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Help me plan my ducks' pen & house, please

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Sunny Side Up, May 11, 2008.

  1. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I've been thinking about adding ducks to our lives for some time now, and finally went ahead & placed my order for Khaki Campbells. Now I'm very much looking forward to their arrival some time during the week of June 9. MMH has a minimum order of 10 ducklings, so I ordered 8 girls & 2 boys. I'll keep half & a friend will buy the other half.

    These are my plans, please tell me any flaws you detect:

    I'll start them in a cardboard box, under a light, on straw bedding, for about a week or two.

    My feed choices are regular chick starter or Purina Flock Raiser, which should I use?

    In a week or two, when they get a bit more sturdy (& begin pooping more) I'll keep them in a covered bottomless pen in the grass during the days, and bring them back to the box at night.

    When can I begin to leave them out overnight? When they've fully feathered? At what age are they considered "adult"? Can they eat layer pellets then?

    For the ducks' pen I'm planning to fence off a 12'x12' section next to the chicken runs, in the lowest dampest end of the paddock. This area sometimes holds water for a day or two after we have heavy rains. The chickens' runs are now hard-pan dirt. Sometimes I'll throw in a wheelbarrow-full of mulch or grass clippings for them to churn into the mix, otherwise I don't clean their runs. Can I keep the ducks' pen like that or will I need to hose/rake it out more frequently? If so, should I cover the ground with gravel, rocks, or concrete?

    Should I keep their wading pool in the pen or outside of it? I plan to let them free-range all day long like the guineas do. If the pool will add to their mess I'd rather keep it outside their pen so I can move it & its mess around periodically.

    I have 2 plastic dog houses, each about 2'X3', I planned to use for them to use for sleeping & laying. Do they lay their eggs in the same place they use for sleep? Do they use roosts or sleep on the ground? Do they poop throughout the night, making a mess where they sleep? I was hoping they could use one dog house for a bedroom & the other for a nest box.

    Are ducks easily persuaded to use a nest box? How about returning to a dog house at night to sleep?

    I haven't yet told the children -- or the husband!-- about the ducks, hoping to surprise them when the call comes from the post office. So I can't do a lot of work yet on the pen, but I want to at least complete my plans for it. I appreciate all your imput & advice!
     
  2. raindrop

    raindrop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 10, 2008
    Western Oregon
    My ducklings are only 5 weeks old so I will answer what I have experience with.
    Cardboard box will last 1-2 days before it is soaked and soggy. Use a large (they grow FAST) plastic storage bin and pine shavings are much more absorbant.
    They grow fast but don't get significant feathers until 4 weeks and they aren't "covered" with feathers for 6-8 weeks. As long as it is above 60 or so mine have been outside in the daytime, in at night with no heat.
    I fed Purina Flock raiser for the first 3-4 weeks, have switched to a 17% protein poultry (non-medicated) starter for the past week. Will switch to 14% or 15% protein when they are 8 weeks. If I can't find a developer feed, I will mix some rolled oats into the 17% to lower the protein. I don't think chick starter has enough niacin, you need to add brewer's yeast and provide lots of chopped greens (do this anyway).

    Get Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks before your duckling come and read the whole thing, you will be ready!
     

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