Hello! My name is Amy and I'm a mess and I wrote a book. :D

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by zooweemama, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. zooweemama

    zooweemama Songster

    About a year ago we decided to start a small homestead. It's been slow going since we still have young children. But this year we (ahem ME) bit the bullet and bought 12 ducklings to get started. We wanted ducks to help with keeping our pond clean, gardens picked over and eggs eggs eggs (love duck eggs). Reading all the books doesn't even come close to preparing you. I feel a new mom.

    I picked up the straight run ducklings our local feed shop were selling. I honesty am not sure what any of them are except my 4 Pekins. (oh my goodness I love these silly guys!). We lost 2 the first 2 days. So I have 10 left. My beebees are all 2 weeks old today. I have 4 blacks- which I think I might have 1 runner and maybe a couple Cayugas. Not sure yet. And then the other 2 are mayyyyyybe Harlequin mutts? One is crested but looks a bit like baby Harlequin and the other one has similar markings/coloring but no crest and a full on gray beak. I am prepared to re-home all the males (we might keep one) and keep only the females.

    I have a second batch of females for Metzers coming at the end of this month. I am really excited about that. I picked out 2 Buffs, 2, Fawn and White Runners, 2 Golden 300 and 2 Harlequins (all girlies). We are a family of 7 so a few mouths to feed and I'd like to sell the surplus (I have interested people) and maybe cover feed cost. :D

    My husband is currently re-working our duck coop. Here when we bought the place but he is reinforcing it and cutting out drafts etc.

    We have them split into 2 bins. The fatty Pekins in one and the other misfits in another. I am using huge totes, pine shaving with puppy pads under the shavings, for food & water I recently stumbled on coffee cups and that's been working out wonderfully (the Pekins try to jump into everything else so this was small enough to keep their bodies out but deep enough for full head submersion and I can run the cups through my sani-cycle on my dishwasher), I had those red heat lamps and rather than lowering or raising the lamp we rigged it so I can turn the power up or down (electrician hubby) to keep their temps right.They are on medicated water fowl starter (it's all I can find right now - but I am hunting this weekend for unmedicated- again. I think Tractor Supply has some). And I put some of that lactobacillus type stuff in their water. They are located in my office so I watch them...a LOT. lol

    So now you know what our end goal is and what I am using. :)

    Now with my anxieties and worries:

    1. My Pekins seem to get hot way easier than my misfits. Even though they are at 2 weeks old they (Pekins) were panting and it was cooler than 75 in their brooder. I had to turn their heat down almost ALL the way to get them to stop panting and now they are better and happy and perky. (freaked me out though since I didn't know what was wrong!)

    2. The Pekins bob their heads alot. I assume this is normal and find it adorable. My misfits do not do this though.

    3. The Pekins also have started getting feisty with each other- especially when it comes to the water. I assume they are establishing a pecking order? I leave them be.

    4. The Pekins turn into giant spastic cats. Water gets them all excited sometimes and they all start acting amped up and then one will jump up and run then they all jump up and then run around crazy for a minute and then bail over to their water again- it's funny but I hope it doesn't mean something is wrong? They can get really spastic.

    5. One of my blackies has an eye infection. She got a wood chip stuck in her eye and it scratched it. (i pulled the chip out) It was really bad but after rinsing it with a sterile solution, fresh clean water baths and neosporin her eye *appears* to be much better after a few days of this. She never sneezed and no eye foaming though. Just really swollen mostly and seemed like the fluff around her eye was matted. I hope this was right- I had read of others doing this so I thought I'd give it a shot. I don't want to be someone who jumps into meds (antibiotics) unless I know I have to.

    6. Do they ever STOP drinking? Oh my gosh. They literally practically huddle day and night around the water. Is that weird? They literally fall sleep with their heads PERCHED on the cup! I have pics I'll share lol.

    7. This isn't a concern so much as an observation. They poop. A lot. They hop up, race backwards until they run into something and it sounds like a whale's blowhole. :p They poop ALL over each other. One got pooped on in the eye, another her beak while she was cleaning herself (ew), heads big time. It's very poopy over here. lol

    8. I have a sneezer. Boo (her/his name) is one of the beige-y colored ones with a mask on her face. Started sneezing today. And I noticed one of the blacks was half sneeze coughing. Oh my gosh. I am so stressed out. I immediately removed them to their own bin. I have a heater on them right now and my husband is picking up a 3rd heat lamp for that bin right now. What else can I do for them? I am praying I get this under control because I have a new batch of babies coming April 24th or so. These guys will be going out to the coop in a larger brooder within the coop itself and then the new babies will be in my office just like these guys were.

    If any of you get through this and are able to comment on any part of it- that would be so helpful. I have never cared for ducks before so I am really knew to this. I am a quick learner and have books here, I use Google a ton and have been ninja spying on here a bit before joining. I plan on trying ducks for a year and will decide if we want to try chickens next year. So we can decide which bird is for us. Either way the ducks minus the eggs will be loved by us- I am quite attached.

    I will attach pictures shortly. :D (I'm a heavy picture taker)

  2. zooweemama

    zooweemama Songster

    This set is from when they were less than a week old I think? All in the same brooder at the time.


    Boo is the one looking at the camera.
    (sorry for the watermarks. i'm a photographer by day and i mark everything.)

