Growing up duckling questions

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by baccalynnwv, Jul 6, 2016.

  1. baccalynnwv

    baccalynnwv Just Hatched

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    Jun 21, 2016
    West Virginia
    We adopted these 3 ducks 6/17/16. They looked like this. (some of you may have seen my previous thread).
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    Now they look like this:

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    I would like some guesses as to how old they are. From other posts we think they may be a mallard hybrid. Unsure if they are domesticated or wild, but with how friendly they initially were, I think some jerk farmer set them loose.

    Just this week I am really noticing feathers on their tails and maybe some starting on their backs. Their backs seem to have a little bit of a pattern to them now instead of all the cute fuz. But I really have no clue what I'm talking about.

    I need advice.

    1. How old they might be?

    2. When do I switch feed from starter feed for ducklings.

    3. When should I encourage time outdoors without being in a pen? They walk around together in the house and are easy to catch but I'm nervous about catching them outside if they are all together. They are fast! They will follow us and come up to us when THEY want attention. But depending on what they want, they may not let me catch them. I don't know. Lol. They kind of have the same attitudes as cats. They spend a lot of time outdoors in a pen with shelter right now. Eventually I'd like to let them run free around the house and ponds.

    4. When they get older, I really do not want any more. Not yet anyway. Do I just steal their eggs? Would that be detrimental to their emotions? I'm praying they are all boys! Haha

    5. Any links for good, easy to build, small, duck houses.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. ralph a

    ralph a Out Of The Brooder

    I would guess about four weeks. As for the starter four to six weeks some say longer. I have feed starter for up to twelve week and had not trouble. I believe they are wild mallard and if they are they will fly when they get all there feathers. They may not come back when they do But some will stay. As for boys or girls its any ones guess. Taking away the eggs will be okay it done all the time.
     
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  3. HannahDuckLover

    HannahDuckLover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 10, 2015
    By the jungle
    1. How old they might be?

    About a month old, I think.

    2. When do I switch feed from starter feed for ducklings.

    Not sure, but if you have females, you should start giving them layer feed about when they become old enough to lay (probably 4-6 months).

    3. When should I encourage time outdoors without being in a pen?

    Depending on where you live, maybe never. If you are in a secluded area, it might be fine, but otherwise, when they’re free, they might just wander away (or eventually fly away) and never come back. Likely, they need to be in a pen. But maybe you could make a larger, permanent fence that surrounds the ponds and everywhere else. If you don’t want them to fly away, you’ll have to clip their wings. Also, they’re old enough to be outside most of the time, in good weather. If it rains or gets cold, they’ll need to come inside.

    Some ducks can be trained to stay in a general area. Once they are taught where they get their food and water, they might stay near. Once they’re fully feathered and old enough to fend for themselves, and if you’re sure you can catch them, you might try letting them go loose, but you have to supervise them, at least until you know they’ll stay nearby.

    4. Do I just steal their eggs?

    Sure, go ahead. But remember, you can’t have more males than females or they’ll fight over her. If you end up with two males and one female, you might end up having to get rid of one.

    5. Any links for good, easy to build, small, duck houses.

    Check the Coops section here on BYC. Many of those shelters will work for ducks, at least with some slight changes.
     
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  4. Welshies

    Welshies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    1. How old?
    They look to be about 4-5 weeks.
    When do I switch feed
    You can raise ducklings from starter feed but at 2 weeks old they should switch to grower, and then at 8-10 weeks you can switch them to developer (or, like I did, at 10 weeks switch them to a maintenence ration with cat kibbles for the molt). About 2 weeks before they are expected to lay provide them with free choice oyster shell and girt (grit should be available all the time all ages). When the first egg is laid you can switch them to layer or give the females some grower once a day and keep all of them on maintenence ration throughout this time.
    Outdoor pen time
    Really, they should always be in a fenced area for security. The predators for ducks are many. If you can't fence an area, and have only 5 or so predators (very rare- think about everything. for example, my area has predators like dogs, cats, weasels, mink, marten, bears, cougars, coyotes, foxes, skunks, opposums, hawks, eagles, raccoons) If you can free range them, start when their feathers are fully in and they are almost fully grown. (10-16 weeks)
    Do I just steal the eggs?
    You can do this. This is how chicken eggs are gathered. You can even eat the eggs- they are so yummy! Anyhow, keep the ratio right. You can't have too many drakes or they will fight over her and possibly injure her. 1 drake to 3-5 females is about right, or 1 drake per flock of 5 hens or less.
    Coops
    Check the coops section. On BYC, there's lots.
    You can also convert an old doghouse (make sure the sq ft is enough- 3 or more sq ft per bird, plan for extra room because you WILL end up buying more), a chicken coop, a rabbit hutch, a few plastic dog kennels, a shed, a grainery, a culvert, etc. It just has to be predator proof and sheltered.
     
