There have been so many stories in the news about how many pets have been adopted now that everyone is at home. The media worry: what will happen to all these dogs once people are back to work? Will the shelters be overwhelmed with people trying to return pets?
Well we’ve anticipated the same issue with all the poultry that’s been purchased. Many many people who have little knowledge or preparation have been ordering chicks or ducklings. What will happen to these birds when people decide their food supply is safe again and they don’t want to do the work to keep birds?
Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great more people are joining the backyard chicken movement. Knowing where your food comes from is so very important and seeing happy chickens pecking in the yard brings real joy. But it is work, too. You have to maintain a schedule to ensure they are safely locked up. There’s feeders and waterers to be filled, coops to be cleaned, eggs to be washed…
Ducklings in particular create enormous mess because they love to play in their water. And they grow like weeds.
This brings me to the phone call I received a few days ago. It was a very nice teenage girl who wondered if I might take in her ducklings. When I asked her what kind of ducks they were, she replied, “yellow ones, but they’re starting to get white feathers.” Ok, so Pekins. And how old were they? “I don’t know exactly, a few weeks.”
Her lack of knowledge filled my heart with an answer – yes, we would take them to make sure they had a place to stay where they’d be well tended and have space to grow up with a flock. Not that she wouldn’t have tried to care for them, but I really feel strongly that you need to have some basic knowledge to care for animals properly.
I looked at my husband and he laughed – take them if you want to take care of them. So Saturday they arrived in the rain, and I set them up in the workshop with the other babies. They’re in their own brooder because they are already probably three times the size of the chicks. I actually moved them from the tub she brought them in into a bigger baby pool. The sides are low but they don’t seem to have any interest in escaping so it works fine.
It’ll be fun to see how they integrate with the duck flock and learn to go down to the pond to swim. We have one adult pekin who seems to be very nurturing. When our neighbors brought over the mallard that flew into their house and they raised, she shepherded the mallard around to teach her how to go into the coop. Fingers crossed, she’ll support these guys too!
Before I even finished this post, I got two more calls of families looking to re-home ducks. Looks like we’ll be up to 12 babies by this weekend….