Raising Ducks 101 – How To Take Care Of Baby Ducklings

Raising ducks can be a joy and a challenge. It can also be very rewarding as ducks can be one of the most versatile and useful animals on a homestead, however large your homestead happens to be.

Besides providing eggs, there are so many other ways ducks help on your homestead. From the bug patrol to the cuteness factor of ducklings. But there are a few things you need to know before you bring home those bundles of fluff.

Duckling Care.

How do you take care of baby ducklings? What do they need? What do they eat, Can you keep just one? How do you keep them warm? How warm do they need to be?

There is a lot to learn about what ducklings need.

These are just a few of the questions you will be asking when you first bring home those adorable little quackers.

baby duckling. yellow duckling on grass. Raising Ducks

First written May 5, 2015 – Updated March 3, 2022

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If you have found a baby duck abandoned, Read this first.

Check Town Ordinances Before Raising Ducks.

Can you keep ducks in your backyard?

Before you bring that bundle of fluff home and get attached and before you start buying the stuff you need to keep your ducklings safe and happy, check the law. There are unfortunately a lot of towns, counties, and cities that do not allow keeping chickens and ducks.

It is just terrible to fall in love with your new flock, just to find out you will have to find them a new home.

Related>> How Long Do Ducks Live? How To Extend Their Life.

Why Do You Want To Raise Ducks?

Do you want ducks for the long hall? Please think about this before you get them.

The worst reason in the world to get ducks is because you see how cute they are in the store at Easter time. (trust me, that stage passes very quickly)

Getting any animal should not be an impulse buy. Think it through and make sure it is a commitment you want to make. Here are a couple of articles to help you make that decision. Then read on. We will get you ready for your new friends.

Related: 10 Reasons NOT To Raise Ducks.

Related: 10 Reasons TO Raise Ducks.

Do You Have The Time?

Keeping any animal takes time. Time to feed and water it, time to clean up after them. Make sure before you bring them home you will have that time to take care of them. Remember also, it’s not as easy to find a duck sitter so you can go on vacation as it is to find one for your dog or cat. And this is not a short time commitment. Ducks generally live 7 – 15 years or more.

Related: How Long Do Ducks Live? How To Extend Their Life.

Duck and Ducklings on a dock.

Related: How And Where To Buy Baby Ducks.

Basic Duckling Care

But then again, when you have ducks dropped in your lap you are in for a crash course about how to take care of your little bundles of fluff. It’s been several years since that happened to me, but that experience and all the years since allows me to help you get started with your ducklings.

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 several 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.

They tried to find a refuge that would take them, to no avail. So the next thing I knew my daughter was calling me to ask “Mom, can I keep them?” (Yes she actually said that)

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) I’ve written this so you will know what to do.

Duckling Care – What Do Ducklings Need?

 One of the biggest mistakes people make when getting ducks is not having their “ducks in a row” before they bring their ducklings home.

You want to have their housing, feeders, waterers, food, and everything else you need BEFORE you bring home your ducks.

Related:  A Well Designed Duck Coop To Make Your Life Easier.

Duckling Care – Ducklings Need Water.

The most important factor in raising ducks is water. Water is a must for ducks.

They have to keep their nasal cavities moist. Water also needs to be near their food, as they can choke on the food so they need to have water to wash it down.

Related:  How To Get Clean Water For My Ducks.

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. Just make sure if you give ducklings water to swim in, they can get back out.

Adult ducks also need to submerge their bills when they eat, and they get the water really dirty. That’s why we put in a special, easy to clean waterer. It cut my water cleaning time way down.

Way in the future, when my momma duck had a batch of young ones I had a small dish for the ducklings to bathe in, but I made sure the large duck water trough had bricks in it, so if a duckling got in, it could get back out. (and don’t underestimate how high a duckling can jump!)

Please be aware. For the first few weeks, ducklings have not yet begun to produce the oil that makes them “waterproof” that 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.

Related: Do Ducks Need A Pond?

Day Old Ducks!

What Should You Feed Ducklings?

