There are times when you say “Does it really get any better than this?!” We had one such moment today when our silver Appleyard ducklings, at day 12 post-hatch, had both their first outdoor adventure and their first “swim.” As expected, they took to water like…well…ducks.
We’ve found that many people are unaware that ducks do not need constant access (or really any access) to swimming water, but they sure do enjoy it! What ducklings do need is constant access to drinking water, and it’s important that they can immerse their heads to keep their faces, nostrils and eyes clean. We currently use a milk jug with holes cut in the sides for watering them. Previously the milk jug was not a good solution for us, as the smallest duckling could get inside even a small hole. No longer!
For the first outdoor adventure, we made a pen with 24″ poultry fencing and six steel stakes. We brought the ducklings heat lamp out and provided them with a box of familiar shavings to which they had access. We also offered them shade, although nobody was interested! The temps were in the low 70s, and we decided to give them a shallow pan with water in which they could play. We had towels on hand to dry them so that nobody became chilled. We were outside for just about an hour, and we stayed with them the whole time to make sure nobody got chilled and that no predators took a liking.
Once the first duckling went in and paddled about, the rest got the idea, and they were all in and out of the water. We fed them dandelion greens, and a couple of the ducklings showed some interest in bugs.
After plenty of splashing, we removed the swimming water a little while before we planned to take them back inside, so that they could dry off fully. Getting soaked and then chilled is a serious risk for young ducklings, and we didn’t want to take any chances. Most everyone got cleaned-up and dried off on their own before taking a nap in the sun.
We’re hoping to move them to the duckhouse around 1 June if the weather holds, but for now, they are back inside the house with us in their deluxe kiddie pool brooder.
Stay tuned for more duckling news…