Raising Ducks – 101 Duckling Care

Raising Ducks

        Basic Duckling Care


Raising Ducklings 101 - This is a basic guide about taking care of baby ducks. When we were given 8 ducklings, we had to learn quickly what all was involved in duckling care.

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Ducklings are so cute. But it is kind of like bringing home your first baby. Now what do I do? That’s where I was a couple of years ago. A friend of my daughters called her up one Saturday morning frantic. A mother duck had been hit by a car in front of her house, and huddled in front of her garage were 8 brand new ducklings. So my daughter brought them home to raise. When you bring home a baby like that, you have to learn a lot really fast. And so the adventure began. So, in case this happens to you, (or you do it on purpose) you will know what to do…..


Raising Ducklings 101 - This is a basic guide about taking care of baby ducks. When we were given 8 ducklings, we had to learn quick. Raising Ducks 101. Basic duckling care.

Duckling Care

Water – Food – Temperature

Water is a must for ducks.

The most important factor in ducking care is water. They have to keep their nasal cavities moist. It also needs to be near their food, as they can choke on the food and need to have water to wash it down.  Ducks also need a lot to drink each day. Quite a bit more than chickens. And that is before they play in it. Ducks love to play in their water. They make messes with water. They bathe in their drinking water. Yes, it should come as no surprise that ducks like water. The water for ducklings should be deep enough that they can submerge their whole bill in it. If you give ducklings water to swim in, make sure they can get back out. When my momma duck had a batch of young ones I had their own dish for baths but I made sure the large duck water trough had bricks in it, so if a duckling got in, it could get back out. Please be aware. For the first few weeks, ducklings have not yet begun to produce the oil that makes them “waterproof” and helps them float. So even though they love the water, when they are very young they can still drown. Drowning is a major cause of duckling deaths.


Raising Ducklings 101 - This is a basic guide about taking care of baby ducks. When we were given 8 ducklings, we had to learn quick.

What to Feed Ducklings

Food is pretty easy. They can eat when first hatched. They should be provided starter waterfowl feed or, if your feed store doesn’t carry it, (and most of them don’t) you can feed them starter chick feed,* with a couple of caveats.

FirstMake sure it is NOT MEDICATED. Chickens get a respiratory disease that ducks do not get. So ducks don’t need the medication they put in chick feed. Ducklings also eat more than chicks do so they can get too much medicine and overdose.

Second – Ducklings need more niacine than chickens. So you will need to supplement the chick feed with it, so they grow strong bones. You can buy Brewer’s Yeast* to add to their food and that will do the trick. It’s also good to introduce them to vegetables right away. Small amounts of chopped up greens and herbs floating in a saucer of water is both nutritious and fun for the ducklings. They are more likely to eat a varied diet later in life if introduced to it when they are younger.

|What To Feed Ducklings

Temperature is also very important.

You can put a heat lamp* over the brooder at one end. That way if they are cold they can get under the light, and if they get too warm they can move to the other end and get away from it. Ducklings need to be started at 90° for the first week and the temperature should be decreased by about 1 degree a day after that, until they are acclimated to the outside night time air temperature. Now, if you have a momma duck, you don’t have to worry about this. She will take care of their temperature. (Like this family I saw down at the lake)

Raising Ducklings 101 - This is a basic guide about taking care of baby ducks. When we were given 8 ducklings, we had to learn quick.

Three other considerations are:

1) Make sure what they are standing on is not slippery. If it is it will hurt their delicate growing bodies. They can get a condition called splay leg and will need to be treated for this. Just avoid that all together by making sure they have a non skid surface.

2) Ducks, like all fowl, are messy and dirty (hence the name fowl/foul). Their bedding will need at least daily cleaning. They poop every where. (even in their water dish) and they spread the water, from any source, all over! Don’t expect a nice neat duckling. They may be clean birds (bathe themselves) but they are messy!

3) If you don’t have a momma duck, put a washable stuffed animal in with the ducklings so they have something to cuddle up with. They will be so much more secure.

Raising Ducklings 101 - This is a basic guide about taking care of baby ducks. When we were given 8 ducklings, we had to learn quick.

One last note.

