Caring for Day Olds
The following is how we rear our ducks here at Warrawee and I hope you will find this useful.
1. The main thing to remember with ducklings under three weeks old is that they cannot maintain their own body temperature so it is essential that you provide them with a heat source at all times, and if kept outside in a shed they will require an infra red heat lamp.
2. Ducklings should be fed ad lib on chick crumbs and have a continuous water supply to drink. The water supply should be in a small water feeder and not in a container that they can get in to as they can drown even in very shallow water. At this age they are not oiled and if they become wet will hold water like a blanket.
3. It is a good idea to split their brooder into two areas, one half with shavings and the other without with their food and water in the area without shavings, this way they won’t make a mess of their bed with the food and water.
4. It is recommended that the ducklings are cleaned at least once a day and suggest that the droppings are scraped off the top of their bedding and any shavings are replaced. The area with their water and food should also be kept clean.
5. As the ducklings get older you will notice they will start to spread away from the immediate heat under the lamp and not huddle together, and as they do this you can gradually raise the lamp in order to wean them off the heat source.
6. At three weeks old you will be able to turn the lamp off permanently as by now they will be able to maintain their own temperature in an outbuilding.
7. At six weeks old the ducklings can live outside, and at this stage you should feed them growers pellets in order that they have all the nutrients required in order that they can grow. Do not feed and water overnight in their hutch as they will make a lot of mess and you will encourage rodents to your hutch. They will be fine overnight without.
8. Now that your ducklings are outside you can introduce them to water to play in. Ducks do not need a pond for their well-being but do need water deep enough to dunk their heads in to keep their eyes clean and so that they can get enough water to preen. We find here at Warrawee that a tub the size of a large paint pot is ideal; tall enough to dunk but not too wide so that they can get in it. The only breed of duck that does need a pond for its well-being is the Cayuga as it requires liberal water in order to preen and keep the shine to their feathers. Please ensure that you do not fill up a pond and leave them to it. You will need to let them have shallow water to start with and you will then notice over a few weeks how oiled they are and you will know when to increase the depth of the water that they play in. The babies at Warrawee are introduced to water in a child’s plastic sandpit with steps up so that they can get in and out easily and the water level can be monitored.
9. At 14 weeks old you can start feeding your ducks layers pellets and once the ducks start reaching the age of 20-22 weeks old you should start seeing the odd egg or two.
10. If you're only going to keep a couple of ducks then you could go to your local tip and pick up a nice size rabbit hutch to house the ducks in at night and then during the day they should be allowed to roam.
11. Be warned ducks will eat most things green and are rather partial to water and dirt which make nice mud pies but in a duck's case is good for drilling holes for earth worms!!!
If you have any queries with regard to the rearing of your ducklings then please do not hesitate to give us a ring. The important thing to bear in mind is the fact that baby ducks will drown if allowed access to water so no ponds or pools or puddles of water should be accessible by the ducklings until they are about eight weeks old.
Here is a photograph of an ideal water feeder for day old ducklings. You can get bigger versions which will obviously do the ducks when they are adult as well and these are fine for day olds as well.