Getting food for your ducklings is pretty easy. They can eat when first hatched. They should be provided starter waterfowl feed or, if you need it fast and 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, so they can get too much medicine and overdose.

Second – Ducklings need more niacin than chickens so they can grow strong bones, So you will need to supplement the chick feed. 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.

Related:  What To Feed Ducklings.

Related:  What To Feed Ducks In Your Backyard.

Temperature is also very important.

Mother ducks will naturally keep their ducklings warm, but if you don’t have a mother duck then you need to make sure your ducks are warm enough.

How do you do that? You can put a heat lamp or a heat plate at one end of the brooder. That way if they are cold they can get under the heat, and if they get too warm they can move to the other end and get away from it.

A heat plate may be more expensive and not as readily available (you might have to order it online), but it is much safer. Heat lamps have been known to catch things on fire.

Ducklings need to be started from the first day at 90°F 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 nighttime air temperature and are fully feathered out.

When I got those first ducklings, I was told I needed a heat lamp. When I saw them huddled at the far end of the brooder I took a thermometer and measured the temperature under the lamp and it was 120°F (48.8° C)!!

I wasn’t told to check the temperature. So don’t take the instruction that you “need a heat lamp” at face value. If the ducklings are huddled under the warmer it might not be warm enough and if they can’t get far enough away from it. It may be too warm. Use a thermometer and check to be sure.

Related: 30 Gift Ideas For Duck Lovers

Ducks In A Row - Raising Ducks

Related:  Setting Up A Brooder Box For Baby Ducks.

Raising Baby Ducklings – More Needs

Make sure what they are standing on is not slippery. A slick surface is much easier to clean but it can be very detrimental to your ducklings. If their floor is slippery 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 altogether by making sure they have a non-skid surface to stand on.

Towels that can be washed or pine shavings work fine. (don’t use cedar shavings) Paper towels would probably work well too, but you will need to use a lot of them.

Ducks, like all fowl, are messy and dirty. Their bedding will need at least daily cleaning. They poop everywhere. (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! In fact, this is the number 1 complaint most people have about raising ducks.

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

Ducks Need Company

Ducks are social creatures. In the wild there is safety in numbers, they don’t like to be alone.  If you buy ducks, make sure you get at least 3. They will be so much happier.

I got to be known as the ‘duck rescuer’. When someone found an abandoned ducking, they brought it to me.

Once a single duckling was found in a parking lot. They searched around for the mother or any sibling and none were found. So here I was with one lone duckling. The little guy cried non-stop. When my daughter said he was singing a solo, the name stuck and he became “Solo”. which evolved into “Han Solo”. (yeah, we’re that family).

I knew my little singer needed a buddy so the next day we went down to the feed store and amongst the chicks was the last duckling they had. When we put her in with Solo, he calmed right down. All was right with the world because he had a buddy.

She became “Chewbacca” or “Chewy” for short. It’s many years later and Chewy is still laying eggs for us today.

How To Handle Ducks.

When approaching a duck, try not to chase them. Chasing is going to stress them out and will likely make them skittish around you. Lowering yourself down to their level and offering a little bit of food will encourage your duck to want to come up to you.

If you can’t get them to come up to you, gently corral the duck into a corner before you attempt to pick them up. When you are near enough, you can place one hand on each side of their body, keeping their wings against them. You can then lift them towards you so that one side is held firmly against your body.

Never grab them by the foot or leg. This is a duck’s weak spot, and a leg can easily be broken.


baby duckling. yellow duckling on grass. Raising Ducks

Related:  Deep Litter Duck And Chicken Run.

Ducks Need Shelter

The Coop – When It’s time to take them out of the brooder you will have to provide your ducks with shelter. Even though ducks like water, they do need shelter from the rain and wind. They need a clean and dry place to bed down. No one, not even a duck, wants to be wet and cold all the time.

Related: 10 Necessities To A Perfect Duck House.

Plan on, at the very minimum, 3 sq ft per bird in the coop. PLUS they need a spacious run if they are not free-ranged. It needs to be secure and clean. Consider a deep litter for the floor of the coop. That is the best option I have found.

