Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How Do You Care for Your New Duckling?

How Do You Care for Your New Duckling?

1. The duckling needs to be in a safe area like a Rubbermaid tub with a heat source (like a heating pad under one side of the tub so they can leave the heat when they want to), a baby duckling needs to be kept in a temp of 95 degrees for the first week and then decrease temp 5 degrees for the next 4 weeks. They can not regulate body temperatures until they are fully feathered at around 6 weeks of age. The tub should be lined with cotton towels or disposable puppy pads and have some type of soft bedding over top (plain newspaper is too slippery for ducklings to walk on). You can hold and cuddle it, but it also needs its rest time just like any other baby. Please be aware that if you raise a duck or goose, you are making a 10-30 year commitment.

2. Ducklings need food. At the feed store you need to ask for NON-medicated chick or duckling food, if they don’t have that gamebird starter works (NON-medicated). You will need to switch them off the starter formula and cut down the protein at 3-4 weeks of age – you may then give them something like Purina Gamebird Chow. They should have access to food and drinking water at all times. Some feed stores carry specialized waterfowl food, many don't. They can have fruits and veggies as snacks, worms, crickets, etc.NOTE: A duckling can DIE if they are not fed properly with duck chow – BREAD IS BAD FOR DUCKS AND IS NOT NUTRITIOUS!!!!

3. Water. Your duckling at this age is not waterproof, and can drown in deeper water. In the wild, ducklings get their waterproofing from their mother who supervises their swim time. Ducks need water to drink all the time, but they can not be allowed to get in the water source without supervision. Poultry waterers work well since they are shallow. You can let them swim in shallow water (bowl, sink, clean paint tray, etc.), but only for a short time and must be watched like an infant, and dried with only a towel before putting it back in its box.

4. When can a duck go outside to live full-time? Ducklings are mostly feathered in 6 to 8 weeks. You will not recognize them in 2 weeks! When they are feathered most of the way and have adequate, safe, draft-free shelter, they can go outside full-time. Until then, you may take them outside during daylight hours as long as you watch them or they are in a predator-proof cage. ALL OUTSIDE DUCKS NEED SECURE CAGES TO SLEEP IN AT NIGHT! You may not think you have predators in your neighborhood but that is because you don’t see them at night while you’re asleep! A secure cage must have sides AND a top and bottom – it must be covered in “hardware cloth” rather than just chicken wire to be secure.

"What If You Can't Take Care of That Duckling Anymore?"

Ducks can be more difficult to raise than many people plan on. If you have decided not to keep your duck anymore, please email: (enter your e-mail here). There are other people who would love to find or give your pet a safe home.

Releasing domestic animals or birds at a park or into local ponds is ILLEGAL!
It is also very dangerous to the duck. Domestic ducks have become dependent upon the owner for food and protection. They have not developed the fear of man and other animals (dogs, cats, or other predators); fear is necessary for their survival. Many dumped domestic ducks die within a short time! Also, domestic waterfowl can rob native waterfowl of valuable resources. Food, fresh water, and sheltered areas become crowded. In order to protect native species, many government organizations (Game Commissions, Environmental Resources) WILL KILL the domestic invaders to make room for the natural inhabitants of an ecosystem to survive. So please don’t contribute to this tragedy!

Here is a great resource for pet duck owners:
The Duck Rescue Network – non-profit group that rescues, rehabs & adopts ducks:
Duck Rescue Network

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