Taking care of ducks

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Horsebackrules, Aug 16, 2014.

  1. Horsebackrules

    Horsebackrules Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 12, 2014
    Hi, I want to get a Pekin, maybe a Cayuga or something else, and probably a Goose (not sure which breed yet) all will be females. They'll all be raised together so I'm not too worried about fighting. I've done lots of research but I still have a lot of unanswered questions (about ducks and geese).

    1) At what age should I start adding grit to their diet?
    2) I heard the ducks can be put outside at 5 weeks but they don't seem to have enough feathering. Should I wait till 8 weeks since that's about when they're fully feathered?
    3) When are geese fully feathered?
    4) I want to use DUmor products but I can't find a good one to use once they're adults. Could I switch brands or will it mess with their digestive system?
    5) How much noise will a goose make?
    6) What is a typically docile breed of goose?
    7) If I decide to use a duck diaper, will it hurt them in any way?
    8) I really want them to be friendly. I'm going to handle them a lot when they're young, but are there any other tips you have?
    9) What are things to do with all the eggs? I might eat them every now and then but not often. I only like eggs fried and I've heard they aren't good fried. Also never tried them so I don't know if I'll like em. [​IMG]
    10) What age do ducks and geese start laying?
    11) Can someone explain to me what oyster shell does and when I use it?
    12) How often do geese lay?
    13) How often and when do they molt?

    I'm still not sure if I'll get them...my friend and I spoke at a city council meeting and we'll have to see what they decide. But if they say yes, I want to get them ASAP so I'm doing all my research before. I'll probably add more questions later on, but that's all I can think of for now. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
  2. Horsebackrules

    Horsebackrules Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 12, 2014
    Anyone? just answer the best you can!
     
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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  4. DeckDuck

    DeckDuck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know how much help I can be, but I'll give it a shot. I've never raised geese (I'm pretty sure that I would become hopelessly addicted right away) but keep ducks and I've done a lot of reading about them.


    1) At what age should I start adding grit to their diet? I think you start offering it right away, especially if you're giving them greens. I have a broken tea cup that I fill with chick grit, which has a very fine texture, and I just leave it in the brooder where the babies will have access to it.

    2) I heard the ducks can be put outside at 5 weeks but they don't seem to have enough feathering. Should I wait till 8 weeks since that's about when they're fully feathered? Hmmm... I should really know the answer to this. Do you have Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks? I've found it to be an invaluable book and I think it would answer a lot of these questions. The author Dave Holderread really knows his ducks. Even after years of keeping ducks I still consult it all the time.
    3) When are geese fully feathered? [​IMG]
    4) I want to use DUmor products but I can't find a good one to use once they're adults. Could I switch brands or will it mess with their digestive system? I wouldn't be too concerned with changing brands. I've found my duck's digestive systems to be very forgiving. In fact I think I have switched brands several times before with no consequences that I could see. Some breeds that are good at foraging may be suspicious of new foods at first.

    5) How much noise will a goose make? I don't know, but female ducks can be very loud!
    6) What is a typically docile breed of goose? I wouldn't know, but I have been warned by several people that the African geese can be much more aggressive than the other kinds.
    7) If I decide to use a duck diaper, will it hurt them in any way? I've used duck diapers. There is some concern that they could be too tight, or not changed often enough, or used with a non-elastic leash and potentially cause damage, but I think generally as long as you're gentle there shouldn't be a problem. If you're going to use diapers or harnesses, try to start getting your babies used to them at as young an age as possible. The earlier you start, the more likely they are to feel comfortable with wearing them.
    8) I really want them to be friendly. I'm going to handle them a lot when they're young, but are there any other tips you have? Handling them a lot will go a long way. So will boiled peas ;)
    9) What are things to do with all the eggs? I might eat them every now and then but not often. I only like eggs fried and I've heard they aren't good fried. Also never tried them so I don't know if I'll like em. [​IMG] Duck eggs are very good. Once my dad got used to my duck eggs, when confronted with a chicken egg he joked, "what's wrong with this duck egg?" They put chicken eggs to shame in my opinion. They fry very well. The issue is that they have less water in them than chicken eggs and so must be cooked much more gently. The ducks who lay the eggs must also be fed a fish-free diet, or otherwise the eggs can start to taste a little off apparently. Here's another book you might like to read: The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe. I like her ideas, and she has a lot of very useful advice about ducks, including extensive instructions on how to make the best use of their eggs. That being said, I only have two female ducks and my family gets behind in the eggs all the time. Sometimes I boil and crush the old ones and and feed them to the chickens. I find that I can't give them away. People get excited when they hear 'eggs' and then are immediately turned off when it's followed by 'from my ducks.' I don't know why.
    10) What age do ducks and geese start laying? Storey's Guide says ducks can begin laying between 17 and 30 weeks depending on the size of the breed.
    11) Can someone explain to me what oyster shell does and when I use it? Crushed oyster shell is provided to hens as a source of extra calcium. They eat it to help them keep up with the calcium demands of making egg shells. I find that my ducks eat it more than the chickens do, and that might be because their egg shells are so much thicker. One winter when I was busy and accidentally forgot to refill the oyster shell bucket, the eggs' shells started to mysteriously get very thin. My poor girls! I felt terrible. Refilling the bucket solved the problem. It's inexpensive and it's pretty easy to leave a dish of it near the food.
    12) How often do geese lay? I hear that geese don't lay very much. Certainly it can't be significant compared to what a laying breed of duck can do!
    13) How often and when do they molt? I'm not actually sure. It seems like mine have one big molt a year, but because of eclipse molt they must do it more often than that. Just like the chickens, depending on the individual they seem to pick either January or July to have a big molt. Ducks will also molt all of their wing feathers at once and have adorable tiny wings for a while as they eat a ton of feed and grow new wings.


    I hope that helps and that I'm not spreading misinformation. I would reccomend that you get both Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks and The Resilient Gardener for its chapter on ducks. I've found them both to be extremely helpful.

     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
  5. Horsebackrules

    Horsebackrules Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 12, 2014
    thanks for the responses guys!
     
  6. smonkeySK

    smonkeySK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Duck eggs are excellent for baking with too, I find they're a bit rich fried (almost too tasty! ) but they are great poached or scrambled :)

    I tried diapers on my first little girl - she was about 3 weeks old when we gave them a whirl but she was far too distressed by it for us to continue trying.
    I would suggest getting them used to it before they are that old: just remember that at that age they eat and crap constantly so the diaper will have to be cleaned a lot during the day.
    Also watch with their oil gland as diapers usually cover it up which can cause issues with feather condition and waterproofing.

    A lot of stuff depends on your climate and the type of duck you are getting.

    There's nothing as rewarding as watching and helping ducklings grow up; put the time, effort and love in, and you'll wind up with an extended family that loves you back.
     
  7. Eluria

    Eluria Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To answer number 12:

    http://www.metzerfarms.com/GooseBreedComparison.cfm?CustID=2782452

    This link has a comparison of all the goose breeds that Metzer Farms offers (I think that is where you said you are ordering from?), including how many eggs they can lay. Looks like the clear winner for egg production is the White Chinese, and the one that lays the least is a Canada goose.
     

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