How To Introduce New Ducklings To Your Original Flock. You plan everything out. You’ve read all the books and articles. Now it’s time to finally introduce your new ducklings to the original flock, but how? Here is how we did it.
FIRST AND FOREMOST
Before going on, I want to remind you that not only is every flock different, but you have to use your best judgement. Do you have an ornery main duck? Patience my friend. She is the queen (or king) on the flock ladder so it’s going to take some adjusting to this newness.
Another thing to keep in mind is ducklings need to be somewhat fully feathered before allowing large amounts of time outside. They can not regulate their body temperatures when they are itty bitty things, so please make sure it’s warm enough outside. Ducklings technically aren’t fully feathered until around 7 weeks, but because we’re officially hitting high 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s some days…I felt like it was more important to get them outside time vs. spending too much time in the brooder.
To sum up…duckings can spend protected outside time beginning around 3-5 weeks and temps above at least 55-60 degrees.
OUTSIDE TIME BY THEMSELVES FIRST
This is how WE did it. You’ll read lots of lots of articles about how to properly introduce ducklings to not only your established flock, but the great outdoors, but this is what worked for us. We began by letting the ducklings have outside time without the big ducks being around. Why? Because the ducks come right over and establish the pecking order and these tiny ducklings can’t protect themselves and quite frankly…freak out.
We first let them be outside for short amounts of time with us right there in the grass with them. The cutest thing. We eventually moved them to their own spot in the yard under a beautiful full pear tree. It allowed some direct sunlight for warmth if they wanted, but also provided shade. I found a child’s play yard from a yard sale for $10 to use.
PROTECTED WITH DUCKS
After about a week exploring the great outdoors in their play area, we then allowed to big ducks out of their space and come and quack at the babies. The amazing thing is they got to smell, talk, and walk around the enclosure incessantly. The big ducks could not figure out how to get to the new ducklings and would waddle around the play yard over and over again lol.
A week later, we moved the protected enclosure inside of the big ducks paddock. Now the ducklings were on their territory, but still didn’t have direct access to babies. A few times I’d let the ducklings out to explore the area and the big ducks to actually meet the ducklings all while paying close attention to how everyone was reacting.
If I felt like things were escalating, I’d put the ducklings back inside their own protected enclosure. This was done multiple times that first week.
Purchasing the Premier 1 fencing was the best decision we’ve made thus far. We were already using it for the goats and knew we would need it for our mobile chicken coop so we went ahead and got another unit specifically for poultry.
The perimeter of the area we wanted the ducks to have was set up and Scott make a large square as well for the ducklings to be out, but again, still protected. They were able to be in the big area with the older flock and have all the fun they were having (ie: their very own pool, own food, water, grass, and bugs to nibble on).
MOVING THE BARRIER
Today was the day. Scott and I reconfigured the electric netting so that all the ducks were finally together. Did the ducks still show the ducklings who was boss? Of course, but they did it kindly and not aggressively. I stayed out there for quite awhile just watching. The ducklings were beyond excited to finally be a part of the big group and everyone seemed calm.
I will continue to put out two pools, two feeding stations, two waterers, and monitor everyone closely, but they are doing amazing so far.
This system has worked so well for us, we have started the same process for the goslings. We will continue the exact same process until the goslings reach an age when they can be fully incorporated into the flock.
Would we raise ducklings again? Absolutely? Would we ever do it again in the dead of winter (our first round)…absolutely NOT! LOL