Ducks are social creatures. They don’t like to be alone. If you buy ducks, make sure you get at least 3. They will be so much happier.


Raising Ducklings 101 - This is a basic guide about taking care of baby ducks. When we were given 8 ducklings, we had to learn quick.

| Deep Litter Duck And Chicken Run

If you have anymore questions about raising ducks or duckling care, please don’t hesitate to ask. You also might want to read a little more about your new ducklings. So here are some tried and true books on the subject. I’ve learned a lot from some of them. I also included links to some of the products I mentioned. (*affiliates – thank you for your support) Another source on raising both chickens and ducks is  Lisa at fresh eggs daily she is a wealth of knowledge, check out her blog. Leave her a note and tell her I sent you. 🙂

Now go and have a ducky day!

I’d love to hear you thoughts. Leave me a message. If you enjoyed this Please Share.





  1. Perry Thompson | 20th Nov 17

    We feed ducks around our neighborhood ! So they lay eggs at our front door , many generation succeeded , but a great mindful mother duck or 9 was killed in front of our home and the little guys where 3 days old so I took them in raised them in big box e s for 5 days till I got the secure pin built ,I feed them green peas cut up millworms chick starter and a little bird seed , but their favorite is mill worms ,dried , and they eat a plate full every day and I change there water 4 times a day ! Oh and by the way scratch the ground and teach them about worms and bugs there and a small pond put minnows to teach them to fish ! It is hilarious!

    • Mary | 21st Nov 17

      What a wonderful story! That is how I started too. Orphaned day old ducklings. Make sure you get some non-medicated chick feed to give them a more balanced diet. Mealworms are a great supplement, but you wouldn’t feed your kids donuts all day every day. Check out https://www.lifeisjustducky.com/what-to-feed-ducklings/. Happy duck raising!

  2. Michilar | 15th Sep 17

    Thanks for all the great infornation!

    I just got 3 runner ducklings and I am in love with them, even if they are messy and tons of work. I have a question about their water receptacle. How often should I wash it with soap and water. I’ve been doing so every night before I got to bed and then once the next morning, but I’m wondering if a hose down is enough. It doesn’t seem to smell and looks clean, but I know that mold and germs are invisible. What do you recommend?

    I’m also wondering what I should do as the ducklings get much bigger. I currently have them in a rubbermaid storage tub inside the house, but they are growing fast, and I know that, even with only 3 of them, they’ll outgrow it soon. What’s a good option for when they start growing?

    Thanks so much!

    • Mary | 19th Sep 17

      Sorry, this took so long. I just got electricity back. (hurricane) I love runner ducks. I had one. What a personality! They are always so scared of their own shadows though. They are not ones to pick up and walk around the yard. As far as their waterers go, there is no way to keep their waterer clean. Just NOT possible. A rinse out is sufficient. If it gets skuzzy, a scrubby works fine. A little apple cider vinegar is not only good for them but helps keep the dishes cleaner. You will find that ducks are VERY healthy and resilient. They will live thru things that will kill a chicken.
      When they got big enough to jump out of their tub, we put them in their outside run and they did very well. Just make sure it is warm enough for them at night. Let me know if you need to know anything else.

  3. Teresa | 13th Jul 15

    I have been adopted by a female “Daisy” for about a year. She has 17 babies that are two weeks old and she roams free with them. My Nieghbora and I try to keep watch for her safety. But we are all enjoying her and the babies. I love watching them interact.

    • Mary | 13th Jul 15

      Thanks for sharing! That is awesome. They are so much fun to watch. And what personalities!

  4. Misty Bethel | 7th Jul 15

    My husband and I have just been given 10 baby ducks two days ago! We had no warning, so we are a bit overwhelmed as you can imagine. We think they are around 5-7 week old Peking (sp?) ducks. We are used to chickens so any help in the duck department will be greatly appreciated!!!!! The duck house is very spacious but they get it so wet playing in their water. Yesterday due heavy downpours of rain we were unable to clean it so it was very wet inside not from rain but their playing. We cleaned it today and let them out for a swim/bath and some time in the sun. Sadly they all had trouble walking, 2 were worse than the rest. I treated their feet. Seems they are a bit better this evening, up moving around.Can we take the water and food out at night???

