New to keeping ducks and have questions

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by PotatoWaffles, Oct 11, 2014.

  1. PotatoWaffles

    PotatoWaffles Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 10, 2014
    Northwest Ohio
    Hello all!

    Two weeks ago, my fiance and I took in two ducks that his aunt was getting rid of. I have always wanted to raise ducks, but have no experience and I have a few questions.

    My first question is about wintering ducks. We made a nice 10x20 ft enclosure outside against the garage with a cozy doghouse and a kiddie pool. Only half of the area is grassed and the rest is dirt, which means we have some muddy ducks! But we're working on growing grass in the whole enclosure. We fashioned a pen inside the garage where they spend their nights. We live in Northwest Ohio, where winter temperatures can reach below freezing. We have two 250 watt heating lamps, one for the pen and one for the doghouse outside, a heated waterer, and a submersible heater for the pool. Does this set-up seem okay for the winter? Also, should we think about some sort of net for the top of the outside enclosure to prevent against hungry raptors? Free-ranging isn't an option, unfortunately, as our cranky neighbor has a pond and wouldn't appreciate the tranquil sight of our pretty ducks floating in it, lol.

    My second question concerns the female. She is a pekin, approximately two to three years old, and we named her Waffles! My fiance's aunt said she got her from someone who raised her as a child's pet. Her feet are fairly pigeon-toed (see attached picture), and she seems to have trouble walking. She will walk a few steps and then lay down. Is there anything we can do to help her with this? She has a difficult time going up the ramp for the pool, and trips a lot. I'm afraid she might injure herself. It's obvious she developed that way, and seems to be healthy otherwise. It does make her easier to catch, haha. Also, what is the normal laying schedule for pekins? Is it seasonal or all-year-round? She hasn't laid any eggs since we've had her. I've tried placing a few golf balls around the pen to encourage her to lay.

    Our other duck is a year-old male mallard named Potato. My fiance's aunt said she's had him since he was a chick, but I'm not sure where she acquired him from. He's very attached to his lady-friend, and seems very concerned when we pick her up. His raspy calls sound different when we hold his gal. I'm wondering if he will be able to mate with her? He's a lot smaller, so I don't know if he will have trouble, ahem, getting up there. I would love to have chicks form them. Also, we decided to clip his wings until he's used to the new place, and we also clipped his talons (claws? toenails?), as they were long and curling to the side. Is this something we should keep up on, clipping his claws?

    And lastly, how do I befriend these birds? I know they will probably never like being caught or touched or even hand-fed (which is why we want chicks that we can hand-raise), but I do want to gain their trust somewhat. Having to chase and herd them into their night pen is exhausting for us and stressful for the birds. I know that, with time, a routine can be established, but these birds lived in an eight-foot circle of chicken wire with no water for swimming. They hardly know what to do with the pool, and have no idea that I'm trying to entice them with yummy corn, or that corn is even good for eating. They just want to get away. What works best? I've heard peas are a good treat, and I know enough to stay away from bread. Just looking for suggestions.

    Sorry for writing a book, but I just want to make sure I'm taking care of them the right way. I'm new at this, and any info would be appreciated. I've attached a picture or two (I'm lying, there's a bunch!) to this thread. I think I'm in danger of becoming a crazy duck lady, haha! Thanks for reading!

    ~PW

    Potato and Waffles!
    [​IMG]

    Finally enjoying some splashy time, but Potato isn't so sure...
    [​IMG]

    She's a clumsy duck.
    [​IMG]

    Waffles and her crooked feet.
    [​IMG]

    Coming outside for the day.
    [​IMG]

    All cozy in their night pen.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. chickenlover432

    chickenlover432 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 19, 2014
    Proud Aussie
    Welcome to BYC!! Sorry, I have absolutely NO idea about ducks.

