Duckling and Gosling Care

Tips on Caring for Your Ducklings or Goslings

The temperature in your brooder should be about 85 degrees the first week of life. The best way to judge the comfort of the bird is to watch them. If they are all huddled together they need more heat – a 60 watt light bulb is enough. They should be spread throughout your brooder with some eating, some drinking, some sleeping and some playing.

Between 2 and 4 weeks of age, depending on the time of year, you can put them outside in a coop with a shelter. After you move them outside into a pen, shut them into a covered shelter the first 3 nights. After that they will go in by themselves each night.  The covered shelter is to keep them from getting wet in the rain. Do not allow them to get soaked by rain until they are fully feathered which is about 6 weeks of age.  Make sure the pen has a shaded area for them to get out of the sun.

As they grow…
Waterfowl grow very fast. In the brooder, make sure you and add clean bedding as necessary. Typically it is better to add clean bedding on top of the old bedding instead of removing the soiled bedding every day. Pine shavings are the best kind of bedding to use.

Waterfowl can be very messy with their water and feed. Raise your feeder and water as high as possible but make sure the can still easily reach to eat and drink. Continue to raise them up every few days to keep up with their fast growth. If they are getting their chests and belly wet and soaking their bedding then your water is still too low.

Ducklings and goslings can be introduced to swimming water as early as one week of age but you must be very careful. The water should be room temperature and they must be dried and put under their heat lamp for rewarming. They cannot be in the water for more than a few minutes or they will become waterlogged and chilled. Do not allow this to happen! But this exposure to water speeds the development of their oil gland and they can probably be swimming freely by five or six weeks of age.

Waterfowl grow very fast and should be feed a high quality non-medicated starter feed for the first 4 weeks and then a grower feed until they are fully feathered. Our Amish-made Non-GMO Starter and Grower are excellent feeds for raising waterfowl.

Health concerns…
Waterfowl that live in the wild eat lots of vegetation. To raise heathy babies it is best to give them some freshly picked grass or chopped lettuce/greens every day. Start out with a small amount per bird. Gradually increase to amount to whatever they will consume in a few hours.

All waterfowl that are feed processed feed have the potential to develop angel wing because of the high protein content. The best way to prevent angel wing is to cut back on the amount of feed you giving per day once you see the quills of the flight feathers developing. Cut back on their feed and give them lots of fresh grass to replace it for 10 days. Please google angel wing and flight feathers to become better informed.