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Tips For Raising Ducks and Ducklings

Baby ducks

In addition to the basic chick care information provided, new duck owners should find these additional tips and information helpful.

Safety Considerations

It is important to keep in mind that ducks may have Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks) even when they appear healthy and clean. The germs can also get on cages, coops, hay, plants, and soil in the area where the ducks live and roam. Additionally, the germs can be found on the hands, shoes, and clothing of those who handle the birds or work or play where they live and roam. People become infected with Salmonella when they put their hands or other things that have been in contact with feces in or around their mouth. Young children are especially at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths. It is important to wash your hands immediately after touching ducks or anything in the area where they live and roam, because the germs on your hands can easily spread to other people or things. Learn more at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about Keeping Backyard Poultry.

Feeding Baby Ducks

  • Never feed ducks without water. Water helps get food down and clean beak vents. Always give baby ducks access to water for at least an hour before feeding.
  • We recommend chick starter with 20% protein for the first 10 weeks, switching to a 15% grower weeks 10-18, and a 16% layer after 18 weeks.
  • Ducklings have no teeth but appreciate finely chopped fruits, vegetables or greens. Small insects and worms make good treats, as well.

Shelter

  • Not just an escape from predators and the elements, ducks need shelter to provide quiet and seclusion.
  • The shelter should be well ventilated and large enough that your ducks can fully expand their wings and groom.

Water

  • Ducklings need a ready source of clean water. Chick fountains are recommended.
  • Ducklings will play in water, making a mess. Be sure to clean it often.
  • Water should be no more than ¼" deep. Make sure ducks can easily escape the water. Baby ducks love to play in water but can easily drown if they tire.
  • Ducklings don't produce waterproofing oil until 4 weeks of age. In the wild, mothers apply it. Swimming your ducks too early can result in death from chill or even drowning from fatigue.

Flight

  • Most commercially grown ducks are too large to maintain flight and will stay around a good source of food, water and shelter.
  • Straight run ducks at TSC can include a mix of breeds. Be advised migrating species such as Mallard may be included. Once adult, these may or may not take up permanent residence.

Eggs

  • A duck egg can be used for anything a chicken egg would, but take size differences into account for recipes.
  • Besides being larger, duck eggs have thicker whites and proportionately larger yolks than chicken eggs. Overcooking will render them rubbery.
  • Many prefer duck eggs for baking, believing the high protein content helps cakes to rise and stay risen while the high fat content adds richness and flavor.