Wondering how to raise ducks? We've got you covered. Skip the chicks this year and go straight for ducklings. Though baby chicks are a popular favorite come spring, baby ducklings are a great alternative and are just as fun to raise.
Before you buy your ducklings, make sure it's legal to own ducklings in your area. Some towns and cities have ordinances prohibiting families from owning and raising ducks. Ducks are social creatures and thrive in groups of at least three. So if you're looking into your local duck laws, make sure to check and see if you are allowed to have more than one.
Catch and Keep or Catch and Release
Before you buy your ducklings, decide if you want to buy ducks to have around your home as pets or farm animals, or if you only want to raise the ducks until they are old enough to be released into the wild. If you want to release your ducklings at some point, you'll need to make sure that you have a safe, legal place to do so.
If you're interested in ducks as pets, know that they can live upwards of fifteen years, so you're in it for the long haul. Baby ducklings require a lot of work and attention, and even as your ducklings turn to ducks, you'll need someone to check in on them if you head out of town.
Your ducks will need a coop, food and water, attention, and a heat lamp.
If you buy your ducks, as opposed to finding abandoned ducklings, the pet store owner or farmer will likely have some good instructions for you. Listen carefully. If you don't get any information though, or you need a little reminder—we've got you covered.
Just Add Water
You've heard the expression 'water off a duck's back', but now you're about to live that reality. Ducks love water in a big way. They need it to keep their nasal cavity damp and infection-free, they also need it with all of their meals. Your little ducklings may have a tendency to choke,, so having water handy is a must.
But ducklings don't just love to drink lots and lots of water. They really love to play in it. If your duck takes a dip in their water bowl, don't be surprised. If your ducklings are in the house, put a mat down under the water bowl to protect your floors from molding or warping with the bath it's about to get.
Duckling water gets a little dirty so you need to clean it regularly. Ducks stick their entire food-filled beaks in the water when they eat, and some of that food gets mixed in with the water. Keeping the water clean is a must for a healthy duck.
And just as a warning, baby ducklings aren't the seasoned swimmers their parents are yet and can easily drown in their water bowls if there is too much water and they can't get out. Keep an eye on your ducklings until they are a few weeks old and good swimmers.
A Bite to Eat
Raising baby ducks means feeding little ducklings. Ducklings eat unmedicated chicken feed. Be ready to feed baby (and adult) ducklings more than chickens. These little guys can work up quite the appetite.
As the ducks grow, so will their appetite. If you head to a local feed and seed store, you'll probably have the best luck finding a good deal on food in bulk. It may not feel like it when you're looking at fifty-pound bags of food, but your ducklings will be able to polish off a bag faster than you might think.
As your ducks grow, make sure to add niacin to their diet. Niacin keeps your ducks healthy and strong.
Bring the Heat
Baby ducklings especially need a warm place to live and sleep. The best way to keep ducklings warm is to place a heat lamp at one end of their pen. This will allow the baby ducks to stand under the heat when they get cold and waddle toward cooler weather when they get too warm.
Start the baby ducklings at ninety degrees Fahrenheit for the first few days and slowly lower the temperature of the lamp by one degree every day after. Lower it until your ducklings are acclimated to the temperature outside. If you live in an area where the weather changes quite frequently, lower the temperature a little bit lower than the current climate highs.
Make sure the coop is safe before you add the heat lamp in. You don't want the ducks to have access to be able to touch the lamp.
Remember to be patient with yourself as you raise your ducklings. It's hard work, but it's definitely all that it's quacked up to be.