    Hope someone helps,
    (-:Chickenlover:)
     
  3. Jessica89

    Jessica89 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 9, 2014
    North Wales
    Hello,
    I bought two new ducks a few weeks ago and they are thg same.
    My other two I had from ducklings so they know me but I guess we are strangers to the new ones.
    I have been going in a few times a day and throwing meal worms and lettuce into the pond so they associate me with tasty treats.
    Then I stand with the food a few feet away and they are starting to walk towards me but are still a bit scared but I am definitely making progress.
    I was lucky with herding them in at night.. mine got the idea after a few nights and know to hop in without me chasing them and picking them up.
    I would try the meal worms and begin with scattering them on the floor and pond.
     
  4. needlessjunk

    needlessjunk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 19, 2014
    Round Rock, TX
    If she is that old already I doubt there is much you can do to help with her leg issues. I'm new to ducks but do know that ducks need higher amounts of niacin when young to prevent leg problems. If it doesn't hurt her I wouldn't be concerned but she is a special duck and needs some extra loving. Sounds like they are in a great place.

    For trust it takes time. I have had mine since they were 2 weeks old and they are now coming around at 11 weeks. They don't like to be picked up or petted either. But if I call them or ring the cow bell they will come running across the yard to me or my kids for treats. Frozen peas are great, watermelon is a huge hit, live meal worms and small feeder fish. They love grass hoppers if I find some. I would just start throw some on the ground whenever you go by them. I also throw peas in their house and tell them to go home. Now they know the deal and head home at 7pm each day. But I would heard them into the house before then and they learned treats were in there pretty quickly.

    Be very careful with heat lamps. They are a huge fire hazard. And as long as their house is draft free and they have plenty of bedding I don't think they need the heat. Is their house outside or in the garage? I'm in TX and our winters are very different so hopefully someone else will give you some advice on winterizing. Just keep in mind that ducks do need good ventilation in their house even in winter.

    And for the mating and egg laying. She may not be laying because she is adjusting to her new home and a bit stressed. Again it takes some time for them to get settled. That is what I have read at least and have no personal experience. Having a smaller drake is also not a bad thing since you only have one hen. They can get a bit aggressive and over mate a female.
     
  5. PotatoWaffles

    PotatoWaffles Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 10, 2014
    Northwest Ohio
    Thank you for your information and suggestions! I like the mealworm idea. We used to buy them regularly when we had lizards. Peas and watermelon seem doable too, but it's getting awfully cold so I'll probably wait to try feeder fish until next spring.

    We might rethink the heating lamps or only using them when the weather gets in the single digits. Their doghouse is out in the pen with them, and their night pen is just inside the garage. It's like a small stall, almost, with a door for easy access. My fiancé built it and it works great. Their food and heated waterer is in there too, to keep them from getting ruined by weather. I like the idea of putting treats in their pen every night. Maybe they won't be so rebellious about going to bed, haha.

    I didn't figure there was much that could be done for the duck's crooked legs, apart from keeping her pen obstacle-free and making the ramp long and gently-sloped. I just wonder why they developed that way. Probably the niacin thing. And I figured she stopped laying because of the stress. My fiancé's aunt said she was laying an egg a day, so hopefully she starts up again soon. And just maybe, when the drake gets his pretty breeding plumage in, we might get some chicks from them. I would love to have cute little mallard-pekin crosses. But, more realistically, we will probably have to get fertilized eggs or ducklings from somewhere else if we want more ducks. Thanks for all your help!

    ~PW
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
  6. PotatoWaffles

    PotatoWaffles Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 10, 2014
    Northwest Ohio
    UPDATE: So the peas aren't much of a hit at all, but the mealworms are a different story. I tried them for the first time today and they go crazy for them! It got them walking my way to within a few feet of me. Hopefully, they'll start to be more comfortable around me. They are starting to learn their routine better and go inside at nigt with much less persuasion. No more chasing and flapping feathers. I think if I put some mealworms inside each night, they might even learn to be happy to go in. Also, Waffles loves the pool now, and goes in eagerly each day. Potato is a little more tentative and only stays in for a few seconds before jumping back out. But at least they figured out what to do with the pool =] Yay for happier ducks!

    ~PW
     

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