Soon-to-be new duck mom (~ mid-March!) with a few questions...

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by anaxjor, Feb 14, 2017.

  1. anaxjor

    anaxjor In the Brooder

    Feb 13, 2017
    Hi! So, I'm totally new here, but I'm really excited about getting ducks this spring and was wondering if anyone might be able to help out with a few questions.

    I've been reading *a lot* online and off (forums, blogs, storey's guide, etc.) in preparation... but I want to make sure of a few things before I start stocking up on stuff...

    I've read different things re. food and food storage - mostly "buy small quantities." I'm terrible with math and I'm not sure what constitutes small or approximately how long a 10 lb./25 lb./etc. bag will last for 4 ducks. (I do have a spare vittles vault that holds up to a 50 lb bag of food though... Once they've graduated from starter feed, is it really bad to get the big bags as long as I keep them in an airtight container?)

    I was planning on ordering a bag of duck starter from McGeary Organics, but I'd like to know how big of a bag I should start off with for 4 ducklings - 10 or 25?

    I've also read to wait a week or two before using kiln dried shavings in the brooder... what do you suggest as an alternative? I feel like I could almost set up their brooder the same way my hedgehog's enclosure used to be -- the floor of which was simply a layer of coroplast underneath interchangeable fleece liners. When they'd get messy, I'd wipe down the coroplast w/ a water + chlorhexidine solution, dry it, and then replace the fleece. I've seen a few people mention painters drop cloths and tablecloths, but fleece is just so cheap (especially when it's in the remnants section), and it can be easily thrown in the wash on sanitize to be reused...

    Also, a couple of serious backyard planning questions:

    The area I want to convert into a duck home (for when they're fully grown in the summer) is backed up to our garage... It's a covered area with 3 walls that I guess the previous homeowners sorta used as a summer hangout spot - I'm thinking of just screening in the 4th side & adding a door. Last summer the garage was sprayed for termites, and last fall (October) it was sprayed for spiders/other pests. Should this be a concern? I obviously don't intend to have it sprayed again, but could there be any residual chemicals from that many months back that I should worry about?

    Also, one of our two dogs got whipworm last fall... I had one dog on interceptor (from her previous vet in another state) so she was fine, but the other was on heartgard because my current vet didn't carry interceptor. Needless to say, I now order interceptor for them both. However, I have heard of whipworms living in soil for years... If there are whipworms in the yard, 1. can these affect the ducks? ...and 2. what can I do about it? (I'm still quite annoyed that my yard could have been potentially contaminated all because of one day at the groomer's/doggy daycare.) Is dusting the future-duck-areas with diatomaceous earth a good idea? Is it enough? I'm probably overly paranoid, but I just want to make sure the ducks aren't at risk...

    The ducks shouldn't really moving out there until mid to late May, so we have a few months to prep the yard... Those are just my biggest concerns.

    And, of course, any other advice is appreciated as well! Thanks. :)
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017

  2. cheezenkwackers

    cheezenkwackers Songster

    Aug 28, 2016
    Memphis, TN
    I have only been doing this for about a year but here is my opinion.

    First, buy the big bag of starter if you can keep it from spoiling. Ducks grow really fast and soon enough they are eating larger quantities. They can eat starter for many weeks and you can reduce the protein content by adding oats as they get bigger to prevent Angel wing. Oat quantities are in Stores's guide.
    As for the pine shavings, my first two ducklings I got at two days old and had not yet read the books so I put them right on the shavings and they were fine. My next three, I hatched from eggs and had read the books. After they hatched, I put them in a Rubbermaid container with rubber shelf liner on top of the pine shavings. That worked well as the shavings absorbed the water but they couldn't eat it. Your flannel should work the same way just realize ducks get things really wet, really fast! They really love water and making a mess!

    As for the insecticide, I would research how long it lasts. Ducks will eat insects that have died or are dying from the insecticide and that could cause them problems.

    I have not had any worm problems but I know diatomaceous earth acts like microscopic broken glass and dries out living things. So, I would think that that would work. I grow several herbs in my yard for me, but the ducks will nibble on them. Among them two are said to act as natural dewormers: epazote and mint. I will be planting some epazote just for my ducks this summer.

    If you want one more good book to read, I really learned alot from "Duck Eggs Daily" by Lisa Steele. Storey's is the best but Ms Steele has backyard ducks and great advice. I love my ducks and get lots of enjoyment from them. I hope you do too!
  3. anaxjor

    anaxjor In the Brooder

    Feb 13, 2017
    Oh wow, you're in Memphis, too!

    Thank you so much for the advice.

    By "big bag," do you mean skip all the way up to a 50 lb bag or just get the 25 instead of 10? I 'd think either way it should keep fine in the storage container we have. (Been using them for the dog and cat food for a while. The cat eats so little dry food now though that it's pointless to have that big of a container for her, so I figured I'd just re-purpose it for duck food.)

    The one thing I liked about fleece when I used it for the hedgehog is that it's somewhat water resistant and dries out pretty quickly... I'd just wash a load of the liners on sanitize and after the spin cycle they'd be just barely damp, so they dry in no time flat. I do have a bunch of extra shelf liner too though...

    I guess I should call the pest control guy to find out what he used on the garage in October. I'll have to go through old paperwork to find out about the termite treatment as that was something that was done before we even moved (homeowners insurance required it and I think the previous owner even paid for it). Everything should be free of dead bugs by the time the ducks are moved out though. (I plan to thoroughly clean out that area and likely put down some vinyl flooring or something to make it easier to clean.) I wouldn't think there would still be any dying bugs still unless there's some serious residual stuff left behind (but if it worked that well, I think they'd be out a lot of repeat business, lol).

    I'm already growing some mint, it'd be pretty easy for me to start a second patch in duck-territory, that stuff grows like crazy... and thanks for the heads up on epazote, might as well plant some of that too! Do you know if there's a list somewhere of plants I should specifically avoid? We haven't really planted anything yet except for marigolds and mint. I would think that most edible flowers would be okay, right? Oh, and my mother and I planted some acuba along one section of fence, but it isn't where the ducks will be. We may also have some daffodils... not totally sure how many/where yet, as I've only seen 2 so far.

    And, as long as diatomaceous earth is fine to use, I might as well sprinkle it around for good measure...

    I'll check out "Duck Eggs Daily," too, thank you!

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