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    How to Raise Baby Ducks for Beginners

    Authored by Hoover's Hatchery

    Raising ducklings is just as fun and rewarding as raising chicks, and you can absolutely raise them together! However, ducks do have different needs and require slightly different care than chickens.

    Feeding baby ducks

    • Ducklings need a ready source of clean water. Chick fountains are recommended.  Water sources for ducks should be deeper than water sources for chickens so that ducks can dunk their heads. However, make sure ducks can easily escape the water. Baby ducks love to play but can easily drown if they tire.
    • Ducklings will play in water, making a mess and splashing out their drinking water. Be sure to clean and refresh it often.
    • 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.
    • After 4 weeks, set up a small pool within the duck house or coop. Your flock will love to swim and splash around.

    You can also purchase a feed just for ducks, if you wish. These complete feeds are formulated to meet the niacin requirement of growing and laying ducks, and have prebiotics, probiotics and yeast for health and digestion.

    Shelter for baby ducks

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

    Water for ducks

    • Ducklings need a ready source of clean water. Chick fountains are recommended.  Water sources for ducks should be deeper than water sources for chickens so that ducks can dunk their heads under the water.
    • Set up a small pool within the coop. The duck flock will love to splash around in water.
    • Ducklings will play in water, making a mess. Be sure to clean it often.
    • Deeper drinking water should be provided to ducks. 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.
    • Please do not release domestic ducklings into ponds.

    Duck 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 breed may be included. Once adult, these may or may not take up permanent residence.

    Duck eggs

    • A duck egg can be used for anything a chicken egg would, but take size differences of the breed 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.

    Straw for ducks

    • Add some straw to the floor as the coop.
    • Ducklings will use the straw at night.

    When raising a flock of ducklings, it is important to keep in mind their unique needs. As well, it’s important to note that ducks, like all poultry, carry and shed Salmonella germs. 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. As with all poultry, it is important to wash your hands immediately after touching ducks or anything in the area where the flock lives and roams. Learn more at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about Keeping Backyard Poultry.


    More duck knowledge

    Find all the information you need about raising ducks. Get an overview, then find helpful links to more in-depth education.
    Move over chickens, duck eggs are getting more popular from farm to table. Read more about raising ducks for eggs.