I just love my lil farm. I started with my two fainting goats Fred and Betty. They are now 4 1/2 years old. I will tell you about them sometimes in another post. I then added a few chickens, then a few more…then a few more…it’s addictive…you can never have too many and you get eggs! It’s a #winwin. So adding ducks just seemed like a great add and they definitely are. But for me, when looking for information on ducks specifically it was kinda hard. There is lots on chickens. Full blogs, websites, coops, even cute clothes, you name it…everything chicken. Hence…the writing of this post. I hope someone finds my experiences with raising ducklings useful.
This post will focus on the first month or so
The first thing you need to do is pick a duck breed. I chose khaki campbells. They are just a beautiful khaki brown. They are prolific layers and foragers. They are quiet with the exception of a loud quack from one of the females occasionally. They can be a little rambunctious in the morning wanting out of their run or when hungry. The negative with khakis is they are a bit skittish. Even with raising them, holding them and hand feeding them…it didn’t matter. This is the breed and skittish is how they are. If you are looking for a lap duck this isn’t the breed for you. They still eat out of my hand now and they wanna be near me if I’m working outside or in my nearby garden so they will come up to the fence to investigate and be near me or lay watching but everything they do is on their terms.
Ducklings grow fast! You’ve probably heard this before but until you see it, it’s hard to imagine how fast!! Ducks are messy. Ducks poop A LOT! Ducks love water and no matter how clean you want a water bowl or pool for them…in seconds literally it will be dirty and muddy. This is a duck fact of life hahaha!
Ducklings will need to be under a heat lamp when you bring them home and kept in a brooder. They should be started at 90 degrees and lowered a degree each day. I started my ducks in a homemade tote brooder I used for my chicks for the first few days then moved to the pool (see above) then quickly onto the bathtub where they stayed till they were about 3 weeks old. The bathtub makes clean up much easier. Keep their water and food near the drain and bedding ( I used pine shavings) on far end. But still…ducks are messy and I had to clean the entire tub out daily. Sorry no pic of this.
I began letting my ducklings take short supervised swims almost immediately. These should be very short and supervised at all times. Ducklings can get waterlogged and exhausted and easily drown. They do not have the waterproofing oils on their feathers for a few weeks. Please always watch them while swimming until they can enter and exit a water source themselves.
Ducklings should be fed a chicken starter or duck starter if you can find it and they need Brewers yeast for the extra niacin they need in their diet. I just sprinkled some of the brewers yeast on top. I gave my ducklings kale, peas, and strawberries as treats. They love green veggies. Peas are definitely the favorite! If you give your ducklings any kind of treat they will need chick grit to help them digest this. I kept this in a small bowl free range. I also gave them a splash of apple cider vinegar a couple times a week. It is great for their immune system. I also give this to my chickens. Here is the vinegar I use.
I fed and watered my ducklings from little bowls instead of the chicken feeders and waters which would have been difficult for them with their bills. This is also the case with adult ducks just bigger size bowls. Also ducklings and full grown ducks need to be able to dunk their entire head to keep eyes, nose and bills clean. Use size appropriate bowls and as the ducklings grow increase the size of the bowls. I used pebbles in their small water bowl the first week. They should be big enough that they can’t swallow them but this will still allow them to get a drink but is an aid in preventing accidental drowning. Ducks need water at ALL times. They have to have water to eat and you will be amazed at how much they drink.
I started taking my ducklings outside on sunny, warmer days at about 2 weeks. I supervised them at all times. I found this handy exercise yard! I highly recommend this. It’s portable and easy and a fabulous price! It’s great for ducklings, chicks, rabbits, or other small animals. I also used this later as their fencing area inside of my garage. This is a pic below of my ducks outside in their exercise yard. Look at those little faces! Cuteness overload. I miss this!!
I so enjoyed all the time I spent with my ducklings. I could sit and watch them for hours. There is nothing like watching them swim for the first time or hearing the first real quack! They all have such fun personalities.
The ducks soon outgrew the bathtub and then it was off to the garage for a couple weeks while we built their duck run and the weather warmed up to over 50 degrees at night. They were moved outside at about 6 weeks. Here are a couple pics of them at about 4 weeks in their duck spa area aka my garage
I ended up with two ducks (females) and two drakes (males). A note on sexing your ducklings….. its tough! It is what I googled and searched for. In the end, I was right about the one drake, he was bigger than the rest and quieter but the other completely took my surprise. He was my smallest duckling. I thought for sure he was a duck. Full grown drakes will be bigger than the females. They are quieter and make a more husky raspy noise. It isn’t a quack at all. They will get a curly tail feather after they molt into their adult feathers. Khaki grown drakes will get a green head like a mallard. You will know the females when they start to quack….they are loud hahaha! But trying to distinguish on how they look alone when they are under 6-8 weeks is very hard.
I thoroughly enjoy my ducks and am so glad I decided to add them to my farm. I am so excited about duck eggs! I cannot wait to use them to bake with and custards, puddings, ice cream, quiche….the possibilities are endless. More on that later and recipe sharing 🙂
I hope you got some useful information from this post. The next duck… Part 2 post will be all about the move outside, their duck run and house, interaction with chickens, feeding, swimming. As of this post they just turned 11 weeks. They are heading into their hard molt soon which will bring their adult feathers.
Questions and comments are always welcome!
Last updated: June 02, 2017
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