After getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and seeing one too many ticks, we decided to add Muscovy Ducks to our farm. They are supposed to be excellent bug control. We got 7 from a local farm, and unfortunately 6 of them are probably boys. The breeder felt bad so she offered to trade the boys for future ducklings so we will hopefully end up with more girls. In the meantime, we’ll get some bug control and to watch them grow.
We’re used to chickens so the little ducklings looked huge at 2 weeks old! They were already much bigger than the chicks which are older by 1-2 weeks. We were going to add them to the bathtub brooder, but because of their size, we decided to keep them in the new outdoor brooder overnight instead. The breeder said they’d be fine overnight outside, and she was right.
This was the first time the ducklings were separated from their mother, and they distressed chirped for a long time.
We introduced the chicks to their new brooder & brooder mates the following morning.
After a hour, they were uneasy, but accepted each other. Most of the chicks are pretty bold & just do what they want. Lol
These ducklings are different than chicks in several interesting ways.
1) They are HOT! It looks like they are much better at regulating their body temp than chicks at the same age. I transported them home in a cardboard box, and it seemed uncomfortably warm inside when the lid had been shut despite being in air conditioning & away from windows.
2) They need access to water to eat their food & can‘t use nipple waterers. Their bill shape makes nipple waterers problematic. A large, shallow reusable container of water seemed to work for their eating and splashing around.
3) Wing development is slower than chickens. They have big bodies and tiny, baby arms, which look ridiculous and reminiscent of T-Rexes.
4) No feathers for longer means no flying around the brooder. They can’t walk up the fairly steep ramp to the coop section of the brooder, and they slide / semi-fall down the ramp every morning. Chicks navigate the ramp much better and fly up and down to the coop opening with relative ease.
5) They don’t dust bathe, they use water instead. Should be obvious, but I somehow expected them to dust bathe, too.
6) They are super awkward walking around. Have you ever tried walking with flippers on land? It seems almost as hard for the ducklings. Chicks are very agile by comparison. Not only are their feet so much better for walking around on land, they also can use their wings to steady themselves. Ducklings remind me of penguins. They waddle around and fall constantly. Not only do they seem to slip a lot, they got off balance and flap their useless winglets before hitting the ground.