corner of the house, they run under the deck. Once, when it was raining I did see them swimming in their pool and leaning over the side foraging on their own. I guess the wet salad everywhere was too hard to resist.

    I've never felt a live chicken breast bone, but her's does feel hard to me. She doesn't seem listless and her feathers are perfect. She has always been the more shy of the two; I don't think her behavior has changed. Maybe a I don't see her eat as much because she's more wary about me and prefers to keep her eye on me instead of eating when I'm around? The other will climb on my lap and lay down if I'm sitting on the ground.[/quote
    Well, if they follow you they are very tame, but likely not imprinted. Imprinting happens in the first 24-48 hours, and in EXTREMELY rare cases (when one duckling is isolated) a week after (but even then in my imprint to an object).
    If she seems healthy and is active, I wouldn't worry. You can also feel the dominant bird. If the dominant one is getting almost all of the food, you will feel her as very fleshy, and you can't feel the breast bone (the center part). However, ducks are usually really good at sharing food.
     

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