Originally published April 23, 2018. Updated August 17, 2018.
Duckling season is upon us and that means people across the world are talking about how this is the year they will start raising their own ducks. Functional Rustic is here to help.
My first introduction to raising water fowl was in high school. The biology class was hatching ducks and geese. My understanding is that the eggs are incubated in the class and then when they hatch the students can take the ducks home for the weekend. All I know for sure is that my sister came home one day with 2 snow goslings, 1 mallard duckling and 3 baby chickens.
We lived in suburbia and already had a house full of animals. My dad was not having it but, the rest of us loved them so he got out voted. Normally what dad says goes, but when it involves an animal his opinion is moot.
Long story short, we learned that the birds were not a problem to take care of when it was warm but as soon as it got cold outside our suburban yard was not going to cut it. We ended up having to give them to a farm. (We had essentially stolen them from the school so we couldn’t very well return them to the teacher.)
IF YOU CANNOT PROVIDE A FOREVER HOME FOR THE DUCK — DO NOT GET A DUCK.
Getting a duck is like getting a cat or a dog. It is a commitment to years of animal care. It was wrong of us to take those birds when we were not prepared to care for them.
I learned a lot with those birds in the few months that we had them. 20 years later (oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’s been 20 years!) I finally have a barn of my own and can raise ducks properly.
The barn provides countless options for housing the ducks once they are bigger.
I have Muscovy ducks. My mom does too. Her hen has hatched out 12 ducklings so far this year. (It’s the middle of April) One of my hens is sitting on eggs that should hatch any day. Until then though, I have zero ducklings and my mom has 12 — Not Fair!
My mom’s hen, Hazel, started to attack some of her babies. She even bit a chunk out of one of their cheeks. I had been asking to take some of her ducklings since the moment they hatched and she refused to share. However, with Hazel attacking her young my mom relented and let me have three.
There are many reasons I do not have the ducklings living in the barn right now — but I am not getting into that now. All you need to know is I have 3 ducklings living inside my house.
I may work in a barn but, I don’t want to live in a barn. If I’m going to have these adorable poop machines in my house I need an enclosure that keeps them enclosed and my house clean.
Here’s what I did:
Indoor Duck Enclosure: DIY Tutorial
Find space in your home where you can construct an enclosure approximately 2 ft x 2ft. You can make it whatever size you want but make sure it can fit the ducklings and a cookie sheet inside it.
Find two trash bags and cut down the seams on each side. Cutting the sides is easy when you do it before you open the bag. I use 13 gallon trash bags so I needed two — but one large bag could do the trick.
Open the trash bags and lay them flat on the floor where you want your enclosure. This will be the floor of the enclosure.
Put a layer of newspaper on top of the trash bags. Wood chips could be put in place of or in addition to the newspaper. You want an absorbent surface. The ducklings will poop — all day, everywhere. It is a very wet poop and needs something to soak it up. Without an absorbent bottom you are just making a duck poop slip-n-slide.
Find walls for your enclosure. Use whatever you have around the house. I recommend the wall be at least one foot high. Make sure your wall stays in place — that is to say, unmovable by ducklings.
The first enclosure I made used an empty pop can box as one of the walls. Those little duckers pushed through it within minutes. Make sure your wall cannot be pushed by the ducks; they’re stronger than they look.
(NOTE: My enclosure will have no roof on it. I am next to the enclosure while they are in it so I can keep the cats and dog away. Also, these Muscovy ducklings are learning to jump and try to fly. Escapes could happen even with 1 foot walls. At night they sleep in a brooder box with a lid. It is fine for overnight but too small for my growing birds during the day.)
I had to play around with a few different items before I found walls that would work. The size of my enclosure ended up being around 2 ft x 2 ft because that is the size of my pallet storage shelves.
For this enclosure I used what I had laying around — pallet projects. Specifically, I am using a small book case/storage shelf I built. It is heavy and a good height and shape for the project. (The ducklings can still escape through the cracks so I had to add boxes as a deterrent.)
I also used a mirror for one of my walls. The ducks get such a kick out of staring at and talking to themselves. It will get duck poo on it. Assume anything you put in the enclosure will get dirty.
Put all of your walls in place. Make sure to put your wall on top of the news paper. I initially had my wall outside the paper so I could fold the edges of the paper up along the inside of the enclosure. I thought it would protect the walls from duck presents.
Not only did it not protect the wall — it actually made it worse. They grab the edges of the paper and try to pull it up. Once they find the carpet they see there is no food and just hang out there. Pooping. For hours.
VIDEO of ducklings eating the enclosure.
Add food and water. Put a cookie sheet underneath the water dish to catch spills. There will be spills. Ducks are messy.
NEVER give medicated chick feed to ducks. But, do make sure that you are giving your ducklings food intended for babies. The main difference between adult and chick food is the size of the food. Chick food is very crumbly, almost powder like. The adult food comes in pellets or large crumbles. Little birds need little foods.
Ducks need water to eat. A duck can choke on their food if they do not have water near by to help them swallow. If you have food out for the ducks you MUST HAVE WATER out too.
The water should be deep enough for the duckling to submerge their bill.
Ducks are water fowl and love the water. New ducklings are not born waterproof though and need to be kept dry and warm. For this reason, small ducklings should not be given a pool to swim in — just a dish to drink from.
When the duckling is a few weeks old it will develop its waterproofing oils and can safely go in the pool. Even then, keep an eye on your duck to make sure it doesn’t stay too wet for too long.
VIDEO of the ducklings exploring the enclosure.
Put your ducks into your enclosure and enjoy!
VIDEO of the Ducklings in the enclosure.
VIDEO of the great duckling escape.
VIDEO of the great duckling escape 2.
Take pictures of your creation and your adorable feather babies and share it with Functional Rustic on Social Media.
Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic
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