We have two pet Indian Runner Ducks; Bubbles and Big Baby Duck. If you had asked me if I could see myself as a duck owner I probably wouldn’t have said yes. I know we live in the country and have the space to have ducks or chickens, or both but it was never something that was at the forefront of my mind to get. I suppose sub-consciously I was thinking they would just be another thing to fit into my already busy life.
My girls go to a little rural school, there are only about 60 pupils all together from Reception through to Year 6. The children are split into two classes; infants Reception-Year 2 and juniors Year 3-Year 6. Most of the children that attend live rurally and some of the children are from farming families. Last year, towards the end of the summer term one of the local farms brought some chicken eggs (for the infants) and duck eggs (for the juniors). The children had an egg between two and their names were written on the shells. All the eggs went into an incubator in the classroom and over the next few days one by one the eggs began to hatch.
So what happens when the classroom has 24 little ducklings?
Of course your very excited kids come home and tell you their Indian Runner ducks need a home. So one afternoon two little ducklings arrived home in a box. For the first couple of weeks the little ducks lived in a box in our utility room. For tiny little ducklings they were pretty messy and after a while they did smell a bit….ducky! At this point we didn’t have a pen we could put them in outside and really they were too tiny to go outside into the big wide world. My handy husband made them a bigger wooden box with a perspex side so they could see out. Then he got to work on building them a pen.
Indian Runner ducks can’t fly but they are quite speedy on their feet. When the girls came home from school in the afternoon the little ducks were let out onto the lawn. As they are ducks, they love water so we gave them a basin of water so they could learn to swim. Funnily enough they took to it like ducks to water! They even had a go in the paddling pool, without the kids, I hasten to add.
Steep Learning Curve on How To Look After Ducks
I found from asking my friends with ducks and poultry and from searching Google there are many views on what to feed your ducklings. At school they were being fed on Chick Crumb so that is what we continued with. Mixed with some water, they loved it. When they were really small they liked to eat off your finger. As we let them out in the garden they also foraged around the grass. After 6-8 weeks the ducklings moved onto duck grower pellets and moved into their new pen.
We don’t have a pond but we found an old plastic paddling pool and so far that has been the duck’s pool. They are a little big now to have proper swim but when we change the water they still manage to find the space to dive under the water. A joy to watch.
When I’m out in the field with the horses I let the ducks out for a mooch around. They love to forage in the grass, eating bugs or whatever they find in the undergrowth.
Time for Some Chickens
When we purchased the house for the Indian Runner ducks we also ordered a chicken coop. My youngest daughter said that she would like some chickens for Christmas. We took the decision to wait until the spring for the chickens, so that is the next exciting project.
Indian Runner ducks (the breed of duckling and duck pictured top and above) will lay well and enjoy foraging, but can be timid, so need careful treatment.