The ducklings that I brought home were put in a large livestock trough outside with two heat lamps, one on each end. An old glass screen door was placed on top of a grid panel to keep cats and ravens out and the glass allowed sunlight in. On warm days the door was removed and the birds had fresh air and sunlight, unlike most brooded chicks and ducks that are raised in buildings without ever seeing the sun or smelling the wind.
The ducklings quickly outgrew their livestock trough and were moved to a hoop coop outside without a heat lamp. They did have a huddle box to cuddle together in if they got cold, but I did not notice them using it. Ducklings are much hardier than chicks or tureky poults and can regulate their tempertures better, even before they get their feathers. They did quickly outgrow their hoop coop though and it, like the livestock trough was always wet and mucky. Gross!
So, when they got their feathers, they also got their freedom. At first I left the hoop coop open for them and surrounded the coop with livestock panels, but the ducklings could fit through the panels. It was more to keep curious other birds and the dogs and cats out so they did not become frightened. They stayed there about a half day before liberating themselves and as a group zipped around to explore their new world, sipping water at every stop and tasting some of the grain and the grass. They got delectable hand picked grass in their former lives as babies, but now they must fend for themselves.
Today the babies were quite well adjusted and happy. The raven still worries me, since they are small, but there are plenty of adult birds around them. The adults will not protect them, however; the Sebastopol goose has taken to them ever since they were in the hoop coop and she has remained at their sides and protected them. She is delighted that they are free and waddles around with them leading them to water and food and shade. That is very sweet to see.
The fate of some of these ducks will be the freezer, sad to say. Some will be replacement ducks for the older adults, who will them be freezer birds themselves. The white Khaki Campbells will stay. They are valued for their egg laying but with the white carcass, the pin feathers are not so noticeable and therefore more desireable. Welcome to the Fat Ewe Farm, little duckies!