As a new duckling owner, you might be thinking about introducing ducklings to water. You might also be thinking about capturing that first farmhouse sink photo of your ducklings splashing around in the water.
I know I was!
I love watching ducklings swim and I have seen the most adorable photos of ducklings swimming in farmhouse sinks. So, I have to admit that I was hoping to introduce my new ducklings to water in our farmhouse sink.
Bill was not so sure that this was a good idea. (I can always count on him to throw a few practical questions my way.)
So, I began researching the topic…
Let’s Talk about Ducklings and Swimming
This is what I learned about introducing ducklings to water.
First of all, your ducklings can drown resulting in death. Secondly, your ducklings can get chilled resulting in death.
So, our job as new duckling owners is to make sure that neither of these things happen. So here are a few tips and recommendations that I gathered from the experts.
Let’s first talk about preventing drowning. Although your ducklings instinctively can swim, they can get fatigued very quickly and drown. This means that not only do you have to think about drowning when swimming, but you also need to take precautions in the brooder.
The water in their brooder should be no deeper than a 1/4 inch. That sounds really shallow, but think about how easy it is for a child to drown in a bathtub with just a little water in it. The same thing can happen to ducklings.
You can avoid this issue all together by using a waterer with nipple stations rather than a trough. If you use a trough waterer, be sure you use one designed for chicks and ducklings. They are much smaller than waterers intended for adult members of your flock, so the water remains shallow.
Second, practice patience and wait until ducklings are at least one week of age before introducing ducklings to water. Their first swim should be brief regardless of if it’s in your farmhouse sink or anywhere else.
You will need to keep a close eye on the ducklings and the swimming session should be short (I know I repeated myself, but this is very important). Keep in mind that their mom is not there to teach them the ropes. So be cautious.
Keeping Ducklings Warm
You also need to keep your ducklings warm so they don’t get chilled. Before letting them swim in your sink, the room needs to be a comfortable temperature and the water needs to be at least 75 degrees. The water will cool down quickly, so again, keep the swimming session very brief.
Also, towel dry your ducklings after their swimming session. Keep in mind that if a momma duck isn’t around, the ducklings haven’t been waterproofed with protective oils. You will notice your ducklings beginning to preen fairly early.
After about four weeks they will have created their own waterproofing and can protect themselves more easily from being chilled.
Follow these tips, and you can keep your ducklings safe when you first introduce them to water.
Our Ducklings’ Arrival
So with this new information, I was ready for my ducklings to arrive and prepared to wait a bit before introducing my new flock to water.
Our ducklings arrived last week, Mallard ducklings to be exact. Such an exciting day!
We ordered them from an out-of-state hatchery and had them shipped to us via the USPS. Did you know that ducklings and chicks and bees and other live animals can be shipped in the mail?
We ordered 15 ducklings. Two did not survive the trip and another two died within a few hours of their arrival. Our money was refunded, but it wasn’t exactly the way I was hoping to start my duckling ownership.
Let’s backtrack a bit…
Picking Up our Ducklings
The week of the ducklings planned arrival, I stopped by our post office and chatted with them about the ducks arriving. We have had chicks shipped to us before, so I knew the drill and I also knew that they would need our phone number.
The post office called us bright and early Thursday morning, 6 am to be exact. At 6:06am, we were out the door. I don’t t think I’ve ever popped out of bed so quickly, or at least not since I was a child on Christmas morning.
Bill and I headed to the post office and went around the side to the loading dock. I thought I could hear them as soon as I walked in to the warehouse area. But, I was wrong, it was chicks that I was hearing.
Next to my box of ducklings were two other ventilated cardboard boxes. Both of those were filled with chicks. And to my surprise, chicks are so much louder than ducks.
I don’t know why I thought my ducks would be louder. Maybe I was expecting them to be quacking. Lol!
Bringing our Ducklings Home
We arrived back home where I had already set up the brooder (aka the duckling nursery) inside our home. My plan is to keep them inside where I can keep a close eye on them for the first 7-10 days.
Even though taking photos was high on my priority list, as a new owner of ducklings or any animals, my first priority is always their health and safety. So first up, lots of water (to drink not swim in), food and warmth.
Everyone filled up on water and food and some more water and then took a long nap underneath their Brinsea brooder. It mimics their mom as they lay underneath it for heat.
This is how the first couple of days went. Water, food, more water, sleep, repeat. I was completely amazed by how much water they go through and spill all over the place.
So messy (I had been warned by some of my fellow duck owners).
Swimming in our Farmhouse Sink
The ducklings were hatched on a Monday, so at their one week birthday it was time to take a few swimming. I decided 11 would be too many to keep my eye on so started with about 1/2 of the flock.
It was a beautiful day, the mudroom was warm and I placed the ducklings in an empty sink. I decided I was more comfortable adding just enough warm water so that it was deep enough to swim and shallow enough that they could still stand.
Oh my goodness! They were in heaven!
My ducklings began paddling around and diving!!! So adorable.
I took a few dozen photos and 3 minutes of video and then called it a day.
I knew if they could talk, they would be like I was as a child, begging my mom to stay just a few more minutes at the pool.
I placed the ducklings in a bucket that I had lined with a towel, we headed back to the brooder and dried each one off.
Too much fun!
The ducklings have been swimming in our sink daily. They are so active and literally splash the water out of the sink. If you’d like to see my ducklings in action, check out my Instagram reels and stories @pennypenningtonweeks.
Introducing my ducklings to water has been so entertaining. I now know where the phrase, like a duck to water originates.
I love watching them dive and preen. So adorable.
I am still cautious, I keep the water level low and the water temperature warm. I also keep the sessions at around 10 minutes, towel the ducklings off and return them to the brooder.
A Final Note
The ducklings’ brooder will be moved out to the barn this week. After seeing how much they love the water, it is tempting to provide a place for them to splash around on their own. But it’s too soon.
Ducklings become strong swimmers at around 5 weeks of age. So, I will be on lifeguard duty a bit longer.
And they won’t be fully feathered until 8 weeks. So it’s important to make sure they can warm up after swimming.
To be continued…
More coming soon as the duckling adventures continue.