Countdown to Batch 01 – 10 days out
With just over a week left before the ducklings are expected I’ve started prepping for their arrival. The Calendar is marked DUCKLINGS on April 21 & 22. That gives me one weekend to finish preparing.
Yesterday I headed to the feed store to grab some pine shavings and straw bales and noticed that they had small bags of Purina Flock Raiser. HAD being the keyword. I walked out with the last one. This stuff is meant for mixed flocks, is unmedicated (lots of chick starter is medicated, and since ducklings eat more than chickens they can easily overdose on the meds), and is supposed to have all the niacin (Vitamin B3) needed for ducklings. There are plenty of people out there that dislike Purina, but since it’s the feed I can find at the local shop I’m going to go ahead and use it. I checked amazon, but wasn’t very successful at finding anything that was Prime eligible.
Ducklings can’t use a chick waterer.. or rather they can, but they’ll need something more. Ducks have mucus membranes in their nostrils that they like to keep moist and they tend to need water to wash down their food. The standard chick waterers just don’t fit the bill. (get it? Bill.)
Ducklings need something they can immerse their whole bill into, but ideally not something they can climb into themselves. The standard practice is to take a plastic milk jug and cut a small hole in it, just large enough for a duckling to fit it’s head in, but too small to really allow the whole duckling through. I have a 1 gallon jug ready to go. I’m planning on openings on 2 sides, about 2 inches from the base of the jug. Photos soon, I promise.
I have a large, 40 gallon breeder fish tank that’s been sitting in the shed since we moved just waiting for a use. These have a 18×36″ footprint which means it should work for 6 ducklings for a week or two. I’m hoping to sell some of the ducks so this should work for the first few weeks of their life. Once we hit the 4 week mark we’ll have to evaluate the temps and if they can be moved outside with a heat lamp I have a large cage that they can go in where I’ll give them a 3 sided shelter. I imagine they won’t be able to be out there 100% of the time, but the 40g will still be inside and I have a second heat lamp if need be. I’d love to get them out of the spare room asap (mostly because I’m planning another hatch immediately following this one), so as long as the weather doesn’t drop super low in late may, I’m planning on moving them to the outdoor pen as soon as their little bodies will permit.
Before we even get to housing and feeding the ducklings they need to hatch. I’m in a bit of a rush to get my next batch going after the loss of the New Lady last week. I still have 2 of her eggs, but they’ll be a bit old and less likely to develop if I wait to set them after batch 01 finishes. To get around this, I’m working on a hatchery setup. So I have my incubator set at 99.5 with humidity around 30%, but a hatchery needs to be a little cooler, and a lot more humid. If I can build a stable hatchery, then I can move the eggs from the incubator when they go into LOCKDOWN on 4/18. That will give me a few days lead on the next batch. Having a separate hatchery and incubator also means LIVE STREAM HATCHING! Probably. I’m testing this out, but it’s something I’d really like to do even if it’s only so I can see what’s going on in the hatchery from my office.