Raising Ducks For The First Time


Baby Ducklings 

I'm new to raising ducks. A lot of it is just plain common sense. Clean water, plenty of food, clean bedding right? Well there is more to it than that. For most intents and purposes ducks aren't raised as pets. They are raised for meat and eggs for personal consumption. With ducks you have to be one part parent, one part companion, one part vet, and one part zoo keeper. With that I have to say.....

God Bless the Interwebs! 

Without the internet I'd be lost. Books are all fine and good but they don't connect you to real people with real life situations. It's through them I've learned tips and tricks to handle most any situation. It's through them I learned about the terminology. In particular, Facebook has been the most useful of tools. Not everyone who raises poultry has a blog. A lot more use Facebook though. It's brings together a mixture of vetted poultry raisers and newbies alike. When I log onto Facebook I learn something new all the time. Just type "ducks" in the search bar and you get a slew of people who are passionate about the topic. The other resource I have found super useful are the forums on www.backyardchickens.com. BYC has a very large crowd from all over the world with a concentration from the U.S. I particularly love one section where they connect you by state. This way you can find local people to swap fertilized eggs, get local advice, local based suggestions and other goodies. BYC isn't just for people raising chickens. They also talk about all other poultry, gardening, and other farm animals. I want to share some of the some of the things I've learned that were most helpful.

Chilling Out In The Grass
1.) Ducks are the biggest slobs on the faces of this earth but they are also among some of the cleanest. Ducks aren't messy on purpose. They just have needs. That need is water. Think about it. They are water fowl. Ducks consume much more water that chickens for a few reasons. Consumption would be the first. Second would be to clean out their bill due to it's shape. Have you ever had peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth? It's kind of like that. Now imagine your nostrils are on the roof of the mouth. Third would be for bathing. They like to keep clean. Cleanliness helps keep up their health. Fourth would be happiness. The little critters just love to swim.

2.)  I've seen a lot of different people say a lot of different things in regards to letting ducklings swim. It takes a little bit for ducks (and chickens) to become water proof. The ducky's down can become waterlogged and make them tired. Subsequently they drown. The other problem would be body temp can go down quickly. Momma duck naturally waterproofs the duckies with her own oils. HOWEVER, I have seen many instances where ducks drown anyway because they get tired even if they are waterproofed. You know what I say? Forgettaboutit. As human beings we are born with a bigger brain and two hands. Most times. For the record the six ducklings I bought are grown up for the most part. So here is what I did. I drew a bath as I would for a human baby and turned up the heat in the house so the bathroom was toasty. (translation: I was sweating) Let me tell you...there is nothing sweeter than seeing little fluffy ducklings swim around in the water for the first time. Beware because the very first thing they will do is poop. All you have to do after that is read body language to know if they are tired. They'll just sit there. If they are cold they'll huddle in a group. Either way it's time for them to get dried off in a big fluffy towel. Be careful of their vent (where they poop) but make sure you get the majority of the down dry. Immediately transfer them to the brooder.

5/23/2012 1:15:56 AM

We have a significant stream running really close to our house. It makes having ducks easier. The running water doesn't get dirty! I take them for walks when they want to go swimming. I keep them in a pen when they can't be supervised.

Sara Sweatman
5/23/2012 1:13:22 AM

I just love my ducks. They are one of my favorite things about rural living. Another thing I love about it is I can mention my ducks or chickens to any of my neighbors and they all have them too! I have immediate back up for information or last minute help!

4/10/2012 10:24:46 PM

Christine, it's way easier to raise ducks if you have a pond and a Mama duck. I can only remember one time Mom had ducks. I was very young at the time. Could it be that maybe they were just too much work without a ready supply of water? They were just born to have fun in the water. It's the first time I've heard about a duck could drown if it's down got wet. It must be when they are young. I really have no experience with ducks other than I know they like popcorn and stale bread thrown to them off a dock. Good luck with your duck raising. Have a great duck raising day.

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