Mallard Lane Farms

Lexington, TN

Raising & Selling Ducks, Swans, Pheasants & more

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How should I care for my new birds once I receive them?

  • As soon as you arrive home with them your birds should be removed from their shipping box and placed in a quiet and as stress free environment as possible. Be sure to open their shipping box in a secure area, birds can spring quickly from an open box and escape. Do avoid  excessive handling, loud noises and sudden movements. They should be given food and access to clean swimming water that is easy for them to get in and out of. If possible offer them a food that is similar to what they are used to (which is listed in the paragraph below). It is helpful if their enclosure has a hiding spot where they can get completely out of site if they wish too. Some site barriers on the sides of the enclosure are also very helpful as they will keep the birds from seeing things outside the pen that they may find stressful. 

  • It is best if they can be kept in an enclosure that is separate from other birds that you may already have, until they have had time to adjust to their new home. But being held in a small cage such as a rabbit hutch or bird cage is not recommended. If they must be put into an enclosure that already contains other birds make sure that your new birds are not being bullied and /or kept away from the water and food.

If this problem occurs a good solution is to remove all the old birds from the aviary for a few days to allow the new birds some time to settle in. Then begin adding the old birds back at a rate of 1 bird per day until you have all the birds together in the same pen. For birds being  placed on open water we strongly recommend pinioning or at least wing clipping. For large ponds or lakes it is best if the birds can be held for a few days in a suitable enclosure that has the same specifications as mentioned above. This enclosure should be very close to the pond or lake that you plan to release your birds onto and it is best if they can see the water from the enclosure. Holding the birds in a small cage or unsuitable enclosure before release is not recommended. If no suitable structure is available we recommend releasing straight onto your water, rather than holding them in unsuitable conditions.

If your birds are pinioned be sure to handle them with extra care. It is not uncommon for you to see some blood on  the pinioned wing tip, this is often caused from the bird jumping and or flapping its wings against the sides of the shipping box causing some of the scab to break off. This will heal on its own and requires no special care.

 Pinioned birds will not be able to fly off, as in fly off into the sky over the trees never to be seen again. But they can still jump very well and might even be able to flutter in the air for a minute, it is possible that they may be able to get over a low fence so please keep this in mind when releasing them.

What should I feed my new ducks?

  • All of our waterfowl are fed a 17% duck breeder pellet. If a feed similar to this is not available in your area, a chicken layer pellet is a good substitute. This can be mixed with grain or fed on it's own. Grains that we have used are wheat, corn and milo, however there may be others that are suitable.  Divers are also given some cat fish or trout pellets. All of our ducklings are started on Maruzi Waterfowl Starter. Pictured to the right is the tag from one of our feed bags , so you may compare the ingredients with other feeds you may have available. 

How much feed should my birds be given daily?

  • Since all of our birds have access to feed 24/7 we do not know how much food each individual bird consumes each day. If you do not plan to leave feed available at all times for your birds we recommend the following. Feed twice a day once in morning and once in the evening. At first, put out a fairly large portion of food, if the birds do not eat almost all of it cut back until they are eating almost all the feed in about 30 minutes. We do not recommend having the birds to completely finish the feed since that would make it more possibly that a less dominant bird may not have gotten enough to eat. Keep in mind that your birds will need more food at certain times. In general, birds eat more in colder weather and less in the summer. Also remember that feeding areas should be kept clean and leftover feed that has gotten wet should be disposed of.      

If I place my birds on open water, instead of in an enclosure will they fly away?

  • In our experience most fullwinged wild waterfowl will eventually leave if placed on open water. If you want to keep your birds on open water, we recommend purchasing pinioned birds. Domestic ducks such as calls often will stay on open water and can usually be kept fullwinged.  

Should I put my new birds in an aviary or on open water?

  • Whether birds are placed in an aviary or on open water is mostly preference of the owner of the birds. Both ways of keeping birds have their own benefits and also their own disadvantages. You should carefully weigh these advantages and disadvantages along with any limitations or special circumstances that may be relevant to your personal situation before making this decision. 

  • Keeping birds on open water usually means you will have to have pinioned birds. The birds will be at greater risk from predators,  and if you ever need to catch the birds, it may be difficult. However, open water provides the most natural habitat for your birds and is where they most likely will be the happiest; and also breed and reproduce the best. It is also argueably the most enjoyable setting in which to view your birds. You also will not incur the cost of building and maintaining an aviary.

