Newbie to Ducks

Michigan Transplant

9 Years
Mar 7, 2010
Marionville, MO
I just ordered 4 ducks to be hatched in March and know nothing about ducks except I think they are cute. I ordered Rouens, 3 hens and a drake.
Can someone offer advice on them? How old before they start laying eggs? Are they good egg layers?
I did read some about they like to lay eggs on the ground. They will be in the front chicken pen and I am not sure I will let them out of the outside pen when they are older. I have 13 chickens now and ordered another 12 to get about the same time as the chicks. I bought a saucer the other day at the store and will use that as their swimming pool till they are old enough and it is warm enough for them to go outside. I have an old pool liner that I am going to dig a hole in the ground and line it with the pool liner and make a pond.
Is there anything I should know about these little Quackers? Thanks. Deb
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You'll want to brood them separate from the chickens because they dirty the drinking water really fast. Not good for the chickens. You'll be doing a lot of cleaning in the brooder with them. 4 is an easier number though. Best if you can plan a wire bottomed brooder with a sleeping pad, that way the waste water just falls through into a tub or whatever you have under it.

They need to be able to clean their noses out in deeper water through out the day. Otherwise they get food stuck in it from the "sifting" they do between the food and water dish. They're terribly MESSY.

The rouens should lay pretty well at around 6-7 months old (or later due to their size potential) but really they're known as a meat duck. They lay well enough to be dual purpose IMO. Whether they lay in a nest box or not... depends. Mine do most of the time. You might find buried eggs, eggs in water, laying around on the ground, up in a chicken nest... it's like Easter every day.

They're fun, hilarious animals.


But fun.
Ducks are precious!

And you need to figure out before they arrive how to manage their water. Many people become discouraged and exasperated with their first ducklings because they did not anticipate normal duckling behavior.

Do a search on the forums for "duckling water brooder" and read some of the posts.

I raised eleven runners from day-old, and it was intense and wonderful! The house never had a bad odor - not once. And their brooder was most of the guest bedroom. I did need to change bedding 3 to 5 times a day. I used towels because of my allergies, and because the ducklings tried to eat shavings. But not all ducklings do that, and you'll only be dealing with four, not eleven. That will make a big difference.

They need warmth, with cooler spots so they can regulate their temperature. They need to be kept away from drafts. It's okay for them to be in water up to their bellies even at a few days old (and you may want to if they splatter crumbles on themselves like my Runners did). But they need to be monitored, the water needs to be warm (85 to 90F), they need to be returned to a clean dry brooder after baths, and if they don't preen right away, they need to be dried off so they won't catch a chill. Once they're several weeks old you don't need to baby them as much with the after bath treatment.

Figure out how you're going to keep their water from soaking their bedding. It can be done! Look at Wifezilla's brooder, see what Gryeyes does. It may be 70%cocoa who uses a neat setup rather like a rabbit hutch, with a hardware cloth floor and towels over that, with a pan underneath the whole brooder. I love that!

Ducklings are full of personality and can become sweet little pets. They will get themselves into preposterous trouble if you aren't carefully managing their environment (one night the ducklings got into a potted plant in the guest room. Oh, mercy, the mess! How did they DO that????!!!!

They'll run right under your feet, the dog's feet, the kids' feet . . . they'll stick their heads in dangerous places, eat bad things if they can.

They'll hurl themselves off the sofa, off the counter.

Now that I've possibly worried you, I can tell you that they are funny, winsome, chipper. Some are adventurous, some shy. They do not seem to be as subject to a number of diseases that affect chickens. Our Runners are excellent foragers and pest managers and weed eaters and egg layers. Their poop is abundant and wonderful fertilizer!

Ducklings need three times the niacin that chicks do, so if you're planning to feed chick feed, please please supplement with niacin to avoid possible neurological damage. Not all ducklings apparently get this, but enough do that I would love for you to avoid the heartache.

I hope I've helped.

THANK you all for your tips. I have an old jetted tub we took off the patio and it is in the barn right now. Was thinking of using that. I did buy a small saucer for kids to slide in the snow that I thought of using as their first swimming experience. I know they are messy and that doesn't scare me. My parents had ducks years ago and raised them with their chickens and had a half barrel for their swimming pool. If I remember right, they were all free range. My chickens are right now but during the summer they get into the garden. So we are going to fence off a large area behind the chicken house that has a few trees for shade for the chickens. I might let the ducks out there as well since I was planning to use our old swimming pool as a pond and would need to put it in the fenced off area.
I had been curious as to how to do the separate arrangements for the little ones but will put the ducks down in the chicken house in the front pen that is free so that they can make whatever mess they want to. It is an area of about 7' x 12' with a door going to an outside fenced pen. I just wanted everyone to get along and not have any fights.
I really appreciate everyone's help and suggestions. My parents had Mallords and I thought these are supposed to look a lot like those. THANK YOU ALL so much. Deb
Hi Deb, sounds like you know what your getting into, even with all the mess and work involved ducks are super cute and fun, so just enjoy them when they come they grow so fast. And don't forget to post pics we thrive on pics of ducklings
Thanks, I will post pictures. I can't wait to get them and wish I would have said I wanted them earlier but then I can't take a chance on the weather being bad. I don't like getting babies even if I am picking them up myself during cold weather. Think the middle of March should be good enough that they won't get cold coming and going into the car and their new home.
I love looking at everyone's pictures as well so will stay here on this sight hoping to see more little babies. Hope everyone is having a good start to their new year. THANKS again to everyone for their help. Deb
JMO, but I think that your ratio of 3 hens to 1 drake is very good. I had that number for quite a while and it was perfect.
Would love to see pics of your babies. I only get adults, so I have to look at pics to get a baby duck fix!!!!!

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