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How To Look After Pet Ducks

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As pets, we usually look to animals such as Dogs, Cats, Rabbits etc but rarely do we look to what many of us would consider farm yard inhabbitants. Well, something I have learnt after much research and experience is that all animals have their charm- and which come more charming than ducks!? In this guide I will offer you some information and advice on looking after those quirkey feathered friends without the intention of fattening them up for butchery as many books on the subject explicitly detail us about. So, sit back, relax and have a good old read, even if you dont yet own ducks, this could persuade you to take them into your family and heart as fun pets.
What you'll need: 
A fairly large area (i.e a garden or sectioned pen)
A duck house with adequate fox proofing
Duck Crumb food
Feeder
Drinker
Pond (optional though we all know how ducks love to swim)
A sense of humour!
1: 
The first step of becoming a duck owner (if you havn't taken this step already) is to aquire your feathered friends. It is important as to where you buy your pet when it comes to ducks as often breeders specialise in farmed breeds (i.e, pekin for food or muscovys for eggs) and when bought from such a breeder the birds often have specific genes that will make them good for production purposes, but not as pets. You should always look for a supplier that is advertising their birds as 'pets' as these places often have a more domestic range of breeds that are more suitable for your home. * I personally own two minature appleyards who have an inquizitive and friendly nature and a chocolate runner duck who, even though fairly dim whitted, is cheeky and friendly. I also hav a black east indie who is quite shy but does like to be handled and is very sweet natured. Try to look on the internet, pet forums or occassionally poultry magazines or the tradeit for places to purchase you pets.
2: 
Secondly, you need to prepare your duck garden (duck roaming areas) for their arrival. Most ducks do not need a massive amount of space to roam however they do love to forage and it is always a pleasure to see them do so. It is important you exercise commen sense here and know the limits of the ground you own. You can purchase a duck house from many online or poultry based sources for a fairly reasonable price or make one yourself. It is always important to know how many ducks a house accomodates. You must supply the house with a drinker full of water. When it comes to bedding, I use news paper with straw (like you would buy for a rabbit hutch) on top. Every week I put another layer of straw ontop of the last but once a month I change the entire amount and newspaper to avoid mould and parasites as ducks are sensative to these. This system works very well I have found.
3: 
If you have a pond this is a bonus as the ducks will love it and you will love to watch them splashing around on the water. It is a good idea to have a strong filtration system in your pond as to stop the water stagnating and dirtying the ducks as they swim. And if any readin this wish to know, it is fine to have a fish pond with ducks on it. We have Koi Carp, Orfs and goldfish and they live in complete harmony with the duckies! If you dont have a pond and would like to supply some water, any container or plastic paddling pool can be used provided good entrance and exits are supplied and the water is drained and changed regularly.
4: 
Feeding the ducks is a simple process. When its empty or nearly empty... fill it up! Duck crumbs are available everywhere but make sure to buy food that isnt designed for fattening up meat stock as this carried too much protein and is not a long term diet. Meal worms and corn are also good additions to the ducky meal table as are vegetables and egg.
5: 
Finally, always put your ducks away at night. This is very important and something I never fail to do. Ducks attract foxes and other predators and are very prone to becoming prey at night so make sure they are locked away securly and safely.
6: 
As a last thought, some breeds of duck need their wings clipping in order to keep them grounded. It is advisable to get a professional to show you how to do this before you attempt it yourself. a vet may be able to help of a local poultry enthusiast. You'll soon learn and be able to do it yourself at home with a pair of scissors.
Conclusion: 
Don't forget, ducks can make brilliantly entertaining and even affectionate pets. Like any other venture, the more time you put in, the more you'll get out. Sit with your ducks, encourage them to feed from your hands and let you touch them. You'll find the hours will fly by whilst youre with them and all your troubles will dissapear for a while!
Tips: 
For more in depth information search some of the sites I have provided.
Warnings: 
Ducks can make a fair amount of mess if you have larger breeds or a large amount. Make sure you and your family is prepared for this.

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