Ducks are charmingly messy creatures. They love wet conditions: mud, rainy days, puddles to splash in…and they poop a lot. When it comes to bathing, nothing beats ducks for sheer happiness in the water!
It was the ducklings’ first bath. They stood around for a few minutes in the shallow part of the tub, then it was like something “clicked” and they realized why they were there. Zoomies commenced!
- A word of caution: ducklings can drown. I’ve heard and read stories of people who found their ducklings dead in a water source, like a pool or a pond. At this age, they aren’t waterproof (just downy) and they can become chilled and tired easily, leading to disaster. Ducklings should always only bathe when supervised and should be able get out of the water when needed. Tepid to slightly warm water helps ensure that they don’t get too cold while splashing about. We’ve found that paint roller trays make good places for ducklings to play in because they can get out of the water easily but can still get pretty rambunctious and – importantly – blow out their nares. If you’re thinking about getting ducklings, check out BYC’s informative article on raising them.
The farm store was out of large wood shavings, so we initially used paper towels and then straw as brooder bedding. Paper towels works better for chicks – the ducklings quickly made a sopping mess of the paper towels and nibbled the straw, so we changed to pine pellets. These are hands down the best for absorbency (some people use it as cat litter, too). Once wet, the pellets break down into sawdust, which can be put in a compost pile.
After their bath (about 10 minutes long), each duckling was gently towel-dried, then the whole group was blow-dried from above (I used a medium heat setting with my diffuser attachment and frequently tested how hot the air was getting with my hand). In their carrying box, the ducklings relaxed in the blowing warm air, some even falling asleep. After the bath, everyone went back into the newly-clean brooder for a long siesta. Tired ducklings are good ducklings, too!
It’s only been a few days, but they’re growing like weeds and have already moved into bigger digs (a medium-sized kiddie pool). They’re curious, energetic, and I especially enjoy the cute “side eye” they give me – it looks like they’re sizing me up. In warmer weather, they’ll have great adventures outside…but not with snow on the ground and temperatures in single digits. Until then, it’ll be tub escapades only!