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Raising Ducks for Beginners

Raising Ducks for Beginners

You have made it past the fuzzy duckling stage or added some adult ducks to your homestead. Now you need to know all about raising ducks, so that yours stay happy and healthy. I have been a proud duck owner going on 8 years now. On our farm we have raised multiple breeds for many different reasons (10 reasons, why ducks?) and I am happy to share what I know about raising ducks with you.

Raising Duck Basics

Like all animals’ ducks need the basics like shelter, food, and water to be happy. In this section I am more then happy to tell you about each when it comes to raising your ducks.


Your ducks housing should have walls and a roof to keep them protected from the elements. Our runner ducks currently shelter in an old igloo doghouse that was given to us. It will need dry clean bedding, straw or pine shavings are good options and are easy to find. Make sure that your duck house is ventilated, and the ducks can get fresh air when confined, ducks are prone to respiratory issues from dust and other debris.

Raising Ducks Shelter

Do You Need a Pond for Raising Ducks?

It has long been thought that you could not own ducks without a body of water nearby, this is simply not true. In this next paragraph I will tell you what they do need.

It is not necessary for you to have a pond near your ducks shelter or on your property at all. Ducks do love to swim, but they can survive with just a deep container of water.

The container that you use should have enough room for them to submerge their heads. Ducks dunk their heads in their drinking water to clean their eyes and bills. If they are not able to clean their bills this could cause respiratory issues and eye infections.

If you would like to provide a swimming area for your ducks be sure that they are able to easily get in and out. It won’t take long for there swimming water to get yucky, so you will want the container you provide to be easy to drain so you can replace the yucky water with fresh clean water.

Drinking Water

Ducks should always have access to clean drinking water. Their drinking water should be placed in the pen near their feed. Ducks use their drinking water to help them swallow dry food, without water they could choke.

What to feed adult ducks?

Adult ducks can eat a variety of different things, and their nutritional requirements may vary depending on what they are being used for. In this section you will learn about what each type of duck will needs.

Raising Ducks Protein

Pet Ducks

Adolescent and ducks that are kept as pets do not require any kind of special diet. Their main source of food should be formulated poultry feed with 15 % protein. We commonly use flock raiser feed because it is easy to find at our local feed store.

Raising Ducks For Eggs Feeding

If your flock is specifically for laying eggs, you will need to feed them egg layer pellets or crumbles. This feed should help give them addition calcium to help with egg development and slightly more protein to help your ducks development. Chicken layer feed is easier to find and should contain enough calcium and protein to support you egg laying flock.

Raising Ducks For Meat Feeding

Ducks used for meat tend to grow at a faster rate and the faster they grow the more protein they will need to develop without any health issues. Pekins and Rouens are heavy birds that tend to grow slightly faster, these breeds would need a higher protein feed. Broiler feed for chickens can be used if a duck specific food is not available in your area.

If you are looking for a more natural way to feed your ducks there are things you can grow for them. At morning Chores she tell you & things you can grow for your own duck feed. Here you can give it a read!


If using chicken feed or any other poultry feed not specific for ducks be sure they are all non-medicated. The medications that are in chicken feed are for chickens specific diseases, they can be fatal if given to ducks.

How Often to Feed Your Ducks?

The ducks on our farm are let out in the morning to free-range in the pastures and catch critters in the pond. We feed our ducks once when it is time for them to come back to their pen for the night. I have learned that that this way of feeding the keeps them coming back to their pen at a specific time. If free ranging isn’t an option, I recommend feeding them twice with different snacks given.

Snacks for Raising Your Ducks

Snacks You Can Feed Your DucksDo Not Feed Your Ducks as Snacks
Meal WormsNightshade Family Plants
FruitCitrus Fruits
VegetablesDried Beans
Leafy GreensWilted or Yucky Greens

Do Ducks Need Grit?

Grit are small bits of crushed stone that are given to poultry to help add with their digestion. Crushed oyster shells are another additive that can be given for the same purpose.

Ducks should have grit or oyster shells mixed with their food if they are being kept in a coop with no access to dirt or crushed stones. You can find small bags of these at a feed store near you.

When Do Ducks Start Laying Eggs?

If egg production is part of the reason you decided on raising ducks, then you will be waiting impatiently for them to reach their egg producing maturity. You will want to start looking for your eggs when your duck is around 6 months of age.

6 months is an estimate, there are things that can interfere with the time they start laying. If you have winter months with shorter days this can delay your duck laying eggs. You may not see your eggs until the days start getting longer in the spring. Nutrition is another thing that can determine when your duck will start laying eggs. Your duck may need additional calcium if you are not seeing eggs by 7 months of age.

One myth about egg laying is that you need a male for your females to produce eggs. You do not need a drake on your homestead for you duck to lay eggs. You do need a drake if you want fertilized eggs for hatching, but you can eat both fertilized and unfertilized eggs.

Do Ducks Hatch Their Own Eggs?

You want ducklings, but wonder if they can be hatched naturally, you are in luck. Like Chickens, there are breeds of ducks that are more likely to go broody. Meaning there are ducks that will hatch their own eggs.

When a duck is going broody, she will lay eggs and bury them in a nest until she is ready to sit. Once she has her specific number of eggs, she will sit for 28 days or more. That is how long it takes for most ducklings to hatch out. We have had success with the Khaki Campbell and Rouen Duck breeds for sitting on their own eggs.

Raising Duck in the Winter

Raising Ducks in the Winter

Since domestic ducks do not fly to warmer climates for the winter, that care is left up to you.

Your winter shelter should keep your ducks out of the elements and be insulated with extra straw. Your ducks will not need swimming water, but they will need a good amount of drinking water. During the winter months it is important to keep your ducks water thawed and accessible.

Ducks have more fat on them, and their waterproof feathers will keep them warm. An increase of protein in their feed can help keep them fat and their internal temperature up during cold days. The part of their body that you should worry about is their feet.  If your ducks wander in the snow or play in water, be sure to check that their feet are drying and free of snow.

The days get shorter in the winter months so you may see a decrease in egg production. You can provide them with an artificial light to help make their days longer. You can purchase lights that are set up on timers or ones that you manually turn on and off.

Adults will not need a lifeguard or a babysitter, but they will still require your care. Provide them with food, water, a dry shelter and you will have a flock of healthy, happy ducks!

Raising Ducks

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