  • Keeping your birds in an aviary can keep them safer from predators as long as your aviary is secure. If a predator does break into the enclosure, the birds housed there usually have less of a chance to get away  than they would if they had been on open water. The cost , and also time and effort of building and maintaining a suitable enclosure for your birds is probably the biggest disadvantage to keeping birds in an aviary rather than open water. Types and quality of enclosures for housing birds can vary widely. If housed in a well designed aviary that includes the basic requirements outlined in the question below on aviary size, those birds may be just as happy and breed as well as birds on open water. However if kept in an unsuitable enclosure the birds may not do well and may even eventually die.

Can I leave my birds on open water during the day then lock them in a small pen at night?

  • This in not something that we have ever tried so we have no first hand knowledge of this to offer. While it might be possible it is not something that I personality think would be very easy to do with ornamental ducks. I do think that this can be accomplished with mallards, calls and other domestic ducks.

What can I do to keep my birds safe on open water? 

  • We keep all of our ornamental type ducks in aviaries. Most info listed below will be second hand knowledge, things that we have known other breeders to do that keep ornamental birds on open water.

  • Keep edges of the water free from brush. Predators may use the brush as cover to hunt your birds. However in some cases cover that is actually in the water such as cattails or reeds my be beneficial to the ducks as they can hide there.

  • Any type of fencing around the pond can be helpful for keeping out some predators.

  • In the wild birds often flock together for protection. The more birds you have on your pond, the more eyes that can help watch for danger, keeping all of them a little safer.

  • Some predators may be discouraged if you have a few large birds on your pond such as a pair of swans or some large geese. Often, at least during breeding seasons, these type birds become aggressive and will defend their territory; thus also giving the smaller ducks some extra protection.

  • Learn what predators are in your area and learn how to trap them, then relocate or dispose of them to help keep your predator population low. We keep traps out year round that catch possum, raccoon, and skunk on occasion. We have also caught fox, bobcat and coyote. For more info on trapping you may find this site helpful  http://www.jlordvideos.com/apps/webstore/products . Other things that I have heard of other breeders doing include, installing red flashing lights around the pond, this is to keep away owls. Playing a radio at night, the noise and talking may scare away some predators. Installing a floating platform in your pond or having and island can also be beneficial.

Can I keep ornamental species of ducks (these would include but are not limited to mandarins, wood ducks, teals, etc) with domestic ducks (these would include but are not limited to Mallards, call ducks, pekins, east indies, rouens etc).?

  • In the aviary or any type of enclosure we recommend that ornamental ducks be housed separate from domestic ducks. Domestic males will often try to breed with any females available and may injure or even drown the often smaller and more delicate ornamental females. Most ornamental ducks are shy and skiddish and most domestics are not. Although most domestic ducks are not aggressive, ornamental ducks may be fearful of the usually larger and more outgoing domestic ducks. Having domestics duck housed with them may cause a high level of stress to the easily stressed ornamental ducks which could have negative effects on their  health. Mixing ornamental and domestic ducks while still not ideal can be done without as much negative effect if you are putting the birds onto open water or you have a very large enclosure (100'x100' or more), this helps ensure that the ornamental ducks can get away from the domestics and have their own area.

Can I get birds that are tame? How can I make my birds tame?

  • While some species of wild waterfowl are less wild and nervous than others, none of them should be expected to be as tame as domestic ducks, such as calls.  Some of the species that generally have a more laid back personality are the following: ring teal, marble teal, cape teal ,and any species of tree duck. (Gadwall, bahama and northern pintail, rosey bills and red creasted would be my second picks of less nervous species) The Wood duck, which is one of the most popular aviary birds is also one of the most nervous wild species.  Mandarins which are also very popular, are not a bird that you should expect to tame easily. For further reading on domestic verses wild waterfowl please check out our article here. While most species of wild waterfowl will never be as tame as a domestic bird there are things you can do to make your birds more comfortable around you and thus appear less wild. This will require much time and patience.  Sitting quietly in their aviary for some time every day, perhaps after you feed them will help them view you as less threatening. In time you may be able to move their feeder closer to you and birds may eventually learn to approach you for food. Handling your birds to make them tame is not recommended. Such actions as catching them, just to hold and pet them is strongly discouraged, as this can have a negative effect on the health of your birds

How large of an aviary do I need to keep X amount of birds?

