Baby ducks

jadenny(6 TN)June 24, 2005

I have purchased 3 baby mallard ducklings to raise. My question is "how soon do I introduce them to swimming?"

They are only a week old now but are beginning to get a little active in their box. I want them to know about swimming but do not feel that I can put them out at this point.

Any suggestions?Judy

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cheribelle(Z5 IA)

I have heard fully feathered, because artificially hatched ducklings do not get the oil from their momma. I wait until 6 weeks or so, then only if it's good and warm out, let them have a big dog pan or something with water in it. They'll play in it, and get the idea. Just make sure there is something for them to climb out on, a big rock is what I use. And not too deep at first, 4 or 5 inches. They do need enough water now to wash their beaks in tho. They need to be able to clean their nostrils, but not climb in and drown.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 11:28AM
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I second exactly what Cheribelle said!

Good luck!


    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 11:49AM
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Baby ducks swim hours after they hatch out of the egg. I think they would be fine to put in the water now. Just watch them & don't leave them in there alone if the water is over their heads. Baby ducks can sink after a while. But the water won't make them sick...

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 4:23AM
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According to the MMM Hatchery catalog, don't give them access to water yet. Like Cheribelle said, ducklings that are hatched by their mommas get her natural water resistance (it rubs off on them!) but ducklings who have been hatched in an incubator (which I'm assuming these are) do not. If they get soaked to the skin they will get chilled. According to the catalog info, "Access to swimming water can be given at full feathering (approximately two months of age)."

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 7:38AM
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No swimming until fully feathered. It definitely can make them ill from exposure.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 12:22PM
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I've never bougt babies at like a Trade day or anything, I got mine at the river, they were like a day old-

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 1:01PM
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ash2004(z6 PA)

When I was younger I took some baby ducks swimming one time and some of them got really sick and died with in a couple hours after swimming. It was really sad...they acted like their necks were broke or something. Now I don't let them swim until they're about a month old and even then it's only a few inches of water and not cold water either. I spray them with the hose and stuff and they seem to enjoy it and don't get soaked. If you do take them swimming make sure you dry them off really good with a paper towel or something so they aren't soaked. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 1:09PM
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i am going to quote exactly what i read on poultry connection. "Does the word waterfowl mean anything to you?"
ducks are waterfowl and in is very imporatant for them to have access to water!! as far as your incubated duckings go they atill need it . we just had a guy hatch and from day 2 we were giving him baths in the sink at least once a day. then after about a week or so out to the pond as long as you dont have a cold breeze and he can get out the duck should be fine. they need deep enough water to clean out their bills. their fluff will dry. friction does have a part in the water repelling process as much as the oils.the first ducks we got we had read that they shouldnt be in water until a certain age and those ducks are full grown and are now scared of it and actually had some problems breathing. we have always let our ducks have full access to water whether it was naturally hatched or incubated. if you need more info check out the following link.please read the responses it is very informative

Here is a link that might be useful: poultry connection wet ducklings

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 11:50PM
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motherduck(Z2b MB)

All new ducklings can swim but they cannot regulate their body temperature until they're older. Wild ducklings and naturally brooded ducklings have a mother to keep them warm and somewhat waterproofed (from the oils on the mother's feathers)--even so, some of these ducklings can occassionally die. Artificially brooded ducklings can have a supervised swim for short periods and then warmed under a heat lamp. Keep in mind that ducklings are less buoyant than adults and can drown. Also, if they aren't kept warm they will easily chill. One of the most common causes of death in young domestic ducklings is from chilling. New ducklings should be kept at a temperature of at least 85 degrees F. (and draft-free) for the first week and then the temperature can be lowered 5 degrees each week thereafter. It's also important that they're brooded in an area large enough for them to move away from the heat source if they become too hot. They aren't fully weatherproof until approx. 8 weeks of age. Once the feathers are fully grown, blood no longer flows in them. The feathers are hollow and therefore the ducks are buoyant. Ducklings crave water, more so than goslings, and swimming is very beneficial and natural to them but use common sense. Keep their swims short--in shallow water and make sure they're warmed and dried afterwards. Once their oil gland develops, these little swims (or light sprays with a hose) will stimulate preening.

Ducklings do need their drinking water containers deep enough to submerge their whole heads to rinse their bills and eyes. They need plenty of water to wash down their food or they'll have problems swallowing. Rinsing their eyes prevents eye infections and 'chronic sticky eyes' especially in areas of low humidity. They should be able to only get their head in the drinking water and not their bodies. Ducks may also develop problems with their feet if they aren't regularly moistened.

The conditions ducklings are kept in also depends on the temperature and humidity in your part of the world. People who don't or can't provide the conditions they need shouldn't be raising them.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 2:47PM
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Just put a bowl big enough for them to swim.Make is easy to get in and out.They want water now.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 3:54PM
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Again - don't allow them to swim until they are fully feathered. You're only opening yourself up to health problems.

I know that "CHERRYCIRCUS" has claimed on other posts to be "almost a vet", but if that were so, why is she referring you to "Poultry Connection" for health info.

Believe me, it's in your best interests to withold swimming water from young ducklings until they're feathered. This is advice I obtained from my "not almost a vet - but definitely NOW a vet".

