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 Post subject: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 4:54 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:19 am
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Hi all,

After 28 days wait my first duckling has finally hatched (19 more to follow).

As this is my first experience with raising ducklings I have some questions for the experts. I have in the past successfully hatch and raise chickens, are they more about the same?

1. When can I remove them from the hatcher?

2. When can I supply water and food?

3. How long do they need heat for?

4. When can I introduce them to the real world? i.e. put them on the grass for short period of time

5. How much water do they need in the brooder?

Thats all for now Im sure I have more Qs as they pop up.

Thanks.

JP


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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:27 am 
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Golden Kingfisher
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1. Wait till they are fluffed up and looking active - this is usually about 24 hours. Try to minimise the number of times the lid is opened

2. Supply water and food in the brooder as soon as you put the ducklings in there. They may not be interested for a day or so - that's fine. You can show them the water by picking up a ducking and dipping its bill in the water (don't push the head down, just tip the whole duckling)

3. Ducklings need heat for the first three weeks. Make sure there are cool spots in the brooder too - they need to be able to get away from the heat if they want to

4. I give mine short excursions outside after about a week, on warm days. They are not allowed to run around freely though - that's a good way to have them taken by magpies etc. I put them in a small rabbit hutch with close together bars and sit this on the grass. Supervise at all times.

5. Ah, water. They will go through water like there's no tomorrow. It's essential to provide a waterer that they cannot get stuck in - they will want to get in to it and if they can't get out they will become waterlogged and drown. So it HAS to be something that has sides that are shorter than their legs. They need to be able to step out. The green and white bell shaped waterers are great. Do not let them run out of water. They go through it very fast as they don't just drink it - they siphon it out with their bills. Most of it will end up on the floor. You can sit the waterer in a shallow tray to help with this (with non-slip liner in the bottom of the tray) They also need a small dish they can wash their bills in to clean their nostrils. To start with I use a small ceramic ramekin. As they grow you will need to increase the size of the face washing dish - use the 'same height as their legs' rule.

In short, ducklings are really quite different to manage, compared to chicks. What you have found works for chicks won't work for ducklings. Ducklings:
- use about 100 times more water per day. Not joking.
- grow much much much faster
- eat much more
- poop waaaaaay waaaaay waaaaaay more. You'll see.

The combination of water and poop mean that brooder cleaning and management are going to be to be dominating your life for the next while. They make an incredible mess. Be vigilant and try to keep things as clean as you can. I completely clean my brooder twice a day.

Another essential thing is a non-slip surface. I use old towels. These make cleaning easier - you just take out the towel and replace it. Also, they can't put the towel in their water. If you use a surface like wood shavings or similar they will put it all in their water.

I give mine their first swim in the bathtub (about 15cm of slightly warm/lukewarm water) at about 2 days old. Just put them in and they will take to it....like ducks to water! Give them 5 mins in their then dry them off with paper towel (they will get quite soggy) and put them back in the brooder to dry off fully. Supervise at all times - they will get waterlogged and tired and you want to take them out before that happens. I give mine daily swims. Once they graduate to the outdoor brooder (at about 2-3 weeks depending on weather) they get a big paint tray to paddle in and they also get supervised sessions in a low plastic tub. Eventually they graduate to a kiddy pool.

Start thinking now (as in right now!!!) about how you are going to accommodate them as they grow. They will be fully grown by about 8-10 weeks of age.

Enjoy them!

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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:49 am 
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Agree with everything Rach has said. I tend to use 2 separate high-sided plastic tubs, a wet one & a dry one. I recommend also a lid of sorts such as sheet of aviary mesh on your brooder as baby ducklings can be very active & jump out. If your brooder is indoors be aware that your walls might get splattered. Location of the brooder close to a tub or wash basin will help you with the frequent water & bedding changes. Enjoy! Please post some photos. :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:56 am 
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Old Mother Goose
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And don't even think about ranging them near the back door

70%cocoa wrote:
---------------------------
[/img]- poop waaaaaay waaaaay waaaaaay more. You'll see.........................................
Enjoy them!


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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:13 am 
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Fiesty Fowl
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That is a great "tutorial" cocoa, about to take on some day-olds here. I have Laucke Gamebird Starter on hand, non-medicated. Is this okay to start them on, or should I be using Duck and Goose Starter? For chickens I don't use medicated starter and have not had any cocci problems: would this be fine for ducklings - or do they have a greater need for medicated starter from day-1.

JP have your other 19 hatched - finger crossed. And thanks for asking the questions just as I needed the answers.

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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:13 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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I think the Laucke Gamebird Starter would be a good food to give to ducklings in the initial weeks. It will have all the nutrients they need. They don't need a medicated feed (although modern medicated feeds are safe for ducklings).

