Today I set up the home for some day-old ducklings that should be arriving this week. We have Indian Runner ducks, and, while the chicken instinctively does this, the Indian Runners just aren’t smart enough to go in the coop every night before the automatic coop door closes. As a result, we lost two ducks to what is probably a raccoon predator in the last month.
Due to the loss and also because my goal is to have a laddered-bond approach to my small flock (a few new birds coming in each year to keep a steady flow of eggs from birds of different ages), I ordered day-old ducklings from McMurray Hatchery. I called them to ask for a breed that is smarter than the Indian Runners. The friendly person on the phone said that I should also steer clear of Blue Swedish. The result is 3 baby female Gold Star Hybrids arriving this week. These birds are good foragers and excellent layers. I had Khaki Campbells in the past, and really like those ducks. I think these will be similar.
Here is the setup. This sits in a room that can be closed and locked against our cat, but in case of a breach we added a wire mesh top with weights on it to keep her out. If you are doing this yourself, you will need
- A large waterproof container with high sides
- Clean shavings (other materials may do, these have worked very well for us in the past. We get them from Erikson Grain Mill in Acton, MA)
- Small water bowl and food bowls that are hard to flip if stepped on
- Heater that birds can get under – adjustable height. We like Brinsea’s safe heater.
- Crumble feed (again, from Erikson Grain Mill)
As they grow, you can move the heater up higher so they fit underneath. I recommend these water and food bowls that can attach to mason jars. Note that free-access water for ducks will require more shavings cleanup. Eventually I will move them to a dog crate that has a plastic insert in the bottom. This gives them more room to move around and they can’t jump out.