How To Buy A Pet Duck
Most of us grew up watching funny cartoon ducks and visiting real ones at our local parks and ponds. We picnicked, they waddled around, and everyone went home happy. So, could it really be that difficult to take in and care for ducklings? Yes.
how to buy a pet duck
Because ducks relieve themselves so often, caregivers should get used to cleaning up messes inside the house as well. Some people purportedly keep diapers on their ducks to keep the floors clean, but this is extremely uncomfortable, unnatural, and confusing for the birds. And the diapers would need to be changed numerous times a day.
By law, ill or orphaned ducks must be turned over to professional wildlife rehabilitators who have the facilities and training that these delicate animals need. The professionals can give them the best chance for survival and return them to their flocks when ready.
Have you ever seen some ducks swimming contentedly in a park pond and wondered to yourself whether you can keep ducks as pets? Well, you are not alone. More and more people are bringing ducks home to be part of their daily lives.
Since pet ducks usually are unable to fly, they are a big target when it comes to local wildlife predators. That means that you will need to provide them with hawk covers, which should be placed over their pens. When outside, your pet ducks will also need to be supervised and protected from potential coyote attacks.
If all of this sounds like a good fit for you and your lifestyle, and the adorable little faces of ducklings are calling your name, then you will want to take some time to set up your yard before bringing your new family members home.
Preparation is key. Finding pet duck supplies can be a lot more challenging than chicken supplies, so a little more time and planning is needed. Here are a few basic duck supplies that you will need to get before adopting ducks as pets:
But remember that ducks will soil their water with amazing speed, so the tub needs to be changed regularly. In fact, I change mine several times per day. You will want to find a tub that has enough room to swim but is small enough to clean easily.
Many people choose to feed their pet ducks chicken food, and I do NOT recommend this. There are different nutritional needs that ducks have (such as needing more niacin than chickens) that will not be met by feeding chicken food.
So, if you are ready for lots of baked goods as well as plenty of manure for your garden, pick up a good book or two on keeping ducks, find a source for waterfowl food, and get ready to start on a great adventure!
But basically any breed duck will lay you delicious, rich eggs, provide you tons of nutrient-rich fertilizer in the form of manure and provide hours of entertainment. Other breeds widely available include Buff Orpington, Pekin, Saxony and Swedish ducks.
The Livestock Conservancy has wonderful duck breed information on their site as does Metzer Farms, so spend some time looking at the breed photos and reading up on some of the different breeds that interest you.
No matter why you are buying ducks, where you buy them, and at what age, remember that ducks are very social and flock-oriented animals and I recommend a minimum of at least two, and preferably three, as a starter flock.
With the Easter holiday approaching, baby ducklings often find their way into gift baskets, but with some forethought, knowledge, and planning these little darlings can become treasured members of the family. Here is some useful information for those who might be considering a duck as a pet. Ducks are wonderfully hardy, inexpensive, and easy to care for. They can live up to 20 years and make gentle and amusing pets.
Ducks are highly intelligent and emotional creatures. They can understand commands, play with toys, play games, give kisses, and beg for snuggles like other birds if you take the time to work with them. If handled frequently and gently from an early age, ducks will become quite sociable with people. It may take some getting used to, but eventually you will figure out what types of activities your duck enjoys. The more you interact with your pet duck, the quicker you will bond with one another.
At about 4 or 5 weeks when the ducklings' breasts are covered with feathers, they can be put safely outdoors if it is not too cold. Try to get them used to the outdoors slowly by placing their box or cage outside for longer periods each day. If the weather is nice, they can be outside even when very young.
Waterfowl should always be fed unmedicated feed. For the first two weeks the ducklings should be fed duck starter, which is a special ration for young birds. For weeks 3-7 they should be fed duck grower which is optimal for growth and development. From then on you can feed pullet grower, which is a lower protein, unmedicated chicken feed.
Many local ordinances and homeowner associations prohibit poultry of any sort, and ducks can spread salmonella and avian flu to humans. Salmonella and avian flu can be avoided with the proper precautions. At a minimum, cleanliness and avoiding exposure are paramount in prevention.
