Questions On the Care of Keeping Ducklings

The Wolf Queen

10 Years
May 2, 2009
Albuquerque, NM
I have 10 Scovy babies due to hatch the 31rst pf March and I have a couple of questions.
1. Will they be able to eat out of a regular chick feeder?
2. How many days after they are born will I be able to let them swim?
3. How old do they have to be before I can let them swim without my supervision?
Thanks everyone
Baby Ducks aren't really supposed to "swim" until they are fully feathered because they don't have the necessary oils on feathers to keep them from getting soaking wet and therefore too cold - I would say this goes especially for babies kept outside. We did "cheat" and stuck our runners in the bathtub in a warm bath once they started to get feathers. I don't think we let them swim by themselves until they were fully feathered and outside on their own in the coop.

It is important for them to have a dish of water that they can stick their bill in to "clean" their sinuses and to eat. Ducks need water to help them wash their food down.

Hope that helps.
I don't know about scovies, but here's one week old Cayuga enjoying the heck of their "pool":


Granted, we are in Florida, and day temperature has been around 65-70 and sunny. I let them out for a couple of hours a day.

Yes, they can eat from a chick feeder, and learn very quickly. In fact, I don't even show day old ducklings the feeder, they find it themselves. All I do is dip their beeks into the water so they learn how to drink.
Some people let them swim before they lose their fluff, but I err on the side of caution and don't let them swim until they're 5 or 6 weeks old.
Based on my experience with runners,

yes they can eat out of a chick feeder - some ducklings may need a shallow open tray the first day or two, but mine were using the feeder right away

I am brooding them indoors, in a very large tub. At about 4 days old, we had a swim in a cake pan in about an inch of water, and dried off with the dry towel that was their bedding. At about 7 days old, we had a swim in two inches of water in a 90 degree F tub, for about 3 minutes, then went right back into the clean, dry, 90 degree brooder to dry. I watched them closely. One seemed unable to preen herself dry, so I scooped her up and dried her with a washcloth. at 10 days old, we did the bathtub routine again, 3 to 5 minutes, and again I helped dry three who were soaked and did not seem to be able to handle preening. The other eight were fine. I watched until everyone was mostly dry.

If you don't have time to spend with them after, just wait.

Without supervision, they must have their feathers, and have them properly oiled (
) and I would (as I am sure you will) give them a test run or two, and watch for whether they are able to get into and out of the water easily or not.
I have 5 BEI ducklings....will be 3 wks next Tues. I want to know how to keep them OUT of their water dish !!! If the dish is too small it's M T in minutes. They splash it out, dig it out with their beaks etc. I keep changing their papers constantly. They have a brooder light on them and don't seem to have a problem with the water and don't appear to be wet. Yes, they are inside.
Rochester, MA
This is my fix: I'm using a cottage cheese container (will graduate to a Cool Whip container in a couple weeks) with a slice cut out of the lid.


The ducklings can get their heads into the water, but not their bodies (nor shavings, nor poop). They'll fling a little bit of water around with their bills, but this has really cut down on the water mess in the brooder.

And I gave my two Cayuga ducklings a dip in an up-turned cake cover with about 3 inches of very warm tap water for about 10 minutes, last night. I dried them off after their play and put them directly under the heat lamp and they finished the drying bit themselves by preening, then fell soundly asleep. I'll do that again in this weekend, with maybe another inch of water in their "pool" on the bathroom counter.
You Absolutely should get the book "Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks" by Dave Holderread.
It will tell you so much about raising ducks! I wouldn't know anything without this book, and BYC message board of course!
I let my ducks swim at just a few days old. I filled up the sink and let them swim. They lived inside though so they never caught a chill. As if they didnt already try to swim in there waterer anyway!
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