Getting Ducklings Soon - Have A Few Questions

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by KyotiMoon95, Mar 20, 2015.

  1. KyotiMoon95

    KyotiMoon95 New Egg

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    Hello everyone! I've been a lurker here for quite some time, and have finally decided to make an account. We're planning on getting a few ducklings within the next couple of months, and have a few questions that I'm hoping you guys can answer.

    I live with my parents and my mother wants ducks, which I am completely, overly okay with. Who doesn't want ducks? I'll be the one setting everything up and taking care of them, so she's leaving almost everything up to my decision. I'm leaning very strongly toward Welsh Harlequins. From what I've read, Welsh Harlequins seem like they'll be a good match for what we're looking for. Calm ducks with good foraging and mothering abilities, and average egg layers. Also, they don't fly, which is a plus. How have any of you WH owners faired with yours? Anything breed specific I should keep in mind before getting them?

    I think if we go the hatchery route we'll be getting them from Metzer Farms. They're one of the only hatcheries I've found with a low minimum and where you can choose which sex you get. I had been looking into Murray McMurray hatchery, but they're only offering straight runs on their Welsh Harlequins. My mother would rather get sexed birds, instead of leaving it up to fate. Do any of you know of any hatcheries besides Metzer's with good reviews and the option of choosing the sex? Know of any breeders that sell sexed ducklings?

    Now, onto the actual raising of the ducklings. I've recently gotten Storey's Guide To Raising Ducks, but haven't made it through the whole book yet. I have a large plastic tote (about the size of a bathtub) that I had planned on keeping the ducklings in. Could I use shredded paper as bedding or just stick with straw from the local ag store?

    I already have a heat lamp and thermometer, so that's taken care of. Can I use a small auto-filling cat feeder for the ducklings? It's the kind with the container upside-down on the base. Feed will either be gotten from tractor Supply or our local ag store. For water I was just going to use milk jugs with head holes cut out.

    Once they get bigger, I'll probably free range them during the day, then pen them at night. We have a dog run that's not in use that I was thinking of using. The only thing I would have to do is create a roof of some sort to keep out any predators. There's a pretty good size pack of coyotes that run in the woods behind the field across the road from us during the summer, mostly at night. Last year there was a pair of foxes that decided they were going to sneak in at night and eat some of the cottontails in our yard, too. Then there's a pair of bald eagles that makes their appearance a few times a month, not to mention all the hawks. Oh boy, now I might be rethinking the whole free ranging thing. Though about a mile down the road from us there's a small farm that leaves their Pekins run around during the day. I don't think they've had any problems with predators. Can and how hard is it to train ducks to stay in their own yard?

    We have an old kiddy pool I was planning on using for them until I can build them a proper pond. During the winter, can they be kept from the pond as long as they have access to water that is deep enough for them to stick their heads in?

    I think that might be all for now. Thank you in advance to anyone who has any answers or advice, and sorry for the long post.
     
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Good plan, overall, I think you are underestimating the predators, and I think that part of you knows that.

    Regarding converting the pen - I am thinking it's chain link, right? Any gap of more than half an inch can be used by some predators, like raccoons, to reach in and pull the duck out piece by piece.

    So the bottom three feet of the pen needs to have half inch metal hardware cloth over it, and check the bottom of the pen and the gap between the door and the pen is big enough on many of the pens I have seen for something to reach in.

    For the pond, it needs to be easily emptied, cleaned and refilled. There are some fabulous examples of this here in the archives.

