Chicks and ducklings given as gifts during the Easter season often become more work than expected.
Dekalb County 4-H Youth Development Agent Leigh Fuson said some families may be equipped for the baby birds, but most are not.
“Then that is a great option for you possibly. And it teaches great responsibility for your kids and can be a great investment for your family if you are properly set up for that. However, if you just buy chickens for the gift aspect of it, there are some reasons you may not want to do that.”
Fuson said the chicks and ducklings have only down and no feathers, so the babies will need extra attention.
“So they do take a lot of care at the beginning with that brooder. Again you have to have a heat lamp, proper bedding, and shavings in the brooder,” Fuson said. “And the brooder has to be cleaned out almost daily because they are messy. The ducklings are especially messy because they like to play in their water.”
Fuson said Easter usually entices under-equipped families to purchase the birds.
“So a lot of times you are in the feed supply store and they have baby chicks and your kids are ‘Oh they are so cute, can we get one?'” Fuson said. “And again if you are not properly set up for that chick then it may not survive.”
Fuson said Baby ducks and chickens can be injured if not handled carefully. Fuson said the birds may pose as a health risk to children as well.
“Baby chicks and ducklings can also carry salmonella. So if you do handle baby chicks even just at the store, it is always really good to wash your hands after,” Fuson said. “So that can be another factor of raising baby chicks as well.”
Even after reaching adulthood, Fuson said the ducks and chickens still need specific care.
“They need to be outside, they need a coop, they need an area to run around. They have to be protected from predators,” Fuson said. “Here in Tennessee, we have lots of wildlife that will eat chickens and ducklings, even your cats and dogs. So you have to be able to protect the animals as they get bigger.”
Fuson said those wishing to purchase ducklings and chicks should make sure they are fully prepared.