Bringing Home Ducklings and Adding Them to Your Flock!
About a month or so ago, my husband and I were at our local feed store to pick up a few things and hopefully purchase a few more chicks to add to our layers this year. Sadly, they were out of chicks that day---EXCEPT for these four sweet little yellow ducklings peeping away! Oh. My. GOSH! I fell in love! So we ended up bringing all four of them home. Yep! All four! Now, I didn't know a lot about ducklings, and I'm going to share with you the things I wish I had known! Their addition to our little homestead has been successful so far, but things might have been a little easier if we had been aware of a few things!
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What You Need for Bringing Ducklings Home
The ducklings we purchased were only a few days old, so we basically treated them like we would chicks---except for their water. Here's how we supplied them for the first two and a half weeks:
1) A Home
For this, we used a large horse trough we pulled into our guest room inside the house. It is just too cold in February up here in the mountains for any kind of poultry baby to be outside. They need warm temperatures---not as warm as chick (90 ish degrees), but pretty close when they are that young.
2) A Tub for Water
Ducklings LOVE their water. They need to dunk their heads in order to clean out their sinus cavity, and it also helps them digest their food. They love to play in it too! We just used a small Rubbermaid tub to start out. Then we graduated to a larger one! Then a super big one!
3) A Feeder and Feed
We just used a large round feeder for the ducklings. They eat regular all flock, whereas baby chicks must eat medicated feed. Do not feed your ducklings medicated feed!
Even though we brought the ducklings inside, our home is not near warm enough for baby chicks or ducklings either-- So we included a heat lamp system for the ducklings.
But Then They GROW! What You'll Need to Consider as they Get Bigger
The ducklings grew amazingly fast! I would say they doubled in size after only a few days...and kept going! After a week, we decided they should have a nightly bath in the bathtub because they were not getting clean enough in their little water tub in the trough. We let them play in the tub for around 30 to 45 minutes. They LOVED it!
Then....back in their nice warm trough in the guest room.
But....eventually, they just got WAY too big for the trough in the house. PLUS, as they got bigger, they got stinkier and messier too! It's really incredible how messy ducks are! Chicks are SUPER clean compared to ducklings, I have to say! We had to clean out the trough on a daily basis because if we didn't, mold and mildew would form as the ducks get everything wet!
The Nursery Coop Outside
Once we acknowledged that ready or not, warm enough outside or not, they were just too big to be kept in a horse trough in a guest room in the house---it was time for us to take them out to what we call the nursery coop.
The nursery coop is actually our very first chicken coop. It's insulated and pretty perfect---it was just a little too small for all our chickens once we got over about eight or so in our flock. So my husband built a larger coop (with a sun roof!) for the chickens, and this smaller coop has become the nursery coop. It's a transition coop we keep fenced off from the adult chickens where new babies can continue to grow up, meet the adults safely, and have more room and a small outside area to roam around too. It's a chicken run in the big chicken run! Like a playpen!
Here they are! Their first big day outside! You can still see their yellow down, but they are getting their feathers at this point.
Guess where they went first? YEP! The water tub---which you can see has now gotten larger, too! :-)
This was the initial tub in the nursery coop. They've grown out of a total of three tubs so far! It's seriously incredible how fast they grow!
And Then Those Ducklings Grew Some More!
Last week, after being in the nursery coop for only about two weeks or so, the ducklings were just a tiny smidgeon bigger than an adult hen. So....we figured it was time for them to graduate to the big run!
We had brought out the baby chicks (we ended up getting a week after the ducklings) to be with the ducklings in the nursery coop, and that went well for about a week. But the ducklings just got even bigger, and it was getting crowded in that little daycare with 12 babies all over the place!
Time to meet the Mama Hens face to face for the first time!
The ducklings and the hens get along fabulously! Ducklings are definitely funny birds---The first night, we were concerned that they wouldn't know to go into the big coop for shelter, so Mr. HHH went out to check on them. He came back in laughing. Do you know where they were?
They were swimming around in their tub in the dark! :-) They are going to be just fine, we can tell. They should double again in size from the picture above, so I'll give you updates on how they continue growing up! ;-)
If you are interested in reading about bringing home baby chicks, you can read more about that in my article! There are some very important differences!
Have you ever raised ducks? It's going to be a fun journey for us, and I'd sure love to hear your experiences!
Hugs & Self-Reliance!
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