Do not brood ducklings in the house

There. That’s the advice I have for you if you decide to get ducklings.

We are currently brooding 11 ducklings (Khaki Cambells) in our upstairs bathtub and it is a smelly, wet, poopy disaster. Last year we brooded our chicks there and that worked out fairly well, until they started flying out of the bathtub and wandering around the bathroom. And in case you were wondering, that bathtub doesn’t work and it’s an old clawfooted bathtub with tall sides, so it’s really quite ideal. We used it last year to brood our chicks in there and it worked fairly well.

But ducklings stink. We read a bit about brooding them before we got them and the comments ran something along the lines of “ducklings are messy.” Talk about an understatement. Yes, ducklings are messy. Really freaking messy. They like to splash. They prefer to eat their food wet. So they poop. Then they splash in their poop and make it wet. Then they spill food in all of that until they’re hanging out in a nice wet, food and poop filled bog. And it’s all upstairs in our bathtub. Add a heat lamp to the mix and it is truly disgusting.

The plus side is that ducklings are ridiculously cute. They love to swim around in our downstairs bathtub. They have tiny little duckbills and can’t peck like chicks, which meant they’re at a bit of a disadvantage when they’re outside with our chicks and the chicks try to put the ducks into their pecking order. They also have tiny little claws on their webbed feet, which was news to me. And they are expert swimmers.

We had wanted to brood our chicks upstairs this year as well but within a few days it was clear the situation was not sustainable. Not only was there less room with so many ducks, but the poor chicks were getting wet and covered in food. I never thought I would call chicks clean, but here we are. Compared to ducks, they are extremely clean animals. So we built a nice little brooding area for them in the basement where they can stay just as dry as they like and have plenty of room to roam around and poop, which seems to be their number one hobbby.

Fortunately it’s getting warmer here and soon we will be kicking out all the animals and they can fend for themselves in the outdoors where they belong. Next year, we’re taking a break and not brooding anything, human, poultry or otherwise.