New to ducks and I don't understand grit...

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Jen1979, Aug 6, 2014.

  1. Jen1979

    Jen1979 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hello all

    We are very new to the whole poultry game so I apologise in advance for my newby questions! We have owned chickens for about 18 months and we seem to be doing well there, but now we've just purchased some ducklings. They are Indian Runners and they are 3.5 weeks old at the moment.

    Currently we have them in the bathroom (they are contained in a shower area with a box on it's side for them to sleep in at night. We have puppy pee pads on the shower floor and as 'bedding' so they don't slip around too much. We bought duck starter food for them, they have a water bowl and we give them a bath in the bath tub twice a day. We just have a heater on low setting in the bathroom and they don't seem to be cold at all.

    My main question (other than if I'm doing something glaringly wrong already - please tell me!!) is about grit. I understand what it is used for, but I still don't quite understand exactly what it is or what I should be giving them. The lady we bought them from said that she only gives grit while they are confined inside and she uses tiny pieces of gravel about 2mm big. I read that you don't need grit if you're only feeding commercial food, but yesterday I decided to give them some tiny chopped up bits of herbs and grass in some water. I put some tiny bits of gravel in the bottom of that water bowl and after they'd finished devouring the plants I noticed the gravel was gone too. So, does this mean they actually eat it? I think I was picturing them using it to grind the food up in their mouth and then spitting them out - but now I think I kind of got the wrong end of the stick on that one! And is it ok they ingested them?? This morning it seemed there was less poop than they would usually do overnight (there was still quite a bit, but the entire shower wasn't full of it like it usually is when I get up!) so I have become completely paranoid that they've eaten these little rocks and they're all bunged up and I've ruined their life! Have I done something disastrous? What should I actually feed them as grit if that was wrong? And once they go outside in their pen that will have sand etc, do I need to feed grit? I've read everything I could and I'm still not 100% sure and I want to make sure I do the right thing!

    Thanks!
    Jen
     
  2. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The digestion process is very similar in both chickens and ducks. Grit is eaten. It collects in the gizzard where it acts as "teeth" to break down large hard particles into smaller ones that can be digested. Think of it as a sort of tumbling action. As the grit wares down and becomes too small to do it's job, it too passes through the digestive tract and then needs to be replace with new grit.

    Your ducks sound perfectly fine. I never provide grit once they are out. I figure they are better at finding exactly what they need than I am.
     
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  3. Jen1979

    Jen1979 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you so much for the explanation! :)

    So, if I were to feed them some chopped greens or say, peas, before they are outside (while they're still living in the bathroom) would that be ok since they ate the 'grit' yesterday? Or should I provide them with grit each time they have something other than commercial feed while they are still inside, then not worry about it once they start living outside?
     
  4. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess I would offer more. You don't know who eat what and maybe one cleaned it all up. Just put a bowl out and let them self regulate.
     
  5. Amykins

    Amykins Overrun With Chickens

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    My only suggestion is to make sure you're not giving them oyster shell or anything with calcium carbonate, as too much calcium is actually bad for ducklings. Most feed stores sell crushed granite just for that purpose.
     
  6. Jen1979

    Jen1979 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thankyou, yes, I didn't think about the fact that one of them could have gobbled up the whole lot!

    Thanks for the info on the oyster shell, I'll go into my local feed store tonight and see if they have the crushed granite :)
     
  7. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Or just dig up a bowl of dirt from the back yard.
     
  8. Jen1979

    Jen1979 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oh really? Just sand will do? I guess that makes sense since that's what they'll be picking up when they're outside! Thanks again!
     
  9. Amykins

    Amykins Overrun With Chickens

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    I prefer not to go that route when they're babies, since there could be bacteria or other nasties (don't get me started on playground sand. I don't trust anything that's been in constant contact with kids all day, hehe!). But it should be okay, just watch for worms and other such stuffs.
     
  10. Jen1979

    Jen1979 Chillin' With My Peeps

    hehe yes, I don't want my duckies getting kid germs! But thanks for mentioning that, because if I use sand that will alter where I get it from (ie: not from my dogs sandpit either!) :)
     

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