That's right! Ducks working. What does or can a duck do? Well to help out around the farm a duck loves to eat pests, they have a special fondness for mosquito larva/pupae. They also eat those nasty, can't get rid of Japanese beetles we in the USA have been plagued with. Ducks eat grasshoppers, snails, slugs, potato beetles and other bugs that most birds seem to leave behind. A duck that is a house pet that wears a diaper could go and visit people in Hospitals, Old Folks Homes, Schools, Scout Meetings and other groups. Not only can and will you lift spirits but you can use that time to educate people about how wonderful a duck can be. And or, a duck can be a model for photos shoots, you can share your photos on line with other duck lovers as well as with friends and family. Some people show their Ducks in Breed Duck Shows and others raise their ducks for meat. There is much a "Working Duck" can do.
So we went to pick up our Gosling and Chick order at the Mercantile, feed store and our order did not come in....but Deron was smitten with the baby ducks! I had said at least 22 times "I think I am going to wait til next year to get ducks." But I have to tell you. After they boxed up our three Americana poultices (baby hens) and we told them that was all we were buying "Thanks." We kept looking. Deron stood and talked to the salesman and told the salesman that I would be back to get ducks. So when Deron was still standing there I asked if we were getting ducks today <?> He said that we should at least get the black Cayuga, the only one, that was in the "Hatchery Choice" bin. So I said well, I think I will get a Peking to raise with it, and Deron told them we wanted a Magpie too. So, April 2010, we are duck owners again...and we are both grinning.
BRINGING HOME A BABY DUCKLING
When you bring home a duckling or a duck (or any animal really) you have brought home something that is dependent on you for it's very life. You can not just put it outdoors or even in a barn. This or these babies do not have their mothers to protect them. You need to read up on care and feeding and bedding and health for the duck. It is always better and I always recommend that a person read all this before buying the animal. That way, doing your homework of reading all you can about the care for that animal, you are ready and set up when the animal comes to it's new home.
Your baby duckling does not have it's feathers yet to keep warm. Duck keepers have found that they should be kept at 90 to 95 degrees for the first week. Reduce the temperature 5 degrees per week until you get to 70 degrees. Then they shouldn't need any special heating requirements. Your ducklings will do better at these temperatures, when you first bring it home, than your normal home settings.
Do not feed your baby duckling medicated chick food. It can be like poison to them. It is always a good idea to have a couple of books around that include duck care and health chapters.
Yes, you can train a duck to come when called, do a couple of tricks, and more. I have a full page of ideas of how you might train your duck. The first then you need to train is for the duck to learn and come to it's name. When do you start training? Right away when you bring your duckling home. Say the ducks name each and every time you feed it. Say the ducks name when you hold it, when you talk to it.
The more you handle your duckling the easier it will be to not only train the duck to do tricks and tasks, but also easier to change it's diaper. When your duckling is handled it becomes used to the touching, the turning over, the hands. But keep in mind, your duck is a duck and a duck has a very strong prey instinct. Your duck will run every time you reach for it. Even when it learns it's name and comes to you when you call, when you reach for it, it will move away. Just pick up the duck. Don't get your feelings hurt. Pick up the duck and go from there.
I LOVE DUCKS!
I do love ducks! Many people do. But please, when you see those little cute duckings in the feed stores and farm stores remember what a mess they can and do make. Ducks ARE a mess. Ducks need water, lots of water to drink and play in, and they will splash, poop, leave food in it every time. Some people can put up with this and even find it endearing, others can't handle it past the ducks first week. Make sure you understand what your new pet will require so that you are able to provide them with the care and water they need to thrive.
HOUSE DUCKS AS PETS
It sounds like a fun thing to do, have a duck in a diaper in your home (or chicken or duck or turkey) and it is becoming more and more popular. Most of us saw the episodes of the funny show with the pet duck and pet chicken kept in the NY apartment.
When you bring a goose or chicken or duck into the home there is a lot that one
should ask themselves. Like a dogs, duck live long lives. It is quite a commitment to the bird. It is not fair to the animal to live it's first year or first few months in your home with you making a fuss over it and they stick it outdoors with other animals that might not like and will pick on it and at it.
You should ask yourself if you are ready for the mess, the smell, the diapers (they are not cheap even when cut in half) as well as sharing your bathtub with a big bird that *will* shake the water everywhere. Do you have a place for the mess when they eat?
Do other members of your household think a goose, a roosting and flying chicken or a swimming duck is a good idea? Are you ready to train a duck that it is not allowed to pull stuff off your desk and table and.....? It is just like getting a cat or a dog or a hamster, be prepared and set up for the animal and remember you are making a commitment.
And yes, your duck will lay eggs indoors. Most people keep their house hens in dog crates overnight and wait til the morning egg is laid before getting the bird out for a bath, cleaning up the overnight mess and diapering the duck (and remember that is a daily chore with a house duck).
But if you are ready and willing to care for a duck in your home, you might be surprised what a fun and good pet it will make.
Yes, if you are going to have a duck as a housepet, you will need duck diapers and a duck diaper holder harness for your pet. Ducks can not be housebroke like a dog or cat. They do not have the muscles potty training requires. Your diaper holder needs to fit the duck correctly, not be tooooo tight, have some give to it that is, and hold the excretion that comes from the rear of the duck. We do sell the type that we use for our own ducks in our On Line Store.
