Sustainable Dreams

When to allow your ducklings to swim safely

When is it okay to let ducks out on ponds or deep water? That's a good question for those of us that are raising these water fowl for the first time.

Being newer to hatching, and raising my own birds from the start, I had to do quite a bit of research even though we had ducks while I grew up. I didn't know much in detail beyond feeding like yard birds, and collecting eggs. We didn't even have a swimming source for the ducks while I was growing up, so my learning process to keep them safe and healthy has really begun more recently.

A friend of mine gave me some duck and chicken eggs to hatch. I had just a hovabator with a mercury thermometer in the bottom, and I hand turned the eggs 4 to 5 times a day faithfully...even through the nights. 5 healthy ducklings hatched with 6 chicks. 

Those same chicks hatched with the ducks are all feathered out, but tiny compared to the ducks. Ya see, while they grow, ducks put their energy into size, and growing larger whereas chicks spend their energy on feathering out before growth. It's truly fun and interesting to visually witness the differences in raising these 2 types of birds together.

The answer as to when it is okay to release your young ducks into a pond or deep water source is pretty straight forward once you learn the way the ducks feather out.

Ducks have hollow bones, and interlocking feathers kind of like shingles on a roof. I believe they also have hollow feathers that help them float. Ducks have a gland that secrete oil to better waterproof them. Here is a good read on waterfowl feathers that I recommend. 

Allowing your ducklings to swim in a shallow pan or pool when they are little is good, but they should never be left unattended because they will get water logged and drown if left too long. As they grow, and develop their feathers, you can allow both more supervised time and deeper water in the pool.

At 7 - 8 weeks, these ducks are big and finally feathered out and oiled up enough to swim on their own. Watch the video below of their first trip to the pond.