  • As far as aviaries go, bigger is almost always better but with that said, many ornamental ducks can be kept and even thrive in limited space as long as a few considerations are met. You must be able to keep the water clean and of a good quality. Floor of the aviary should be free of mud and any build up of feces or food. Birds should appear comfortable in the aviary, no pacing of walls or hiding all the time, etc.  The exact amount of birds that you can keep in an aviary while still meeting these basic requirements will depend a lot on how your aviary is constructed , what type of water source you have, what type of floor you have and also on how you plan to keep the water and the floor of the aviary clean. Finally, on the amount of and combination of birds that you want it to accommodate. 

  •  We once had a aviary that was only 20"x 18" and this space had a sand and gravel floor that was planted with shrubs. This aviary had 2 small concrete ponds that had fresh well water flowing thru them continuously. Additionally there were many perches and also a 3ft metal site barrier on all sides.  This pen commonly housed 10 mandarins, 8 greenwing teal and a trio or quad of pheasants.  Notice, that none of the birds in this enclosure compete for the same nesting space. Furthermore, the mandarins and pheasants spend much time on the many perches, while the teal mostly stay on the ground. The sand and gravel floor in this aviary drained water well, which helped the floor stay cleaner and practically eliminated any problems with mud. Although the ponds were small, the continual flow of fresh water though them provided ample clean water with minimal cleaning, draining and cleaning will be required. While this is a lot of birds for a relatively small space, all birds in the enclosure did well and reproduced just as well as ours in larger areas. For more info on our aviaries please click here

  • Please keep in mind, no matter the size of your enclosure, most ornamental birds will not do well put into a sterile environment (wire walls, water source and nothing else in the enclosure: like pens typically used for chickens). While it doesn't need to be fancy or expensive, ornamental birds do require more of an environment to thrive.

How do I care for my birds in cold winter weather?

 

We keep all our birds outside year round. They are provided with open water and we also have metal on the sides of our aviaries which gives some protection from the wind. Our average winter temperatures are highs in the 40's lows in the 20's. We do get a few nights each winter that get into single digits, usually not colder than 0 and our wind chills can get into the -teens.  Since we have only kept birds at our current location we can not give first hand advise on how to care for your birds in winter weather conditions that are more severe than ours. As a general rule, species in which the male and female look alike, and also species in which the males stay in color year round (this would include all the tree ducks, and several teals such as ring teal), are more sensitive to the cold and particularly to frost bite.

In winter weather colder than ours, these species may need extra protection. Precautions that we have known other breeder to use are, wrapping the sides of the aviaries in thick plastic, keeping a layer of hay bedding on the aviary floor, using bales of hay as additional wind blocks, and in the some cases bringing cold sensitive species indoors for all, or part of the winter. We know of all species that we have, have been kept as far north as Canada with the proper set up.  Alternately, most all of the North America species, along with the very popular Mandarin, are very cold hardy and these birds are commonly kept in winters more sever than ours; with little or no extra protection from the weather needed. For more information on the cold hardiness of certain species please refer to the page for that species. If you still have questions, please email us at mallardlanefarms@gmail.com and we will be glad to help.

I didn't order pinioned birds but my birds can't fly, why is this?

  • Most birds we sell will not be pinioned unless customers request pinioned birds. However, for the safety of the birds we try to keep most of the birds we have for sale wing clipped. Keeping these birds from flying greatly reduces the chances of injury to that bird and other birds in the enclosure during catching. Furthermore, wing clipping can also reduce the risk of the bird injuring itself in the unfamiliar surroundings of its new home. Unlike pinioning,  wing clipping makes the bird flightless only temporarily. The bird will shed the cut feathers and grow new ones during its next molt. If you would like your birds to be able to fly sooner, simply pull out the cut wing feathers, It then takes abount a month for them to fully grow back. If you do not want your birds to be wing clipped, you can request this at the time you place your order and we will do our best to full fill that request, but we will not guarantee that we will be able to send birds that are not clipped.

How old will my birds be when I receive them?

