How To Raise Ducks? Everything You Need To Know

Arpitha Rajendra
Jan 30, 2023 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Oct 29, 2021
Edited by Jade Scott
A couple ducks care and protect her eggs.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.5 Min

Backyard ducks are a great source of farm-fresh eggs.

Raising ducks for meat, as helpers, or for eggs is common. Adult ducks need around 17% protein in their diet for the egg-laying process.

Duck is the common name given to several waterfowl species that are usually shorter-necked and smaller than geese and swans. The family of ducks is called Anatidae. Ducks are typical aquatic birds occupying seawater and freshwater. A young duck is called duckling or baby duck and has downy plumage. However, in the food trade, a young duck that just gained adult bulk and size with the meat fully tender is labeled a duckling. A female duck is called a duck or hen, and a male is called a drake. Ducks build nests before they start breeding, and then they lead the ducklings into the water after they hatch. Mother ducks care for and protect their ducklings, however, they can abandon their young ones if they are sick due to disease, starvation, hypothermia, or genetic defects, or if the young ones are stuck in a place from where they cannot get out. Sometimes the ducklings can hatch late after the mother has already left to lead the other ducklings into the water.

Around three billion ducks are used for meat across the world. Duck eggs and feathers are also economical. Aviculturists breed and keep ducks and sometimes they are displayed in a zoo. Most modern ducks have descended from wild ducks or mallards, except Muscovy ducks. The world's smallest domestic breed of duck is the call duck, weighing 2.2 lb (1 kg). Predators of ducks include other birds as well as crocodiles, pike, and turtles. Land-based predators attack the nest of brooding females.

If you enjoyed reading these facts about how to raise ducks, then make sure to read some more interesting facts about how to raise a kitten and how to raise a chick here at Kidadl.

Things Required For Raising Ducks

Things required for raising ducks include protection, housing or a brooder, food and water, snacks and supplements, a kiddie pool, bedding, hatcheries, a heat source, and a flock.

Before bringing your ducklings or duck home, it is necessary to set up a habitat suitable for ducks. A brooder or housing for ducks can be a shed or coop with proper drainage and a dirt floor. A brooder is a place where ducklings can grow until they can care for themselves. Their bedding must be clean and dry at all times, and using straw or pine shavings will absorb moisture. It has been observed that ducklings outgrow plastic totes. Ducks don't need a whole pond but a small kiddie pool with fencing to keep any predators away will be adequate. Ducklings will need an environment of 90-92 F (32.2-33.3 C) for three days, which can be slightly decreased after the fourth day. Once the ducklings turn one week old, you must keep decreasing the temperature by five degrees in their brooder. The heat lamp must be infra-red and must have a hood over it so that heat can be directed towards only one side of the brooder. This allows ducklings to choose a warm side or cool side in the brooder. If it does get too hot, ducklings will sit while panting with their mouth open. If it gets too cold, the duck flock will huddle up and peep loudly. Make sure that the lamp does not come in contact with the bedding in the duck house. Ducks and chickens can share one coop and it can be very beneficial to raise both ducks and chickens as part of your backyard poultry.

Ducklings that are around 8 weeks old will need proper nutrition with around 15% protein in their diet. Adult ducks will need a little bit more. The minimum coop space recommended for an adult duck is 18*18 in (3 sq ft). For the first two weeks, make sure to use a chick waterer for your ducklings. Ducks need to fully submerge their heads for healthy nostrils and eyes and ducklings need water for swallowing their food. Make sure to create an outdoor fenced area for ducklings when they gain feathers. They can only roam outside during the day.

Raising Ducks At Home

You can raise ducks in your backyard by choosing a breed, brooding the ducklings, providing housing and protection, and feeding them.

Chickens and ducks can be easily taken care of but both require proper care. There are several duck breeds to choose from. Pekin ducks are a commonly recommended breed of backyard ducks. Pekin ducks are large birds with each duck weighing around 10 lb (4.5 kg). As they are heavy, Pekin ducks cannot fly so they can be free-range ducks in your backyard. They are also a great meat source with an egg production of 150-200 per year. Khaki Campbells are smaller with restricted flight capabilities. These egg layers produce 280-300 in a year but you will receive way less meat. It is a good idea to keep the duck in a flock. If you want to keep ducks for eggs then make sure to buy only female ducks as male ducks are usually very aggressive. When raising ducks for meat, there doesn't need to be a specific male to female ratio. Domestic ducks are preyed upon by raccoons, skunks, dogs, cats, snakes, owls, hawks, and coyotes.

