Starting the Flock

Starting the Flock

If you read Planning the Flock and heeded the advice by preparing everything for your ducks, congratulations! You’re off to a great start!

So now you need to figure out what age you want your new ducks to be. Then find someone selling ducks, examine your prospects, and buy them!

Eggs, Ducklings, or Adults?

Decide whether you want to purchase fertile eggs, ducklings, or mature adults.

Eggs have the advantage of being cheaper than ducklings or adults, and you can see the ducklings as soon as they are born. However, you will need a broody duck (or chicken) or incubator to hatch them, and you won’t know how many will hatch. The eggs can be damaged easily, and you will have no idea of the quality of the young ones. You will have no idea of the sex.

Ducklings are often, but not always, the best choice. They are often quite cheap, more than eggs but less than adults. Of course, like eggs, you will also have the fun of watching them grow up, and they will be fairly easy to tame. However, you won’t know how good they will be when adults, and you will have to wait several months before getting any eggs. You might not be told what sex they are, but some breeders will offer to vent sex the ducklings for you.

Adults or adolescents are often unfriendly and difficult to tame, depending on what their owner is like, but you won’t have to wait long before they lay–at least, as long as they’re young. Be sure to ask the seller how old they are. If they’re more than three years old, they may not be very productive anymore. You can see exactly what they’re like, so you don’t have the ducklings’ disadvantage of buying some ducklings only to find out, when they grow up, that they have inherited bad genes. Also, you can usually be sure of the sex.

Finding Sources

The difficulty or ease of finding someone selling ducks depends on where you live and how popular they are in your area.

First, stop by local feed stores. Anyone raising ducks (unless their ducks’ diet is completely home-raised) will come to feed stores frequently. Some feed stores will have a bulletin board with animals for sale.

Look through newspapers and classified ads, as well. Sometimes they may have ads for ducks. I found my first ducks in classified ads, and the next batch of stock I bought was found in an ad inside our local feed store.

You may find breeders in your area online, as well. BackyardChickens.com can also be a good place to find local stock.

Sometimes you can find ducks at auctions or at poultry shows, but this isn’t a recommended source. You want to be able to view where the ducks are living and talk to the owner.

If you want fertilized eggs, a breeder may be your only choice. Adult ducks can usually be found from people who don’t want their ducks anymore. Ducklings are the easiest to find.

You can also ship day-old ducklings. Ducklings do not need to eat or drink for their first 24 hours, so it’s safe to ship them.

Examining Prospects

When you’ve found someone selling ducks, contact them. Ask various details about the ducks they are selling – price, breed, age, etc. If possible, it would be nice to see the ducks before making the purchase. This way, you can examine them for obvious faults, and you can see if the breeder is doing a good job raising them.

I did not see my ducks until I bought them, and they turned out fine, but it would still be best to see what kind of ducks you are getting to avoid buying sick or unhealthy stock.

If you do get to see the location and choose which ducks you are buying, examine everything. Are their surroundings clean, healthful, and safe? Look at the ducks themselves, too. Choose bright-eyed, active, inquisitive ducks with clean feathers. Don’t choose ducks that are limping or just sitting lethargically in the corner. They should look healthy and strong.

It is usually not a good idea to buy inbred ducks. Ask the owner if they know whether the parents of the ducks are related or not. If you are buying a male and females, try to be sure your male is not closely related to the females.

Bringing them Home

Plan ahead of time how you’re going to bring your ducks home. If they’re ducklings, a cardboard box with holes in the sides and bedding will suffice. If they’re adults, you can bring them home in a dog crate, or if you’re buying more than two or three, perhaps they can come home in a covered pickup truck, for example.

And what do you do once they are home?

Put your ducks in their pen. Make sure they have food and water. Then leave. They are stressed and need some time to get adjusted to their new surroundings. Later, you can come back and spend some time near them or perhaps give them a treat.

And now congratulate yourself: you are a duck owner!

Next up: Accommodation

http://www.raising-ducks.com/accomodation/

Previous: Planning the Flock

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6 Comments

  1. What do I do with my female duck now that her mate has died. They have been together since we brought them home as young hatchlings. She is very depressed, can I get another male and see if they will bond?

    Jennifer Sibley
    1. Yes, you should definitely get another duck or two! Ducks don’t do well alone. The new duck can be either male or female. Any age will work as well. Adults sometimes take time to get used to ducklings and not peck them, so another adult might be preferable, but it should work out either way. It may take some time for your duck to get over the loss of her companion, however.

      Hannah

      1. Thank you very much for the response ! She is so sad, she is laying in her coop with her face against the wall in the corner, it’s so sad! They have been together for over a year! I will try to find another mate but getting them as adults is difficult to find in my area..

        Jennifer Sibley
        1. Aww…that’s so sad. Go ahead and get ducklings if you can’t find adults. I’d recommend getting two more so that this will be unlikely to happen again, but only if you know their gender ahead of time, because it won’t work if you get two ducklings and they both turn out to be males.

          If she’s a Muscovy, then you should get another Muscovy. If not, any breed should work as long as the size difference isn’t too drastic.

          Hannah

  2. We are starting a 40 acre homestead. We have an acre pond we’d like to add some ducks to. We didn’t really plan our breeds but have 8 Anacony, 4 Muscovy, a Cayuga drake, and an Indian Runner. They’re currently in an aviary but we’d like to introduce them to the pond. Some we’ve had for a couple months the others we got last night. I have a couple questions…1) how do I introduce them to the pond area to ensure they won’t just leave (do I keep them contained down by the pond for awhile and then let them lose it what, if so, how long) 2) will they cross breed, like I said, we didn’t plan very well, just ended up with some cool ducks 😏

    Cyrena
    1. It’s probably best to keep them contained (whether in their aviary or other enclosed area) until they’ve learned that this is their home. Otherwise, they may try to leave and find their old home. The ones you’ve had for a couple months are probably used to it by now, but I’d keep the new ones contained a little longer.

      Once they’re used to it, they aren’t likely to stray very far. Our ducks only visit and use about three acres of our property. But the Muscovies will probably need their wings clipped. Muscovies are liable to fly away, even if they’re happy in their home.

      I’d also recommend waiting until they’re fairly friendly and used to you before letting them out, because you’re still going to keep them in a safe area for the night, right? It’s very difficult to herd panicked, scared ducks back into an enclosure.

      When you first let them out, it should be under supervision and not for too long, to be sure they don’t stray too far. I wouldn’t let them into the pond immediately (if possible), because once they’re in the pond, you’ll have a hard time getting them out. I recommend letting them out while they’re hungry, so it’ll be easier to lure them back in with food.

      Once they’re used to going out for a while and then going back in, you can allow them more time and freedom.

      Yes, they’ll crossbreed. However, crossing any non-Muscovy to a Muscovy will result in a sterile “mule” duck. The other breeds will be able to cross normally.

      Hannah