Yesterday I wrote about having two weeks until the ducks are due to hatch. I needed to get the extra water trough cleaned up and ready and I had this weekend and next. Wrong. Somehow I didn't realize that this Wednesday I'm supposed to turn off the heat and the ducklings should hatch next Saturday! Seven more days! Fortunately I realized that this morning when I was trying to prioritize what needed to be done this weekend and next. You see, today we had time for some chores and tomorrow we won't get any done. I'm supposed to go to Southern California for the day tomorrow. We leave around 6 in the morning and will return around 7 in the evening. By next weekend it will be too late as the ducklings will be here.
It was still kind of drizzly today and I had to clean things in the trailer, do the weeks worth of laundry, and the regular chores. Other than the water trough I didn't have time for a bunch of extra chores. We went out to the side of the barn where the water trough was and dumped out the rain water, turned the thing over and hit the bottom a few times to try to get some of the mud to come out, then dragged it up to the lawn. The grand kids washed it out, getting out the mud and muck. They did a fairly good job. They then dragged it up to the house. I put it on a four-wheeled furniture dolly and wheeled it into the garage.
We gathered two heat lamps and strung them across the trough. I put two bulbs in and turned the lights on. We took what was left of our bag of pine shavings and spread that on the bottom of the trough. I then got a wool blanket and laid it across the top of the trough to help conserve the heat. I put in a thermometer to figure out the temperature. I don't know much about ducklings but the first week for chicks the temperature should be around 95. Each week you lower the temperature by 5 degrees. I assume it's the same for the ducks. I'm glad I tested the lights because the bulbs that I had in there, at the height they are at only heated the floor of the trough to 80. I'm going to need to use a higher watt bulb or put the lamps closer to the floor. I have to make sure the lamps are high enough for the ducklings to not reach them, so that probably means higher watt bulbs rather than closer to the ground.
You have to have everything ready when they hatch. They have to be kept warm and out of drafts. They have to have food and water available at all times. This trough it high enough that Yip-yip can't see in so she won't spend her time barking at the ducklings. I candled three eggs yesterday. I took a box and cut a hole on the top for the egg to be set on and a hole in the bottom of the box to shine a flashlight into the box. The light shines up through the egg and in a darkened room you can see shadows in the egg. The three I candled looked like they had a duckling in them. Of course I don't know what I'm supposed to be looking so I pulled a chicken egg out of the refrigerator and candled that too. It looked completely different so hopefully all is going well with the eggs.
I have chick started on hand. I have to find out if that can be used on the ducks or if I need something different. I have waterers for baby chicks but with the ducks bills I don't know if they will work or if I need to just have bowls of water. I also need to get more pine shavings for the bottom of the trough even though for the first few days you put newspaper on top of the shavings. Or at least you do for chicks. One more week!