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Caring for the Ducklings

Caring for the Ducklings

Hi and welcome to my favourite part of the whole Hatching Chicks experience - ducklings! If you have never seen a baby duck before then you are in for a real experience.

The ducklings will not hatch until the second Monday in the program - a full 7 days after we deliver the program. The reason that the program is organized in this way is because ducklings grow very quickly and they make a lot of mess once they're over about four or five days old. One thing you don’t want in your classroom is a bunch of 2 week old ducks!

The duck eggs are usually whittier and larger than the hen eggs. We mark the duck eggs with a cross on one side and a circle on the other to give you a visual reference and assist in the turning process.

So did I mention that you need to turn the duck eggs? Just like a Mumma Duck? No? Well since the duck eggs won't hatch for another week, they need to be turned from side to side just like their mother would do for the first week of the program. Each day from Monday to Friday, turn the egg 180 degrees twice per day - usually once when work starts and once when the centre closes for the day.

The actual process of hatching is pretty similar for chickens and ducks - that is the duckling will make a small hole in the shell, rest for a period of time and then work at getting out of the shell. Once hatched they can stay in the incubator for 12 to 24 hours until dry, and then are transferred into the brooder.

There will often be a short period of a few minutes after you put the first duckling in where the chicks and ducklings will peck at each other. This is all entirely normal as you have changed the dynamic in the brooder and the chicks are adjusting to it. As such, you are better putting 2 or 3 ducklings in at the same time as this normally resolves any issues quicker.

The ducklings can be purchased at the end of the program and the good thing about ducks is that you can keep both males and females - even though ducks do quack a fair bit they do not crow like a rooster and therefore they can be kept in residential areas.

Ducklings can also swim shortly after birth, so you can give them a short swim in a lukewarm bath about 48-72 hours after hatching. If you give them deeper water they will swim and duck dive, if you give them shallower water they will tend to clean themselves. Both are cute and educational for the children, so if the weather is fine see if you can do both.

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