    If you want something deeper and larger than a kiddie pool, consider a livestock tank with fittings so that you can empty, rinse and refill. Ducks enrich their swimming water quite a bit, and in hot weather, that's a recipe for botulism if there is no through-flow of water.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
  3. Honey Maid

    Honey Maid Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'll pipe in about bedding for the ducklings. I found a great idea here on BYC, can't remember from who, or I'd give them credit. Use old bath towels for bedding. I would put down 2 towels in the bottom of the brooder, and, depending on how bad they got, would change them once, sometimes twice a day. Easy enough to shake off the duckling poop and wash them. We have a ton of old bath towels, so it was no problem. I'd shake them out and do a load every other day, leave them outside before you wash them though, they get stinky. I have 10 ducklings, if you have less you may not need to change the towels as often. I've 5 WH's and 5 KC's. The Khaki's are more curious and will check out my shoe laces, and peck at my shoes, nibble my fingers, the WH's are more, sit back and watch what's going on. Pretty cool to watch them. they are 18 days old today, wow time flies, and they are getting huge, amazing how fast they grow.
     
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  4. Amykins

    Amykins Overrun With Chickens

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    ^ X2! I went to goodwill and found a whole truckload of super cheap, disposable washcloths and hand towels, they work wonders! I also use rubber mats for easier cleaning, like the ones they sell to put under dog bowls? I flip 'em upside down to expose the smooth side (poop gets caught in the textured topside) and then when somebody poops I just wipe it up, and it's still a no-slip surface. Once Wobbles didn't need the warmth of the towels, I swapped to the rubber mats and I still use 'em in his sleeping crate!
     
  5. KyotiMoon95

    KyotiMoon95 New Egg

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    Amiga, thanks for the reply.

    You're right about the predators being a bigger problem than I made them out to be. I am aware of it, though thank you for pointing it out.

    Regarding the dog run: It is chain link, but there were some modifications done to it while it was still being used by our dogs. We had a problem with raccoons stealing the dog's food so we had reinforced it with a double layer of wire mesh, if mesh is the right word. The gap around the door also has wire mesh that fastens over it. There is also a partition underground that was used to prevent the dogs from digging out, which I'm assuming would also keep anything from digging in. The top is covered with a metal frame and chain link, I was just thinking about adding a solid roof to part of it.

    I was actually thinking of making a filtration system for their pond so I didn't have to empty it as often. I had found one, maybe it was on here, that used a pool pump and various other things.

    When there's no snow on the ground, there's usually at least one person outside. The ducks would go in their pen at night and when we went away. So far, nothing has come into the yard while we're out there other than the deer, rabbits, and sometimes a random flock of wild turkey. The turkey tend to stay in the field across the road though.

    Honey Maid, thanks for the suggestion. I might have to try that to see if it works out instead. We were thinking maybe 6 ducks, though it's still up for debate. They do grow fast, don't they?

    Amykins, that sounds like a good idea, too. Anything that makes cleanup easier, right?
     
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I have found that predators I have not seen much of before showed up when the ducks arrived. We even have hawks scoping them out from time to time.

    Make sure the pen is on a slight slope - maybe 2%. That way, water runs out of the pen. I have a nice mulch-compost base in the Day Pen - I add dry leaves, chopped straw, the occasional little bit of sawdust, and the ducks add nitrogen (manure). We take turns fluffing it up, and it smells fine, attracts worms, absorbs water. Right under the swim pans is a mix of smooth pea gravel and sand. Oak leaves seem to reduce any odor that starts there.

    Wet, airless means more smelly. The things that break down manure are in two main groups - with air and without. The without-air group make the whiffy stuff. So anything you do to keep it aerated - like adding chopped straw - will improve the air quality.

    I better turn in. I'm getting all biochemical, here. [​IMG]
     
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  7. Amykins

    Amykins Overrun With Chickens

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    Blech, biochem - the bane of my existence back in college. [​IMG] As boring as art history, and somehow just as vital to pass in order to graduate! (seriously, why is art history mandatory for so many majors?)

    As for you Kyoti, I only have one request: Upload as many pics of your cute little fluffbutts as possible! <3
     
  8. KyotiMoon95

    KyotiMoon95 New Egg

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    Thanks for the replies and suggestions everyone!

    We probably won't be getting them until April or May, but I'll be sure to post their pictures once they arrive.
     

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