A couple of weeks back we added two new ducklings to the family. Well, technically they were "teenagers" since they had almost shed their baby fluff. Being winter, we needed a place to keep them until their full feathers came in and they were a little larger to get along with their big sisters.
We've done this in the past. Typically with the ducklings we get a good side cardboard box, fill it with hay, a little water, a little food, and we're set. Unfortunately ducks seem to be mess prone, and within a couple of minutes they've managed to knock over their food and water and the stink just starts up. To taking an inspirational note from the hatchery where we get our ducklings, I cut a couple of holes in the cardboard box. Then I put food and water outside each of the holes. The ducks can peek out, and get some food or water. More importantly, this reduces the spills to the occasional spill when they are really hungry or thirsty. Cleanup for this is rather simple.
However, I still run into a couple of issues as our ducklings grow up. The first is that the box get's too short, and we have escapees. It's rather fun to see them explore until they poop on the carpet. 8^D The second is that the cardboard box gets soaked around the edges of the holes from the ducks drinking. Ducks are rather sloppy drinkers. Combine that with a little food in their mouth and you get a bit of a mess on your hands. Sometimes the wet box is okay, if the time we have with the ducklings is short, but I'm looking for a solution that will last through the next time we get ducklings (and well) so that I don't have to keep hunting for boxes.
After a little more pondering, I came up with a solution that works and is cheap. The first step is to get a nice, somewhat deep, storage tub, base the size on how many ducklings you plan on having at once.
The next, and final, step is to cut a nice long rectangle about 1/3rd of the way up from the base of the tub. Make the height of the rectangle about 2 inches. This allows the ducklings to get their head in and out comfortably without escaping. I used some heavy duty kitchen shears to make the cut after using a drill to get some initial holes in the corners of my opening. You could even use a small jig saw if you had one. Just make sure the edges are smooth when you're done. You don't want any scratching or cutting of those delicate necks.
Now you're done! Add some hay and ducks and you're set!
We found a nice little spot in our living room where we could clip on a heating lamp and point it in the corner to keep the ducklings warm. Since they couldn't quite reach the bowls of food and water, we found a couple little trays to boost the bowls up a little bit. We put a place mat down below to help with the occasional spill. Once a day we dump out the hay, hose down the tub, dry it out and put more hay in. It's convenient, reusable, and a lot of fun to see their heads poke out to say hi.