Need some duckling advice

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by MallardMama, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. MallardMama

    MallardMama Out Of The Brooder

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    I know this is backyard 'chickens' but I noticed a few duck posts when google searching questions I had. I decided to join up and see if I can get some advice specific to my situation. In a nutshell, a few days ago 2 mallard ducklings wandered onto the property. Our cats almost got them, we have many cats and dogs, and I didn't want them to get hurt so I picked them up (with a work glove) and put them in a bin. I kept them outdoors, up safe from the other animals, and waited for the mama. Even went looking on the golf cart. Night came, and I couldn't just leave them outside all alone :( I already have a litter of polydactyl kittens, who will need litter training soon. Have my hands full but I wanted to give them a chance. They seemed to be about a couple weeks old, at least. But they are pretty tiny. Maybe a week. I've had them nearly a week now. One passed away this morning :( I don't know what happened, and I'm worried for the second. I have never cared for a bird or duck before, so I researched and learned a bit on how to go about it. I used a pet carrier as a kennel for now, the bottom lined with newspaper to keep it dry (they make a mess of their water dish lol ) and so they have solid footing and don't slip around, I line the top with fresh grass from the field every evening when they come in for bed. During the day I keep them outdoors so they can get their activity, and sunshine. I made sure to create a secure little environment for them, they had soft grass and bugs to pick at, a long cooking tray that serves as a pool, it's not too deep for them, I made sure. I grabbed a smooth log from the woodpile and laid it beside their pool, then grabbed some soft moss from a tree and laid a little along the log. Just to add some texture and softness. And I made little nests out of hay, and one out of grass, something to nap in. But they prefer their nap box. (A Kleenex box, empty, lined with a scarf.) I've been scavenging around for bugs, and they definitely enjoy them! Mainly I've been giving them Daddy Longlegs; small bodied spiders with long legs. I don't trust the big butt spiders. I also feed them the occasional cricket if I find it, and flies. I plan on digging for worms in the garden tomorrow. Aside from their fresh bug diet, I've been giving them snacks to hold them over at night. (Mainly Rice Krispies, and saltless crushed crackers :( but I read somewhere that crackers are bad. Are they really? I've also tried peas, corn, mashed bananas and lettuce) I know they should be eating specially made duckling feeder but I'm working with what I have for now. :/ and I'm worried something in there might be the cause of losing one of the babies this morning. I also thought that maybe he got too cold? I was using a light for warmth, facing it in the screened door, but not putting it directly in the pet carrier with them, for safety reasons. Then I covered the cage with a warm fluffy blanket to insulate. I live in a small 'shop' that's basically one large room-house, like a guest house next to the main. It's been so hot lately, so at night I have my AC on and this little house cools down quick. I don't keep it on all night, at intervals it's timed to come on for half an hour and shut off for a few. It wasn't ridiculously cold or anything, but for a little duckling it might have been chilly :( I really don't know what happened. They're well fed, have good appetites, and they were both very lively. Their sleeping area was insulated and warm enough. It was a big surprise finding that baby. I could beat myself up and wonder all the whys, but I really just wanna watch out for the remaining baby :( he's alone now, which I feel terrible for, I know ducks are very social. It's already well into August, and I know he's not going to make it in time for fall migration. Usually the geese and ducks around here have their babies grown and flying by now. I'm not sure why they were laid and born so late in the season, and my first goal was to raise them and try to get them back in the pond to interact and fly off in time, but that's not happening. So next, I decided to keep them. I have plenty of space, (live in the country with acres of property) and they're more than welcome to grow old here :) The garage is large, and heated all winter; hoping he makes it. I fell in love with them. It was heartbreaking to lose one. I've been hovering over the last one, checking on him hourly as he sleeps, just to make sure he's warm, and still alive. I put a heating pad in with him, and covered it with layers and layers of newspaper, to keep everything dry, and on top, half is fresh grass, and the other half scarves and the nap box. I made sure the newspaper was covered by grass, or scarves, just to ensure there was a layer of insulation and he wasn't exposed to direct heat from the pad in anyway. The pad is set on lowest, and I've been turning it on and off all night; I set alarms to check on him, usually at 3 hour intervals. Probably a bit too over cautious, but I can't help but worry. I'm always reassured when I do check though, cause as soon as I dip my fingers in his nap box to check on him, he'll chirp at me Lol then I retract with a quick "Sorry, just checking."

    Pardon me for rambling, I'll stop there. Wasn't really 'In a nutshell' but I wanted to get all aspects of his daily routine out there, what he's ingested, his sleeping arrangements. Pointers and advice would be much appreciated!
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  2. CollegeChicken

    CollegeChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    if youre seriously that attached to it do whatever you need to do to set up the proper environment for it including food MADE FOR BABY DUCKS/FOWL... he needs a large plastic bin or box with a heat lamp set over one side so he has a warm spot to go to..when he gets warm he'll walk over to the other side of the box where its cool. Provide fresh water in a small bowl. Take him out for some swimming in the sink once a day if you want but dont put a small 'pool' in his bin or box ( whatever you get ) . Failure to provide an environment like the one I described will be setting yourself up to fail. In the meantime continue to offer cereals, and hard boiled eggs. Just figured Id give you a 100% honest answer because I know thats what I would want.
     