I have come up with ideas for goose, chicken and duck diapers holders that will allow the user to line them with something other then the disposable baby diapers and or disposable sanitary napkins, I use folded newspaper in our bird Diaper Holders here. Not only are disposable items expensive, they are ruining the environment. Newspaper will break down easier in the environment and is cheaper and easier to get. The cloth diaper liner for the diaper holder is washable and can be changed from the holder when wet making use of the Diaper Holder longer between washings.
I do have an entire page at this site, About Bird Diapers, that you might want to take the time to read.
SETTING UP THE DUCK'S FEED AREA IN YOUR HOME
Have you seen your duckling/duck eat? What a mess they make. Ducks and Geese eat with, well...gusto, and lots of water. Water everywhere. It is like they are making love to their food and water, there is a process to the way they eat. And yes, they do need the water as they eat.
So what do you do about that mess when they eat in your home? Don't feed them on the carpet. If you have a fully carpeted home, put down some plastic. You might want to feed your duck in the bathroom. Some people even make cut outs or "cubicles" out of plastic storage tubs for their house ducks and geese to eat with their heads in. Just cut one of the sides off the storage, set the food and or water dish back inside the feeding cubicle and clean as needed.
Ducks need a large heavy crock type water and food dish. They need to get their bills submerged in the water to dislodge as food frequently becomes stuck in their throats. Their water will need to be cleaned out frequently, and yes, your duck will make a mess in and around the water bowl.
Ducks and ducklings are adorable birds. They are fun to watch, when little or when trained, will follow you anywhere. Ducks are relatively easy and inexpensive to keep. But ducks are a mess. No way around it, they play in their water, they poop in their water, they make quite a mess with water! And it is up to you to keep their living area clean. If you have a small pool for ducks it will need to be emptied, cleaned and refilled...and guess what? The minute you fill it the ducks will dirty that water again. Try not to get angry or frustrated, they are ducks.
A clean duck area will keep your ducks healthier.
RUB A DUB DUB THERE'S A DUCK IN MY TUB
If your duck is a houseduck and it does not go outside to swim in a pool or a pond, then your duck needs a bath at least four times a week. Fill up your bathtub about 5 inches or so, just so that the duck can actually dangle it's feet and swim a bit. Keep the water tepid, not hot, not cold, just room temperature. Let the duck splash around and play for a while and yes, you will have to clean the tub, the floor, the walls, but aaaawwww, look, your duck is having sooooo much fun and getting clean.
After the duck comes out of the tub, you might want to let the duck stay in the tub as the tub drains. The duck will shake off and preen. If you leave the duck in the tub as the water drains, it will keep some, most, of the shaking mess in the tub area. Some people leave their ducks in the tub til the ducks are dried off naturally.
After you duck is clean and dry, you can diaper it.
You might want to purchase a small horse drinking troth for the duck to play and bathe in. They are about 24" in diameter and can be set up on newspaper to keep the mess smaller and the duck out of your bathtub. A small child's pool is another idea, but because it is more shallow will make more of a mess.
There are many Breeds of Ducks in today's world. Before you buy your baby duckling be sure you know what it will look like as an adult. If you are not familiar with the Runners, you might just think something is wrong with your (what you thought was) Pekin. Some breeds of ducks you might need a license to own. Check with the area you live in before buying Mallards or other breeds. Know also that a White Crested and a White Mascovy ducklings might look much alike, but as full grown ducks they will look and act quite differently.
BLUE SWEDISH Blue Swedish are a very hardy and calm breed. All the ducklings we send are the correct blue/gray color. As with all blue poultry this breed will hatch in blues, blacks and silvers.
BUFF Is also called the Buff Orpington (like the popular chickens), originated in England. It is often considered a dual purpose breed, laying good quantities of eggs and used for meat. Many people keep Buffs for pets.
*****CAYUGA The Cayuga breed is believed to have been developed in the region of Lake Cayuga in New York. It is a hardy and quiet breed. Initially this breed will become a deep green, iridescent shine but as they age, they grow more white feathers, much like a human becomes gray haired. Some of their eggs are greenish or blackish in color.
*****CRESTED This is a beautiful, unique breed with its tuft of feathers on the top of their head. The ducklings we ship will all have good crests on them. All our breeders undergo the tests suggested by the Wissenschaftlicher Geflugelhof Institute in Germany to ensure complete genetic integrity.
*****MAGPIE Magpie ducks are a strikingly marked Welsh breed. The hens are good layers for a general purpose breed. They are good foragers and may be kept for meat.
The plumage should be white with two darker colored areas: the back (from the shoulders to the tail) and the very top of the head. Breeding well-marked Magpies is considered a real challenge. Black & White and Blue & White varieties are accepted in the APA Standard, but Dun & Whites also occur.
*****PEKIN The Pekin is my favorite breed of duck and the most popular breed in the USA. Everyone loves those cute little yellow Easter Ducks. They came to the USA from China in the 1870's. It is the main breed used for commercial meat production because of its exceptionally fast growth rate and good feed conversion. They are extremely hardy and one of the calmest breeds making them great pets.
*****ROUEN Rouen were originally bred in France and are often confused with the Mallard. They are a larger breed of duck and are said to have very flavorful meat. Their eggs being greenish in color.
*****RUNNERSRunners are unique. They have a slender, upright stance it enables them to move around much more quickly than most other breeds of ducks. They originally came from Southeast Asia where they are herded among rice fields eating snails and waste grain.
*****Indicates the breeds we own now or have had.