NOVICE Duck questions

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by rebcart1905, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. rebcart1905

    rebcart1905 In the Brooder

    Mar 11, 2014
    Princeton, Minnesota
    Hey everyone, brand new here, and we will be brand new to ducks as well the by the 3rd week in April as we ordered 9 ducks yesterday! And I have a few novice questions as far as housing and winter husbandry....We have a large pole shed that is mainly used for tractor/hay storage also has a little "game room" where I plan to keep the ducklings when they first arrive, out back we have our horse pasture, pond within that horse pasture I plan to use as our main "duck pond" and was planning on building a floating duck house for them during the warm weather months, my goal is to have them free ranging as much as possible in the horse pasture/pond I still need to fence that area off in "duck proof" fencing? I plan to build a permanent shelter/pen for them as well but I guess im not sure how necessary that is during the warm weather months (we're in Minnesota)

    Second is winter care.... My thoughts were to set up a 12x12 area in our pole shed (it has concrete floor) of course lots of bedding/liner down, heat lamp necessary? After the winter we had this year Im thinking YES and what do you guys do for access to swimming water, do your ducks run about in the snow?

    Or build a completely separate shed/enclosure for them outside with access to the outside with a heated pond?

    bleh im such a novice duck and poultry person in general I have no idea what im getting myself into....if it helps we ordered 3 Indian Runners and 4 Buff Orpingtons.

  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England

    I have a flock of runners and buffs [​IMG]

    There is a steep learning curve, and duck forum members are, for the most part, a kind and helpful group. Hey, sometimes someone might get a little cranky.[​IMG]

    You have some good questions.

    In no particular order, some of my first thoughts:

    Duck proof fencing, well, more like predator-proof fencing. Predators are just wild about duck dinner. If you think you don't have many, you may be surprised. A friend lost her duck to a stray cat the other night.

    Then there are the usual, raccoons, coyotes, loose dogs, owls, hawks, foxes, sometimes bobcats, weasels. . . .

    The first questions are about raising ducklings, and here is a link that will help. I think the 2 weeks for cutting back on food and water is way to early (the source is a very good book on raising ducklings, but many of us here don't agree). 6 to 8 weeks more like it.

    And there is the search feature, very nice.

    Some of my favorite posts about water management

    Water management - when you get it figured out life gets so much better.

    Please take a look at these links and come back with more questions and comments. I know I did not answer all your questions. I am kinda pooped right now.

    Some of my runners are not cold hardy, so I keep everyone above freezing especially at night. Mine are in our unheated walkout basement in their own "room." Very handy in the winter, when there are three feet of snow outside. I don't have to shovel to get to them. Also less worried about predators. But not an option for most.

    With added heat, there are some precautions. First, fire hazard. Second, there is such a thing as too warm - the difference in outside versus inside temperature concerns some people. Also, I have noticed that we can start arguing about heat, then I will see that no one posted an actual temperature in the argument. (We have respectful arguments most of the time - there are many ways to successfully raise ducks.) So watch for that. Our night shelter gets down to about 40˚F sometimes. My ducks are four years old and have precious few health problems, even though I let them go outside for a walk in 20 degree weather, then back into the warmer shelter.

    Ventilation is important - ducks are waterfowl and yet, if it's too moist and humid, they can develop lung problems.

    My ducks will run in the snow a little bit but they seem to prefer the places where I scatter used bedding and sawdust - they can get frostbite. My runners especially can start limping because their feet get too cold. The buffs seem much better at keeping warm enough outside. But, the buffs suffer from heat more than the runners. Plan for being able to help them in extreme weather of any sort.

    Okay, I must turn in. Again, welcome!
  3. rebcart1905

    rebcart1905 In the Brooder

    Mar 11, 2014
    Princeton, Minnesota
    Thank you very much! Super helpful :)
  4. Richb353

    Richb353 Chirping

    Glad I live in Florida, don't have to worry about the cold problems you get to enjoy. My property is surrounded by grove and pastures which means coyote, bobcat, and raccoon can walk right up the the 4' fence without a problem. Basically, the fence around the duck pasture keeps the ducks in, but the predators seem to come and go as they please. The grove that borders my property to the south is sandy and I see fresh footprints, usually coyote, every morning. I had to learn about predators the hard way.

    I don't have a large enough pond for a floating duckhouse, so I herd the flock into a secure, enclosed pen around dusk every night. It's big enough that I can leave all the ducks in there for a day or two if I have to. (I just received 21 ducklings this week, so we will see how that goes when they are out of the brooder and full size)

    Congrats on the ducks. It's exciting to dive in head first. Despite the surprises and challenges, ducks are well worth the effort!


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