Starter crumbs, as you can see, are not a natural diet, and they can cause problems for tiny Call ducklings. Larger birds occasionally suffer from the anus becoming encrusted with a paste of crumb excreta. In Call ducks, this condition is thought to be made worse by chilling or a draughty environment. Call ducks definitely need checking that they are clean. They should all be picked up regularly during their first week to see that they are all right. Where the fluff around the anus is stuck, or a ball of solid waste covers the vent, a duckling can have difficulty in excreting , and can die. Affected ducklings should have a swim in a bowl of warm water. They need cleaning up and watching to make sure they do not drown. Afterwards, dry them with tissue, and keep them warm under the heat lamp.
Initially ducklings are often kept on textured paper or old clothing and moved onto a wire grid or shavings (once they are old enough to realise that shavings are not eatable). The wood shavings should be of a softer grade than the hard wood chip type used for horses.
Bales of chopped, dust extracted plain straw can work well. However, chopped straw products for bedding should be viewed with caution. Herbal additives in some products are very strong for tiny birds in close contact with them, and added eucalyptus oil will kill goslings.
Expandable bedding such as rapeseed straw might be used but there is the danger of this expandable bedding killing ducklings if they eat it i.e. the bedding fragments swell up inside them with the large amount of water they drink. It is best avoided.
Soft bedding is better for the quality of their feet than a wire platform which should only be use for a few days. But it is useful to have the water containers placed on a wire platform for drainage, or on a container to collect spillage. The bedding then remains in a better condition.
Pasted up bums only occur with dry-rearing methods which are generally practised with domestic waterfowl. Wildfowl rearers more often use wet-rearing methods. As the term suggests, the ducklings have access to paddling water, and can wash and preen themselves, and consequently do not get sticky bums. Wet-rearing needs more supervision in the first stages, but is then more suitable for young Calls.
Go to the page www.runnerduck.net/feeding.php for further information on feeding growing ducks.
The Yellow Pages UK will list local distributors under Animal Feed Stuffs. Information about distributors of specialist food can also be obtained from:Allen & Page 01362 822900 www.smallholderfeed.co.uk or Marriage’s www.marriages.co.uk/products-poultry.php
CHICK CRUMBS CONTAINING COCCIDIOSTATS ARE BEST AVOIDED WITH CALL DUCKS - THEY MAY CAUSE PROBLEMS
Note that coccidiostats are successfully used in the poultry industry. Ducks kept in good conditions are less susceptible to coccidiosis than chicks, and don’t need the medication. Further information
Page last updated: 16th October 2023