The ducklings are officially moved outside, which means my bathroom is now duckling free. I have to admit using the toilet and taking a shower with the peeps was a little unnerving. Their brooder was too small within days with the ducklings spraying water and distributing poop all over the place. The next solution was a larger brooder I found in the recycle bin at my job, but once again within days it was too small. Due to the smallish boxes their tummies would get gross every couple of days, so we gave them a bath every other day to they could be nice and fluffy. We filled up an old laundry bin with water about 8 inches and let the little sprouts go wild. Next we washed them tummies with a very diluted Dr. Bronner’s soup, they were less into having their tummies scrubbed. Though we now have a way to tell them apart: dirty belly, clean belly, and partially bald belly.
Brooder Box II. Even with changing the litter every day, it would get too soiled too quickly.
Now that the weather is getting nice, we have moved the duckings to the portable chicken house that lives atop an old rabbit hutch. This works perfectly for this transition period of being large enough to be outside but not developed enough to be with the other animals. We started out moving them out there during the day, but it got to the point where they were clearly so happy outside that we left them there overnight. I was concerned about it being too chilly at night, but we loaded the “house” part of the coup with straw and they did just find. Poor guys, as soon as they are used to being outside a big ol’ storm comes slamming rain down for several days. Contrary to popular belief, ducks have a limit to the amount of rain they can handle. After running out into the rain to refill their water (despite the rain, they still went through a crazy amount of water) and topping off their grain I hadn’t seen the little squirts for several days. Then BAM, huge ducklings!!!! They still have their soft baby feathers, but their mature feathers are really starting to come in. Its remarkable the speed of their growth, it seems much faster then chicken- chicks I have dealt with, and much faster then the goat. It seems like I just got them, and now they are HUGE!!!! Still waiting for them to get big enough to sex, however I have a sinking suspicion that we have one female and two females. Hopefully I am wrong!
Ducks taking a bath/ swimming practice
Post bath shock
Goats lounging for the last time in the chicken coup/ duck house
Fixing it up for the ducklings
Ducklings installed. Lal is confused who/ what is in her sunny lounging spot
Ducks can’t have nice things
So the other day we got ducklings! Its been great having them around, however I have learned a few things about ducks/ducklings in the past 24 hours that surprised me.
- They are stupid– This really shouldn’t have surprised me, but for some reason I just felt that they would be smarter then chickens. While I feel there is a hint more intelligence, there really is some truth behind the insult “birdbrain.”
- They are hive-minded — We have three little ducklings, and perhaps it is because they are young/ only three but boy-oh-boy are these little squirts a hive mind. Certainly not to the bee/ ant extent, but more then goats, which are naturally herd animals. These ducklings move together like a mini school of fish.
- Ducks are poopheads, literally — DUCKS ARE SO POOPY. So much poop coming out of these ducklings, its kind of crazy.
- Ducks eat a lot — You wouldn’t think that such little guys/gals would eat so much, but boy-howdy they are chowing down. I made a quick DIY food container out of repurposed spice tupperware… they can eat through about 2 cups of feed like no bodies business.
- Ducks drink a lot — So ducks need a nice long gulp to wash down their food, thus eating a lot means drinking a lot.
- Ducks have way to much fun with water — This one doesn’t really surprise me, but is more annoying when it’s their drinking water that we have to constantly keep refreshing. When sitting at the kitchen table I can hear them getting into all kinds of water trouble, mainly drinking water, shaking it onto buddies, standing on top of the water container, falling over making the water fall over, and getting all kinds of wet.
- Duck beaks are actually pretty powerful– What I mean is that if they tap/ hit their beaks on the side of the brooder I swear someone is at the front door. I have been tricked by this multiple times. Not amused.
- Ducks have really cool feet– I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but their feet are basically less dinosaur-y chicken feet with a pretty thin webbing. Also, 3 tiny little claws on each foot.
- Ducks get all kinds of dirty– For real, these little squirts get water/food/poopy gunk all over themselves.
- Ducks can get themselves all kinds of clean — Once they are finished making a mess, they do a darn good job getting all soft and clean again.
- Ducks can’t have nice things — No matter what/ space/food/water they are exposed to, get will get all kinds of funky in about 30 seconds.
Dirty so very fast, but at least they clean themselves up.
On the ride home
A few weeks ago my partner mentioned that he saw chicks at the tractor supply store when restocking on goat feed. We didn’t think much of it because we were planning on getting chicks from a local heritage breeder from Craigslist. Well, after arranging a date and getting everything read we suddenly lost contact. We figured this was probably a good thing because it would take about six months before the chicks would turn to chickens thus being large enough to produce eggs. Instead we are going to get a few more layers from my partner’s aunt who has a local egg production business. BUT today we were working on another farm’s property pounding fence posts and I got it into my head about baby ducks and how great ducks would be to have around. For goats, people always say they are the personality of the farm, and I think ducks might also reflect the personality of this little homestead. Ducks are goofy, cute, sweet, and my favorite fowl to eat.
So we sung by tractor supply on our way home and picked up three ducklings! We don’t know the sex or the breed. So a 50/50 on the sex and a 1/5 odds for breed. Luckily all the breeds are domesticated so we wont be getting migratory birds or wing feather’s that need to be trimmed. It will be an exciting time watching them morph and learn their sex/breed. In a perfect world it would be two females and one male, but who knows! Hopefully there is at least one female but it there are more then one male- we will be having duck in about two weeks.
Brooder attempt #1
Currently they are set up in a brooder (fowl/ poultry nursery) in the bathroom. First we tried to set them up in a CSA bin, but it was comically too small for the ducklings. Then we re-routed our laundry bin– its sides are high enough- to be the brooder and placed a few inches of wood shavings on the bottom. While it might look easier to use newspaper, ducklings and chicks need a surface with plenty of traction otherwise they fall down and develop funny legs. The heat lamp was moved from the goat shed to being clipped on the bathroom cupboard to keep it nice and warm for the little squirts. Finally I made a DIY water and food feeder out of recycled food containers, each have holes large enough to get their beaks in but not large enough for a duckling foot. Will keep folks posted about their growth! Looking forward watching these little ducklings grow.
In their brooder in the bathroom