First time Ducker, multiple "duck 101" questions


In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 23, 2013
So I've been reading around online, and couple days ago signed on here because my turkey got sick. my chicken and ducks have been fine so far. They are all 3 weeks old.

the 2 ducks we got are Pekin as far as we know. so my questions:

1) how long before they're "fullsize"???

2) how long before they get their feathers and stop having "fur"??? (what is that "fur" called)

3) one of them makes more "quack" like noises, while the other one makes more "peep" like noises. does that mean anything???

4) They don't seem to really come out of the garage much unless I'm outside with them and sitting outside with them. Yesterday it was in the high30's, low40's and raining/sleeting and when I went to check on them, they were sitting next to the garage under the trailer, but close enough to the edge that they were getting rained on. They didn't seem to mind or want to follow me in the garage for over an hour. Then they finally went back inside on their own. Today it's sunny and mid-high 40's, and they spend about an hour in the yard playing in the grass while I sat outside with them, but as soon as I went back in the house, they disapeared back into the garage. Why won't they play/sit outside???

5) I don't see alot of racoons round here anymore after having taken out 15 racoons in my garden shed in 1 week last summer. since then I haven't seen a single trace of a racoon, and only 1 possum. My idea is that all my birds will free-range during the day, and was wondering if the ducks/geese could stay out by themselves, or if they have to be locked up at night. I mean there are ducks and geese out in the wild every night and they seem to survive somehow right??? or which ingredient am I missing for them to stay free-range 24/7???

6) do ducks/cats generally get along??? I was a little worried since we have 6 barn cats as pets that sleep out in the garden shed, but they seem to have taken to the ducks quite well. they watch them, lay down near them, and the ducks actually let one of the cats brush up on them today.

7) how long before ducks start laying eggs???

8) hold heavy do peking ducks get???

9) do peking ducks fly regularly, or do they mostly just walk everywhere???

10) what signs can I look for at what ages to be able to tell what sex they are???

at 3 weeks old they already grew so much that I had to kick them out. They are right now temporarily staying in my garage with the door closed at night so they don't get eaten. I have 2 heat lamps in the garage for them, but whenever I check on them, or try to peak through the window at night, they are never anywhere near the lamps. Last couple nights it was in the 30's and I was a little worried about them, but figured that between being completely out of the wind, and having 2 heat lamps if they want, that they should be fine. well both times that I looked through the window, they were more than 8 feet away from the lamps. Do they generally prefer colder temperatures, or why do my ducks seem to avoid the heat lamps??? Come to think of it, they have avoided the heat lamps since we first brought them home. the more space I gave them, the more they stayed away from the heat lamps. When they were less than a week old, I put them in a 6 foot long cage that I build, and they stayed the full 6 feet away from the heat lamps except right after they played in their water.

Thanks in advance for all the help/answers.
Welcome! the pekin ducks will be "full size" at about 12 weeks, but fully feathered about 8 weeks or so..the fuzzy stuff is down. Now, in ducks as they grow normally the females have a very loud quack and the males have a softer..almost, mumble, whisper like quack, but 3 weeks is pretty young for that to really be happening..they don't usually stop peeping and start quacking till 4 to 6 weeks..what that sounds like is that one of the ducklings is starting to get their voice..their quack and the other hasn't yet.

I'm not sure why they won't play outside, other than maybe it's cold? My ducks LOVE to be face if they're in the pen and they see me then they know it's time to go out and they all race to the door of the pen to get out. I'd encourage them to be out as much as they can to forage, that's where they'll find bugs and such in the fact if your ground is a little frozen maybe sprinkle some meal worms around for them so they'll find them out there. Do they have access to water? They should have a pan or small pool of water maybe a couple inches deep since they're young. Ducks need water to preen properly. Just make sure they can get out because they'll drown otherwise.

Free Ranging with out a pen or pond is not advised. You may not see racoons and opossum but they're out there. My ducks free range 24/7, but i live on a lake so at night they swim to the floating dock in the middle , or they just sleep out on the lake away from the edge. If you don't have a pond, or lake where they can do that then I'd put them in a pen, and make sure they don't sleep next to the edge because the racoons will rip them through the fence (i've had it happen) The Ducks and geese that live in the wild can fly..Pekin ducks will never fly and on land they aren't very quick and can't defend themselves against cats, dogs, racoons, opossums or what ever else might get them. Also geese and ducks in the wild do get eaten, you just don't see it.

