Newbie with a few feed and water questions

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by sk78, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. sk78

    sk78 New Egg

    Jun 28, 2011
    I've wanted ducks for awhile and finally took the leap and picked up 3 a couple weeks ago. I have two mallards (don't know if they are drakes or ducks) and a pekin who is terrified of me but will hopefully get over it.
    It's been a learning experience to say the least! [​IMG]

    My plan was always to have them live outside and to not lock them up at night. I don't want anything to happen to them anymore than anyone else would, but I travel a bit and made the decision up front to try to keep ducks "free range" or "outdoor" as I won't be here to lock them up every night. I live in the middle of suburban sprawl in southern California, we have cats, possums and apparently some neighbors claim raccoons. I plan to built them a cozy little house that they can go in when the wind picks up or the temperatures get a little too cold, but the door will be open at night.

    I suspect I may get flamed for the above paragraph, I hope not because the ducks will have plenty of love and space to roam and feed - I just can't be there every night to lock them up.

    One thing I learned quickly, as you all did I'm sure, is that they make a MESS with their water! At first I thought they had poorly designed equipment for drinking as it all seems to squirt out the sides, then I later read that they are filtering organisms for food - cool! But still messy. Not only messy, but they drain their water so quickly that I end up rinsing and filling 2-3 times a day. This is no big deal when I'm around, but when I'm away I need to find a better solution. This leads me to my first question:

    - What solutions are out there, or tricks have you experienced duck owners discovered that will facilitate a 3-4 day supply of water? (excluding lakes and ponds - I don't have room for that) I noticed there are 2 and 5 gallon "poultry fountains" - that's a lot of volume, but if they spill/spit it all out in one day it's not good.

    Next question: Feed. I read some threads here and it sounds like the consensus is to supply 24/7 feed. I can do that, I suppose it's just a limit of the container. So if I'm giving each duck 1/2 lb of feed that would be 1.5 lbs a day so for a 4 day absence 6 lbs should cut it. Is it really that simple? They will also be able to forage and find critters in the yard during the day.

    So to summarize, I'm working on finding solutions to feed and water the ducks while I'm away. When possible I will have friends and family stop by and take care of it, but I can't rely on that 100%. I do realize that I should have answered these questions before purchasing my new friends, but it was a bit compulsive and now I want to try and make it work.

    Any advice and guidance from anyone that has solved these "problems" will be greatly appreciated.

    Here are some videos of my guys:
    About two weeks ago when I first took them home
    Their first bath
    First Taste of Freedom

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
  2. gofasterstripe

    gofasterstripe Chillin' With My Peeps

    [​IMG] Good Luck with your ducks, you might need it [​IMG]
  3. veronicasmom

    veronicasmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 31, 2009
    I really think you will find you don't have your ducks very long. I think, honestly, you should consider rehoming them. It is just not fair. They are domestic ducks and they need to be safe every night. They can't defend themselves. Please don't just release them somewhere, but try to find a loving responsible home for them. They need daily care. I don't believe what you want to do when you are gone will be good enough for them.
    Good luck to you and them. I hope you find them a place where they are safe and well cared for. Please, consider their welfare before yours.
    Or, better still, do some research on this site and make them a secure area. Around here there are farm sitters that people can hire (myself included) to care for their animals while they are traveling.
  4. stargazingmommy

    stargazingmommy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2011
    A big Wading pool for water. No matter how
    Much clean water is there they will still drink from mud puddles
  5. dumb_cluck

    dumb_cluck Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 26, 2010
    Upstate NY
    Ducks are not "casual" pets. They need security, food and water. 24/7 ! If you cannot provide this then please find a good home for them. You are not doing THEM any favors.......
  6. sk78

    sk78 New Egg

    Jun 28, 2011
    I can tell I've upset some here and without knowing me at all I'm sure you've formed a pretty negative impression of my animal care-taking abilities. I'm rethinking my decision. I can't lock them in every night and it sounds like if I don't it is almost guaranteed they will fall prey (I'm interpreting this from your responses). I'm not trying to be reckless with the little guys and don't want to see them hurt, I'm just trying to find a way to make it work out.
    I will stop by and speak with the owner of the feed shop where I purchased them; she's very knowledgeable, LOVES animals and is well respected in the area. I'll run my scenario by her and see what she has to say.

    @stargazingmommy - thanks for the info. Today I set out 3 separate bowls of water thinking that if they soil one really bad they at least have other options to fall back on [​IMG]

    If I do decide to keep them I guess I will just experiment with extended food and water supply strategies.
  7. Our 5 gallon waterer is about half full at the beginning of the next day -- with 9 geese, 16 ducks, and more than 25 chickens. I would think if you just had a few ducks that the waterer would do fine for several days, IF you had a supplemental kiddie pond or an extra waterer as backup. I'd try a 2 gallon one and keep track of how long it takes for them to drink it and then you'd know. But they should still have a bucket or a kiddie pool to get their heads into. Even my big 5 gallon waterer doesn't really let them get their heads wet.

    If the outside area has grass/forage, and they can search for their own food, once they grow up they will probably need just supplemental feeding. I have 9 week old ducks, and they forage in my orchard for most of their food, and get varying amounts of food from me in the morning and night otherwise. In late summer / midwinter I'll probably supplement but until then, I feel like they are doing well. They are alert, happy, have beautiful glossy feathers and are fun to watch.

    If you aren't able to shut them in their house, then I highly recommend either a permanent fence, or a moveable electric fence. You could either use the portable fence all the time (I would recommend that, just so they get used to it) or just when you know you are going to be gone. You do have to move the fence regularly to a mowed spot, but with only ducks you could probably use a 2 to 3 ft fence, as most domestic ducks don't fly much (unless your mallards are the flying kind). Some people look for dog kennels, the kind with 6 ft high chainlink panels, and use those as a locking run for when you are gone. You can always leave the door open on the kennel when it is safe for the ducks to go out. You can usually find used kennels pretty cheap on craigslist.

    And finally, isn't there a neighbor or a friend or an acquaintance with a reliable teenager / older tween, who could peek at your ducks once a day . . . we have several neighbors that we have check on the birds if we are gone overnight. Ducks really aren't that demanding, especially if you set up the waterers so that they don't have to mess around too much with the hose.

    Hopefully the feed store owner will have good ideas -- ducks are so fun and I hope you can figure out a way to keep them and be able to travel. It is tough. I know we travel a lot less now that we have animals. Your duckies look great -- I love the mallard colorings.
  8. DuckLover2399

    DuckLover2399 Avian American

    Jun 7, 2011
    I think it is wrong of every one of saying how wrong it is. My ducks will be living on a little pond for a couple nights BIG DEAL. Ok back to yoou steve. As one of the people said above me it would be a good idea to have some one check on your ducks everyday. Thats what i am doing. Then aain i have got a pond lol. Please dont listen to the people telling you it is harsh. You could also ask i family member to watch them. It is fun watching ducks for for friends. Oh and [​IMG]
  9. gofasterstripe

    gofasterstripe Chillin' With My Peeps

    Good Luck with your ducks to Ducklover [​IMG]
  10. DuckLover2399

    DuckLover2399 Avian American

    Jun 7, 2011
    My duck are awesome and they love me so i need no luck lol jk i prob do lol

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