    • Mary | 8th Jul 15

      One thing to understand. Ducks are wet and messy. But this can be a good thing, as they drown the mites and such and are much cleaner birds. I use a deep litter method which I find works wonders. I place a layer of hay on the ground and any surface (coop). My ducks have enough room that I usually only need to do this once a week. When I was raising babies, my number had doubled and I had to spread fresh 2 or 3 times a week. I just put the new layer right on top of the old. Some areas will need more than others. I only remove it 2 or 3 times a year. The earth worms love it and the ducks love the earth worms. Win Win. I have a secure run so I just leave all the water and food in all the time. I’m not sure taking the water out completely is a good idea, unless you do it late at night and return it early. Ducks will dig and need to clean there nostrils so they can breathe and not choke. My advice is just get use to the mess. These are ducks, not chickens. A little mess is OK. Oh, one more thing. I had a fly problem, until I started the deep litter method. Now almost no flies! What was the reason that they couldn’t walk? Poor health or slippery floor? How old are they? Let me know how I can help you further.

      • Misty Bethel | 9th Jul 15

        I thought the trouble with them walking was due to the pen being wet that 1 day, but as I was watching them walk and play yesterday I think some may have a deformity. Their feet seem to point inward and their knees seem to point WAY outward. Not all are like this, the others seem fine and normal. When you see them all together you can REALLY see the difference in their legs!!! The floor was a bit slippery that 1 day but only that day, we’ve been changing the bedding everyday. We think they are 5-7 weeks but not real sure. An elderly lady our friend knows thought it would be “neat” to put 22 duck eggs in an incubator and see what happens…….21 hatched and the lady was overwhelmed! So, our friend thought since we have chickens and have had adult ducks in the past we’d be great duck parents! We are trying!!!!! 😉 They still have all their yellow fluff but on daily inspection I’ve noticed little pin feathers on their tail end. They’re really cute and my hubby and I are working on training them to follow us. We are trying to handle them a bit so they get used to being picked up, figured that would help if they need medical attention and such. I have them on non-medicated chick starter feed plenty of water…. a lot of water…. geez so much water!!!! I also read it was a good idea to add brewers yeast to their food so I bought some yesterday. Not sure what else to do. I am building a catch tray to set the water station on, hoping that will help keep the water from spreading all over their “duck hut”! We put up a covered enclosure (during a huge rain storm lol) and I’ll be letting them play in that starting today. Am I missing anything? Should we do more?

        • Mary | 9th Jul 15

          I’ll respond to you directly so you get the info sooner. For anyone else, I’ll be sending her links on “spraddle (or splay) leg”http://www.metzerfarms.com/Spraddleleg.cfm and a link to http://fresheggsdaily.com/2012/02/deep-litter-methodcoop-cleaning.html Lisa is very knowledgable about poultry. Hope this helps anyone else with this problem.

  5. Anna Torres | 14th Jun 15

    Hi Mary, my husband and I are interested in moving to Florida, and have had Muscovy ducks given to us because of city restrictions (not where we lived) and because we had acreage and ponds…we would love to have them again and was wondering if there are any Florida restrictions from either the city or county that you are aware of. Thanks and have sure enjoyed your website.

    • Mary | 15th Jun 15

      Every Municipality has it’s own set of rules as far as keeping fowl. You would have to check the city or county where you are moving. And don’t think there is a rhyme or reason to it. In our county, you can keep them in one posh neighborhood, but not out in a rural neighborhood with only one house on a block. Go figure! What area are you moving to? Do you garden? If so our gardening season is VERY different than up north. Check out “Guide to Florida Fruit and Vegetable Gardening” I have it listed in the menu under “a few of my favorite things”. I truly is invaluable for gardening in Florida.

  6. Donna Harvey | 8th Jun 15

    Thank you so much for Ducky 101. My husband brought home three baby ducks he was going to get two but could not stand to leave the other one by its self. I guess he did good. Thank you for the tip about yeast we did not know that. The pictures are great too! I do really enjoy your blog.
    Donna Harvey

    • Mary | 8th Jun 15

      I’m so glad it was helpful. Let me know how it goes or if you have any other questions. Enjoy them. I know I do mine.:)

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