Questions from a duck "noob"

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Gigglebox, Mar 22, 2015.

  1. Gigglebox

    Gigglebox In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2015
    Hi everyone!
    I'm brand new to the forum, and the life of ducks, too. My husband and I sold our house in the city and bought one on 9 acres in the country to pursue dreams not possible where we were. One of those dreams is to own ducks!

    We are converting our 20'x8' shed into a duck house and plan to get a mix of 60 ducks (primarily for egg production, secondarily for meat). But there are some basic question i have that i can't seem to find answers to...

    1. If given access to a pond/pool, do they also need separate drinking water?

    2. How much food, i.e. Cups per duck, can I expect to feed in a day?

    3. How often do you muck out their house (we intend to use hay for bedding, and compost it when they are done with it)?

    I had more but this is all I can think of right now...thanks in advance!
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Bravo for you, and welcome!

    There are a variety of ways duck folks have done all this, so please don't feel confused. What works for one may not work for the next person.

    I strongly recommend you invest in Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks, and keep up here on the forum. I have a small flock - pets - 9 Runners, 4 Buffs. One of the Buffs is a drake. So far, so good! They are all about five years old, and delightful.

    Since we are such a small operation, I find that two concrete mixing pans, sometimes three, are perfect. I can dump, rinse, and refill quickly (I am not a big person). They poop in their water, so having a drinking pot is more or less for my own sanity. However - it saves water because I can dump, rinse and refill the water pots more often than I need to do that for the swim water.

    Speaking of water, many duck newbies have no way to know how important water management is until the little beauties make a swamp of the brooder, which becomes aromatic and unhealthy.

    Here are some solutions to consider. Remember, they are waterfowl. One might be tempted to reduce their access to water to solve the problem. One would be mistaken, because then there will be an increased risk of eye, ear, and sinus infections. And ducks are happier when they have water to play in. Happy ducks are healthier ducks, in my experience.


    post number 8 from this

    Storey's Guide has a table of feeding recommendations so you can get an estimate of their food needs. At the same time, each duck, each flock is different, and weather and other factors can affect their eating. So be prepared to be flexible. You'll need to monitor their body condition, especially with such a large bunch - I am a small bunch person, so I have the luxury of paying close attention to a small number. But Storey's is written mostly for people in your situation.

    We see stories here of many ducklings with niacin deficiency. Regardless of what the feed guy says, ducklings need more niacin than is in chick starter. And while many ducklings apparently show little outward signs of it, I am convinced that they very well may have internal problems that are related to the deficiency.

    Also I suspect many duckling deaths are attributed to a "mystery," when it was poor nutrition.

    And to head that off, I would start with perhaps 100 mg of plain (plain, plain, plain, not no-flush, not timed-release, this is a big point of confusion) niacin per gallon of drinking water for their first 8 weeks. Or if you prefer, and I think I would go with this, a tablespoon of brewer's yeast per cup or two of their feed daily. Please read up on this and come up with your own approach. edit to add - brewer's yeast, not baking yeast, not winemaking yeast, not anything active - brewer's yeast is a nutritional supplement.

    And by the way, for some reason, many feed stores do not carry these items… I suspect they will eventually. (end of edit)

    I do room service daily - spot pick poops, fluff bedding with a cultivator. Replace dry bedding as needed.

    To avoid water problems, have a separate area for watering. I keep water and food available 24/7. But with a watering station and food area, cleanup is quick and easy and that preserves most of the bedding.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  3. Gigglebox

    Gigglebox In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2015
    Wow thank you so much for such an extensive response! I will definitely look into that book.

    I definitely plan on plenty of water availability as the nutrient dense water will be an important player in our garden.
    Also, friendly tip for anyone reading: you can fill an extra kiddie pool half with soil, then water. Let your ducks muck it up, then block their access to it. Once the muck and soil separate a bit from the water, siphon the extra water out (try not to remove any soil/poop). Let it dry out a little, and then you can plant right into it for a super, nutrient dense spot for anything you'd like :)

    Have you heard of jack spirko? He has a you tube video series called "the duck chronicles" which document his experience with a ton of layer ducks, from the day he picks them up from the post office. It's an entertaining series and he has some great tips in keeping brooders dry without limiting water.
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Yes, I am aware of Jack's work in sustainability - and that he has gotten himself into the duck world (c: Glad someone is sharing this information.
  5. duckluck

    duckluck Dulcimyrh Ducks

    Oct 22, 2009
    You might want to start out a bit slower than 60 ducks off the getgo, would be my suggestion...maybe start with 10-20 until you get some experience with them? You don't want to get overwhelmed when you are starting out, and little ducks get big fast!
    1 person likes this.
  6. seashoreduck

    seashoreduck Songster

    May 6, 2013
    I second this.

    I jumped from 4 to 11 and it's quite the "flock upgrade". 4 was no worry at all but 11 has been a bit hard...of course I got them much littler this time...also hard.
  7. buff goose guy

    buff goose guy Songster

    Feb 9, 2014
    Mississippi Y'all
    i always recommend that u have a pond for ur ducks but if that not possible youll need somewhere the can swim and wash but that water will need to be changed reglarly like there drinking water.
  8. Gigglebox

    Gigglebox In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2015
    Thanks guys :) if the demand is there for the eggs, we are eventually wanting to get to 350 ducks so 50 is starting small for us ;) i stay at home with my son so tending to the flock frequently throughout the day is no biggie. We are going to just have some kiddie pools at first (seperate from drinking water) but do plan on digging out a pond adjacent to a swale system when we have spare extra funds.

    The advice and experience is appreciated :)

    ETA we decided to start with 50 ducks instead of 60 to stay within our budget for this venture.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  9. Jennn27

    Jennn27 Songster

    Mar 9, 2015
    Marshall, TX
    Well, maybe I have odd ducks, but here there is no such thing as "separate drinking water"! lol I have a pond, a pan for the chicks and ducks to drink water, a tupperware container for the pygmy goats' water, AND a kiddie pool. They are ALL used by the ducks for water play. They do not discriminate! LOL

  10. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General

    With 50 ducks in a 20' x 8' shed just at night, I think you will have to change the bedding quite often. Duck poop is very wet, and very wet on hay or straw, or even shavings can = mold, maybe in as little as two days, especially during warmer weather. Mold can = disease, which will equal reduced egg production.

    If I have done my math correctly, a 20' x 8' shed for 50 ducks = 3.2 square feet per duck.

    Some good info here:

    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015

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