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  5. baccalynnwv

    baccalynnwv Just Hatched

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    Jun 21, 2016
    West Virginia
    I'm am really hoping they would turn out to be a hybrid or domesticated set loose. I guess it is illegal to keep wild mallard ducklings. But honestly, they came up to us after spending about 2 hours with my kids swimming/wading in the river - no mamma - then tried to follow us home. They were wearing themselves out! I have a video of them coming up to us but can't figure out how to post it on this site. We didn't even have to chase them to pick them up. It was really odd. But, some other people from this site think that they might be hybrid due to the fact that two of them are a lighter color??


    We live a good ways out in the country. But we do have coyotes, hawks, etc. We usually don't have much problem with them coming into the yard because I have a big lab that spends most of his time outdoors in the day time. But anything can happen! I have been looking at the duck house post from a couple of years ago. There are a lot of really good ideas there!

    Its funny, my dog is 11 years old. His name is Ducky. :) He gets really confused when I talk to the other "Duckies".

    They do stay outside most of the time, starting this last week. I have rigged up a temporary fence with more fencing on the top and a tub on the ground and a huge fern for shelter. They start to yell at me when its time to go back inside though! They are very bossy.




    Haha! You may be right! My husband says no. I say no after cleaning up after these babies every day! But then we get to playing with them and they really are just so much fun! I even thinking about chickens for eggs. My husband is going to kill me...


    One more question,

    Do I need an insulated house in the winter time? We live in central WV. Usually it doesn't get below 0 degrees, but the last two years its dipped down to -25 or so!!!
     
  6. HannahDuckLover

    HannahDuckLover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 10, 2015
    By the jungle
    According to The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery, no, you don’t need to insulate. Ussery says that ventilation is FAR more important than insulation no matter how cold. But I don’t remember the particulars. You will need a thick layer of warm, cozy bedding, though. Ducks really don’t seem to mind the cold – they will be out swimming when it’s almost freezing – but they like a warm, dry place to sleep.
     
  7. Welshies

    Welshies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    Celcius?
    I live in Alberta. We can get -40°c and although insulation shouldn't be needed provided they have lots of bedding and food and water, you should insulate to reduce feed consumption and increase egg production. One thing I love is adjustable ventilation- windows that open and close, and permanent slots on the side (so they always have some ventilation) up high. Then in summer the windows can open and in winter they can shut for a cozy warm house!
    Also.... good news! :D As my ducks aged, their poop becomes more solid and smells less. Unless you feed them lots of a really strong smelling or runny treat... :p
    If you don't want to clean up when they move into their coop, you can try the deep litter method. Less cleaning, but you do have to stir it up daily.
    Also watch that dog. My lab is excellent with my ducks (she'll even go up and start licking them as if grooming them, her tail wagging!) but make sure the training is well done.
    The one darker duckling is a purebred Rouen. The two ligher ones may be a different color or a hybrid Rouen.
    If you want lots of eggs, don't get chickens. Ducks and chickens have issues living together (ducks are SO wet sometimes!) . Try a good laying duck breed- indian runner, Khaki Campbell, Welsh Harlequin, or Buff Orpington. Some breeds of ducks lay 280 eggs a year without artificial light or heat, and up to 340 with artificial light and heat- better than most chickens, and hardier too! :D
    Oh, and sorry for all this jabber (I'm a duck nerd!)
     
  8. baccalynnwv

    baccalynnwv Just Hatched

    26
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    19
    Jun 21, 2016
    West Virginia
    Thats - 25F. About - 32c.
    Thanks for all the info.

    Its amazing how fast they change from day to day. Today it looks like real feathers on their backs. They look rough. Lol I am pretty sure I heard one of the light brown ones make a deep quack sound almost. [​IMG]
     

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