New to ducks... Need answers please.

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by NovaAman, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    So the ducks came today. I have them in their house, its the house their previous owners built for them. I have large bowls for food and water. They've already dirtied the water. They are funny little things. So got good shelter and food solved. Now the questions...

    I have 4. 3 girls 1 boy.

    1) are fertilized eggs ok? I have seen this asked of duck eggs but never paid attention as I was not planning to have ducks. Ever.
    2) what treats? I understand bread is a no-no. But as my chickens are super spoiled, I don't want to leave the ducks out of the treats.
    3) nest box? Would a low sided milk crate work?
    4) I am using leaves for the run area for the winter. Can I use them in the duck coop too, or should I use straw? There are leaves in it now, about 5 inches deep.
    5) how do you keep the water bowl clean?

    I think that's it for now. I have no idea what type of ducks they are, but they sure are funny. So much personality. I already have a plan for their pool for next year.

    Thanks so much for the help.
  2. destinduck

    destinduck obsessed with "ducks"

    Mar 20, 2008
    1 yes. 2 peas, greens veggies of most kinds and minnows in the water bowl is good and entertaining.3 yes give them a coupla choices 4 both will work. 5 ya cant:lol: no seriously.. its hard . A duck is just messy though you can keep it separated from the food a little and the dirt.

    DUCKGIRL89 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 28, 2011
    I have 2 drakes, and 6 hens, and get fertilized eggs and eat them. So yes, they are find [​IMG]

    I fed my ducks bread and had no problems. Just not to much.

    They dont need a nest box, they lay on the ground.

    Leaves work swell [​IMG]

    Change it..... ALOT. Also it needs to be deep enough so the ducks can clean out their bills.

    What color are they? How big? How old?
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Hi, NovaAman,

    Welcome to duckdom!

    I hope you can upload some photo's before too long.

    Keeping duck water clean. Well, uhm, how do I say this? It only takes seconds for ducks to dirty their water. But they don't mind. I have developed a kind of seat-of-the-pants assessment for duck water. It's largely based on time. If it's been 12 hours or so, time to dump the water, wipe out the bucket and start fresh for "drinking" water and for "swim" water a day or two in cooler weather, a day in warm weather, and in stinking hot weather, twice a day, mostly for cool-down.

    There are exceptions, when I replace water sooner. Sometimes I look at the dark-brown murk and cannot stand it, so I dump and swish and refill it.

    The water is excellent for fertigating plants.

    Fertilized eggs are fine to eat. Gathering them daily should help you avoid unpleasant surprises when you crack them open. Something I do (and we have no drake) is crack eggs into a glass or Pyrex cup and inspect it for weird things. A few times a year, usually when a duck starts up after a rest from laying, there might be a little grey blob in the egg. Sometimes there's a drop of blood. I haven't found anything nasty. Helps when a piece of shell gets in there, to see it so I can fish it out.

    I use the often-recommended thawed frozen peas. I rinse them a few times, as I haven't found a salt-free brand, and warm water thaws them nicely. Someone on the forum suggested holding some peas in your half-closed hand so the ducks have to nuzzle your hand to get the peas. That helps get them used to you. It may take a while for your new ducks to get the idea of the game, but ducks often warm up to people.

    There's a stickie on duck treats that is very helpful. Check it out at the top of the topics list on the Duck Forum.

    Their first year, my runners used two wooden cheese boxes from Aunt Faye. After a while they lost interest and made their own in the straw, which is how we still do it.

    I would use leaves in the duck house if I had enough dry ones. I've found oak leaves cut down on odor near the swim pans.

    I also use pine shavings, sawdust, and straw (depends on location and time of year). Each has their advantages.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  5. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    Thanks so much!

    The duck are approx 5-6 months old. I will get picks in a few days. They are confined till I know they will know where home is, and till I am sure they are ok to be by the chickens. Lol. They'll be free for the most part till spring. Can I leave them free range? We have a ditch across the street that always had water, and I hope they do not discover it. Should I build them their own area away from the chickens in the spring?
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Free ranging is a practice with its up and down sides. I'm not even sure where the line is drawn on that. I have a low fence around a garden adjacent to the day pen, and allow my ducks to noodle around in that garden as long as I am within earshot. If I run the vacuum or do something that isn't interruptible, I put the ducks into the day pen, which has coated wire fence across the top, as well as the sides, and coated chain link on the bottom.

    Then I take them for walks into the other garden areas or edge of the woods. I don't let them go there unsupervised.

    I ask myself if that's free ranging. I dont' think so, but the ducks get out and forage and run around and seem to enjoy it.

    There are dangers in free ranging. The list of duck predators is long. But you have chickens, so you must have an idea of what's around that likes to eat poultry.

    At night, ducks are particularly susceptible to predators, as they are ground nesters and (at least mine) tend to lean against the fence and fall asleep.

    Think about setting up a day pen for them. I lock mine in ours (10'x16' plus 64sf of covered area) when I cannot be nearby.
  7. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    my chickens free range all day. Hawks are the biggest prob. They get my neighbor worse than me cuz I have so many trees. I can't really build them their own run till spring. I kinda got sap suckered into the ducks. Lol.

    RAREROO Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 22, 2009
    Alapaha, Ga
    I have free ranged my ducks completely before and never had a prolem til I got a new dog and he killed a lot of them. So predators are really the only downside to free ranging ducks, other than that it works great because mine survived almost completely on just the grasses and such that they ate while ranging, and they went broody more often on free range when they could find and pick their own spots ( I always welcome broodiness though but some don't)

    And like others have said, duck water is pretty much impossible to keep clean, let us all know if you find a way [​IMG]
    For nesting, if they are just laying just to lay, then they will lay anywhere on the ground randomly so they don't need a nest for that, but if you want to encourage broodiness then something simple to provide a dark area to make them feel hidden will work. They like something a little more dark and enclosed than a typical chicken nest box

    And they like any kinds of fruits, veggies, dog/cat/catfish food, and some bread is OK too, but may be better to soak it in a bowl or pool of water first. Actually all of those treats can be given in their pool, they seem to enjoy it better that way.

    Good luck
  9. tomingreeneco

    tomingreeneco Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2010
    Greene County, PA
    Also, for treats mine love halved cherry tomatoes. I free range, but have them trained to come into the coop at night (start by only giving them treats when they are inside the coop). Keeping water clean? They dirty it before I can walk back to the house. I do have a pond and that helps as they spend 70% of their time on it during the day. Good luck, you'll love them! [​IMG]
  10. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    I got a fun veiw of a tomato feast tonight! The people who had the ducks before me, and had to give them up because of township zoning, came to visit and brought tomatoes. It was so funny to listen and watch them. It was great. They apparently know what go home means, and went back in their coop when they were told to by the man.

    And yeah on the water. I changed the water this morning, and then I changed it again about 4, and by 5:30 the dish was. Disgusting is about right. LOL.

    Here they are.


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