Pekins won't start laying in the first year usually, by year 2 they will

Pekins get about 5 to 7 pounds depending on male or female..they can live about 12 years if a predator doesn't get them.

Besides the quack..when they are fully feathered after a few months the male will develope what's called a drake feather..its a single feather on his tail feathers that curls up..the females won't have this..and again..pekin ducks will never fly..they're too heavy.

As far as the heat 3 weeks, they don't need the heat lamps anymore...if its cold in the garage you can leave them on to warm it up some, but they don't need it like when they're tiny and need the brooder to be warm. They will be starting to get their feathers'll notice first the tail looks raggedy..and like little pieces of straw sticking out..and then their wings and chest/ tummy feathers..and then it seems like it happens when you blink you'll realize..wait..they aren't yellow anymore..when did that happen? lol i hope this answered most of your questions. Have fun:)

The peepers are males and the quackers are females. Don't keep too many males; you have been warned. Make piles of hay if you want clean poo-free eggs.
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Thanks for the replies.

I have been tempted (mind you it's only been 3 days since I put them out in the garage) to close the garage door, so they would be forced to stay outside, but I also didn't want to close them out to much and have them wander off. I thought I should let them make sure they establish this little piece of land as theirs and know this is where their food is. However I did "herd" them out of the garage today and out towards the vegetable garden and play garden area, and they ended up checking out our old field stone garden shed and decided to go in there and take over the cats blanket and camp in there. they have been in there since then. LOL so total since I opened the garage door this morning around 8am, they have only been outside in the grass for a little over 1 hour and that was when I was sitting out there with them. It is cold here (wish I was in Florida. don't think we've had a single day above 50's this year yet), right now it's actually right about 49 degrees here. I wasn't sure if it was because of the cold, or because they for some reason just don't want to go play without me around. like I'm their guardian or something.

the ground isn't frozen anymore. the ground has actually warmed up enough already that I've been teaching my 4 year old boy how to flip over rocks and pieces of wood to find worms and other bugs to feed the chickens. He's been having a blast going "hunting" for the chickens. Also the ducks don't seem to be overly interested in bugs. Every time I threw meal worms, wax worms or other stuff in the cage when they were with the chickens, they never showed any interest except for one time when I had about 20 or so LARGE worms that we dug out of the garden, and 1 of the ducks came over and snorted the whole pile up before the chicken could even figure out what to do with them. I even dug up a couple worms for them today and tossed them right in front of them in the grass today and they wanted nothing to do with them. They did however eat some grass and a small piece of lettuce. Maybe I have dumb ducks, or maybe they're just slow learners??? should I maybe reduce their feed a little, so they'll get hungry and have to forage a little???

They do have water. there is a 1 chicken water feeder in the garage, Another bowl of water in the yard between the garage and the garden shed, and 2 bowls of water in the garden shed. I also gave them a small cat litter pan full of water to "swim" in, but the ducks are already so big that they don't even fit in there together, so they have to take turns splashing in it. I will be buying them one of those kids swimming pools in the near future, and have been starting to plan a pond that I want to start building either this summer or next summer.

I am aware that birds do get eaten in the wild (once saw some kind of large bird getting snatched up by a alligator back when I lived near Ft Stewart Georgia. that was an awesome display of nature), but just figured that by giving them free-range they would learn to run/fly away or something. I expected there to be some losses between my chicken, ducks, geese or turkey (hopefully the chicken as I have lots of them. LOL), but that the birds would learn to survive. and I figured that between my 6 cats and me hunting any destructive critters on my land I would hopefully keep it somewhat to a minimum. you don't seem to think they have any chance of learning and becoming stronger??? I was sort of thinking like "survival of the fittest" and "natural selection". like our barn cats for example. we kept them in the house for a few weeks to make sure they knew we were their home, and then literally just chucked them outside and said: "good luck". we feed them a little twice a day, and give them water. other than that they're on their own. well........we had we have 6, and over the last year they have definitely become "the strong", as there have been several times that I had to go out and see what all the screaming was about just to see all 6 of my cats surrounding or cornering a stray cat, raccoon or possum. I would like my birds to be the same way so I end up with a flock of "raptors". LOL does anybody have any experience similar to that with their birds, or do they not really become strong like that??? I also don't want to end up senselessly killing all my birds (which is why my 2 ducks are currently allowed to poop all over my garage. so you can see I'm not completely heartless. LOL)

no eggs for 1 year??? bummer......was looking forward to my first goose egg omelet. LOL

Thanks for all the info so far. And I'll definitely keep an ear out for that "quackers and peepers" difference and the tail feather.

any other advice, suggestions for my "crash course", other than to keep reading the forum and various pages on here??? :)

I'll try to post a couple pics of them here in a bit.
This was shortly after we got them about 3 weeks ago

Now 3 weeks later, here they are just sitting in my garage. They don't seem to do much else.

