I had purchased our first set of ducklings without learning a few special things.
The 2 most important things-
Ducks and Ducklings are MESSY! You can clean up there area and literally within minutes you will have a mess again.
Like my chick post they will need similar items to start:
Brooder- Check out Pinterest
Heat lamp- Please remember to keep away from cardboard, plastic, anything flammable and too close to the chicks.
Thermometer- Temps need to be at 90 degrees and lowered down 5 to 7 degrees each week.
Rubber backed shelf liner- They need a non-slip surface or they could have splay legs.
Brewers Yeast or Niacin
Un-medicated feed- Chick starter 20% Protein or Gamebird starter 20%
Pine shavings or whatever your choice. No cedar or long straw.
When you are looking at chicks at your feed store or have them shipped to you make sure you check to make sure they have:
Bill has no discharge
We also make sure to wash our hands after handling our chicks, ducklings and grown flock.
Food and water-
Let me define into greater detail; you will food, poop and especially water. As for poop, they really stink. Worse then chicken poop, seriously. We have raised chicks and ducklings together. The issue with that is ducklings need a higher protein starter feed at least 20%, I used game bird feed for about 10 weeks and then I was able to put them on chick starter.
With my first ducklings I also used Brewers yeast and Niacin to help with bone development. Otherwise you could end up with pigeon toed ducks or they may look bow legged.
If you get day old from the mail, like chicks they don't need to eat right away, 3 days should be fine You will have to teach them how to drink, by dipping their bill into the water dish.
Make sure your using a chick sized water dish! Ducks are curious and will try to get in your dish if it's too big. 2 things on this:
1) Waterproofing doesn't come into play for 4 weeks. In the wild Momma helps with this.
2) Wee ducklings can catch a chill or tire easily if paddling in the water and could drown. Or if the water dish is too big they could also drown.
Ducks do need to have water available to drink along with their food. Ducklings can drink more water then chicks. Be forewarned they can drink up to a 1/2 gallon a day by the time they are 6 to 8 weeks old. Brewers yeast can be added to feed, 3 cups to 10 lbs of food.
Ducks do need to keep their nostrils moist so a small flat bottom bowl as they grow will be great! Water helps get rid of food and bits they have in them. Did I say already they make a mess with water? If I hadn't said it enough, here I go again reminding you.
We give our ducks herbs, weeds, cut up fruit (though they love watermelon!), scrambled eggs, and spaghetti. These are sparingly. We treat our ducks to herbs in water, greens in their water dish and our chickens love this too!
Like chickens a decision about coops and free ranging needs to be made. When the ducklings get better they don't "Need" a pond or kids pool but they will love you for it!
You will need to do the "Math" on how much space you need in your coop. I found this great blog and almost feel silly writing this with so much great stuff in it! Find it here-Raising Ducklings to ducks
We also don't use artificial lighting or heating in our Abbey for the ducks. They will adjust to the climate. They seem to run hotter then the chickens and withstand the colder temps more so.
Will you be free ranging, closed run, or mobile run?
Which ever you choose except for free ranging, think about space for these guys. They can go out sooner then chicks as they're feathers come in about 7 weeks and they love to stay outside as long as it doesn't get colder then 50 degrees out.
You do have to worry about predators! Despite being bigger then chicks, these babies can still make a tasty meal for Raccoons, Owls, Hawks, Coyotes, and so on.
In the run make sure you use a good hardcloth for run/coop. Raccoons and some other animals can reach through the holes in the wire and grab the neck of the bird. It's a pretty gruesome sight to see the wee one after the massacre.
Also a reminder ducks don't need to roost like chickens do! So that space isn't needed. But hardcloth or some sort of floor is needed in order to keep them safe.
How can I tell if I have a male duck?
In our experience, we have noticed males have a softer voice that seems like someone is holding a hand across their mouth to muffle them. They may also have a curl on their tail!
Do I need a male to get duck eggs?
No male is needed in order to get eggs!
When will my ducks start laying?
She will start laying starting around 16 weeks or so. Depending on the breed, stress, weather conditions and health.
Duck eggs are considerably larger then chicken eggs. I'll be sharing a YouTube on the differences soon so you can get a visual.
Duck eggs have a harder smoother shell and the white is a lot thicker then chicken eggs. If used for eating, it is better to bake with them. It is said they do make loftier baked goods.
Pond or pool-
We have been using a kiddie pool for years for our ducks. Depending on your pool or pond size you may have to consider how many are in your flock. Water in pools are needed every couple days. Stagnant water can lead to sickness, mosquito infected water and just plain yucky stuff. We have 4 and hope to add more but our kiddie pool is a mess after 10 mins after changing it.
A few other things-
Ducks can live for 10 years! Depending on what your needs are of course!
Consider the breed of duck before you buy. Muscovies are supposed to have class which could be worrisome with those with kids. Mallards will migrate and may not come back next year.
This was a crash course in Ducklings and Ducks! I hope that helps. If you have any suggestions or comments please leave them below.
Duck poop is great for your garden! Like chicken poop it has to be composted for severl months before putting it on and around your plants. We have our flock in the garden right now, tilling leftover weeds and plants. We will be taking them out soon. The weather is handling the neutralization of the poop so we can plant in May.
If this helped you please share!