Your coop needs to be well ventilated, as moisture build-up, ammonia from their waste, and dust, all can cause problems for your birds. Even when it is cold they need fresh air.

Where there are ducks (or chickens for that matter) there will be flies. The deep litter method helps a lot. But if that is not enough, consider using fly predators. They are tiny, non-stinging wasps that kill fly larva. They are the best thing I have found for controlling flies in my coops and yards.

Related:  How To Get Rid Of Flies In Your Chicken Coop, Naturally!

There are a few things about a duck coop that needs to be different from a chicken coop. A duck doesn’t roost. They will bed down on the floor. Ducks also nest (lay eggs) on the floor so the fancy nesting boxes are not necessary and probably too small anyway. Here is an option I found that my ducks liked and helped keep the duck eggs a little cleaner.

The ramp to most chicken coops is often too steep for those big feet. If you already have an elevated coop, do your ducks a favor and extend the ramp so the ducks don’t struggle to get in at night. Better yet, build a coop at ground level.

Related>> Caring For Ducks In Winter, What You Need To Know.

Duckling Care – Are your Ducks Safe?

Security – This is something that is often overlooked. But think about this for a minute. EVERYTHING loves to eat ducks and chickens. So you have to do your due diligence to make sure your babies are secure.

I thought my first ducks were secure but I really underestimated a hungry predator. It taught me a valuable lesson that I hope you don’t have to go through.

An automatic coop door is not essential, but it will let you sleep in on Saturday morning and still keep your ducks safe at night. That’s really something to consider. My daughter got one for Christmas this last year. She was SO excited for that very reason.

Related:  Preparing For Predators On The Homestead.

Raising Ducks – What Is Molting?

If you come out one morning and there are feathers all over, but you do a headcount and all your precious flock is still there, then the culprit is molting.

What is molting? After a whole year, a duck’s feathers will have taken a real beating. In order for them to keep them warm through the winter, they need to get new ones. So in the fall, a duck will lose their feathers and grow new ones. This process is called molting. It helps to feed them a higher protein diet during this time because it takes a lot out of a duck to make all those new feathers.

Related:  What Is Molting And What Can You Do To Help Your Birds?

Duck - Raising Ducks.

What To Feed Your Adult Birds?

Ducks are a hardy bird and generally stay very healthy, but good nutrition helps them stay that way.

If you want healthy birds and healthy eggs, then you want to feed them right. But what can they eat? With the exception of needing extra niacin (brewers yeast) and not giving them medicated feed, they can eat the same as you would feed chickens.

Related:  What To Feed Ducks In Your Backyard

Raising Ducks For Eggs.

One of the best reasons to raise ducks is for those yummy, good for you eggs. Ducks lay a lot of them every year. Some breeds will even surpass chickens in the number of eggs they lay. Choosing the right breed will ensure you get the most production. Good care and nutrition will increase the number too.

You can also let your ducks hatch new ducklings, to increase your flock, sell for profit, or for meat. Having ducklings running around your pen is such a fun thing to do.

Related:  Duck Eggs Vs Chicken Eggs. Why Duck Eggs Are Better.

Why Raise Ducks?

So why would you choose to raise ducks?

  • These amazing creatures don’t need acres of land. They can be raised in your own backyard.
  • Many are not as loud as chickens and can produce as many if not more eggs.
  • If you already have chickens, ducks (especially the females) can coexist quite well with them.
  • They can also be a good source of meat.
  • Ducks are hardier than chickens and can take less than ideal weather much better than chickens.
  • You are very unlikely to lose a duck to disease and they have very little problem with mites and parasites.
  • Ducks are much less likely to get frostbite in the winter and can cool themselves off in a pond in the summer. In fact, my sister-in-law used to break the ice on their pond during the winter so her ducks could take a swim. (burr) But they loved it.
  • But where ducks really shine is in bug patrol. It has been said that if you have a snail or slug problem in your garden, what you really have is a lack of ducks.

They are also great at ridding a yard or garden of Japanese beetles and grubs of all kinds. At the end of the gardening season, let your ducks wander through your garden and clean up all the spent plants and bugs and you will have a head start on your pest control for the next growing season.

