Getting more ducklings - how much space is enough? And other Q's about M:F ratio, age differences an

TracyLovesDucks

Songster
5 Years
Mar 25, 2014
527
39
138
Northern Colorado
Hi Everyone,

I've posted these questions around the forum, but still no response. So I thought it would help to make a new post.

We have 4 runner ducklings (about 5-6 weeks old) and we really enjoy them. Two of them seem to be male (large with very dark masks growing in), one female (she's getting really good and quacking), and one little unknown. I think I've heard quacks coming out of this little one, so I'm betting female. Anyways, we'd like to get more females to get a better drake:duck ratio and get more eggs eventually. We are looking to add 3-5 more females and are planning on getting freshly hatched ones and brooding them until they can hold their own with the older ducks. I want to make sure we do it right, so that's why I'm coming to you!

So my questions for you are:

- How much space is enough (we have one 8'x8' barn for keeping them at night and when cold, and a 25'x30' free range yard for them)? Is this enough space for 7-9 ducks?

- What's the best way to integrate the new ducks with the older ducks? We plan to brood the new ones in the existing barn with the older ducks, but keep their brooder caged off and protected from the older ducks. The idea is to get them together and bonding with each other as soon as possible so they can become familiar, while still protecting the new babies.

- In the meantime before we get new ducks (not available from Metzer Farm until April 20-something), is the current drake:duck ratio ok (2 drakes, 2 ducks)? Like, when do they become sexually mature... will our little ducks be old enough in time to take on some of the mating load? I'm worried about our 2 older drakes over-mating our current littlest duck.

Hope this makes enough sense. Thank you!
 
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Amiga

Overrun with Runners
11 Years
Jan 3, 2010
23,222
2,837
551
Southern New England
Hi Everyone,

I've posted these questions around the forum, but still no response. So I thought it would help to make a new post.

We have 4 runner ducklings (about 5-6 weeks old) and we really enjoy them. Two of them seem to be male (large with very dark masks growing in), one female (she's getting really good and quacking), and one little unknown. I think I've heard quacks coming out of this little one, so I'm betting female. Anyways, we'd like to get more females to get a better drake:duck ratio and get more eggs eventually. We are looking to add 3-5 more females and are planning on getting freshly hatched ones and brooding them until they can hold their own with the older ducks. I want to make sure we do it right, so that's why I'm coming to you!

So my questions for you are:

- How much space is enough (we have one 8'x8' barn for keeping them at night and when cold, and a 25'x30' free range yard for them)? Is this enough space for 7-9 ducks?

- What's the best way to integrate the new ducks with the older ducks? We plan to brood the new ones in the existing barn with the older ducks, but keep their brooder caged off and protected from the older ducks. The idea is to get them together and bonding with each other as soon as possible so they can become familiar, while still protecting the new babies.

- In the meantime before we get new ducks (not available from Metzer Farm until April 20-something), is the current drake:duck ratio ok (2 drakes, 2 ducks)? Like, when do they become sexually mature... will our little ducks be old enough in time to take on some of the mating load? I'm worried about our 2 older drakes over-mating our current littlest duck.

Hope this makes enough sense. Thank you!
My apologies - I did not mean to miss these questions. sigh. But sometimes I do.

Okay. Yes, that sounds like enough room. Nine ducks, in an 8x8 barn is 64/9 is about 7 sf per duck, good for a night pen. This is based on my own experience with my nine runners (and now four buffs). The free range yard gives them over 80 sf each - very good and roomy.

Integrating - the new ducks need to be full sized when you start to let them be in the pen together. Supervise closely. Poking and chasing and sumo wrestling seem pretty normal and safe. Anything beyond that, break them up and try again another time. Give treats to everyone together so they associate good things. And be flexible. There can be some ornery ducks. Your plan sounds good.

The current ratio is iffy. It is entirely up to the ducks. Watch closely, and make no assumptions. You may want to separate them into boys and girls especially at night. Hormones can kick in suddenly, with disastrous effect.
 

Amiga

Overrun with Runners
11 Years
Jan 3, 2010
23,222
2,837
551
Southern New England
Thank you, Amiga! This is all very helpful!
In your experience, at what age do the hormones normally kick in?
With my runners, I think they were about 12 weeks old when they first started playing hop on top, and the first egg was at 16 weeks, 4 days. Over the next two months, the other ten runners got on board with the laying.
 

TracyLovesDucks

Songster
5 Years
Mar 25, 2014
527
39
138
Northern Colorado
So glad you shared that with me Amiga. I didn't know it happened at such a young age!

I just ordered 4 runner ducklings from Metzer Farms, shipping on April 28th! Two blue and two chocolate females!

I have been keeping a close eye on my four fawn and whites to make sure they are all playing nice and will be prepared to split up the females and males when the time comes. And when the newest ducklings are big enough to join, I plan on integrating them all.
 
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Amiga

Overrun with Runners
11 Years
Jan 3, 2010
23,222
2,837
551
Southern New England
Good plan.
thumbsup.gif
 

TracyLovesDucks

Songster
5 Years
Mar 25, 2014
527
39
138
Northern Colorado
I saw an early sign of mating this morning! As soon as they got in the pool, a male grabbed on to a female's neck with his bill. He wasn't quite sure what to do next, so held on to her for a little while. She was pretty patient with him, but he couldn't figure out the correct position, so just floated to the side of her, held on for a while and then let go. And so the quest begins for some good good lovin'.

As they figure it out, I'm hoping everything remains fairly peaceful!
 

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