Ducklings are 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 weeks old. Not all survived the first day they arrived, and one was looking not so good, so the farm graciously sent me four additional duckings the following week as replacements. The duckling on the fence survived and is doing well, so I now have 11 ducklings on the homestead. They are past their cute little duckling phase, and wow, had no idea how messy they could be. If you’re considering ducks, be prepared for a lot of maintenance early on.
The first couple weeks they were fine in the duckling pens I set up indoors in the garage. I used masonry mixing bins and built a little duck “tractor” with a hinged lid to place over the top. A couple heat lamps provided enough heat to keep the young ones warm. I lined the bottom with softwood shavings, added new shavings as the old got wet, and dumped and hosed out the whole setup every 3 days at first.
Once the older ducks hit a couple weeks old, maintenance started taking a couple of hours or more a day. For one, they start going through about a gallon a day of water per duck. Not all the water is for drinking. Much of it gets splashed around as they use it for cleaning. This means lots of water at the bottom of the pen and soggy shavings.
Oh, and the poop. They poop everywhere — in their water, in their food, on the sides of the pen. They like to huddle together in the pen, and when they have to poop while in a huddle they just lift their tails and poop on the back of their neighbor.
All this means the pens, food trays, and water dishes have to be dumped and hosed out every morning and the pen re-set up. Water has to be cleaned and refilled at least six times a day. Food has to be replaced at least three times a day. It’s a lot of work.
Fortunately, the weather is nice outside so I can put them on the grass in their pen or duck tractor most of the day. I move the enclosure daily to minimize cleanup. In the meantime, I dump and hose out their indoor pens and replace the shavings. They go back inside the pen at night, and by morning the pens are a stinky, poopy mess again.
Next week duck fencing and outdoor shelters arrive for a more permanent setup. They won’t be old enough to stay outside overnight without a heat source for another two to three weeks. I’m hoping that when they are in a new, much larger outdoor enclosure maintenance will be easier. I’m installing tube feeders which will hopefully eliminate the poop in food issue.
Come winter, they’ll be big enough to harvest. The current plan is to keep a drake and a few hens to replace the population and put the rest in the freezer. Since I’ll have adult hens to raise the little ones and keep them warm outside, I expect to avoid having to deal with another indoor brooding setup. Will let you know how that goes when the time comes.