I never thought we would end up doing something like this! But by an unfortunate set of circumstances we have found ourselves caring for a pair of wild ducklings. When they came to us we think they were only about a day old.
This happened on a Friday evening so all of our weekend plans were binned as we spent time keeping them warm, reading blogs and forums about how to care for them and most imporantly finding out what earth we could feed them. Most of the sites we found were about domestic duck keeping, or about feeding adult wild ducks. So while I was busy filling and refilling a hot water bottle for them and chopping up fleece for them to sleep on, Sheps dug around for more info, which he finally found. So for the first two days we fed them from our fingers with mashed boiled egg with ground egg shell and a watery mix of finely sliced cucumber and crushed meal worms. They liked to be held cupped in our hands to keep warm. Through the first few days they followed a one hour cycle of sleeping, eating and preening. At night we would fill their hot water bottle, settle them in a fleece 'nest' and put extra logs in the burner to keep the room warm for longer.
We bought a bag of chick crumb, a feed they need to have until they are around 5 weeks old, we add a bit of brewers yeast to this to help their legs develop properly.
We kept them inside for the first few days,in the living room, in a big box lined with kitchen roll, with fresh water and the foods mentioned above and the fleece to sleep on. On the fifth day we let them have a swim in a washing up bowl and later in our bath.
We have a tiny pond in the garden which we made a few years ago to attract frogs so they have had a pootle around in that too.
One week on and they are spending all day sunning themselves in a pen in
the garden. In there they have water to swim in and sieve (we add some
pond water for them to explore) fresh water to drink, food and a
shelter/hide to sleep in. We will bring them inside at night for
another week or two. After that they will sleep outside in the little
hide in the pen.
We are only handling them when we need to now, so thats when we weigh
them every morning, and move them to their pen outside during the day and back
inside at night. In the space of a week they have both doubled in weight, gaining 8 -12 grams everyday.
It is our hope that once they are two months old or so they will be released. These little beauties should be with their mum, but for the time being they are with us. We keep explaining to our children that unlike our chickens, they are not pets, we haven't named them,we are just helping them on their way. It is a wonderful experience for us, I feel very lucky to be able to do this, we have learnt so much!
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