Related:  Control Bugs In Your Garden. Naturally!

Final Thoughts On Raising Ducklings.

Raising ducks is an experience I wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world. I’ve had joys and sorrows and lots of delicious eggs. I hope your experience is as wonderful as mine has been.

Want to learn more about raising ducks? Here are my favorites.

Duck Eggs Daily

Storey’s Guide To Raising Ducks

And The Essentials.

Waterproof Boots

Don’t forget the Brewers Yeast    

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Happy Backyard Homesteading!

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89 thoughts on “Raising Ducks 101 – How To Take Care Of Baby Ducklings”

  1. Hello Mary

    Please give me your advise !
    I rescued this baby duck from the street she was not able to walk toke it away from the mother so she can heal she had other six with her at the time .

    Now the rescued ducky recovered she is fine after a day she is back to normal .

    I was planing to bring back the ducky to her mom but she is gone something happened to her only 4 duckies hanging around with an other mama duck following her who had 10 now she has 1 only they are like 2.5 weeks old .

    Maybe she would become a forest mother for them??

    What should i do ?
    I live in a condo in florida

    If I bring her back to the siblings do you think they will recognize her?? ??

    I have a pond in the back yard with other ducks.
    it is a condominium not my own backyard .

    How long should I have to keep her to grow until she can be released to the wiled and survive on her own ?

    2 weeeks or more?

    I don’t want her to die!!

    I know this is not ideal for a duck to grow , live inside an apartment but maybe until she gets bigger it would be ok ???

    Please give me your advice

    Thank you soo much


    • You can try putting her back with the others, but who knows. The truth is most ducklings don’t make it in the wild. If one or two in a clutch makes it to adulthood, that is a lot. You can raise it to adulthood if you would like or try putting her back. As you noticed, even the mom didn’t make it. I’m sorry I can’t be more encouraging, but that’s nature I’m afraid.

  2. yeah, I know but they are just babies and their chicken mom abounded the eggs in my barn so we got an incubator and incubated them, and they hachted. there were three but one died in the incubator.so I take care of them now and they are so freaking cute, one is a boy and the other one is a girl.

    • Taking care of them while they are young is called brooding, and yes, sometimes it is necessary to brood your ducklings and chickens inside. (though they do make a mess). My daughter use to brood her duckling and chicks in her spare bathtub. They are cute, aren’t they? Happy duck keeping.

    • Mandy, Unfortunately, when a duckling is sick from the start it doesn’t stand much of a chance. There are so many things that can be wrong. Deficiency, disease, or deformity. I once watched a video where someone wrapped up their duckling so It couldn’t stand or tip over for about 48 hours. (of course, changing it often) and it fixed the problem in his. That could have been an inner ear issue. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

  3. Hello,

    Just left for Home Depot around 8pm and while backing out of the driveway I saw a female duck sitting in our front yard out in the open. Came back around 10pm and she was still sitting there. I love animals so I went closer to her just to see if anything was wrong or if she was simply sleeping. There ended up being 5 baby ducklings underneath her! I went back inside and got her some rice and a bowl of water. I ended up convincing my husband to bring out an old extra large dog crate so the mama duck and ducklings could use it as shelter. I just didn’t want them to get eaten in the middle of the night, because we have so many cats roaming around in our neighborhood… both my dog and cat stare at outdoor cats from the front window all the time. We put them in the garage and they’re pecking away at all the grains of rice. Would bringing them to a nearby park and releasing them at the lake be good? I wasn’t sure if male ducks were supposed to be around too… or do they leave after mating season is done?

  4. I have my Ducks outside in a big pen but I need to know when I can turn them loose and let them roam.

    They are 6 weeks old! I have 2 of them.

