Welcome to our waterfowl world! We’ve raised several sets of ducklings now, and have recently added a gosling to the mix. Here are some of our tips and tricks. Enjoy!

Brooder Basics

This is our third go-around raising ducklings from day old babies. And our third (maybe fourth?) type of brooder. We started out using a homemade wood box. Since we had purchased six ducklings, we needed something large. So the handy hubby created one custom. The ducklings quickly outgrew it! Why didn’t anyone warn us that they grow so fast?! (more on that below)

Next go around we chose two large Rubbermaid tubs; the biggest we could find. We put half the ducklings in one, and half in the other. They hated it. Didn’t like being separated from each other.

Water, Water, Everywhere! So Messy….

People told us. We read it online.

Ducks are dirty. They’re smelly. They make a lot of poop. Ducklings play in their water and get it everywhere. They’re messy eaters who turn their food to mush. And on. And on. And on.

And yet, we still got ducklings! You know what, even with all their mess, ducks are easier and more entertaining than chickens. I swear. Ask any duck owner.

But it is 100% true about the mess. Especially with the water.

Just like we have changed brooder types, we’ve also changed they way we feed and water our waterfowl babies. Because, let’s face it, they are MESSY. I’m talking smelly, stinky, shit everywhere (literally) messy. Since ducks and geese have to dip their beaks in water to keep their sinuses (eyes and nostrils) clean. They do this by dunking their heads in the water, especially during/after eating. Trust me, this gets water everywhere.

Our first foray into watering was something we read about online: Using a paint tray and grate to catch the spillage. This worked for a short while. But we found that we had to clean this multiple times each day. They were just that messy.

After this, we tried multiple different ideas! Some we read online or saw on You Tube. Others that we invented ourselves. None worked well. We always ended up with smelly, messy, stinky water and food containers. And lots of water all over the rest of the brooder! This meant cleaning OFTEN to keep their bedding, and them, clean.

When we got Ryan the Gosling a few weeks ago, this situation became even more precarious. We thought ducklings grew fast. We were not at all prepared for a goose! Nor were we ready for the sheer amount of food, water, and poop that comes with her.

So handy hubby was at his inventing again. Jason came up with this wooden frame with chicken wire over it, that perfectly fits our bathtub brooder. We placed it over the tub drain, thinking we could then simply rinse all the junk down.

It works! Yes, food, water, bedding, poop, etc. still falls through and makes a mess. But, we can quickly and easily wash it down the drain. And for some strange reason, they have just not been making as much of a shambles of it. Bonus: Their two water dishes have actually stayed clean and bedding free! Huge. Big. Wonderful.

Now even with this fabulous new watering system, we still have to frequently clean the brooder. With this bunch of babies we chose to keep the brooder inside the house. Our thinking was twofold: One, it would force us to keep it clean, since we’d have to smell it up close. And two, it would allow us to interact more with them.

Our older ducks like us. They come running (or waddling) when we go into their yard. Especially at lunchtime when they know I will feed them some grubbly treats. But they absolutely HATE being touched. And forget about trying to pick them up, cuddle, etc. For the longest time I actually thought they hated me. Despite me handling them a lot as babies.

So with this batch, I was particularly determined to make my duckling and gosling like me. More on that later. It’s a total work in progress. And I’m not really sure it’s actually working.

But having the brooder inside the house has worked in terms of keeping it clean! In the garage it was ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and that meant it was easy to not clean it.

So how often do we clean it? Our routine lately has been to completely change out the brooder every other day. This means take everything out, rinse it off, refill the water and food containers, and put down fresh bedding. We’ve been using this time to take the babies outside, to handle them, to cuddle them, to interact with them, and to introduce them to the larger flock. So it’s actually served a dual purpose. And our house doesn’t smell like stinky ducks!

Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me They Grow SO FAST?!

Ok, another confession. Again we had heard and read that ducks grow quickly. Like, they supposedly doubled in size each week. But I am here to tell you that is NOT TRUE! They actually grow faster. I’m not kidding people. These little creatures grow at an alarming rate. One day they are these cute little peepers that fit into the palm of your hand. Two weeks later and they are the size of a squirrel. And then there’s Ryan the Gosling.

By now we’ve raised enough ducks to expect their gigantic growth. But how come no one told me that geese grow even more exponentially?!!

Holy cow. Our little gosling sure didn’t stay little for long. She is only one month old now and yet she is bigger than many of our adult ducks. When she fully stretches her neck, she can look over the rim of the bathtub at you! It’s funny, but a bit creepy when you’re sitting on the toilet and feel her staring.

Chickens or Ducks? Or Geese?

Despite all their messiness, their presumed anti-social tendencies, and their rapid growth…we absolutely love our waterfowl. They have become our favorites. Sure we also love our chickens. Those ladies let me pick them up and love on them. But the personalities of the ducks and geese. Wow. They are always entertaining. Completely hilarious. Quirky, curious, adventurous. And man are they prolific egg layers! Our ducks lay an egg each day without fail. Never miss a single day. If you like eggs, get ducks. You’ll be swimming in duck eggs!

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