Raising ducks is becoming more popular. Ducks make great pets with their unique personalities, they lay a bigger egg that has more nutrients. Duckling care is fairly easy, they are intuitive and mostly self-sufficient. Ducks love to forage, they will rid your garden of pests crawling, squirming or flying. Who wouldn’t want their own personal pet ninja, snatching mosquitoes and wasps from mid-air before they had a chance to land?
Newly hatched ducklings will need a brooder box with a heat source until you can acclimate them to their new habitat temperature. This is usually done by starting the ducklings at about 90 deg Fahrenheit and dropping the temperature from 7 – 10 degrees a week. Lowering the temperature a degree or two per day instead of all at once. It just seems like a nice way to do it to me.
With a heat lamp, you can’t control the temperature that easily. To adjust the heat pull the bulb further away, every once in awhile check to make sure your little ducklings look comfortable. The ducklings should have enough room to get away from the heat if it is too hot. A happy duck will go back and forth between the heat and the cold, not just sit in one or the other.
Water is the most important thing a duck needs. Even though watching a duck swim is one of the best parts of raising ducks, they do not have to swim to be happy. To care for your ducklings they do have to have enough water to dip their head into. Ducks dip their heads into water to clean out their bills and nostril holes. Fresh clean water helps them swallow and digest their food.
Feeding time for your little ducklings is great. They are cute, fuzzy and gentle little piranhas, hand feeding them is my personal favorite time of duckling care. Ducks pinch a little, but it usually doesn’t hurt. I have heard of full-grown ducks grabbing lips and noses but so far haven’t had the pleasure of the experience myself.
With raising ducks’ comes many food choices the most common being chick(en) starter or chick(en) feed. The debate between medicated feed versus non-medicated feed is strongly debated. Ducks do eat more than chickens. The strongest argument against the medicated food is the ducks poison themselves with the medicine. Besides the medicine, the strongest argument for medicated feed is that it depends on the medication and how it affects your specific duck. Keep duck snacks in mind. Treats keep your feathered friend very happy.
In my area the only brand that said for ducks was “Purina Flock Raiser” it has natural ingredients, probiotics, and prebiotics but is non-medicated. I chose this simply because it said for ducks.
Ducks love algae, clovers, dandelions, garden weeds, worms, crickets, potato and tomato bugs, fruits vegetables and so much more! Ducks don’t have teeth so you will have to make sure it’s prepared properly. Dandelions and weeds would have to be cut into manageable pieces the ducks can swallow, the same goes for the fruits and vegetables or just about anything that’s too big for that matter. Somehow they can eat some pretty big frogs and newts though.
Handling and hand feeding is the best way to become friends with your duckling. Each duck comes with its own unique personality. Raising ducks and watching them grow, learn and play while you care for them is a great experience for anyone. When a duckling you care for walks up, wags its tail and then honks at you, you know you have made a friend.
Important Tips on Raising Ducks:
- Ducks need clean fresh water, especially with food. If a duck eats too much before it drinks water the crop could swell and suffocate your little guy.
- Ducks are foragers, they will pick up most anything off the ground to just see what it tastes like.
- Some ducks grow really fast. Be prepared to extend their living space.The space size varies from about 1/3 of sq ft each when they are newborn to 3 sq ft per duck in a few weeks. As a rule of thumb, you need enough inside space for each duck to fully expand its wings, this is why the typical requirement is 3 sq ft per duck is used.
- Outside recommended space is 15 sq ft per duck.
- Ducks get messy, try to spread the water and food as far apart as possible. Keeping their place clean is crucial to their survival.
- Predators like dogs cats and owls are the biggest reason for duck death, next is an illness. Simple things like cleaning up daily and locking them up are the best thing in duckling care to maximize the lifespan of your duckling.