    • That doesn’t give me enough information to answer. I’m not a big fan of free-ranging, without a perimeter fence. They are at a big risk of preditors. If you are asking if they will come back, that all depends. If you have that fence, that would help. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

  5. This information was very helpful and I’m definitely thinking to get a duck 100% more now, I absolutely enjoyed and absorbed this info to the point where I am positive of getting a duck 🦆

    • Remember! They get lonely so get 2 or more🐣🐤🐥personally I learned from experience unfortunately I lost one .I believe he drowned:( wasn’t aware that was a danger however I found its best to get at least 3 just in case one doesn’t make it for some reason so you don’t end up with one lonely duckling.

        • My ducks were in the water at one day old. That being said, before they are fully feathered, they can get chilled very easily. You need to make sure they are dried off right away and put under a heat lamp/plate to warm back up after a short swim. Also, make sure they can get out easily as young ducklings can drown easily. Enjoy your ducks.

  6. Okay, recently I have purchased three ducks. They are two weeks old and they stay together constantly. Today one started almost panting like movements with its mouth but there was no sound or heavy breathing. All three of them were shaky like they were cold but they were sitting underneath the heat lamp so I don’t know why they would be shaky. They’re acting fine now but if you could explain to me what that is because I’m concerned that would be fantastic.

    • Satarah, I wish I could help. Since I didn’t see your ducklings do that and I’m not a veterinarian, I really would have no way of knowing. I’ve never experienced that myself. I hope they are doing well now.

  7. i really want pet ducklings and am trying to do research before doing so, and just reading everyone elses comments and answers have helped me learn a lot!

    also, how often should you clean out a ducklings box?

    • How often depends on your duckling’s box. If you are referring to a brooder box, once a day is a good rule of thumb. If you mean a coop and run, it depends on how much space you have and how many ducks. Also, if you are adding litter on top you can go longer. If it is messy, wet or smelly, change it.

  8. I have two Rouen ducks that are 7 months old. They run free during the day because we have a pond and then go in their secured cage at night. Our ducks just hatched 8 eggs and its mid October. They all seem very healthy but I fear that they will get too cold. I have read that the Mother will always keep them warm. Today we put a heat lamp in the cage to help keep them warm. At night they go into a small dog house with bedding. Is all of this enough for the ducklings to survive? Or do we need to bring in the ducklings to keep warm? Thank you?

    • I think you are doing fantastic. Make sure they have plenty of food, especially in the evening as that helps them create warmth. Also, a thick layer of dry deep litter will help. They should be fully feathered in 6-8 weeks and then will be fine on their own. Please be careful of the heat lamp. Many have started fires. I’m so excited for you!

  9. I also found 8 ducklings that have been abandoned by their mother (we don’t know what happened). They are Rouen ducks, the males have green heads. I tried to do as much research as I can. They are a few days old, I think, and live in an empty kitty pool during the day, and a large cardboard box in my room at night. I ordered a heat lamp, (only thing I could find) and while it’s arriving in a few days, I keep them warm at night with a rice sock. They adore the rice sock. When we found them, one looked beaten up and smaller. A few days ago he was trampled and passed away at night. We buried him. I ordered some non-medicated chick feed (it says for ducks and goslings too) and I just need to know. Am I doing anything wrong???

      • Hello I’m not sure how to ask a question without hitting reply
        I have a lone Indian runner duckling I hatched (1 out if 4 hatched)I was told it couldn’t be alone so I got 2 ducklings from a farm as company only they died after 6 days so I’m back to my lone duckling of now 9 days old I don’t think I can put my children through losing again after the 2 dying together we are praying for our lone seemingly very healthy happy albeit needy duckling, but obviously if this is not ok to keep alone I’m not sure what to do to re home him if I really have to 😓and if it is ok to keep alone some advice of how many hours a day we need to spend keeping him company

        • I have seen people keep a single duck as a pet, in the house, with a diaper. (yes it is a thing) https://amzn.to/32Cs0lt I wouldn’t put it out in a coop by itself. All ducks are “herd” animals and find security in numbers. Runner ducks seem to be the most sensitive to that. (they can be a little spastic. I have one and love her) It can be done, but it will take a lot of time from you. Good luck.