If you are considering a duck as a household (indoor exotic) pet, please do your homework and ensure it is the right choice for you. Ducks can live a long time and deserve a happy, healthy home for the duration. As with all pets, remember to contact your veterinarian when you have questions and to schedule checkups on a regular basis to keep your pet healthy and happy.
Ducks do not possess sphincter muscles; therefore, it is impossible to control their urination and defecation. Shortly after foraged food or poultry bird feed enters the duck, it starts to come out on the other end.
A duckling will mature into a far more giant poultry bird in relatively no time at all. In just a few months, that cute fuzzy little duckling can be a nearly mature bird that weighs between 6 to 10 pounds.
Some breeds of duck hens start laying eggs when they are just a few months old. Even if you could purchase only female ducklings (which is unlikely because these birds are rarely sexed like chickens when sold), she will still lay eggs.
Anyone walking in the duck living space will likely step on an egg or two if they are not placed inside a duck house or a coop with an attached run at night. Mature hens typically lay between 3 to 4 eggs per week.
Some duck keepers warn folks that these poultry birds can become very noisy and loud. My experience has been the opposite, but my flocks have the run of a lot of acres and a large pond to hold their attention.
Even if the successful hatching rate is around 50 to 70 percent, that is to be expected for newbie keepers (due to the inferior response duck eggs have to mere slight fluctuations in humidity), the egg hatching machine could pay for itself in one round of hatching.
When starting a breeding operation or wanting solid breeders to develop an ongoing supply of meat, spending a little more time and money to find ducks old enough to be visibly sex by their plumage, sounds, body style, etc., also be well worth your while.
It is best to have the coop and run and a water feature already set up before ever purchasing ducks. Even to build a small duck house and run could take an entire weekend, depending upon the amount of help you have with the project and basic woodworking skills.
The last thing we want to happen is for someone to get ducks/ducklings on a whim, then abandon them at a nearby pond (which is an almost guaranteed death sentence for a domesticated duck) or have them get killed by predators in their own backyard. In short, we want you to have a good idea what to expect and to be prepared to raise ducks BEFORE you get them.
A well-designed coop and/or run also keeps your ducks safe from predators. Note: You can also keep ducks permanently in a secured run with a laying nook or coop inside. (See: How to build a long-lasting predator-proof duck coop and duck run.)
Ducks take water baths, chickens take dust baths. Your adult ducks will at least need access to a kiddie pool to swim in. Or you might consider building a self-cleaning backyard duck pond using our design.
How many ducks should you get? Should you get male or female ducks? What ratio of male-to-female ducks should you get? We help you answer those questions in our article, Should I get male or female ducks or both?.
Depending on which duck attributes are most important to you and your family, you should pay careful attention to the breed(s) of duck you get. We chose Welsh Harlequin ducks, but there are lots of other great breeds out there that would also fit our needs.
Obviously, all of this is rendered moot if you can not legally own ducks. For instance, your Home Owners Association (HOA) may have restrictions against having backyard poultry. Or your municipal/city regulations may have poultry restrictions. For instance, people living within the city limits of Greenville, SC, where we live can not have more than seven poultry in their yard.
If you decide to get ducks after reading this article and the additional resources we linked, then welcome to the duck family! You knew what to expect before you got ducks, did the work to be prepared, and went in with eyes wide open.
Food explorer, seed & soil geek, duck evangelist, writer, health nut, and entrepreneur. In addition to their collaboration on Tyrant Farms, Aaron and his wife, Susan (aka "The Tyrant"), are cofounders of GrowJourney.com, which focuses on providing free educational resources for gardeners and small farmers interested in no-till organic food production. Aaron is the former farm manager at Oak Hill Cafe & Farm, a no-till, permaculture, farm-to-table restaurant & farm located right down the street from his alma mater, Furman University, in Greenville, SC. He also serves on the board of the Diversified Agriculture Committee for the South Carolina Farm Bureau.
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