Tips for the new duck owner!!!!!!!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by bigtrout, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. bigtrout

    bigtrout Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 24, 2011
    NW PA
    Just some tidbits of info for a newer duck owner, I will add when I have time!

    1. Build a bigger coop first, seems like everyone with ducks builds a small coop for a few ducks, then because of duck math(addicted to ducks and adding more), ends up building bigger housing within a year.

    2. In a Duck coop poop goes everywhere, so use something cheap to line studwalls on the inside so the poop doesnt go into hard to clean places, ideas are old tin roofing, or old bathroom Marbelite stuff. Simple is better, and a mix of straw/Hay and wood chips work the best for litter.

    3. Figure out how the water situation will work before winter comes!

    4. Ducks like a routine, anything new causes them to freak out until they seen it a few times.

    5. If you use a baby pool for a pond, get the biggest one the first time, and add a drain valve to save your back!

    6. Ducks are sex maniacs, and you cant do much to stop it unless u seperate males and females!

    7. Other than vent sexing, the only way to tell sex, is by adult feathers, or voice. Females QUACK, males softly say "RRRAAABBBB!"

    Feel free to keep this thread going for all the new duck owners. Last year I was a new duck keeper, Ive learned alot from my ducks and on here, but sometimes its the little things that help alot when planning for ducks as pets!
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  2. Tahai

    Tahai Chillin' With My Peeps

    Niacin. Don't forget the Niacin.
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Beautiful topic!

    Amen and amen!

    Thoughts I had while reading the first two posts:

    Figure out the water and heat situation in case you lose electricity (for those who use lights and pumps). We have lost electricity three or four times since getting the ducks, twice for days-long periods of time.

    Niacin is a concern especially when you feed chick starter. Ducklings need three times the niacin that chicks do, and you can supplement with 100 to 150 mg of niacin in a gallon of water (get a bottle of niacin capsules, not time release, at the drugstore) or you can sprinkling brewer's yeast on their food. Once outside, if they can eat all the bugs they want, they should be fine for niacin. Some folks never have a problem. Some have seen very sad neurological damage. I would play it safe.

    Manage the water in the brooder before the ducklings arrive. They cannot help it, they are waterfowl. They splash, they dribble. Set up a watering station that will catch the water instead of letting it soak into the bedding. This will reduce the frequency of cleanups, and keep odors at bay.

    Some ducklings will eat sawdust pellets or wood chips or the insides of puppy pads (voice of experience here). Watch closely for a while after you make any changes in the brooder or pen.

    Ducklings need to be kept warm, but not too warm. From what I read on this forum, the exact temperatures are going to depend on your ducks. Again, please watch them closely.

    Other pets, small children, inattentive adults can cause injuries.

    Ducklings can get themselves into improbable situations (I will never forget the duckling inside the bottle reservoir of a waterer). Did I mention they need to be watched?

    Ducklings need to be able to wash their heads frequently to avoid eye, sinus and ear infections.

    They need to always have water with their food, and always have food available until they are several weeks old. I feel this can greatly reduce anxiety and skittishness.

    Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks and The Ultimate Pet Duck Guidebook have been very good print resources for me. The Duck Forum has filled in many gaps.
  4. bigtrout

    bigtrout Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 24, 2011
    NW PA
    Some more I can think of to add:

    8. Brooder...for four or a max of six ducks a 50 gallon plastic tote with holes cut into the lid worked well. For more ducks than that cleaning was a chore every day. I had good luck with a baby pool with a piece of orange snow fence wrapped around it for brooding more than six. Double duty as the baby pool can be used later outside for swimming!
  5. Mum

    Mum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 23, 2011
    Talk to them! They will get to know your voice and it will help when it comes to herding them home when they are older.

    Remember that they have their own needs and these must come first (before your desire to "pet" them [​IMG] )
  6. destinduck

    destinduck obsessed with "ducks"

    Mar 20, 2008
    Heres the best tip I know on ducklings. Make sure the water you give them is not cold. Believe it or not this is what mysteriously kills alot of baby ducks growing up and I rarely if ever do you see it mentioned.
  7. heidihas2ducks

    heidihas2ducks Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 1, 2011
    Upstate NY
    I found that using fresh cut or fresh picked grass as the layer in the brooder keeps the smelly munchkins less smelly...I have 5 two week olds in my kitchen in a very large tub that we cut the top and put screen in...I manage food and water time as they waste 90%oif the water, and also I put them either in the tub (on cold days) or in a saucer sled filled with warm water once to twice a day for them to bathe and drink and swim! They are so precious...I then pop em back in their house and flip on the light and its nap time for all!
  8. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    How can you live in upstate NY and already have fresh cut grass? lol
  9. Makenzie

    Makenzie Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 11, 2012
    I too live in the beautiful mountains of western NC. I have become caretaker for two Easter ducklings and worry about doing something wrong. Right now they are in a large ex-bunny cage with a deep bottom which at this stage keeps their mess contained. Have hay on one side of the cage with the brooder light over it while their feeder and water is at the other side of the cage. Learned my first lesson very rapidly, don't put hay across the whole cage because the little guys will end up leaving all the hay wet!! With the hay removed from one side of the cage they started happy dances in that section with no kind of distress sounds and made themselves sort of a nest in the hay under the lamp. I was told they'd need the brooder lamp for at least another month and to minimize contact with them during that time. It's hard, they're just so dang cute, but I do no more then handle the food/feed containers and clean up their waste twice a day which I know from raising reptiles will allow them to become familiar with my scent and my hand itself.

    Retired, unable to work, and being the sole human living in this house of rescues, I have the time to spend with them and the resources to create an outdoor enclosure when they are old enough. But I have some concerns. I'm right alongside the river, right above it technically. Will I ever be able to allow the ducklings access to the river once they're grown? I know they'll need to be safely contained at night. But will they have to be contained all day to prevent say, a cat, from approaching them?

    One thing I noticed trying to do research on-line is that there is nothing consistent across the board. Read how hay is good bedding for ducklings then read how dangerous hay is for them. Read they need greens then read they are too young for it. Read how they need their food mixed with water at this age but at the local feed-store noticed them happily eating their food dry. I want to raise these two ducklings into healthy adults and be able to allow them as much freedom as they can safely have. Any answers or advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  10. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England

    There is a wide range of experience with ducks, and I feel that we don't always realize all the details that lead us to conclude that hay is good or bad, protein is related to angel wing or not, and so on and so on.

    I read quite a bit, books and forum posts, and proceed with caution when trying anything new with the ducks. So far, so good! I go with my gut when I have to decide between recommendations.

    Just wondering, why do you minimize your contact with the ducks?

    Ducks are very susceptible to predation, so I would keep them secure. No, I don't think standing over them with a weapon is necessary (I had that mental picture flash through my mind earlier today, by the way). But I have a pen with fence on top sides and bottom for when I am not with them, and I have some three and four foot fence around gardens where I let them forage. We do walk around the yard together outside the fence, but I keep an eye out for troublesome animals.

    Two books have helped me. One, Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks, laid a good foundation. I followed it and did well with my ducklings. Then I found The Ultimate Pet Duck Guidebook, which is geared to, of course, pet ducks, and has more of that kind of information in it, from a woman who rescues ducks and loves them dearly.

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