Taking care of ducklings and setting up an enclosure - LOTS of questions (your pictures are welcomed

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Kiara1125, Sep 10, 2014.

  1. Kiara1125

    Kiara1125 New Egg

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    Aug 1, 2013
    Arcadia, FL
    Does anyone have pictures of their ducklings growing up in a brooder on a weekly basis? I'd love to see your brooders and how the ducklings progressed as they grew up. I'm thinking about getting 3 female black//blue swedish ducks and maybe a drake. What do you guys suggest? I mainly want eggs and awesome pets. Also, how long do ducklings stay in the brooder? When should I transfer them to their outdoor enclosure?

    On another note, I'd love to see the enclosures you guys have for your ducks. I'm thinking about an enclosure (two wood sides and two screen sides with a screen door) that's about 12ft x 18ft right up against my fence. I'm going to let the ducks roam around in my fenced yard (6ft tall wooden fence) while I'm supervising them. Since I have outdoor cats, I don't feel comfortable letting the ducks roam free without being able to watch them. These cats are super nice and they don't even chase my geckos when they're out, but I just want to be on the safe side. I also have two dogs (a bichon frisé and a beagle/aussie/lab mix) and I don't know how to introduce them to the ducks. They're fine with the cats, but I'm thinking that my bichon might actually be scared of the ducks. Haha ... Any suggestions on introductions are greatly appreciated. In the enclosure, there's going to be no floor, so it will be just the dirt and grass. Because of this, I am going to dig a hole for my 50gal pond. Is water lettuce and water hyacinth safe for ducks to eat? I want to thin out my 100gal pond.

    This is what I was planning on doing for the ducks and it works around my yard already. There are plants on the side for cover and shade, then there's an oak sapling that will grow and provide plenty of shade. I already have 3 huge oak trees in the yard for shade, though. Does this look like a good plan? Will there be problems with the ducks if the cats can get on the roof of the duck enclosure? Will it scare the ducks? Also, does this seem like there will be enough ventilation in the enclosure? I guess I'm asking if this is a good enclosure overall. What do you guys think?

    One more thing, when should I start to feed them brewer's yeast? I'm planning on feeding them some fresh fruits and vegetables as well, so how should I prepare the grit? Should I stick it in a dish or just spread it in the grass in the enclosure?

    Also, when do you guys think is the best time to switch the feed from starter to grower? I'll be switching it from 20% to 16%, since there's no 18% feed around here. Would it be fine for me to switch the feed at 2-4 weeks old and then feed them the 16% for the rest of their lives? Or, do I need the 18% until they're about 8 weeks old?

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    I'm sorry that I have so many questions, but your help is GREATLY appreciated. Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2014
  2. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    On, Canada
    Going the break this post down to respond better to it, okay?

    First, if you only want eggs and pets? skip the drake. You don't need him and since you cannot free range they complicate things, how? well they can be aggressive they also can be overbearing with females so at least 2-3 ducks per.. and some need more than that to not harass the girls. Now i don't dislike drakes i know own a lot of them but i do breed so that option changes my needs, for pet flocks they are not needed and are an angle most do not need. Get 4 ducks, keep it simple, they do not need a drake to lay and you'll have an easier time.

    I think i have the odd brooder pic, some of my ducks are brooded by me but most by my own ducks...

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    Here some of my Pekin, i started off with a rabbit like cage and then moved them into a pool, yes like a kiddy pool and then tossed them outside.. into the main duck barn in a stall... basically when they can go outside is all dependent on your temps, i don't like a heatlamp outside in the barns so i wait till they don't need one at all.

    Here this sticky has good info for you on feeding and temps they need.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/750869/raising-and-caring-for-ducklings#post_10611711

    I'll go back through my pics and see i can find anymore...
     
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  3. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    On, Canada
    This enclosure sounds great, make sure nothing can dig under it though! so perhaps extra reinforcement around the bottom would be a good idea. Skip the nest boxes and toss a doghouse in and/or build a box.. they don't use them IMO/IME seriously, not even my broodies.. they have brooded and hatched babies under farm equipment lol

    ALWAYS watch cats and dogs, dogs especially they are actually the worst predator for livestock in general more are lost to them than all the other others because people underestimate them. I do have a farm cat and dogs, i always watch with young even more so... they are loud, quick and really something curious which brings out behaviours you may not realize are there.