Here they are drinking the cats water after I showed the ducks the garden shed

Here they are discovering the bowl I put between the garage and the garden shed for them, hoping it would help keep them out of the garage for a bit

And playing in their "swimming pool" (hey it's all I had laying around at the moment. LOL)

And hanging out with the cats

Now mind you, all these "outdoor" pictures ONLY happen when I'm outside WITH the ducks. If I go in the house and leave them alone, they run back to the garage, or in the garden shed.
They lay eggs at about 4.5 months old. Mine has religiously laid an egg every day since that time except for a day here and there. That's very weird that they won't really eat treats. I'm thinking they are probably a Lil cold because they are only 3 weeks old. However when you do have them out try to get them to follow you. Try quacking or waddling that may help (make sure your neighbors don't see you do this lol jk) it seems a little crazy but it may work. I'm thinking they arent feeling safe or secure that's why they won't explore. I'd say on a nice day show them the yard. Even if you have to herd them around. Herd them to a spot then quite walking and they will explore this new area. It might help. Or if possible cage them in an area and make sure they can see around them. They'll explore the area and then explore what they see when they are let out of the cage. That worked well for me. I was mostly seperating the babies from the adults but still it might work. Good luck!
Now that I see the pics, this all could be that they have bonded with you and although there is 2 of them maybe they still have a strong bond towards you. Which would make sense you outside equals them outside. Maybe adding another friend would help this but its not necessary they will learn. Ducks are creatures of habit and stick strongly to that so they could still be getting used to things.
now that you mention "bonding" with me. The last 3 weeks that they were in the cage, they did not like it when I tried to handle them, and every time I would carry them to and from their "bath time", they would quack their heads off. and if I carried them separately instead of together against my chest, then they would scream bloody murder until I brought them back together. so anytime I tried to handle them, they would run all over the cage trying to get away from me. that they're outside, if I sit down somewhere and stay there for a while, they'll come running over to me and start nibbling on my pants or my hoodie, and sit down right next to me. and today for the FIRST TIME, one of them actually let me pet it. it was only for about 20 seconds, but that's the most contact I've been able to have with them without actually having to physically hold them in place. so for some reason they actually have become more tame since I kicked them out into the garage. LOL Think they're trying to schmooze their way back in the house??? LOL

And like you suggested, that's been the only way for me to get them to stay out of the garage or the garden shed. I start by sitting a little ways outside of the garage. then after a while they come outside to greet me. then I get up and walk to the grass and sit down again while calling them (not quacking or using duck calls.........hey.....that's an calls......maybe I need to make a trip to gander mountain or cabelas. LOL. anyways, I just say "here ducky ducky ducky. I already feel dumb enough just like that. LOL good thing my neighbors live far enough away that they can't hear me unless i'm yelling. LOL). Then after they follow me to that spot and we sit there for a bit, then I'll keep moving through the yard stopping every so often, sitting down and waiting for them to come running from the last spot to my new spot.

I guess I just figured that now that they're not "caged up" anymore, that they would be all over the place. But they seem to be doing almost the exact opposite and actually choosing to confine themselves. weird birds.
oh. can you sleep in with ducks, or do you have to let them out "bright and early in the morning"???

I haven't figured out why yet, but everybody says that for chicken you have to get up at the "crack of dawn" to let them out. I don't really understand that. why can't they wait until I feel like getting up like my cats do???

anyways, so ducks.....sleep in, or go sleep walking???

since I put them out in the garage 3 days ago, I have been setting my alarm to get up at 5am to go let them out......but by the time I actually wake up and manage to get dressed enough to go open the garage door it's been closer to 7-8am. well the first day I went out in my PJ's, opened the garage door and then fell back asleep for another 2 hours.

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