Farm Ducks: Now Sweet Sixteen!

The latest additions – Runner babies (and a teeny Mallard)

The group of 10 ducklings are now nearly three weeks old. And, almost a week ago, we added 6 more!

Wondering why we got so many? Here’s why: these are “straight run” ducklings, which means they’re unsexed – so we have no way of knowing what ratio of girls to boys we have right now. Incubated eggs (statistically) result in approximately 50% females; since we didn’t hatch these, there’s a chance that the female-male ratio could be skewed and we could end up with too many males.

Plus, who can pass on “clearance” ducklings?? They were half price because it looked like another duckling shipment had come into the farm store. The store employee offered to sell me the ducks for – wait for it – $.50 each if I bought them all (there were probably 20 or so).😮 I really wanted to, but honestly, we’re at capacity having to brood these guys indoors due to the weather, so had to settle for just the six.

So what breeds did we get? These were just labeled as “assorted” ducklings, so you get what you get. I did try to choose ones that looked different from the first group, and ended up with what looks like 5 fawn and white Indian Runners and 1 Mallard. The mallard-looking duckling was the last of her breed in the bin…she’s tiny but plucky (and what a swimmer!). There’s one Runner that’s clearly a bit older than the others, too, but everyone seems to get along well.

Chilly weather this time of year means they’re stuck inside. That means lots of bedding changes, lots of drinking water changes, and lots of feedings. It’s hard to believe they’ve grown so much in just 3 weeks!

Ready for a bath!
Unleashed! (and splashing water everywhere)
Post-bath blow drying (and nap time for some)

All of the ducklings eagerly eat their fermented feed (maybe too eagerly) and I attribute at least some of their good health to its fermenty goodness. We also ensure that they get extra niacin; since our “base” feed is non-GMO chick starter, we supplement with nutritional yeast sprinkled on their food (and they love it). Even though the older ducklings are growing incredibly fast, their legs are strong and healthy.

The older group was even able to go outside recently (on a warmer day) and spend some time in a covered exercise pen…and splash like crazy! They nibbled grass, enjoyed the breeze, and got to more closely experience “being ducks”. They’ve outgrown the bathtub, so the timing on warmer weather couldn’t be better. Soon, they’ll be fully feathered and living the farm life – outdoors!

When a duckling tries to swim in the waterer…and ends up wearing it and spilling the water (and the duckling was fine)

Are you thinking about raising ducks? Find a wealth of valuable resources at BackYard Chickens, including advice from fellow duck-raisers. Prefer a book? I chose Storey’s Guide To Raising Ducks.