Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

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Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby seatil » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:56 pm

Our ducklings are now four weeks old. They're outside by day (in the coop/run normally reserved for new/sick chooks) and by night are in the garage in a giant cardboard run. They've been without their 100W reflector bulb for a week now after they abandoned its warm (and dazzlingly bright) glow.

The question is when can they spend the night outside? They're only just starting to get feathers, so everything I've read would say "no", but my gut instinct watching them is that it's probably more than warm enough here for them and we're just wasting our time tracking them in and out every day (and not to mention that I'd like my garage floor back!). Next 5 nights min. forecast temp is 7-10C, so not exactly cold and the coop is draft-free and dry.
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby Marina » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:54 pm

I can very well sympathyse with you, seatil - we've raised ducklings, too. If they are in a hutch I don't see a problem with forecast temperatures over 7 degrees Celsius. They have quite a bit of body mass compared to chicks and that fluff keeps them warm in icy cold water so should be ok in a dry hutch. I'd try it out.

I have once let chicks stay outside over night too early in their lives. One reason was that back then if you missed the 6pm news you wouldn't have a clue what the night time minimum temperature was forecast to be.

In the morning they were listless but still alive. We took them inside, warmed them up with a hair dryer, and all recovered.
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby GillyJ » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:50 pm

Tis too early I would say..... I'd keep them snug.....
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby Marina » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:06 pm

GillyJ wrote:Tis too early I would say..... I'd keep them snug.....


As a compromise you could put them into a cardboard carton in the garage so they get used to dark nights and are weaned off 24 hr food and water.
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby seatil » Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:29 am

We brought them in last night as I took one look at the clear sky and went "7C minimum, my foot". I don't know what the minimum actually turned out to be - haven't got as far unpacking and reconnecting the weather station yet after the move. :D But I do know it was 10C out at 7pm. Metservice claims a low of 9C, but that's at the airport, which as far as I can tell is living in a weather bubble all of its own.

They're currently on proper day/night cycles, ever since they abandoned the heat lamp last week. All of our birds have 24hr access to food, even as adults, so doesn't seem to be much point in restricting that. If they can find it in the dark they're welcome to it! Aside: ducks seem to have MUCH better night vision than chickens, or are more inclined to do something about the approaching light.
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby Marina » Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:55 am

Our free ranging ducks have been grazing in the moonlight so yes, they do feed at night if the opportunity arises.

I sometimes put chicks, who have been outside for a while, into a cosy cardboard carton in the garage over night when a very cold night was forecast and in there they don't have food or water but when they are transferred back into their usual pen they do have food and water.
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby Kracka » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:35 am

when I first move ducklings outside I remove the water (& food) once its dark - to stop them getting wet after you think they've gone to bed - when they're wet they get cold very quickly

is the outside coop a house & run type setup?
if so, I'd look at shutting them in the house the first couple of nights (maybe 3/4 block the door, but make sure no one can get out, otherwise they won't be able to get back in) - with plenty of hay to snuggle into

then once you're sure they've got the idea of 'go into the house at night' - then leave them open - but I've got big pieces of vinyl I put over cages, so if it rains, they still can't get wet
and if its breezy, I will tuck the vinyl down the sides (using bricks to weight it down), to cut out any draft - its too dark to leave them like that during the day, but overnight its okay

and I usually try to time this transition when there's a forecasted patch of fine weather (although fine can mean frosty cold) - but I prefer settled weather, not blowing a gale (that vinyl just flies away!) and preferably not raining - wet babies get colder faster than frosty dry ones

if you can stop the ducklings from getting wet, I'd say they're probably big enough to give it a go - but be prepared to check them a few times in the evening, just to make sure they're in the right place & dry

when I leave ducklings with the mother, she would take them under the conifer hedge and sit next to them, she didn't ever try brooding them under her, right from day 1 - they huddle together in a bunch (so its much better if you hatch at least 6 at a time) - last season we lost one duckling to getting tangled in some grassy weed thing (so it got separated from the group), otherwise they were all good - but I pen them separately from the adults (they don't share food!), but July is a bit colder!

I've got ducklings due to hatch in about 10 days.... then we find out if the new incubator is any good with duck eggs :?
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby seatil » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:18 pm

Yeah, it's one of those TradeMe special chinese imports with both a house and a run part. The type where you have to apply duct tape to all the seams to keep driving rain out and be very careful where you hold it when you try to move it, lest you end up holding a small part of the coop while the rest of it crashes to the ground. :D We use a tarp with the run when it's wet - secured with whatever bits of wood we have hanging around.

However, we may need to delay our plans to get the ducklings outside in the run/coop. Our Ancona rooster today appears to have picked a fight with the neighbour's rooster through the fence and lost. I went out this morning to pop the ducklings out and found Mister Roo's front covered in sticky red blood, and one of his lovely wattles remodeled with a 2.5cm tear in it. He's currently at the vee ee tee waiting to be examined. Despite copious bleeding he was still a right pain to catch - nearly an hour!
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby Kracka » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:46 pm

general rule of thumb - if its hard to catch the patient, they're not too serious!
good luck on him

the ducklings will wait - if they're getting daytime outdoors, that's good enough - I like to make sure they get plenty of exercise, it helps with strong leg development

nice :lol: description of the cage! did see that in any of the trademe ads
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby seatil » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:09 pm

Yeah, generally the most vocal/ambulatory patients are the ones to worry least about. Once I got hold of the little blighter it was obvious that it wasn't life threatening, but needed either stitching up or removing as it would catch on things and get even more torn. I didn't get a picture - should have done!

The vet called a while ago. Apparently circulation to the torn bit has been lost, so he's going to have it removed in a straight line following the line of tear. Have asked for magic purple spray for when I pick him up.
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby seatil » Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:21 pm

Mister Roo is back, minus parts of his wattle. Neat job on the repair work. He's decidedly unhappy at vet's orders of keeping him warm in a cage overnight. Blanket over the top of the cage seems to have stopped his protestations for now - he was getting pretty volatile in there.
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby sewren » Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:22 pm

Aw poor Mr Roo - I hope he's learned his lesson about picking fights with the neighbours now, though!

On those TM coops - I actually saw the other day someone is tailor-making waterproof tarp-type covers for them, with zips in all the right places. Just shows how leaky they are if someone can make a business out of waterproofing them!
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Re: Ducklings and the Great Outdoors

Postby seatil » Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:53 am

Mister Roo is back out in the paddock making overtures to his girls. Sprayed purple stuff on his wattle (and my hand) last night. Doesn't seem to have been any interest in his war wounds so far. Hopefully it'll stay that way, otherwise he'll be banished to the TM Special.

The Ducklings (or Duck and Duck, not to be confused with Duck and Duck, or DuckDuck(!)) spent their first night outside last night. In perfect perky health this morning. Probably helps that it didn't get below 10C or so last night with the clouds and light spitting rain.

I can well believe that people make money out of tailor-made TM Special covers. Those coops look pretty, but leave a fair bit to be desired. I need to get my hands on some wood to make my own -- preferably scraps and stuff as I don't really want to put down lots of $$$ for my first attempt at a coop...
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