Ducks are a great way to keep pests under control. They love creepy crawlies that make most of us cringe. They are sweet birds, but before you run off to buy your little, fuzzy baby there are a few things to think about before you bring home a cute nightmare.
Ducks are messy. Plain and truthful. Ducklings stink. These adorable birds tend to spatter every liquid all over them and anything close to them. They will desecrate all things within four feet of them if contained with a supply of water and feed so be prepared for cleaning up a lot of messes.
Early Duckling Care
Fresh hatched ducklings will need a heat lamp like baby chicks do for their first few weeks of life. Adjust the height of the lamp so the ducks have a warm area on one end of their nursery and a cooler section on the other. If they avoid the heat area it is too hot. If they huddle under it - it is too cool.
Offer feed and water every two hours or so to cut down on feed waste and watery messes. A separate feeding area would be ideal when ducks are in the early stages. They are like bad little kids and they will take every opportunity to create a mud puddle and stomp in it.
I tried four options before I found an efficient way to keep my ducks tidy. I tried pine shavings. I tried dirt. I tried puppy training pads in a tote and in a kiddie pool. I finally set them in my bathtub. This final solution kept my sanity in tact.
Cleaning up after a duck is smelly and wet work. The shower and tub proved to be a great option. When some of their feathers began showing, they were ready for light showers and dips in deeper water.
*Please, supervise small ducklings when introducing them to water their first few weeks. They can drown if they are in deeper water than they can stand up in.*
The tub works wonderfully. This can be mimicked in an outdoor area that is secure from adult ducks and predators. They'll need a containment system that can be hosed out and a place they can dry off. Youngster ducks do not produce the oils necessary to protect their feathers so wait until their fuzz turns feathered before allowing extended swim time. 10 minute dips are fine when they are babies. Towel dry them off in the early development stages.
Ducklings with Pine Shred Bedding
Ducklings with Training Pads
Ducklings in the Tub
Water a Deep Necessity
Adequate water depth in a dish will insure your duckling gets the amounts of water it needs. Ducks will dunk their whole face in the water container. It does this to wash food down and to clear sinus and eye ducts. Keep plenty available for them and keep it clean best you can.
Nutrients for Feeding
Vitamins and minerals are very important to any living thing. Adding a poultry supplement like Nutridrench is a great way to get your little water birds off to a great start. I dribble about 6 drops into my duck's water dish in the mornings. One of my birds actually dives for the brown drops!
Niacin for Duck Health
Niacin is an essential nutrient that helps keep young ducks on the right track. I sprikle niacin powder in the water once a day and they drink it down. Niacin contibutes to strong feather growth and health growth. It can be found in flakes and in health powders like brewers yeast. I use capsules as they were all that was available to me.
Chick starter crumbles is the best way to start your duck in the right nutritional direction. Be sure to avoid feeding the medicated formula. Past mixes were deadly to young ducks. Non-medicated is good feed for the first month or so.
After a few weeks, mix a little flock raiser in with the starter feed. This helps the transition to adult blends. Adding a bit of meat bird formula might help their protein intake, but don't give them much. Too many protein points isn't good for that young bird.
First Aid Kit for Ducks
Your cutie pie is going to need first aid care for one reason or another - eventually. Keep a bottle of Vetricin handy. This is a great product for wound care. It is easy to use and helps heal cuts and wounds quickly. Bandages aren't necessary. A duck won't keep them on long. You can try to use a self sticking wrap, but that usually gets taken off after an hour or so. Simple care of cuts or abrasions is the same as human first aid. Clean the area. Administer antibiotic ointment and tend often. They are resilient creatures. Consult a professional if something beyond a simple first aid kit arises.
After a month or so, your ducklings are going to be medium sized and need more than a small tub for their living environment. An enclosed run and a shallow pool is great for daytime activity. At night, consider a small duck house for them to slumber in. Protecting them from possible preditor and extreme conditions makes for a healthy duck.
posted from Bloggeroid