  3. MallardMama

    MallardMama Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the tips. And I certainly don't put the 'pool' in his cage with him. During the day, he's set out in a fenced pen. It's big enough for him to get his activity and not feel cooped up in his carrier/ or a bin all the time. (Which he's only in at night) the 'pool' is short, it doesn't go passed his legs, and he can easily get in and out. I also place his drinking dish in and keep it near his food dish, so if he's thirsty he doesn't have to get in 'the pool' every time. He quite enjoys his outdoor baths. As soon as I drop him in his environment he goes straight for the water. He usually cleans himself, then sits out and dries/grooms himself. And throughout the day I drop bugs in and let him chase them down. I'll get him food MADE FOR BABY DUCKS when I can, I live an hour from town, and I don't go in much to begin with. Which is why I made it clear that 'I'm using what I have', for now. Should I not be feeding him fresh bugs? I'm sure it would be part of his natural habitat if he were in the wild. Advice is much appreciated. And keep in mind, I have never cared for ducks before, it's my first time, I'm trying. :/
     
  4. MallardMama

    MallardMama Out Of The Brooder

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    Alright, I have constructed a better set up. I found a tall bin, and a heating light. (Found one in the garage, single bulb, hope it works alright) the lining will be the same, newspaper, then grass and hay for sturdy footing. The lighting will shine down on half of the container, leaving the other side if its too warm. I think we'll both sleep better now. And I'm getting my aunt to pick up STARTER DUCKLING FEED STUFF. He's been snacking on Rice Krispies and daddy long legs for the day. Is there a certain limit of fresh bugs I should give him a day? Are they to be given as snacks only? Same with the Rice Krispies, should that be a treat now and then? Or can he have some daily?
     
  5. Cindysid

    Cindysid Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They really need the starter as their primary food. Insects are great treats but an exclusive bug diet contains too much protein and can cause problems in ducklings. I would stay away from the rice crispies. They have little nutritional value and you want them to fill up on the starter. If you can't find duckling starter, regular unmedicated chick starter is fine. Grass can cause crop problems unless it is really young and tender stuff, and again you don't want this to be their primary diet. Good luck, and don't hesitate to ask questions. There are a lot of knowledgeable people here. There is a section on Ducks in the forum under Other Poultry.
     
  6. MallardMama

    MallardMama Out Of The Brooder

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    Okay, new development :( there's only one place in town and the guy working said "it's illegal to keep birds/fowls that are native to the area. He wouldn't sell the starter feed :( so now I'm in a dilemma. Is there no way I can try to gather what this guy would normally eat in the wild? He's about 2-3 weeks old now. Few more weeks to go til he's considered 'fully grown', I'm hoping I can get him there. Help! Nutritional substitutes would be much appreciated. :(
     
  7. MallardMama

    MallardMama Out Of The Brooder

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    Off topic...but look who's got new friends :'D
     
  8. MallardMama

    MallardMama Out Of The Brooder

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    Before anyone scolds me, I know it's not natural for ducks and felines to coexist, but this guy is gonna grow up with 4 cats, so maybe they can learn to get along while they're still young. One is staying, the other have forever homes waiting. Perhaps if they can learn to get along from this young age, they'll be buddies :') and this Ducky will have a cat body guard. Lol not sure how it'll play out, but ill certainly never be careless and leave him unsupervised with the kittens. He has supervision all day, and night check ups. My dilemma with starter chick feed is the same. I tried a couple things with him today, corn, peas, greens and rolled oats. The veggies were cut down to size, of course! He has a healthy appetite. I know he won't starve. He seemed rather skittish today, but I introduced a kitty, and then another. Slowly he became at ease, wouldn't scurry away, he seemed content. :) He chirped a lot at first, very vocal. Then he curiously and quietly hopped on and around the kitties. He pecked at them, but I don't think it was meant as an aggressive gesture. I seem him pecking at his sibling before, and seemed to be a form of grooming. Could be wrong, just an observation. Anyways, that's the latest development. Too adorable not to share. [​IMG]
     
  9. MallardMama

    MallardMama Out Of The Brooder

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  10. cmlew99

    cmlew99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, so I have absolutely ZERO experience with ducks, but I can't imagine they are completely different from baby chicks. If that person at the feed store won't sell your friend duckling starter, perhaps you can ask for no medicated chick starter, or simply not explain your situation. ( make sure it's non medicated if you get chick starter, bad for ducks, according to google). It really is necessary if you want your duck to flourish. Also, you should make sure it's getting a good amount of grit in its diet. It needs grit to digest the bugs, and other food you give it. They can get grit just by eating the dirt outside. Finally, is your heat lamp meant for chicks and such? Or is it just a random light with a bulb that you found? Keeping them warm at this age is essential.
     

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