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May 12 2013 1 12 /05 /May /2013 08:13

Duckling.jpg

Duck eggs have a gestation period of 28 days. As with chicken eggs it is a good idea to mark X and O turn on either side to ensure a full 180̊ turn, if hatching in an incubator.  Eggs should be turned 3 -5 times a day (ending up on opposite side than the previous side the night before). Eggs should be candled on day 10 due to longer gestation period than chickens. Look for clears, blood rings. Stop turning day 25 for lockdown and increase the humidity.

Once hatched require warmth from a brooder lamp and a quiet environment. Try not to handle the ducklings too much.

Put a drinking bowl inside the brooder. Use a very shallow bowl that enables the ducklings to dip in their beaks, but not their entire heads. Ducklings like to be able to clear their nostrils as they drink, but if you give them access to deeper water they might climb in and drown.

If you fear the bowl you have is a little too deep, line the bottom with pebbles or marbles to make it safer, or cover with wide chicken wire so that the ducklings can get their heads into the water but not their body. Change the water every day to make sure the ducklings don't get sick from drinking dirty water.

Ducklings don't eat for the first twenty-four hours after they hatch, since they're still absorbing nutrients from the yolk inside the egg they hatched from. After that, they graduate to starter crumbs, tiny pellets of duck food available at feed supply stores. Buy a plastic feeder, fill it up, and place it in the brooder. Add water to food to help them swallow it. Weak ducklings may need a little sugar in the water to give them energy.

Very weak or sick ducklings may need a little extra yolk nutrition before they're ready for starter crumbs. Feed them a bit of mashed duck egg yolk until they become more interested in the starter crumbs.

After about ten days, ducklings are ready for grower's pellets, which are the same as the starter crumbs, only bigger.

When the ducklings become adults, after about 16 weeks, they're ready for adult duck food and thinly cut fruits and vegetables as a snack.

Help the ducklings swim. Ducks love to swim, and they'll start as soon as the first day after they hatch if you let them. Do not let them swim unattended. Baby ducks are covered with down, which isn't waterproof, and their bodies are still too fragile to cope with swimming alone at this stage.

Make a little swimming pool out of a paint roller tray. The slope in the tray creates a little ramp to help the ducklings get in and out safely.

Don't let the ducklings swim too long, or they'll get chilled. When they're done swimming, dry them off gently and place them back in the brooder so they can warm up. Full feathers should be in place by 9-12 weeks of age.

Once the ducks are too big for the brooder, move them to a large pen. Feed them adult duck feed and let them spend their days swimming and splashing in a pond. Make sure to bring them back into their shelter at night to keep them safe from predators. Be aware that older adult ducks that may share the same pond or water source may try to drown or kill the younger ducks.  

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  • : Poddington and P is about life in the country. It includes their creations, the animals they raise, and the plants and produce that they grow in the kitchen garden.
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