  • Unlike domestics, most ornamental waterfowl only reproduce at a certain time of the year. The majority of our ducks hatch May- July. Ornamental waterfowl are commonly referred to with the year they hatched in front of the species name. For example, an 09 pair of Wood Ducks hatched sometime between May- July of 09. Therefore the later in the year you are receiving them, the older your birds will be. Most ducks that we sell will be between 2-6 months old. Normally we do not keep any birds more than 1 year. We do not record the actual hatch date of every duck we sell, however all birds will be fully feathered, and are adult sized at the time you receive them. We Do not sell ducklings.

Do I need a permit to own any of these birds?

  • In most states you do not need a permit to keep any of the species that we have. For some species you do have to buy a permit if you wish to sell them.  This normally pertains to birds that are native to North America. As an example, you may need a permit to sell Wood Ducks as they are a native species, but not for Mandarins since they are native to China. The permits are normally easy to obtain, however there will be a fee involved. We currently hold both State and Federal permits for all waterfowl that require them.  For more information on this subject please visit our "Permits and Regulations" page. 

Will my birds breed and produce offspring their first spring?

  • Species of which the male duck acquires his color in his first year are normally capable of breeding and producing offspring their first spring. This group includes Mandarins, Wood Ducks and most species of Pintail and Teal. Species that do not color out until their second fall, often will not breed until they are 2 or 3 years of age. This group of ducks would include most of the divers such as Hoodies, and Goldeneyes. Although birds may be physically capable of breeding at a certain age this does not ensure that offspring will be raised or even that eggs will be laid.

There are many factors that determine breeding success other than age. Some of these include but are not limited to- whether or not the birds have had time to properly settle in to their enclosure before mating season, size of the birds enclosure, availability of nesting space, temperament of other birds in the enclosure, amount of other birds in the enclosure, availability of a suitable mate, availability of clean water or the proper depth for mating, availability of a stress free environment. For more info please click on the article here.

What size nest box does my bird need?

All of our boxes are not the exact same dimensions or even designed the same way. We believe that the birds benefit from having several kinds of boxes to choose from. Most of our boxes are made from cedar or cypress, however our ducks  have also used boxes made from plastic totes, buckets, milk crates and hollowed out logs. While there can be many different ways to create a nest box, they all need to provide the same thing , a comfortable safe place for the hen to incubate her eggs.

A good design for wood duck style boxes can be found at the link below

https://www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Wildlife/duck_box_plans.ashx

All cavity nesting species will need a box constructed similarly to the one described above. Other cavity nesting species that we raise are : ring teal, chestnut teal, hooded merganser and golden eye

Ground boxes often are made with two rooms, the nesting material should be put in the back room this is where the eggs will be laid. The dimensions a ground box really depends on the species that will be using it. As a general rule the space in the box where the eggs are laid should only be about the size of the hen. Often birds are not interested in nest boxes that are too large and if they do nest in one that is to large there can be problems with the eggs getting rolled out.

If my birds reproduce should I leave the ducklings with the mother? If I take them away how do you recommend I care for them?

We typically hatch and brood all of our ducklings ourselves. For info on how we raise our ducklings please click on our article here.  Most hens can be good mothers if given the proper environment. If you choose to leave the ducklings with mom, here is a list of a few things that will improve their survival chances. 

  • Make sure the pen is escape proof for the ducklings. Remember most species can climb well and fit through very small spaces. Most can fit through chicken wire, and small gaps under gates are often a problem.

  • Make sure you have enough space in your pen for mom and the ducklings, In a crowded pen, other birds may attack and kill the ducklings. Often, attacks come from other hens. Males typically will not bother ducklings.

  • Make sure ducklings can get in and out of the water easily. A pond with steep or slick sides is not advisable.

  • Place some feed in low shallow pans, and close to waters edge if possible.

  • Watch out for dangers, such as drain lines, where ducklings may become trapped and drown.

Which species of birds do you recommend for beginners?

  • The Wood Duck and or the Mandarin are most often the first birds the beginner will acquire. However, both of these species generally are very nervous and stress out very easily, and there are many other species that have better dispositions. But then arguably, there are none quite as beautiful as the wood duck and mandarin.  I would recommend that if you are interested in these two species, go ahead and get a pair, but instead of getting 2 pair of them, or a pair of each; consider instead getting a second species that has a bit more laid back personality. Having a calmer bird in the aviary will actually help your wood ducks or mandarins be a little calmer themselves. Some of the calmer species are listed in next question below.  Species that we would not recommend for beginners would include most species in which the male doesn't get his color until his second year, some of these would be hoodie, smew, NA ruddie and golden eye.