Please help the newbey!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Beratzlaff, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. Beratzlaff

    Beratzlaff Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 26, 2014
    Spokane Washington
    I would like to raise ducks this spring and I live in Northern Idaho. I have no idea where to even start! I would like to get mallards but I can hardly find any information so I am up for suggestions. Since I live in North Idaho they do have to be able to handle hot and cold weather. I also need to know how big to make the coop, if the ducks fly or not, how tall to build their fences, how big of a pond and a run they need. I also need pointers for designing my coop: does it need windows/ventilation and how much, do they need nesting boxes and if so how big and how far off the ground, is it better for the coop to be off the ground, what all do I need to put in the coop? what and how often do I feed them? also how old they have to be before they can be outside on their own, and if you leave the eggs with the parents will they typically raise them? Any information you have on ducks would be so helpful!
     
  2. Learningstill

    Learningstill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The answers to most of your questions vary depending on what you are attempting to attain from the ducks. For example, pet, show, meat, breeding, eggs, and feathers; how many you wish to raise; weather; predators; and the amount you are willing to invest.

    This website is a great place to get answers. We have been raising ducks for three years now and learn new things all the time. The library resource books are also another great place to find useful information or Googling specific questions.

    We started with mallards. Personally, I like other breeds more. Mallards lay a small amount of eggs and they are small for meat birds. The drakes are horn-balls and harass the ducks regularly. There are many breeds which tolerate cold and warm temperatures. We live in Michigan and we have mallards, welsh harlequins, khaki Campbell's, and this spring are adding saxony and silver appleyard. Depending on which duck breed you decide to raise, will decide the flying factor. Mallards are excellent flyers.

    We have read that you need 4-5 sq ft of coop space per duck. The fencing needs to protect them from both ground and air predators. They will need a secure coop where you can put them up for the night and a secure pen for daytime play. The coop will need ventilation.

    Feeding amount I have read varies from person to person. Some give feed access all day, while others allow ducks to forage during the day and feed at night. Ducks need higher vitamins then drakes for egg production. They need access to water 24/7, enough to dip their entire head under water. It is not necessary for them to have a pond, although they enjoy it. If you decide to incorporate a pond, you will have to drain it frequently. The area where the ducks water will be kept will get very muddy.


    They have to be practically fully feathered to be outside all day and night.

    Some ducks do go broody and sit on the nest and have great hatch rates. We had two females last spring do this.

    I tried to answer your questions, but like I said you have to figure out what you want in detail for answers to be very specific and ask those questions pertaining to your wants.

    Hopefully, you find this helpful. I wish you all the best in your new journey. God bless.
     
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  3. Finny

    Finny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 5, 2014
    Alright here goes...
    First off I would check out the sticky on raising ducklings. How many ducks are you planning on getting? Are you planning on letting them free range or are you going to keep them penned?

    As ducklings, they eat unmedicated chick starter feed until they reach 8 weeks. At 8 weeks, they eat unmedicated chick grower feed until they reach 16 weeks. After 17 weeks they eat chicken layer feed if they are girls, and if they are boys they eat game bird feed.

    Their house should be off the ground. You should use either pine shavings or straw for the bottom. Ducks are unlike chickens in that they roost, so you don't need any perches or elevated areas in the duck house. The minimum size of the house is 2 square feet per duck. The house should be ventilated, you can literally put tiny holes in the sides of the house or make a closable window. I built my house pretty basically. I nailed four giant wooden planks together, make a door and a window. The roof is slanted towards the back of the house. I added wooden planks for support inside the house in various locations. I can post pics tomorrow.

    For the pen, the most important thing is that it has to be absolutely predator proof. I recently had a predator break into my duck pen and killed one of my ducks :(. I had to make serious changes. So first, the pen should be about 4 or 5 feet tall. Mallards do fly, but you can trim their flight feathers so they are not able to fly. To make it predator proof, you want strong fencing, strong netting to put on top, a door to both the pen and house with a couple latches on each. You should buy a bunch of concrete slabs to place around the outside of the whole entire pen to prevent predators from digging in. Also, to keep away hawks you can buy predator tape off amazon. Its reflective and makes a noise when wind hits it.

    For a pond, use your judgment on the size. It depends on how many ducks you are getting. But make sure you are able to clean/ empty out the pond every week or so. There are also plants that can help clean the pond.

