Tuesday, February 1, 2011
ALMOST ALL MY DUCKLINGS IN A ROW - Duckling Care
We have mail-ordered them way back in December: Four Khaki Campbell Ducklings and ever since then we have been anticipating their arrival with egg-citement.
These Campbells are very special ducks. They supposedly out-lay any hen (200 eggs per year), are land ducks, which means they are not too water-crazy and are not big into flying. The perfect ducks for us. They look a bit like brownish mallards, like real ducks, so to speak.
I cannot recommend the source that we used (http://www.efowl.com/) for a variety of reasons, one of our ducklings arrived dead, they were shipped without GroGel, the other duckling has a genetic disformity which we only learnt much later, but I have heard great things about Metzer Farms in California. Our next bunch of ducklings will be from them (thinking about four more, maybe even six ... I looove ducks):
Anyway, today we finally received the phone call to pick them up at USPS. Baby-birds typically get mailed. And they seem to be doing fine because the last day in the egg they suck up all the nutrients and then do not need to eat for the first two days of their lives.
Aurelia and I went to pick them up. On the way over, Aurelia informed me that she wanted to name them Grumpy, Sleepy, Bashful and Dopey. Yes, we are in the Snowhite phase.
Ever since the USPS employee handed us the little box and we heard the little peepers, we could not stop smiling.
On our drive home, I already noticed that there were only three different peeps coming out of this box and I was getting concerned. When we opened the box, it was confirmed: One little duckling had not made it. Aurelia almost cried and I was sad as as can be.
Before we went to pick these two day old babies up, I had already soaked oatmeal with some dandelion snippits. So we dunked their little beaks in water several times and then into the oatmeal smoosh. It took them a while but then they started eating.
In the first couple of weeks, they are doing fine with just water-soaked oatmeal, realy fine dandelion snippits and some brewer's yeast sprinkles. After about a month, I start them out on water-soaked chicken scratch with chopped greens and again brewer/s yeast. Ducks need more protein than chickens which is why you need to add brewer's yeast. You can also feed them hard boiled egg, which they devour.
Our ducklings seemed to do really well after the big transport, checking out our backyard, until Aurelia decided to spray them with the water hose. And I had thought I need to be concerned about our Labrador Retriever, Schoko harming these little guys . . . I guess, one never knows . . .
Oddly enough, baby ducks must not get wet. They will get cold (no down feathers yet) and may die. Here is another trivia: They cannot swim until they are several weeks of age and if raised without Mama Duck, even later.
So, I picked up three soaking wet ducklings, gave Aurelia a big speech, put the little peepers in their crate (which we had prepared beforehand with sawdust), turned the heat lamp on and prayed that we won't loose another one or all.
Of course, a few minutes into the drying of the ducklings, the bulb of the heat lamp broke and the three little peepers huddled chatteringly together. And off we rushed to the DO IT CENTER to buy two new ones. Yep, two, because one never knows!
Yes, these babies need to be warm. Since we live in SoCal, it is okay to bring them out an hour during the day but generally they still need a lot of warmth. Every week, move the heat lamp a bit away from them until at about week 3, you only turn it on at night and at week 5 or 6 they should be able to do without.
It is kind of weired because of the lamp, they get a bit confused about when it is day and when it is night. But since they are babies, they sleep a lot anyways and as soon as the lamp is gone for good, they are back on daylight waking.