    I'll locate some newer ones now...
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  3. zooweemama

    zooweemama Songster

    These are all from my cell phone camera. ;)



    and this is a new one from today:

    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  4. twinmama

    twinmama Chirping

    Aug 27, 2011
    I enjoyed reading your post, as I'm in a similar boat as a new duck mama (2 Pekins, 2 Black Swedish, and 1 Runner)! I started with chickens last year and enjoyed that so much I decided to add ducks. I'm currently brooding 5 chicks and 5 ducklings in my bathroom (separate brooders) and working on the duck housing. Best of luck with your new babies!

  5. wyoangel

    wyoangel In the Brooder

    Apr 16, 2012
    Oh. My. Goodness! Your flock is just adorable! Sorry, I can't answer/help you...I just became a duck mama (not totally expecting 1 duck egg to hatch with the 30 chicken eggs I incubated) 3 days ago!
  6. Lute

    Lute Songster

    Feb 25, 2012
    Albuquerque, NM
    Well, the easiest way to answer your many questions and fears are to break it down in numbered form.

    1) This seems to be normal for Pekins. Mine acted this way and I literally cooked one of my first ducklings to death. It was a harrowing experience. Leave the temperature low for the Pekins and make sure both brooders have plenty of water (room temp is better) and mix Niacin into their water (you can get it from Walmart in the vitamin section. 500mg per 5 gallons of water works).

    2) The Pekins use this as a flirting manner. Mine do this all the time, particularly my currently laying girl Helen. She's in love with Joe.

    3) Yes, leave them be unless they're all ganging up on one. They like to play roughly with each other and they are trying to figure out a pecking order as you surmised.

    4) Pekins LOVE water. They'll go through it like it's going out of style. Mine have a 30 gallon kiddy pool (I currently have 2 full grown ducks and 3 5-week old ducklings) that gets emptied and cleaned once a week. They remove a good portion of the water in the first couple hours after refilling. Otherwise, I've watched them go through almost 6 gallons of water (I have 2 seperate gallon containers for fresh water) a day. Nothing is wrong.

    5) Neosporin is your best friend. You may want to give your little blackie duckling some extra vitamins to help her immune system combat the infection.

    6) Again, ducks LOVE water.

    7) It sounds like they actually need more space. How big is your brooder(s) and how many ducklings are in it? Once the ducklings are two weeks old they need to be moved into bigger brooders. I let mine outside after 4 weeks.

    8) Vitamins. Ducks can have allergies (from what I can tell) so you have to make sure their air is clean (low dust) and their water is deep enough to dunk their heads in so they can rinse out their noses.

    Ducklings are fragile little critters. I don't believe anyone who says otherwise (my chicks are so resilient it's scary). Don't play with them too much and take care in Biosecurity. Clean your hands, shirts, pants and shoes when playing with them so you don't spread something. Ducklings will get sick easily but it's generally easy to fix with extra vitamins and access to lots of clean water.

    The easiest way to sex ducks is to wait until their voice changes from the cheeping chirps to definitive quacks or rasps (5-6 weeks). A female Pekin QUACKS. Male Pekins RASP. They sound like someone who has spent the last 50 years smoking heavily.
    You can learn to vent sex them for ducklings but it's difficult to learn.
    You can also wait until they lose their fluff (6 weeks or later) and throw drakes feathers (a tightly curled feather on their tail). But that sometimes takes a while. I recently had a "hen" throw a drakes tail after 7 months.
  7. zooweemama

    zooweemama Songster

    Thank you so much! Best of luck to you with yours! I thought I'd try ducks first because I was told by SO many places they would be easier- ummm I don't know about that since I haven't done chickens yet. We'll see! haha

  8. zooweemama

    zooweemama Songster

    Oh my goodness how cute is that! 30 chicken eggs?? I totally feel better about wanting to have 10-12 female ducks. :D You'll be so busy! Whew!
  9. zooweemama

    zooweemama Songster

    This was IMMENSELY helpful. Thank you very much. I wasn't crazy about getting the Pekins honestly but they have REALLY grown on me and I feel so attached to them. I love their 'ways'. They are really very different from the other kinds of duckling.

    Even when (or if) I can get my sneezers healthy and don't lose anymore- I think splitting them up into 3 bins now is necessary. They lasted in 1 bin for about 5 days before I split them into 2 and they would really benefit from the extra room so I will leave them in 3 bins. I need them to last one more week in their bins and then I can move them to the coop and they will have a ton of running around room but the cold ones can have access to heat lamps and my toasty Pekins can have a cooler end. I'll see if my iPhone will let me upload a pic of our coop. I am so thrilled to learn so much about the Pekins peculiarities- I'm so obsessed with doing everything right and wanted to make sure they were just kooky or I wasn't going wrong somewhere.

    So in the 3 bins it will be 4, 3 and 3 - hopefully they can last one more week until they turn 3 weeks and I can put them in their coop (but they still not have access to outside).

  10. zooweemama

    zooweemama Songster

    Here is our coop. It's almost done now. That door way on the other side is now sealed shut with a door. ;) a few more nails and we bring in 50 tons of hay. Hehe

    If it doesn't make sense - I blame autocorrect. Sent from my sweet iPhone 4s.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by