Spring is here and you might already know about our first batch of Spring babies… Our 30 Khaki Campbell ducks!
We kept them inside for a little while and after the weather became consistently warmer we decided that it was high time they got kicked out (they were smelly and so messy!).
We wanted to be sure to build them a space that was near the house so they would be safer and easier to feed and watch. We also needed their space to be sheltered and secure, so a perfect spot seemed like the carport! Mind you, once we finish the poultry brood house (posts about this forthcoming) most ducks and other babies will grow up in there!
We need a bigger space than before so they would have room to run and spead out, but we were limited by the carport space, which actually worked out well… 2 cattle panels (oh, how we love to use cattle panels!), folded in the middle at right angles made a great 8′ x 8′ space for them. These panels were covered with chicken wire to keep ducks in and sneaky bad guys out (foxes, raccoons, possums…).
The carport pen!
The dog crate that was their only home before, became the space where they could escape the wind and bask under the heat lamp.
Inside their cozy dog crate.
We learned quickly that they really didn’t care much about the heat lamp beginning around 3 weeks old and for the past week or two we haven’t been turning it on very often! The dog crate was surrounded with plywood and cardboard which act as walls, and covered with a blanket to keep in their warmth.
Not beautiful, but very functional!
The first few days they were outside we locked them in the dog crate at night to be sure they were warm and safe, but we’ve since realized that leaving the carport light on makes them safe enough and they really enjoy spreading out!
The entirety of the 8′ x 8′ pen was lined with large cardboard pieces to keep the floor of the carport from becoming too stained and gross, and the cardboard was covered with leaves, straw, and pine chips to absorb their pooping and bathing shenanigans.
In one corner of their pen their 5 gallon water bucket hangs, suspended by an old metal pipe. Nipples (plastic ones, folks!) hang from the bucket and we refill their supply by pouring in water from the top. Pretty easy! Underneath the bucket is a large metal pan with hardware cloth attached on top. This collects any stray water droplets (and there are a lot!) and keeps the rest of the pen from getting totally soaked. We have to dump this pan out every few days so it doesn’t overflow.
Water for the ducklings!
The flock, keeping as far away from me as possible!
We finished the cage off with bird netting on top, just in case. We doubted that any hawk would be audacious enough to fly into the carport to snatch baby ducks, but stranger things have happened and we wanted to be safe.
The ducks are 5 weeks old now, and they are really starting to get adult feathers. Soon they’ll be big enough to move out into the real world–just in time for ducklings-batch-2 to arrive in about a week-and-a-half!