Ducks love to be around water. They will try to lock a little moisture and keeping ducks in a coop with good airflow will keep them happy. A nesting box is optional as ducks lay eggs after building their nests. The coop must be off the ground to avoid moisture build-up on the bedding. Ducks lay eggs less frequently than chickens do. It is a good idea to have a kiddie pool as ducks love playing in the pool. Make sure to keep it clean as ducks prefer clean water. Ducks are great garden pets and they will get rid of all the bugs without hurting any plant in the garden. Also, duck poop is a great fertilizer. However, make sure to let your ducks in the garden only after your plants have fully grown. Ducks will step on small plants, killing them. If you have a male duck, then he will need more than one female duck, around 12 females. It is not difficult to raise ducks with chickens as any rooster will get along with a drake. However, a drake might try to mate with a chicken and a rooster with a duck hen. A drake mating with a chicken might hurt the chicken and kill her so make sure to keep a drake with three female duck hens preventing him from mating with a chicken, or do not keep any drake at all.

Closeup of happy ducks quacking.

Tips For Raising Ducklings

Tips for raising ducklings include giving them a lot of clean water, not using perches in the coop as it can be messy, handling them with care, using the right food, using fencing, choosing the right breeds, and keeping them warm. You also need to know that domestic ducks will not fly and male ducks do not quack.

Ducklings will not perch or roost within the brooder like chickens. Ducks sleep in dark thickets present on the ground. Ducklings are also extremely messy. They will splash water all around and walk over feeding bowls. You can maintain the brooder by limiting the water supply and placing just a small trough of drinking water. You can even remove the waterer at night.

Although they can create a mess, ducklings will need water for swallowing food easily. The water must be deep enough so that ducklings can submerge beaks to clean off their air holes. Most ducks prefer eating damp food. Ducklings' feathers are not waterproof so they should not be left in the water unsupervised. It is safe for them to swim when they grow adult feathers.

Make sure to feed your ducklings with an ample amount of nutrients and fresh foods. You can also give them treats once in a while.

Ducklings will bond well with owners if they are handled regularly with care. They can be great pets, however, they must not be handled all the time because this can be harmful to your duckling's health.

It is necessary to fence the outdoor area to prevent ducklings from walking on all your plants in the garden. Fencing will also keep predators out of reach.

Make sure to do your research before you buy any breed. Also, it is good to decide beforehand as to why you want to buy the ducklings. You can tell the difference between male ducks and females by their call. Males do not quack but produce a soft, raspy sound.

The brooder of ducklings must be warm and you can decrease the temperature by five degrees every week. It is better to use a normal light bulb or a special heating lamp. It is good to place a thermometer in the brooder to constantly monitor the temperature.

Feeding Your Ducklings

The diet of ducklings must include chick starter, niacin, grit, greens, fruits, and vegetables.

The staple food in your ducklings' diet may include commercial feed like waterfowl feed, however, this can be hard to find everywhere so you can include non-medicated chick feed. There are two types of feeders; starter and grower. There is at least 20-24% protein in starters and around 15-18% in growers. In the first week, you can provide a starter to ducklings and continue until three weeks, after which they can be given grower. Make sure to stop feeding the starter after the third week otherwise it can raise protein levels. Ducklings must be fed crumbles and even mash that is soaked in water. Ducklings need more niacin supplements than chicks do so it is recommended to add niacin to the starter. If they do not get enough niacin it can cause deficiencies. An alternative to niacin is brewer's yeast. You can allow them to roam outside to eat grass or you can chop some weed clippings or grass and place it in the brooder. They can also eat small pieces of fruits and veggies. Some common foods suitable for ducks include cucumber, peas, watermelons, strawberries, cabbage, lettuce, and tomatoes. Make sure to give these foods in moderation.

Ducklings use their grit to chew their foods. Your ducklings might be looking for grit in the sand and dirt and if they find it, then do not give them any grit. If your ducklings are in a brooder and feed only on commercial feed, then they will not need grit. However, it is always recommended for ducklings to stay active. You cannot make use of oyster shells as grit because they are high in calcium. Foods your duckling must avoid are bread, spinach, cat food, onions, chocolate, avocado, citrus, beans, potato peels, and sugar. Ducklings do not have to be fed medicated food because, like chickens, they are not susceptible to coccidiosis. Ducklings need to be fed frequently, up to three times a day.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestion for how to raise ducks, then why not take a look at how to raise a goat or call duck facts?

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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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