17 July 2012
raising ducklings in suburbia
When our chicken breeders asked if we were interested in ducks, i jumped at the chance. Ducklings take longer to incubate than chicks & are well worth the wait!! They are born running - they dash about & leap out of your hands. We have Khaki Campbells in 3 different shades, named Bugle, Bongo & Calliope. Even from birth, their little flappy webbed feet slap on the ground in the most adorable flip flop fashion.
Raising ducklings is very much like caring for new chicks, they can eat the same food, they grow quickly & will soon climb out of the box you keep them in, however, ducks will saturate EVERYTHING by filling their bills with water & spraying it EVERYWHERE. After a couple of weeks their fluffy fur starts to get oily & they can splash in the bath. It's too adorable for words when they start swimming.
Our ducks sleep interlocked together, they'd also happily curl up on our laps after a bath. They started spending days outside with their similar aged chicks from 3 weeks & had extreme confidence with the adult hens. Even though it's Winter & they were sleeping under lights in a cage under a blanket in the garage, by 4 weeks they were sleeping in the coop at night outside . . . we'd check them in the morning, their bellies are toasty warm, even after a -5C night.
We put a trough in the chicken run so they can have a paddle & wash themselves. They now stand bigger than any hen & while they still hang out as a trio, they are so social, love a cuddle (now 7 weeks old) & look fully grown, with beautiful silky smooth feathers & glorious wings. They eat more than the chickens & their weight is more dense, they still dart about only with a waddle. They started quacking quietly at 3 weeks, then very loud & clear at 6 weeks.
Unlike roosters, there ducks are not marked for death if they are boys, although we'd love some lady duck eggs when they mature. On the future farm, we will breed them for meat, they seem to get so big so quickly, i can imagine butchering them in batches (as ugly as it sounds, but did you think of that last time you enjoyed a Red Duck Curry??) Will they stay & not fly away?? I don't know, i'm not into the idea of clipping their wings, surely if they love us, they'll stay?? We've not seen them try fly, none of the chickens have shown any interest in leaving us, the run is not covered. Bugle, Bongo & Calliope have remained different colours so we can pick who is who easily. They go bonkers for lettuce & share food with each other.
If you have chickens, i recommend ducks too (their eggs are bigger & tastier.) On a proper farm you'd have a separate coop with fences going into a dam or lake, for their safety & love of mud. They poo way more than chickens!! Enjoy, love Posie
PS feeling clucky, check out the Birth Stories giveaway.