    For ducklings, they can start to permanently live outside when they are a month old and the weather is 70 or above. Anything lower, and you should wait until they get their feathers in, or you can take them out for short visits outside if the temp is around 50 or 60 and the ducklings are six weeks old or older. Ducks usually have their feathers in around 8 weeks old. Whatever you do, make sure the little ducklings do not get a chill.

    Mallards make very good mothers.

    If you free range your ducks and they can forage, they won't need as much food as ducks who are not allowed to forage. I would watch how much food your ducks eat in a day when they are full grown, and adjust the amount of food you give them so that they finish it by the end of the day. Ducklings should have food available 24/7 until they reach 8 weeks old.

    Good luck and have fun with the ducks! :)
     
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  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Southern New England
    Hmmm. Idaho. My dad took us to Idaho one summer. I don't remember much, but I remember I had a good time.

    Welcome to the Duck Forum!

    As I was reading your post, my feeling was to suggest you look at Rouens.

    Also, get ahold of Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks, and if you can, The Ultimate Pet Duck Guidebook. And search the archives here. And keep posting questions, we like to interact - those of us who hang out here.

    Most domestic ducks don't have to have a pond - in fact, swim pans or modified tubs and troughs work better for keeping them clean.

    I will say that after this winter - plan for weather extremes. How will you keep them warm enough when it's -20˚F? How will you reach the coop with 3 feet of snow on the ground? Where will the water come from ? These are not questions to discourage you. No, I want more people to have ducks, they are fabulous!!! At the same time, I have seen some issues pop up with some regularity and one is water. Ducks need to be able to wash their entire heads frequently, from the time they are hatched, to avoid infections. And boy, do they splash!!!!

    Learningstill makes a good point. What do you see as the role of ducks at your place? I needed help with the slugs. I am in suburbia, wanted something small and adorable. Of course, I got runners. Then I found buffs. We had 80 to 90% fewer slugs after one year. I am ecstatic. And I learned I love duck eggs.
     
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  5. Beratzlaff

    Beratzlaff Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 26, 2014
    Spokane Washington
    Thank you so much everyone! I was thinking to first try like 4 ducks this season and if all goes well maybe add more or add chickens or something later. I mostly want them as pets ... I want something loving but yet durable enough to take care of themselves .... I am planning on having a coop and maybe a caged run but letting them out about once a week or so to roam my half acre chainlink fenced back yard.... I would prefer a less delicate duck so I will feel better about them free ranging in the back yard. For their pond I was planning on using a stock tank with a platform around it and a hose to drain the tank onto my raspberry bushes. Meat or eggs would be a nice bonus if they are good at raising their own young or if they are good layers. Thank you for he suggestions and anymore would be appreciated along with breed ideas!
     
  6. Finny

    Finny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you want a stocker breed, mallards are probably not for you. If you like the mallard look though, maybe try rouens. Welsh harlequins are good egg layers and are absolutely beautiful! I am warning you now though (especially since its your first time having ducks) you can get really attached to the little boogers, so eating them might become hard ;).
     
  7. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    What about anconas? Carol Deppe and others really like them.
     
  8. Beratzlaff

    Beratzlaff Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 26, 2014
    Spokane Washington
    So I wanted to let everyone know that my first season with ducks was a complete success! I Originally bought 2 Cayugas and 2 Khaki Campbells and kept them inside as babies way longer than I should have. but you live and you learn! One duck got attacked by the neighbor dog before I could even gender them, But they other three ended up being all female. I let them roam around my half acre backyard with my dogs and everything and they all get along. They now know my voice and come running across the yard quacking at me for food. It brightens my day every time! I was not planning on keeping them through the winter because I assumed they were as fragile as chickens but after doing some research I found out that they don't need a ton of extra care. Just a couple days ago I went and picked up a Cayuga Drake so fingers crossed I will have babies in the spring.
    Speaking of which I have heard that some duck will raise their young and some wont. If you have any info on raising them if the mom doesn't or anything like that I would greatly appreciate it.Also what the rules are on eating the eggs in the spring now that i have a drake?
    Thank you again for you advise before! I love my ducks and they earn their keep by eating all of the bugs (especially spiders) out of my backyard, plus it is like and Easter egg hunt every morning when I go to collect eggs!
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    All 4 of my ducks!
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    All of my females have whiskey names but I don't know what i should do with the drake(s) because it would be pretty cool to call him rocks or neat or chilled so like if Pendleton had a baby and the dad was rocks the baby would be Pendlton on the rocks ;) only problem is they have so many babies at once!​
     

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