Raising ducks is fun and educating. Many experienced homesteaders can tell what their ducks want by just looking at their behavior.
Do you know that the behavior of your ducks changes while incubating their eggs and also before their eggs hatch? Here are ways to recognize the behavior of your duck and what it means:
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Duck Behavior During Courting and Mating
Courtship or mating is usually initiated by female ducks. Ducks are ready to mate 6-7 months after they hatch. When ready to mate, the female duck will select a drake of choice and flap her wings, quack, and shake her beak more rapidly.
The behavior of female ducks ready to mate will attract several males and it can lead to her having more than one male mating with her. She, however, can select the male that will fertilize her eggs as she has several false chambers in her vaginal barrel.
Duck Behavior Before Laying Eggs
When ducks are ready to lay, they will not be as active as they were and you should see a calmer behavior. Ducks lay their eggs very early in the morning in a hidden area, so you may not actually see them laying their eggs.
The easiest way to know when a duck is ready to lay eggs is to examine her pelvic bones. The pelvic bones of a duck that is ready to lay eggs spreads and becomes more flexible.
The Behavior of Female Ducks During Incubation
The behavior of your duck during egg incubation depends on where she is at the moment. Here’s how her behavior differs:
- Incubating Her Eggs: When your duck is incubating her eggs, she will be very quiet and you won’t even know that she is there. If, however, you go close to her and she notices you, she will scare you away with a warning sound. Ignoring her warnings might get you hurt as she will become super aggressive (to protect her eggs).
- Searching for Food: A mother duck incubating her eggs is very aggressive and moves quickly when searching for food. She should make more irregular sounds and scare away other ducks. She aims to eat as much food as possible and return to her incubation spot.
To help your duck, you should place feed and water troughs close to her so that she does not have to go far away from her eggs.
Duck Behavior Changes Before the Eggs Hatch
Ducklings hatch from their eggs in about 28 days after laying. In 25-28 days of incubation, your mother duck will behave less aggressively when searching for food and might spend more time with her eggs. She knows that her ducklings will soon hatch and she wants to be present when they hatch so that they can imprint on her.
How Mother Ducks Behave
Mother ducks are super protective of their ducklings. Mother ducks do not look aggressive from a distance and will even run away from you and other threats when coming close.
If, however, you go close to or harm a duckling, the mother duck will fight back. You should give mother ducks their space and respect.
Ducks are special, right? It’s awesome how you can read and predict the behavior of a duck. How do you care for ducklings? Continue reading.
How to Care for Ducklings
Congrats on your new ducklings. How do you take care of ducklings? Here are some tips:
1. Always Provide Food
The secret to raising healthy birds is to always provide food for them especially when they are young. Ducklings need a steady dose of protein-rich feeds for the growth and development of feathers. Some protein-rich feeds for your ducklings are:
- Processed Feed: You should buy starter feed with at least 20% protein for your ducklings. Aside from proteins, processed feeds are rich in other needed nutrients, so you should always have such feeds around. Whether your ducklings are with their mother or not, provide processed feed.
- Grains: Grains are another top choice of feed for ducklings. Grains are rich in proteins and carbohydrates, so your ducklings will grow fast and gain weight quickly with a grain diet. Grains such as wheat, barley, millet, etc. are recommended for ducklings. You can also provide them with seeds such as sunflower seeds.
- Maggot Treats: Want a natural meal for your ducklings? Maggots are what you should provide to them. Maggot meals are rich in proteins and rich in prebiotics. Giving your ducklings a maggot meal will help them grow faster and healthier
Remember that you should always provide feed for your ducklings even if they are with their mother.
2. Provide Clean Water
Ducklings need clean water. You should only give drinkable water to your ducklings. If you can’t drink it, don’t give it to your ducklings. You should place multiple water troughs in different parts of your farm so that your ducklings will always have access to water.
If you are raising the ducklings in a brooder box, you should give your ducklings more food and less water in their first two weeks after hatching.
In case of rainfall, your ducklings and their mother need a place to stay so they don’t get wet and cold. Aside from their coop or pen, you should provide some temporal shelters such as boxes around the farm. You can also take them to their coop before the rain starts.
4. Vaccine and Medicine
Your ducklings need their vaccines to protect them from potential diseases. You should also have some simple medications handy for sick ducklings (and mature ducks). Make sure that your ducklings are healthy.
5. Protect Them from Danger
Ducklings are cute and tender. You should protect them from any form of danger. Examples of danger to ducklings are:
- Other Ducks: Other ducks (especially males or mother ducks) can harm your ducklings if they are not with their mother. You should make sure that your ducklings are always with their mother (she can protect them) or raise your ducklings away from other ducks (in their first few weeks).
- Children: Children love to pick up and pet ducklings. They can harm your ducklings when dropping them or if they do not handle them with care. Your kids should not pet the ducklings in their first two weeks.
- Farm Pests: You should build a fence to protect your ducklings from farm pests such as rats, coyotes, snakes, foxes, hawks, etc.
Make sure that your ducklings are safe and well-fed.
Related Questions and Answers
Got any questions? Here are the answers:
1. Should You Brood Your Ducklings by Yourself?
One reason people choose to raise young animals (away from their mother) is when their mother looks inexperienced. Ducks make great mothers, so you don’t have to worry about your ducklings getting hurt when they are with their mothers.
Another reason you may want to raise your ducklings yourself is the quality (and quantity) of their feed. If you want your ducklings to eat quality feed, you should keep some feed troughs scattered around the farm and keep quality feed with high protein content in them for your ducklings.
Finally, you may want to raise your ducklings yourself because of their mother. Mother ducks eat less when raising ducklings and they will not lay eggs nor mate until their ducklings are matured. In this case, you should raise your ducklings by yourself so that their mother can lay more eggs.
2. Can a Mother Duck Raise Ducklings from Another Mother?
A mother duck will not raise the ducklings of another duck. If you want your duck to raise ducklings from another duck, you should place the eggs (before they hatch) close to the eggs of the mother duck so that she will incubate and hatch them all together. When every egg hatches, the mother duck will raise all the ducklings.
3. Can Your Ducklings Eat Food from Poop?
Did you find your ducklings (and their mother) eating poop? They are not actually eating poop. They are looking for insects or undigested grains in the poop.
Should you allow them? Well, poop is not safe for their ducklings in their first two weeks. Two weeks after hatching, poop can be a source of prebiotics for your ducklings.
If you do not want your ducklings to scrounge from poop, you should not give them access to poop. Remove animal poop from their area before it attracts insects (which attract ducks and other birds).
4. Can You Brood Chicks and Ducklings Together?
While you can brood chicks and ducklings together as they have the same temperature requirements, you should consider their protein needs. Ducks need more proteins than chickens, so you may be giving your ducks fewer proteins than they need if you feed them with chicken feed.
5. Why Does Your Mother Duck Look Inexperienced?
First-time mother ducks are not very experienced in raising ducklings and may lose one or two ducklings before they become mature. Your mother ducks will be more experienced with their next set of ducklings.
Have you found the answer to your question? I hope that you have.
It is easy to know the meaning of the behavior of your ducks. You should get ready to care for your next set of ducklings when you see that their mother is becoming relaxed 15 days after incubating her eggs.