I have now raised two separate batches of baby chickens. I decided it was time to take on something new. Lots of baby ducks had been showing up at my local TSC. Ducks are fun and blend well with chickens. Many farms have both, so I decided next up was raising baby ducks on the farm.
Bringing Home the Quackers
Ducks had been in stores approximately a week. There was a chance that all the ducks might already have sold. July 29, 2019 my mom, son and I made a late evening stop by TSC to take a look. There was a small selection still available, all one breed. Not the mo-hawk duck I was hoping for. Don’t ask me the technical name for mo-hawk ducks because I don’t know. I had no idea what the ducks I bought were. Can you believe I didn’t ask? I was just so excited to get ducks, it slipped my mind.
It would take months for me to realize the breed of duck that I had taken home. Since there was only one breed to choose from I wanted a pair. The TSC associate allowed me to pick out which two I wanted. I picked out two adorable little balls of feathers, hoping I was choosing a male and female. Not much of a gambler, straight run (not sexed), my odds were 50/50.
Since they had the ducks a while, they were selling them for half price! Instead of over twelve bucks these little ones cost a bit over six. What a deal! Now the real fun was about to begin, I knew zero about raising baby ducks on the farm. I knew zero about baby ducks period.
Learning From Associates
I did what I do best when taking a leap into something I know nothing about. I asked the associates what I needed to know about raising ducks. Did I need special food? Did they need any specific care? Specific food for ducks was available but not really necessary. I could feed my ducks right along side my chickens. They could eat chick feed and table scraps. This was a plus because I already had what I needed. Ducks didn’t really have any special care instructions. They are pretty easy. Just give them plenty of water. Sounded simple enough to me. I thanked them and headed to the register to purchase my new babies. My cost was like six something for my two baby ducks. Not bad, but oh what I was about to learn bout raising baby ducks on the farm!
Brooding Baby Ducks
I had had on two separate occasions brooded baby chickens with the lowest number at once being 12. I was under the impression two ducks would be a breeze. A breeze it did NOT turn out to be. I had their brooder box filled with fresh pine shavings, their heat bulb turned on warming, and their food and water ready to go. I love my ducks but let me tell you two ducks make more noise than 12 baby chicks ever dreamed of making. Despite my best efforts I learned ducks, like chickens, did not really like being petted. Just another of my misconceptions. Another quick lesson learned if you pick up a baby duck you are likely to get pooped on. Believe it or not this is how my ducks became better known as Lucky (the smaller duck) and Pooper (the larger, always pooping on me duck). P.S. duck poop is really gross and stinky!
Let the Real Education of Raising Baby Ducks on the Farm Begin
Baby chicks can make water last a few days, baby ducks can not. I had to refill their water dish daily and sometimes twice a day. I had a larger water dish for them and it was a good thing. Ducks love to play in water. These ducks would let me fill their water dish and then proceed to run their beaks around in it like tiny toy race cars on a track. This splashed out probably more than they ever drank but they loved doing it.
Baby chicks did not need near as many pine shavings as baby ducks. The first real issue I ran into was not the petting, not the water, not even the fact they pooped on me. The real issue was they really, really stink. Ducks smelled a ton worse than a full brooder box of chickens. The only reason I can find for this is that they pooped more and the water made a huge mess. The constant wetness caused the pine shavings to become very smelly. I had to put down new shavings almost daily with the ducks. I was getting a bit over whelmed with the smell and was more than ready to put these ducks outside.
Moving the Ducks Outside
Finally the baby ducks were big enough to be moved to the great outdoors with the chickens. Ducks grow at a faster pace than chickens so it did not take near as long for them to be ready. Close observation proved they respected the chickens and were big enough they didn’t slip through the fence, not likely since it is electric. Once outside I was also able to get them a pool that they could play in. I got an excellent deal on a kiddie pool at DG. Summer clearance and I gave a whopping $2.75 for it. The ducks loved it! They did have a bit of a challenge getting in it at first so I put them a concrete block beside it to hop on to get in and out.
The ducks adjusted quickly and loved the outside much more than the brooder box. I had no problems with them and the chickens getting along. Now I really started to wonder what they were.
What Are These Ducks Anyway?
I thought at first they were Indian Runners. They stood upright to most ducks and their body was slender on top and rounder on bottom. They looked like a bowling pin, classic sign of Indian Runner. As they took off growing however they looked less like the Indian Runner.
Finally a farming friend of mine helped me figure out that they are Saxony. Thank you girl! I was happy to finally be able to identify their breed. Once I knew what they were I was able to learn more about them. They are a German duck breed. They are a dual purpose duck, but that doesn’t matter much to me, I just want eggs. Lucky for me they are excellent layers producing 190-240 eggs per year. This breed is wonderful foragers and adjust well to different environments. They can handle heat and cooler weather and of course they love rains. They have a docile temperament.
Further Knowledge on Raising Baby Ducks on the Farm
I soon learned that I had indeed been able to snag a male and female duck. Once I knew they were Saxony it was very simple to see that Pooper was a male and Lucky was a female. For once the combination was what I had hoped for! Pooper has a raspy quack when he used his voice and Lucky is very loud and quacks. Sometimes they sound like they are laughing and can really throw that sound up at just the right time during conversations. Pooper is larger with cream and white feathers, a rust colored chest and a prominent gray head. The Saxony males coloring closely reminds you of the Mallard duck, the coloring is different but the pattern is close. Lucky is smaller with cream and white colors. I have not gotten any eggs yet as ducks usually don’t lay until they are 20-30 weeks old.
In Closing Raising Baby Ducks on the Farm
Ducks can be so much fun. I really enjoy being a duck mom. Ducks are fun to watch even if they do not enjoy being petted. They love fresh new water in their pool. They swim, splash and play. Usually they have to get in before it is full. They remind me of over anxious kids. They are definitely the jokers in my flock. Despite how much I love them, I would not want to brood ducks in the house again. They just stink too much. I would be open to brooding outside or allowing my ducks to hatch eggs though. We are considering adding a few more to my flock this spring/summer. Hopeful this time we brood only females. One drake (male duck) is enough.
All in all they are not a lot different than chickens. My ducks get left out a lot with table scraps because there are 50 plus other beaks running for it. They are able to vacuum up the scratch and feed though. I had forgot to mention I call them vacuums because they clean up food so quickly with their wide beak. It is funny to watch. I do throw them piles of scratch so they can get it. It is hard for them to find the single grains. They did love watermelon, squash and pumpkins out of of garden last year.
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