Need Advice concerning 5 week old duckling

JulieinPA

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 18, 2013
7
0
7
I have never in my life had a duck ... until today. We decided to get a duckling and I did a little bit of research first, then went and picked on up today. I got a big clear tote to put it in. I put a couple of LARGE rocks in the tote with some water (the rocks are so the duckling can get out of the water). I read that at 5 weeks old ducklings are old enough and large enough to not be under a heat lamp, and that they can swim, etc. So I figured the tote with the water and big rocks would make a perfect little home for it for now. But when I put the duckling in, it went all over the place and then started acting drunk. The water was cold ... because it came from our outside pump. I didn't think cold water would be an issue since they are ducks after all and have downy to keep the waterproof and warm. And the swim in ponds - which couldn't be any warmer than the water I put in the tote. But the duck totally started acting drunk and even lay over on it's side in the water and we grabbed it out quick. I wrapped it with a towel and brought it in the house. It was shivering. I put it in our bath tub with WARM water to heat it up quickly. Now it's acting MUCH better and not acting drunk like before. It's moving it's head around and drinking water, etc. I'm not sure if it's FULLY recovered yet or not ... so for now I'm letting it in the warm water since it's getting much better in there.

What did we do wrong?? Is it to young to put in cold water? It didn't act this way until we put it in the tote with water.
 

SD Bird Lady

Songster
7 Years
Nov 9, 2012
1,485
115
176
south central south dakota
They are old enough but it needs to be a gradual adjustment. So if it was under a heat lamp up until that point it should still be given access to one, then take it away during the day and then take it away all together after about 1.5 weeks. They do best with friends so it is advisable to get 2 ducklings or they imprint on you which can be a big burden. Also, it is best to keep them on bedding like pine shavings and only let them go swimming a couple times a day until they are fully feathered at about 6-8 weeks, Unless they are in an area where they can get into the water and then jump back out such as a baby pool in their pen. You did the right thing by allowing them a way to get out of the water but for the duck to get out onto the rock they would have to have a large flat area as 5 week old ducklings are not the most "coordinated"

hope this helps. I would probably take him out of the warm water and put him in a basket with a towel so he/she can preen & get dried off.

ETA:
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Gallusfarm

Songster
10 Years
Jul 14, 2009
1,023
27
183
Unfortunately the first problem is getting just one duckling. When you get fowl of any type, it is always best to get more than one.

At this age they do not need water for submerging their entire bodies in. A nice bowl that they can dabble in is all they need. Change the water often, as they need water when they eat, and it will get dirty, and they will want to walk in it. When it gets older, you can do a pool or something like that.
 

horsewoman54

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 25, 2013
14
2
24
My ducks are 5 weeks old too. We bought them at an IFA store here in Utah. Ducks don't need to be in water. They need a dry place and access to water to dip their heads in, blow out their nasal passages and bathe. Since it's been cold here, we give them a half hour in a bath tub for 15-20 minutes. If it is sunny. we let them wander, supervised, in our backyard for an hour or two when we are doing yard work. They sleep inside in an enclosure 4x8 with newspaper, puppy pads and pine shavings. They have access to non-medicated chick crumbles 24/7 and a water bowl. We clean the pen everyday. I give them chopped kale, hard boiled eggs, meal worms, cottage cheese, blueberries as side dishes once a day. They are healthy and starting to get their adult feathers. I also have two together. They are flock animals and do better with another of their species. You can go online and google raising ducklings or purchase books from Amazon about ducks that might educate you. These are the first two I have ever owned also. Good luck.
 

JulieinPA

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 18, 2013
7
0
7
I would've got two ducklings - but the lady I got it from only had this one. And I've been looking (local and at tractor supply, feed stores, etc.) and no one has any ducks right now.
So that's why I got only this one.

I would put it in with my chicks under the heat lamp, but it's bigger than my chicks, plus right now they're on a medicated chick feed. So I was planning to put it in a tote and keep it in our shed (that's fully enclosed with windows).

I got some good info here from the replies, but no one has said anything about why it did that ...? Is it due to the cold water??
 

Amiga

Overrun with Runners
11 Years
Jan 3, 2010
23,213
2,822
551
Southern New England
At five weeks, our ducklings had water that was at least 75 degrees F. They don't have adult feathers or oil at that age, they are still growing and are very susceptible to chilling.

I think your duckling had hypothermia, and that is quite a stress on the little system.

The air temperature should be around 70F, with room to move toward a slightly cooler area. There needs to be good air circulation but no drafts.

Take a look at https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/750869/raising-and-caring-for-ducklings#post_10611711

it should answer many questions.
 

SD Bird Lady

Songster
7 Years
Nov 9, 2012
1,485
115
176
south central south dakota
Sorry, I agree with amiga about hypothermia. It also could have gotten water logged which is what caused him/her to tip over. Since their feathers are not fully water proofed they become wet & heavy and if not caught they will eventually tire & sink.
 

JulieinPA

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 18, 2013
7
0
7
Ok. thank you all. Little "Peek A Boo" (what the kids decided to name it) seems completely better now after being in the warm bath for almost a 1/2 hour now. he/she (?) is acting normal again. 100%. So now peek a boo is going back into the tote (this time it's dry and we put a nice nest of hay in there for now) ... so we'll see how it goes.
 

HollyDuckFarmer

Songster
7 Years
Jun 30, 2012
2,683
176
208
LP Michigan
Glad Peek a Boo seems better. Personally I might wait a few days before you do more water. Just deep enough to dip the bill is 100% enough. I like to use either the rectangular Rubbermaid style dishpans or even small oil pans (unused of course!) have worked out great for me. That being said, however, I do have a set of 3 or 4 week olds and their adopted mom took them swimming on Day 3. But it's totally different with a momma duck. Good job recognizing right away that something wasn't right. I think that is key.
 

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