Take it for what it is.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 4:24PM
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I found a nest of duck eggs that something got in.I took the 2 that were ok put under chicken to hatch.They did.I put a bowl of water in pen they were swimming immediately and they are now adults.
I also had a whole batch hatch out Friday they are sooo tiny all are swimming and doing fine.
I also raise swans they need water to bathe,drink,swim...immediately.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 7:20AM
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Severina(Houston, TX)

Good grief. Do not let them swim til they are fully feathered no matter what anyone else here says. My neighbor Mrs. Johnson has always had ducks, so trust me, she knows her..*cough* "stuff". They do however, need a water bowl deep enough the stick their faces in so they can clean themselves, but not big enough that they can get into. Don't risk it.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 11:39PM
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Goodness! I guess all these strong feelings about your ducklings means that you all care for them a great deal. That's a good thing! :)
I'm always learning something new here and I love all the input.
I have played the "mama" part with my first and only 2 babies. My mallard is about a month old and his playmate is a little over a week old now, and is a Blue Swedish. I've offered them chick starter and they seem okay with that. They also have some greens everyday. I've also offered them tepid water in a shallow pan, but I didn't know about them needing to get their entire heads into the water. I will remember that from now on. I've been letting them play in about 2 inches of warmish water in the bathtub with food in the bottom.
I did already know about them needing to be warmed up quickly after getting wet. They seem cold when they're through playing in the water. I remove them and wrap them in a warm towel. Then I lay down on the floor beside them and let them get under my shirt. I breath warm air on them and rub them lightly with the towel while they preen and fall asleep. I have never put them back in their pen while they are wet, though. I know they'd get mighty sick mighty quick. While they are so young I keep a couple of fleece throws for them to cuddle up in while they are penned and in their box. The pen and box have been moved to the garage now and I use a heat lamp for them.
My mother raised chickens, so I knew a little bit about birds and used some of what she taught me to help me with these little ducklings. No breeze or wind is a very important point.
Thanks for teaching me about the depth of water so they can clean their bills, nostrils and eyes.
Aren't they just the cutest little creatures you've ever seen?
I just love ducks! I'm so glad one of them found me. :)
Maggie chickenmama1

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 2:23AM
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I just looked up quite a few mallard duck web sites for caring for them ..It said limited swimming.But they need to swim.You need a heat lamp for them to get warm after for a few weeks.I had a hen keep mine warm.But they all said they swim after hatching.But mother limits that.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 6:58AM
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My little toy (call) ducks are just about ready to hatch.. I have them in the incubator, and haven't raised them before from the egg itself. Should I leave them in the incubator till they dry off, & then move them into a heated box area?

Also, when / how soon do they need to have food & water provided for them after hatching?

Any suggestions or additional info appreciated.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 11:35PM
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please help! my duckling just hatched and its laying down! Can anyone tell me if they always do that??

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 3:52PM
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This is a site I refer to all the time. Hope it helps. Let us know what happens!


Here is a link that might be useful: hatching duck eggs

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 3:15PM
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I'm 25 & have had ducks since I was 8 every spring. I rescued some && have bought others since then. They can go in water (with common sense) right away. I've always had mine in shallow water in my sink like twice a day & NEVER had one die. Let's remember, they are wild animals, & if babied too much... Lower chances of later survival. Put them in tepid water for about 5/10 min ( they'll let ya know when their ready to come out), wrap them in a towel, dry them & put them under a heat lamp. (I use bedding of soft grass hay on top of sawdust bc of it's moisture retaining properties) & they love it. By mid-march they live in a stall at my barn, have a baby pool still with a "nest" & heat lamp & still are fine. I mean I was young & have raised like probably 80 ducks by now. The more delicate ya treat em, that'll be how delicate they are. Just use common sense.. Don't leave water out for em to swim in if it's a cold night! They will splash in their water too, they love it... They're messy water birds, ya hafta leave them BE WHAT THEY ARE :) Good luck all.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 10:28PM
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hi ive had 2 call ducks for about 1 year now they have just produced there 1st lot of ducklings 7 in toatal but sadly 4 died 2 were trampled on and 1 suffocated i think and the smallest we names blind billy died when he was 6 days old ,,, he was hatched unable to open his eyes we brought him indoors at 1 day old and looked after him with his sister, annie she is doing realy well we hatche her in a incubator , does any1 no wht billy was born blind he had masterd how to feed (with a little help at 1st )then 1 day he got realy weak and died in my hands it was so sad the 2 left with mom and dad are doing realy well also and they do love swimming in the pond with mom n dad but i watdh them constantly in case they get in trouble they are 2 weeks old 2day but have swam since 2day olds i just thought leave them do what comes naturaly to them and it has worked. annie on the other had dosnt realy like water i put her in the sink with luke warm water she has a quick bath then she jumps out shes in there no more than 3 mins at best ,,,,, the other thing i want to ask is this morning when my husband went to let them out the duck house he noticed 2 fresh eggs lying there we just left them for mom , does this meen she is going to lay another clutch of eggs to hatch ? they will be fertile as they are breeding constantly haha i live in norh england uk and it is still realy cold here any info would be great ,

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 5:32AM
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does anyone know how to tell what gender mallard ducks are if there 4 weeks old.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 2:22PM
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