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Duckling Release

Fifty one twelve day old ducklings were released into our rice paddy with rice transplanted seven days ago. Photos are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13174975@N04/ The water level seemed less than ideal with areas of mud exposed. We did what we could to get more water into the paddy but probably have some sand pockets that are draining it. The impact on the young rice is least if the ducklings swim between plants. Due to the large feet if they have to walk they tend to trample some plants.

Two thirds of the ducklings entered right away and went to work. When they touch a rice plant with their beak they only scrape off the insects or eggs. About a third of the ducklings stayed back at the pond, preening and washing, like office workers at the water cooler. They finally joined the two thirds but soon convinced them all to go back to the pond. I finally shut off access to the pond and duck house to clean it and replace bedding.

Lessons learned so far, firmly secure ducklings before you germinate rice and ensure a good supply of water to keep the paddy flooded so the ducks are swimming. By late afternoon the water level had risen considerably in the paddy. We do not know why it fluctuates so much.

Lane Anderson, DWCC Gloria Eco Farm ducker

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