Here is an overview on the Ancona breed and a little information on how we take care of ducklings.
About the breed:
The information about the breed is from the Cackle Hatchery website. Please note that this information is not intended as a marketing ploy or am I receiving anything from the company. It is just to note information about the breed and who we purchased the ducks from.
The Ancona duck was developed in Great Britain during the early twentieth century. They mature out on the average to about six to six and a half pounds and are a stocky built duck. There is no set design to their broken color pattern. Cackle Hatchery currently breed the black/white but you will occasionally get a few chocolates out of them. The Ancona ducks are an excellent layer, a hardy all-purpose duck that grows relatively quickly. Typically they have moderately calm temperaments and make good yard ducks as they tend to stay closer to the home. They typically do not fly and make good backyard ducks. Cackle Hatchery is one of a few long term breeders of these genetics.
Setting up the brooder:
We used a metal stock tank, put a layer of shredded pine bedding in the bottom. I put their waterer on a cookie sheet to help keep the brooder a little drier – it works ok, but they are ducks – they love water! Once they get a little older, I will put the waterer in a shallow baking pan to help keep the brooder dry. The food is watered down to make it soft for the first few days then we gradually moved them to dry food. We also attached a heat lamp to one side of the tank. By putting the heat lamp to one side it allowed them an area on the other side of the tank to go to if they got too hot. Once the ducklings start staying away from the lamp, I will raise it higher. You can also get thermometers for the brooder if you want them. I tend to take my cues from the animals.
Duck feed is available and it has the recommended amount of niacin in it. Niacin is very important for ducks because they grow so quickly. If you can’t find any you can use unmedicated chick feed – make sure it is unmedicated – and add brewers yeast. I could not find any brewers yeast in our area so I did some looking and found that nutritional flakes (we get the Bob’s Red Mill brand) works also. We sprinkle the yeast on top of their food, we also give our feathery little babies lots of smashed peas (which are high in niacin) with yeast and water mixed in..
Picking them up:
A couple days before they were due to get here I went to our local post office to let them know that there were ducklings on the way. The ducks were hatched on a Wednesday and shipped that night. I had a tracking number to keep an eye on where they were, but the post office website wasn’t 100% accurate. But early Friday morning I received a call that they were in and I was able to pick them up before our local post office opened.
The came in a very sturdy box. Once opened we noted how cute the babies were. We ordered 6 Ancona ducklings. 3 are black and 3 are brown (chocolate). They came with a heating pack, which was still putting heat out when I cleaned the box out an hour after we got them out of it.
The brooder gets a daily cleaning. The waterer, food bowl and baking sheet all get washed in warm soapy water and the bedding is removed and the tank is wiped down with warm soapy water (we use Dr. Bonners liquid castile soap). We make sure all residue is wiped off and let it air dry. Then we sit with the ducks and talk and play with them, they are so fun!
We get our girls out to play everyday. Sometimes it is hanging out in the living room while they climb on us and other times its playing in the tub. We make sure to keep a close eye on them when they are in the tub, especially when they were little before their oils came in.
Now that they are a little bigger we put them in a bigger pool (without water) with a lattice surrounding it (to keep them in but allows them to see out) to hang out in during the day. I call it the ‘play pen’. It allows them more room to run around and they can see out and we can interact with them more.
I hope this information helps you, be sure to check back on Friday for a more personal account of our little feathery babies.