How to Hatch and Brood Ducklings
Discover the Joys of Raising Baby Ducks
Hatching your own fertile duck eggs and brooding the resulting ducklings is not only a great way to start raising ducks. Brooding ducklings is also a fun, hands-on way to bond with your ducklings and experience the magic of life. It sounds cliched, but it is true! Ducklings are cute, fuzzy little critters and many people find themselves falling in love with their ducks as they brood and raise baby ducks. Learn how to hatch and brood baby ducks to get started with your ducklings!
Start Raising Ducks With Your Own Baby Ducks
First, why do people start raising ducks? The reasons are varied, but most people start to raise ducks for eggs, meat or ornamental purposes. Many of these individuals raising ducks have already been raising poultry of other types, such as raising chickens. By far, the most common reason for raising ducks is for meat.
To hatch and brood your own ducklings, you first need to get some baby ducks. Alternatively, purchase some fertile duck eggs at a local feed store or from a local duck breeder. To find this contact information, check the yellow pages in your local phone book or call a local feed store for breeder information.
If hatching fertile duck eggs, place the duck eggs in a standard egg incubator (such as the type used to hatch fertile chicken eggs). The temperate should be ninety-nine point five degrees (F) with a fifty-five percent level of humidity. It takes approximately twenty-eight days to hatch fertile duck eggs, though the hatching time varies depending on the duck breed you are hatching.
Where to Buy Baby Ducks
You can purchase fertile duck eggs and buy ducklings from a variety of local and national poultry sources. You should first contact your local feed store to see if they sell baby ducks. Feed stores often get a shipment of ducklings in the spring and summer. Unfortunately, most local feed stores only ship in a small amount of a specific duck breed. If you want a duck breed that is not available from your local feed store, or ducklings in a number that exceeds the amount available at your local feed store, contact a local duck breeder. Contact information for a breeder in your area can be found at a local poultry club chapter, or in the newspaper classifieds. Alternatively, you can purchase ducklings and fertile duck eggs from national hatcheries and companies (e.g. Murry McMurray hatchery).
All About Brooding Ducklings
Your newly-hatched baby ducks need to be kept warm artificially using a heat lamp. A 250 watt heat lamp placed over a brooder will keep your ducklings warm. Suspend the heater using a standard hook and cord. Setup your brooder in a quiet, ventilated area of your home or barn that is free of all cold drafts. Many people choose to raise their baby ducks in their pantry or living room so they can keep an eye on the ducklings. Be sure to setup a thermometer to make sure the brooder area does not become too hot.
Cover the duck brooder ground with absorbant litter and give the ducklings about 6 inches of brooder floorspace each, increasing appropriately as your baby ducks grow into adult ducks and move from the brooder to an outside poultry run or coop. When your ducks are fully feathered, you no longer need the brooder.
Note that ducks are waterfowl. Thus, your ducklings may have a tendency to splash around in their waterer. You will need to change the litter as needed to prevent it from becoming soggy. Such a moist environment is not healthy for your ducklings.
When brooding your ducklings, you should feed your baby ducks chick starter or duckling starter. Often times, your local feed store will not have a supply of duck starter. Chick starter is a great substitute.
Always make sure your ducklings have lots of fresh, clean water.
You may feed your ducklings some table scraps, such as fruit peels or vegetable trimmings. Avoid feeding your baby ducks unhealthy scraps, such as bread or meat.
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