|Three days old and already knows how to preen and clean|
- they love mud and mucking around in it
- they require way more water than chickens to drink/splash
- their poop is more watery and shoots straight out of their butts like a projectile, instead of dropping in a neat bundle like chicken poop
- they lay their eggs anywhere and everywhere
- they can be harder to get to go in at night
They sound like free spirits to me. So, 3 Khaki Campbell Ducks (straight run - could be boys or girls) from Tractor Supply have started off our duck adventure.
So far, they seem quite intelligent and more responsive to me than chicks. They dash around like little bundles of energy, their extreme exuberance about being near or in water is fun to see, and I have never raised them before, so I am looking forward to seeing how adult ducks will work out for us. I know they'll grow faster than chickens, they are prone to foot injury due to their webbed feet but generally hardier than chickens otherwise, and they don't scratch but they can trample plants, uproot perennials, and muss mulch in their hunt for bugs. I can already see that their bills lead the way - nibbling, dabbling, and dibbling.
|Diving and splashing|
- Bond with them by singing and talking to them. Then when they are playing in their waterer too long you can call them under the heat lamp and they will come running.
- A stuffed animal in the brooder. They love this and seem comforted by it. The flatter the animal the better because they all want to pile on top of it and sleep. Also, it serves the function of towel and dries them off as they roll around on it and snuggle with it.
- Some way to minimize water splashing everywhere in the brooder. There are lots of variations on doing this: the one I chose was to put a rack meant for the grill over a roasting pan, so when they splash and poop, it drains through the holes in the grill rack into the pan, and I change that once a day. Working pretty well so far until they outgrow it. You just have to be sure if you go this route that whatever you use is not too slippery or sharp on their feet, and that the mesh or holes are small enough that their legs and feet don't get caught. An alternative to using shavings at all in the brooder is to use a shelf liner so they don't slip that you just hose off periodically.
- Niacin. Mix 3 c brewer's yeast with 10 lb unmedicated chick starter crumble for the proper niacin amount for ducklings.
- Less heat than chicks. The hottest spot under the lamp is 85 - 90 degrees for the first week, where chick brooders are warmer than that. I'll probably switch to my EcoGlow as a heat source when they are bigger since it is safer than a heat lamp and uses less energy. For now they love piling on their stuffed animals to warm up after a swim in their waterer!
Warm sun bath
|Back in the brooder to warm up|
|Heat lamp and brooder set up|
|Waterer over a splash tray I rigged up with wood block "steps"|
|They love their "babies" - two stuffed rabbits that they sleep with and on|
These pictures are from Monday, so they seem twice as big now on Thursday - I can vouch that they seem to double in size every few days as they grow very quickly. A duck synopsis one week in? They do a lot of splashing, pooping, and growing, they stick together in a pack always, and they love life, as long as it involves water.
|Time to snuggle|
|"Romaine lettuce? Don't mind if I do."|