I like ducks. They’re cute, they’re fun, they do a great job of hunting slugs and aquatic insects, they aerate the ponds and eat the algae. They’re also quite tasty. We ran out of ducks last year. I had been planning to get more ducklings this spring but things were too hectic. As a result the pig pond has gotten a little scummy with algae. If the ducks were there the algae would be gone.
Ben, Hope & New Ducklings
Finally in the beginning of summer we got some ducklings from McMurray Hatchery. Twenty in fact. McMurray tends to be a bit higher priced but also has more selection than I’ve found elsewhere. Another good one I’ve dealt with is Privett Hatchery. Both ship mail order. Be ready when your little ones arrive. I have gotten chicks and ducklings as late as October and done well with them but the warm summer months are the easiest time.
Duckling Barrel Brooder
When the ducklings arrived we put them into a half barrel with bedding on the bottom. Hay, wood chips and wood shavings all make good bedding. The round shape of the barrel helps avoid crushing in corners.
The light gave them a little extra warmth on our cool nights. By using a hood I probably could have avoided the light. The radiant heat did help them dry out better when they got wet. They also have a waterer and feeder in the barrel.
Hope & Duckling
Hope is very enarmoured with the ducklings. With a bit of practice, and no lost ducklings, she learned to hold them gently.
Duckling Trough House
The ducklings quickly out grew their initial barrel brooder. There next house was a cracked cattle watering trough. With a bit of slope it has a beach so that the lower end fills with water. The ducklings thought that was grand. They’re not yet ready to swim but they do like splashing in the water and dipping their beaks. We began feeding them some greens at this point. This was after about ten days.
Barrel Bedding Pack
When I lifted up the barrel brooder I found this nice bedding cake. I cut a door in the brooder and moved it into the trough to be their new home.
Hope Introducing Duckling to Door
As I moved the ducklings over to their new trough house Hope introduced them to the door of their new house.
Giant Pekin Duckling
That is a Giant Pekin Duckling. It is about 50% larger than the regular Pekin Ducks. We also got three White Crested Ducks which look like Pekin Ducks wearing fluffy Russian fur hats. At this point the ducklings have lost their yellow ducky plumage and are now covered in white feathers. Their latest move was to the atrium garden which has a bathtub filled with water where they dunk and swim. This week I opened the gate to the pond level but I have yet to see them explore all the way down there. In time they will.
Outdoors: 67°F/56°F Mostly overcast, brief rain in later afternoon
Farm House: 71°F/67°F Excavator began
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/60°F
Love the picture of Hope helping the duckling into the duck house :-)
I agree with you that the warm summer months are best for brooding ducks or just about any kind of poultry.
Good idea about a round barrel.
Might have to try that sometime.
And I suppose that the dogs can be trusted around these little running things, right?
The dogs are very protective of the chicks and ducklings. In fact, they vie to be the guardian. When the chicks and ducklings first arrived Cinnamon and Saturn were growling warnings at each other not to touch, to stay back and taking up defensive positions.
When we moved the ‘lings into the atrium the big dogs moved their guarding center in there. I had to talk with them to get them to keep working elsewhere.
They’ve relaxed a bit over the past month but still station themselves where they can look down into the atrium while also seeing out into the fields. The dogs like high spots where they can scout from.
how do you pick dog that will be good to farm animals.my dog some time she is ok with chickens some time she just kill them for no reason, well as far as i can see.
If your dog is good some of the time then you have an excellent chance to have a good farm dog. It may take a fair bit of training but it is well worth the effort.
Positive reinforcement for doing the right thing.
Sharp “No!” reprimand (punishment) for the wrong thing.
The dogs need to want to please you, you need the dominant position relationship.
Consistency is important.
Clarity is important.
Repetition is important.
Talk to the dog a lot, use a slightly simplified language using the words you want in their vocabulary.
For more, see these posts about the dogs on our farmstead.
OMG..they are so sweet. I love them when they are at that stage. My dad raises chickens, for meat purposes, and I love when he first gets the chicks..150 or more little yellow cuties hanging around.
Hi! I feel as though I should start out by saying that your website has been oh so helpful to me and my children. I have two 12 year olds and an 11 year old. They have been nagging my about allowing them to adopt pet ducks from ducks for backyards. We have single income so we cannot afford big brooders. The girls were just enchanted by the pictures of bruiser and sheldon and actually decided to name on of the ducks shelldan. What type of ducks do you have? We were planning on getting white layered. We have a medium size backyard with a shed that we could keep them in. We were planning on adopting them over the summer so the girls could be with them. We know that we should keep them inside for the 1st week and then move them outside. Is a shed safe? We were planning on 4 also, 2 girls; Lillie and Lacie, and 2 boys, Shelldan, and Pooki. Would it be okay to have girls and boys together? We read that they can start mating at 16 weeks but we dont want tons of baby ducklings. How often do they lay and what should we do with their eggs. My whole family is vegan so we would not eat the eggs. Can duck eggs be eaten? Thank you so much! The girls love you website and didnt fall asleep until 4:00 AM looking at your website and woke up at 6:00 to start again. Also my husband may need some convincing, do you have any ideas, such as how hard are they to handle
We have had two types of ducks, the Rouen which look like wild Mallard ducks and the white Pekin ducks, both Jumbo and Regular. I like the Pekin. They grow very fast, are hardy and lay well. They are fairly defenseless against predators. I find they start laying after a year. I prefer to keep just one male as multiple males are too sexually aggressive unless there are a lot of females. I would suggest maybe six straight run females if you don’t want fertile eggs. You can definitely eat duck eggs. They’re very good food.
What a lovely blog post! I’m a duck fan. Hay, like a ducted fan!
Duck tape too? :)