    Yes, water lettuce and hyacinth are safe i just wouldn't feed them in high amounts, we "try" to fence my koi pond and often have the Pekin ripping it apart so they have eaten those plants and my water lillies and my aerators, they are very much alive. [​IMG]

    The ventilation sounds excellent, 2 open walls, right if i follow the diagram correctly? awesome thing to post btw makes it so much easier to explain and help! Trees are good... cat on the roof? they will get used to it, i have some penned chickens here and the barn cat is always on top at first it provided worry now it's not even something they notice lol
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2014
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  4. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    On, Canada
    Brewers yeast is only needed if your using a chick starter, if you use an all flock/flock raiser or a duck starter or a broiler starter you don't need it, the sticky i posted in another response(first one i believe) covers info on this...

    as for grit you can put a bowl out and/or toss it on the ground, i do both here depends on the set-up.

    what does the bag say? again info in that sticky, i actually prefer to start my ducks on a 18% but i did raise my Pekin on a 22% duck starter, i just find my Calls and Muscovy do fine on a 18%, you can run a 16% at about 3-4wks.. my flock is held on a 16% but i have used an 18% grower and they've been fine too. Again info in that sticky on % and feeds.

    Nothing wrong with questions! that is how we learn and with ducks your always learning no matter how many nor how long, good luck! and update would love to see the shelter and the ducks.

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Kiara1125

    Kiara1125 New Egg

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    Aug 1, 2013
    Arcadia, FL
    Thanks for your detailed reply! I'll just go with 4 females then. Because my MIL and fiancé want diversity, will a black Swedish, blue Swedish, welsh harlequin, and pekin do well?

    Also, is this good food for a starter?

    http://m.tractorsupply.com/en/store/purinareg;-flock-raiserreg;-sunfreshreg;-recipe-crumble-50-lb

    I'm going to change it to the layer crumble by Purina when they reach the appropriate age. The bag says that ducks can eat this until they are 18-20 weeks old. Should I just switch them out to DuMOR at 3-4 weeks?

    I'm glad you like the diagram! I thought it would be easier. lol in actually probably going to go with both walls coming from the fence being wood and then switching to wire mesh. This way it provides protection from the weather. My MIL was actually wanting to put in a separate room to have a little dog house or something in there. She wants them to be able to go far away if there's any bad rain or wind.

    As for all the extra information that I don't have questions about, thank you! I'd love to see your koi pond though. :p I greatly appreciate your help and it's very nice to come here and to be welcomed even when I have so many questions. This will all be happening in the spring, so I have to figure out prices and such. My MIL wants pressure sealed plywood and she wants to use some sort of roll for a roof. I feel like it's going to be hard to get estimates because I don't know how much wood or mesh I need. I'll figure it out though. Thank you so much for your help! I greatly appreciate it! :D
     
  6. paintedChix

    paintedChix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 15, 2013
    NC
    Well - here's a funny for you!

    Our ducks free range with the chickens AND our barn cats keep watch. When the barn cats are out - wild birds and even the smaller hawks stay clear and the chickens feel "free" to range. When the cats are napping in the barn - I always know when a large bird is around as the birds including the ducks come "flocking" (Jurassic Park) into the barn.

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    We haven't done anything special with our ducks. We raise a few every year - some stay up to 2 years as pets and some are butchered for our table, some disappear (Pekin - Penny and 2 wood ducks waddled away last year to the real pond across the road. Heard them for 2 days whenever I fed but didn't explore as I couldn't get thru/over the wood fence and the weeds on neighboring property. Then the sounds were gone - hunting season...). We've enjoyed our ducks. Both last year and this year, we raised a few of our own via drake and mommas (original group purchased in 2012 from TSC) setting/hatching their own. Had 6 last year, then 2 this year. Drake recently disappeared - so no ducklings next year, don't think... I may be feeding the hawks - not sure. Did have some loose, marauding dogs recently - a huge mix and a beagle mix. The huge dog got in a fight 3 houses down last week (he crossed the underground fence that yard dogs couldn't) and killed the neighbors lab - neighbor shot the big one (Thank god). I had birds disappear while these dogs running ... We try to get ducks now that don't really fly - as those will commit suicide w/ our own dogs when they fly into the chainlink fenced yard. When our Finnish Spitz dog was regularly digging out under the fence, he would also guard the chickens/ducks but left them alone. We currently have him and a Pitt x in our backyard - if chickens or ducks fly into our back yard - their lives are forfeit. I can holler "leave it" and the dogs will back off - but I've had two birds die from fright (1 chicken, 1 young duck) even tho not physically injured. Haven't found any evidence of dead birds in the back yard this year and in fact have a banty hen and a splash EE nesting there right now (w/ the dogs, too). Glad the dogs aren't trying to use the hole the birds go in/out from - I don't want to fill it in!

