My ten Welsh Harlequin duckings will be here next week. I chose that breed because the American Minor Breeds Conservancy lists them as "critical" and they are good all around ducks for eggs and meat from what I've read. The males look like mallards in a snow storm, mallard markings with white flecks. The females are less showy (naturally) and are a buff color with some darker markings.
I've spent a considerable amount of time researching ducks so I'll know what to do when they get here, besides ooohing and aaahing over how cute they are. I scored two free large cardboard boxes from Lowe's in Reidsville that I'm going to duck tape together (ha, get it? yes, I know it's duct tape but I couldn't resist). The little quackers will live on the screen porch for 6 weeks until they get their full feathers. They must have a light to keep them warm and I just found instructions for a homemade version tonight online, solving my last big "hardware" issue. Tim already has some kind of light bulb with a cord. What we have to do is use an aluminum turkey roasting pan with a hole in it to thread the cord through. It will be the shield that directs the heat downward on the ducklings. Now I need to come up with a feeder, feed, straw bedding, and waterer. I've seen all those items at Tractor Supply but I want to check prices at Big Apple and Southern States before I buy. The food will be most important. The food at Tractor Supply is non-medicated but it's a dual purpose food for chicks and ducklings. I'd prefer food strictly for water fowl, organic if at all possible. My ducks will be free range and forage for a lot of their own food. I'll only pen them at night to protect them from foxes and other critters.
Did you know baby ducks without mamas should not be allowed in water for several weeks? The mama ducks oil the babies and make them waterproof. Babies don't have the oil gland to do that and can drown or get chilled.
Kenny Shelton is going to build our duck house. He built our house addition two years ago. We are not builders and Kenny definitely is. What would take us several weekends and probably come out crooked will probably take him one weekend and be a duck palace they will be proud to live and lay eggs in. Duck houses don't have to be tall since they sleep on the ground rather than roost as chickens do so duck houses are pretty small and economical to build in comparison to chicken coops. I've picked out a fairly flat spot (not many of those on our land) between the pond and the house so it will be convenient for both us and the ducks. It will be awesome to gather eggs from our own ducks next spring!