Apr 23, 2012

Raising Ducks: First Day Outside

We've been experiencing some unseasonably warm weather in the Hudson Valley this spring.  So on their third day with us, we allowed our ten Welsh Harlequin ducklings (plus one bonus ducking of an unknown type) outdoors for a few hours.

A week or so ago, while I was tossing some greens over the fence to a neighbor's chickens, I noticed an unused rabbit run languishing in a storage area.  I asked if I could borrow it for the ducklings, and thank goodness, because I'm so busy with the yard and garden these days that I was feeling stressed about building a foraging run for the ducks.  (We've built their permanent outdoor house and run, but it's meant for night time safety only, and the floor is covered with wood chips instead of grass.)

After assembling and doing a little repair work to the rabbit run, we herded the ducklings into a pet carrier and transported them to our backyard.  Although they didn't venture far from their waterer, they did immediately start foraging in the grass for food.  We put them outdoors during the warmest time of day, and they seemed to enjoy the direct sunlight.  By early evening, as the setting sun cast shadows over the run, the ducklings made it clear (by attempting to pile atop each other for warmth) that they were chilly and ready to go back indoors to their brooder and heat lamp.

This rabbit run will make a perfect moveable foraging run for the ducks until they're big enough to fend off hawks and snakes for themselves. 

If you give farm animals any opportunity to hurt themselves, they'll take it every time, bless their hearts.  I see a scratched duck cornea here.

My jeweler's tools come in handy for many things. 

I see a broken webfoot here...

It's hard to imagine all the ways an animal will find to injure itself, but you have to try.

Once the outdoor run was ready, we herded the ducklings into a pet carrier.

They didn't want to enter the cave, but they all settled down once inside.

The hubby transporting ducks to our back yard.

Come on out, babies!

Sunlight on my shoulders makes me happy.

The ducklings didn't venture far from their waterer...which makes me think that if we build them a pond, they may stay in our yard without secure fencing.

They got right to foraging in the grass.

Welsh Harlequin ducklings, a few days old.

Their outdoor run MUST be covered to keep hawks from scooping the ducklings.  And always give 'em access to water and shade when outdoors.  

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