I begin with the Laucke Duck and Goose Starter but put ducklings onto the Laucke Gamebird Maintenance when they turn 3 weeks of age. I want to drop the protein at that age but keep the other nutrients high enough for growing birds. I would recommend that you do the same. The protein level in the Gamebird Starter is very high (28%) and so I wouldn't keep them on it once their flight feathers start to develop (there's a possible link between wing feather issues and high protein). Should be absolutely fine for the first 3 weeks though. You could also switch to a pullet grower at 3 weeks if you prefer. I like the Laucke Gamebird Maintenance better than a pullet grower though as the Laucke has very small pellets that are much better and easier to eat for ducks, especially when they are still young.

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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:16 pm 
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Fiesty Fowl
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Goodo thanks, that's helpful.

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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:30 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Posts: 117
Thank you everyone so much for the advice, really helpful.

So I had 21 eggs in the incubator, candled at day 10, one was dud, left with 20, currently 15 in the brooder, 5 eggs left in the hatcher (one has beak sticking out of the pip hole and appeared stuck, should I intervene? Two has piped but cant 'hear' much activities inside, one has piped and I could hear some activities happening inside, the last one has not piped)

I have attached some pics. Enjoy!


Attachments:
File comment: Ducklings under heater.
under heat.jpg
under heat.jpg [ 113.09 KiB | Viewed 407 times ]
File comment: Bathtub brooder with food and water in shallow dish, Brinsea Eco Glow 50 heater
brooder.jpg
brooder.jpg [ 89.25 KiB | Viewed 407 times ]
File comment: Transferring ducklings from hatcher to brooder in laundry basket
ducklings.jpg
ducklings.jpg [ 142.12 KiB | Viewed 407 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:51 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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Congratulations!!

Ducklings are much slower to hatch than chicks so don't be in a hurry to intervene. But if you've seen no progress for 30-48 hours after pipping the shell then you can carefully help. Have you helped a chick out of an egg before? If so, then you just follow the same approach. You'll probably find that if a duckling is really stuck then the inner membrane has glued itself to the duckling and will need to be loosened with some warm water.

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Blue Swedish Ducks


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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:56 pm 
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Showy Hen
Showy Hen

Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:19 am
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Hi Rach,

Your advice is invaluable. No I havent helped a chick out of of an egg before.

This particular egg has a well defined hole on one side and has no cracked/zipped line around, and yes there are dried membrane sticking to its eye/head. I have gently peel some of the shell off and let it be for time being, it is chirping very loudly and appear to struggle a bit....

How long should I leave the rest in for before to call it a quit?


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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:24 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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How long ago do you think it pipped the shell?

If it's loud and struggling then it might be time to help. A warm humid environment is best - so turn the hot water on in your shower and steam up the bathroom. Get some warm water ready. Get a pair of blunt ends tweezers if you have some. Take the egg/duckling into the bathroom and, using the warm water, moisten the dried membrane and loosen it off the duckling. If you need to remove some shell to get to it then do this with the tweezers - just kind of nibble away a hole with the tweezers. If you see any bleeding STOP chipping away the shell and just do what you can to moisten/loosen the membrane, then out the duckling/shell back in the incubator and wait till the morning. If you see no red blood vessels and there's no bleeding then it's ok to keep going and carefully remove shell to make a bit of an opening so you can free up the duckling. Even if there is no blood, if you see a yolk sac still outside the duckling then it's not ready to come out of the shell.

Hope that makes sense.

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Blue Swedish Ducks


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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:30 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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Re. how long to leave the rest in... I'd wait another 48 hours.

Now that you have opened the incubator a few times it is likely that other ducklings have become stuck in the shell. With the sudden drop in temp and humidity the membrane can kind of shrink wrap onto the duckling pretty rapidly. So just monitor the others. You may find you need to step in to help them if they have made no real progress for a long time (30-48 hours after pipping).

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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:59 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Up the humidity in the inc as much as possible - spray with warm water until the shells are wet.


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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:36 pm 
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Showy Hen
Showy Hen

Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:19 am
Posts: 117
Just an update, the one that pipped with its beak out....I managed to 'help' it out gently, it is doing fine as we speak, eating, drinking...it is the smallest of them all...

OMG they are sooooo messy, I cleaned the brooder and within minutes it looked like I have never cleaned it...

Few more questions....

1. When can I remove heat from them? I am in Brisbane.

2. At what age can I know what gender are they?

3. Do adult ducks know their 'home' like chicken do? If i let them free range will they go back to their coop at night?

Thanks for now...


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 Post subject: Re: Care for ducklings
PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:26 pm 
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1. Use your judgement. As with chickens their behaviour regarding source of warmth and how close they want to be to it can be an indication. Make sure the babies are warm and dry at night. I sometimes remove water & food overnight. If you remove water you must remove food also.

2. After about 5 weeks their voice will be a good guide, females quack, males will whisper.

3. You can train them by feeding in the shed or night quarters. If you let them free range with chickens or rear them with a foster chook mother it helps.


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