    Ducklings from the feed store are brooded in the house(kitchen/bathroom tub) and then out in the carport in a chain link fence dog kennel. Last year and this year - we had ducklings raised by the ducks - hatched outside all on their own. We've just gotten our ducks from the feed store and really enjoyed them. We are now discussing building a pond and will fence it in a way that keeps ducks and chickens "home" - not allowing them to leave our property. Just haven't gotten that far - since we haven't we arent' getting any more ducks until we have the pond area ready. May be a while, though.

    As to feeding - we offer free choice non-medicated chick starter and free choice pelleted layer feed at the moment, plus oyster shell grit. The ducks and chickens both choose which they want. All the young will be old enough in October to stop the Chick Starter, but then our twisted beak ameraucana would need special feed, so may just continue to put both out. I also do veggies & fruits as well as left overs - just tossed out by our burn pile and call them (here chik, chiks) and they come "flocking". Not for the faint of heart - freaks bunch of people out to have a "herd" of feathers running/1/2 flying at them!!

    Hmmm, don't seem to have any pics with the ducks out while cat(s) amongst the flock... Always took separate pics as they were just out of pic range when taking pics. We have and have had 2 different kiddy pool arrangements for their enjoyment. Above, their "pond" was frozen solid in February 2014. So, they came down and swam in the ditch between our driveway and the barn... We had lots of rain/flooding before we got that snow!

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    Hmm, I need to find pics and load them into our online photo album to demo more... The most ducks we have had at one time was last fall - 7 plus 1 pekin. This year, now down to just 3 ... none on our table either! :(

    I like your drawing - looks good. I agree w/ above though - nesting boxes could just be dog houses. They really seem to like those! Mine also hatched ducklings next to our stoop in/out of the kitchen. Mama hissed and let us know that she was unhappy when we went in/out a lot but she stayed and that's when we had 6 ducklings! This year, they were in a 1/2 dog crate across form our steps in the center back of our carport.

    SORRY - pics and text don't line up - time wise. Was trying to keep them in "order" at first, but that didn't work quite right.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2014
  7. Kiara1125

    Kiara1125 New Egg

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    Aug 1, 2013
    Arcadia, FL
    Thanks for the pictures and the information! Do you suggest any type of dog house or can I just use a dog crate, whether it's half or whole? Also, if I can use the dog crate, will multiple females lay their eggs into it? What can I do to make it more tempting for the ducks to lay their eggs in a specific area?

    I love the pictures, especially with the cat involved!

    I'm so sorry about those dogs killing your flock. I never like to hear about an animal dying, but at least it has been put to a stop. I hope that your birds are safe.

    A few more questions, how high do you think the run should be? I don't want to have to crouch constantly, but I also want the 50g pond out in the sun. Also, what type of wood planks should I use? I'm unfamiliar with sizes or different types. What would be good building materials for this project? Also, what type of mesh should I use - just chicken wire? Suggestions?

    One more question, if it's 80F inside the house and it's roughly the same outside and the temperatures don't drop that much, when can I move the ducklings outside? Is there a certain age or can I do it when they're around a month old and the weather is stable?

    Here's the front of the coop with all the stuff inside it that I'll want.
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    How should I go about slanting the roof? Should I create a small gap for extra air flow? After creating this, I'm thinking no just to protect them from the weather more.
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    Here's the top view of the coop and run. I wonder how much mesh I'll need ... anyone have any good links for large, cheapish rolls of chicken wire?
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    Here's the side view of the coop and run. You can see more of where I want the support beams, although I did not follow through with the thee-dimensional look. At least you can see how I want my frame for the wire mesh run to be. Does this look good to you guys?
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2014
  8. kimbduck

    kimbduck New Egg

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    Aug 28, 2014
    Hi. We have 2 house ducks. We use ducky diapers when they r inside. They met our cats and dog a terrier mix when they were about 4 weeks old. Both breeds went nose to nose the ducks pecked them and now everyone keeps a respectful distance. It's funny. Brewers years or Niacin. Start immediately to 12 weeks. I found that niacin tablets in water were easiestt. 100 to 150 mm in 1 gal water. Got 2 good books from Murry McMurray and the best for house ducks by Mother Goose. We've learned allot..crashe course but still learning. Also for outside we use a peck n play. It works great for our 2. Good luck
     

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