Ducklings are irresistible. If you walk into tractor supply or your local agriculture store and you see those little babies, you are likely not leaving without them!
If you’re considering getting ducklings, you’ll have to call ahead and see when they get their “shipments” each week. Ours was Wednesdays and Thursdays at Tractor Supply in Prince George, VA.
I think most places are saying they are done for the year… but I’m not positive.
Since we had just invested so much into our baby chicks, we had most of the supplies we needed! Our chicks had all of their feathers and were ready to move outside to their small coop as well. Therefore, the brooder was free for new ducklings!
If you read my blog about raising chickens, you know that we bought one of those large steel basins from Tractor Supply. It was worth the extra dollars spent, in my opinion. However, a long plastic tub/storage bin will suffice.
I read that ducks like straw more than shavings because it has more insulating properties and doesn’t absorb as much water and waste as the shavings do. I tried both but the shavings were the easiest to scoop out with an old dust pan and replace!
People say ducks are messy and they are definitely right! However, it is so worth it for those sweet creatures! We started ours off in the house and trust me, I was replacing those shavings and their water EVERY NIGHT. There is a particular smell that comes from raising poultry and it is not good for the home. It didn’t take long for us to move our brooder out to the shed! I turned the lamp off when the temp was above 60 degrees and they did great.
Each night, while I cleaned their brooder, I gave the ducklings some swim time in the bath tub.
For the first week, ducklings should have supervised swim time in a shallow dish. I gradually moved up to swimming in the tub about a week or two later. However, I still supervised them closely because ducks need to be able to get out of whatever they are swimming in and that’s just not possible in a bath tub!
I also did not leave a dish in my brooder but made sure to keep their water container fresh and full. The ducklings love dipping their head in the water and cleaning the feathers. Make sure to get water and food containers created for young poultry. If you make them yourselves, make sure they’re created in a similar design to prevent the babies from drownings or getting waterlogged or trapped.
Ducklings bought from a store obviously don’t have their mother who would generally protect them from cold temperatures. Most birds have an oil gland on their tail called the preen gland. Ducks are no exception. This is especially important to think about when you have baby ducks because they don’t produce that protective oil until they’re older.
When ducklings are with their mama, the mother covers the babies with her own oils to help them stay dry and prevent them from becoming waterlogged.
After a few weeks, when the days finally got warm, I started giving the ducklings some outdoor play time. We have a nice large chicken run that the previous owners had built when they had chickens. It is actually a chicken wire fence inside a dog fence.
Baby ducks and chickens are hard work for the first couple of months! Temperature maintenance, cleanliness, the right food, and water are key!
Our chickens had been in their little coop for almost two weeks so they knew that was “home.” I started letting them roam in the run and then placed the four ducklings in the locked coop so they could get to know each other!
Chickens are especially territorial. We have six roosters in our flock and they can be a extra defensive and I didn’t want them pecking at the ducks who were still a little smaller than them, despite how fast they grow!
At the end of each day, we put the ducks back in their brooder and the chickens went back to their coop. After a few days of introducing the ducks to the chickens through their coop, I eventually started supervising them together without barrier. The roosters weren’t happy at first but they got used to each other and now I can trust them combined without supervision! It’s all in your comfort and really feeling for how they are around each other.
Ducklings and chicks also eat the same starter food! We used Purina Organic starter-grower crumbles!
It has been a couple months since I started writing this because life got busy. At first, the ducks would sleep on the bottom of the coop and the chickens would go up to the second level and sleep at night. However, now that they are all fully grown, the ducks have the coop to themselves and the chickens roost in the trees. It was just something that they all started doing. I used to go out and shut and lock the coop every night. I don’t do that anymore.
I believe we have been blessed to still have our 12 chickens and 4 ducks for the last few months without any issues. I think it has helped that we have a fence inside a fence. I am also sure that the roosters help protect the flock. However, I know that we need to get rid of some roosters because they are almost fully grown and will get territorial and that could be dangerous for us and our pups. I know what it is like to be attacked by roosters and it is not fun!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this blog and maybe learned a little bit from our journey! I grew up with chickens, ducks, and other farm animals but it has been a real treat raising them with my hubby!
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PSA: DO NOT RAISE DOMESTIC DUCKS AND RELEASE THEM TO THE WILD! They will not survive!!