The ducklings are truly growing like weeds! They seem to be doing well outside, despite the weirdly fluctuating temperatures we’ve had lately. If the temperatures drop or the winds pick up to where it feels brisk, I turn the heat lamps on for them but mostly they are just utilizing the wind blocks we set up and good ol’ snuggles to keep warm. Hay bales seem to be a very good insulator. The farmer where we get ours from actually stacks them around his house in winter to help keep the house warm.
The ducks are too big to be hauling them into the house to swim in the bathtub but not quite big enough to where we’re comfortable letting them free range down to the pond. So I devised a plan to give them some swimming time.
We have three small baby pools that we use for various purposes for the birds. I used some trellises I had from the garden to block off a spot outside the run where the ducks are and set up a baby pool in it. That way when they eventually splashed all the water out it wouldn’t be all over their bedding.
Once I had it set up, I propped the door to the run open and herded them outside. They all stood around the pool drinking from it for a few moments. If I could read their minds I bet I would’ve seen: “Wow, look at this enormous water bowl she gave us!”
Then all the sudden one of the Khaki Campbells pushed herself up over the side and started swimming. Then another. The two splashed and dove and then quick threw themselves back out. Well that did it. Within a minute it was standing room only in the baby pool.
The next day I added a second pool and left the door open all day so they could come and go. They seem to have gotten the idea that they can come and go freely, and I see them come out for a swim or to play in the mud throughout the day.
My hopes are that by slowly expanding their freedom, they’ll learn to go out into the yard but also come back into the coop. One of the biggest challenges that we’ve had with ducks is getting them to come in at night. It seems to help having them living with chickens because the chickens’ instinct to come in to roost when dusk hits is so strong. Hopefully these ducks will get that too, though I’m a little concerned that there are so many of them they’ll be more of their own flock and less influenced by the chickens. Time will tell!