Raising Ducklings
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Raising Ducklings

How to raise ducklings. Several tips to help you through duck parenthood.

There are many varieties of farm fowl, but ducks are by far the most intriguing fowl I have come across.  Ducks are the most different from other farm fowl.  All the others are fairly dim witted and walk around on Earth for only a couple of reasons; eat, drink, lay, and of course well you know...  They seem to only have one emotion and that is fear.  Ducks are very different.  They tend to have a dependent feature which gives them the ability to bond with one another and occasionally with a human.  Chickens are fairly easy to raise; food, water, warmth and a clean place to sleep.  Ducks on the other hand need a bit more.

When you first purchase your ducklings they fit in the palm of your hand and are extremely fearful of humans.  The least amount of ducklings the better chance you will have a bond with them.  If you have many they tend to bond with each other.  There are few differences with ducks than chickens and most are obvious.  First, they have webbed feet for swimming or paddling.  Their feet are fairly tough and very good for climbing.  Second, their feathers come in slower and longer than chickens and other farm fowl.  Third, they require an extreme amount of water for drinking and for swimming.  Fourth, they can fly and come back when kept well fed.

Ducks are raised for very similar reasons that chickens are.  They lay delicious eggs, some raise them to eat, and others simply like them as pets.  Ducks love to swim so make sure to give them plenty of fresh water that they can easily get in and out of.  They also need plenty of water for drinking.  Because they love to get wet; you will need to change their water often.  They will try to swim in their drink dish and drink from their swim dish.  When ducks eat they need to get their food wet.  They will carry water over to their food to soften and swallow the fowl crumbles.  Ducklings can eat simple fowl crumble, but make sure that the food is crumbles and not pellets.  Their little beaks can not crush the pellets until they are almost full grown.  As they get older you can begin to mix the pellets with the crumble.

Sunlight is a very important feature for all fowl.  When they are young they need to be under a red lamp for several hours out of the day.  Remember to always leave an area in their shelter to escape the heat and cool off if needed.  They love to be warm, but there are several ways they keep warm; huddling, red lamp, indirect sun.  They need the sunlight to stay healthy.  Once a day for an hour or so they should be placed outside near filtered sunlight to soak up some of those import vitamins from the sun.

As they begin to grow the urge to hurry them outside will grow strong, but hang in there, they need to have their feathers before they can be outside permanently.  Preparation is important to protect and provide a safe shelter outdoor for your ducklings unless you are going to let them be free range ducks.  Your ducklings will need at least 6 square feet per duck in a chicken wired covered shelter.  The roof can consist of part bird netting or chicken wire and a solid portion to protect from the sun and rain.  The sides can be chicken wire and studs.  Be sure to think about the edges near the ground; do you have predators that linger around at night?  Raccoons, opossums, weasels, cats or any other creatures that would make a snack out of your ducklings?  You may want to dig the fencing down in the ground or set brick around the outside.  If you are interested in them laying eggs they will need a place to lay eggs.  A few boxes with hay and protection from 5 sides will do.  Remember to make them easy to access for you to collect the eggs.  Duck won't begin to lay eggs until they are between 9 to 12 months old.

Once you have constructed their coop they are going to like a pond.  A small childs pool works great.  Keep it filled and fresh and you will be able to watch them swim around happy and full of glee.  They love their water!

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Comments (2)

My hubby really wanted to raise pheasants when we moved out to the country, but after 2 years of disappointment he tried ducks. We got a pair of call ducks and they hatched out their own eggs.... Silly us we did not know that ducklings can drown and sadly one died at about 3 days of age.

Jennifer Buchanan

Yes, unfortunately this can happen. So sorry about your little ducky. For all the other duck raisers out there...please do not fear giving your little ducklings water to swim in. They do need a place to splash. Just be sure to keep the water level shallow until they get the hang of swimming.