          • hi, if you could help out with some advice that would be much appreciated. we have ducks and one of them laid eggs. we think they’re about 14 days in, but the mother duck was killed this morning. we have them in a box with things to keep them warm, including a heat lamp. so i was wondering what else could we do to help them live and hatch eventually?

          • Charlie, Without an incubator it will be very difficult, but it never hurts to try. They need to be turned about 4 times a day and sprinkled with water. The humidity needs to be kept at 55%. The reason for this is, the mother duck will get off the nest and swim/get wet and then go back to the nest. When she does she rotates the eggs. That way the yolk/baby stays in the center of the egg and doesn’t get stuck to the shell. But the temperature has to be kept very consistently at 99.5° F (37.5° C) for them to hatch. As you can see, it will be very difficult to achieve all this without an incubator or a surrogate duck or chicken. Duck eggs take 28 – to 35 days to hatch. Good luck.

      • hi i need some advice because i recently got a duckling with no supplies for it. so i used my own supplies at home. how do i keep my duckling warm? how do i feed it?

  10. Hi Mary.

    We have a duck and her eggs by our mailbox, and she’s been there for over three weeks. We first saw 9 eggs but we recently observed when she was out flying somewhere, that some eggs perhaps are missing but without any trace of egg shells. Anyway, we are concerned that the duck and her ducklings will get run over when they hatch and try to search for water. Everything we have read says that we should leave them be, and not interfere at all. We are concerned because there isn’t any pond or source of water near enough for them to walk. Our mailbox is located very close to the street and she’s sheltered somewhat by the mailbox and overgrown flowers, weeds, but things have been dying off and she’s becoming much more visible. We are Just hoping we are doing the right thing by doing nothing …as the time is probably very close to them hatching. We live in west Chester Ohio, FYI. There are raccoons, skunk, squirrels, deer, and of course many neighbors have dogs and cats nearby. Anyway any advice you have is appreciated! Thank you!

    • Julie,
      Nature is not pretty. If you try to move them the mother will likely abandon the nest so leave it be. Yes, all those preditors will take the eggs or kill the babies (and sometimes the mothers too) And cars are a real threat. That is how I acquired my flock, the mother was killed by a car. Don’t worry about the pond. The mother knows what she needs. The incubation period is between 27 and 31 days, depending on the breed. I hope they do well, but the fact is if one or two make it to adulthood that’s about average. Nature is brutal.

  11. I had some ducklings hatch today there were seven that hatch this morning and then later this afternoon one more hatch but it was having troubles getting out of the egg when it got out the head had a big red lump and the mother is really not paying much attention to it so I took it to get it warmed up but it keeps rolling to one side it seems to favor and on foot looks like it can’t stand or it balance if off it’s peeping and breathing but I don’t really know what to do

    • You can just keep it comfortable. It will likely die. Nature knows when there is something wrong. That is why the mother ignored it. She knew it wasn’t normal and would not make it. I’m very sorry. It’s hard to lose something so small and precious. But it is nature.

  12. Hello. I had got the last 3 ducks from tractors supply and had put them in with my other ducks and chicks I had gotten 2 weeks ago. One duck got bullied and I figured it was the chickens. So I moved the 3 new ducks to their own space. The one had all its fur removed around its wings. A few days later the neck on the one duck was now bald. I mo ed it to it’s own place and am caring for it separately. Now I am not sure if it was the ducks or chicks that is causing it. The poor little guy seems to be getting more bald. How do I help him?

    • First, he may be lonely. Ducks do not do well when they are alone. That being said, it could have been the ducks or chickens. Moving new animals into a pecking order is tricky, especially if they are younger. Two ways I’ve seen that has worked for some (and remember, nothing is perfect) is to move them in at night and give them plenty of room and hiding spots to get away from each other until they get used to each other. The second is to put the new arrivals into a cage inside the run or coop to let them get used to each other but still have them protected. After a week or 2 you can let them out when you are available to watch. When you put them together you do have to watch them for the first day or two as some animals can just be mean or territorial.
      As far as the one you have now, it probably needs a buddy. But it could have other, unseen injuries.

  13. Hi! We had 2 Cayuga hens that we raised from Ducklings. A few days ago a hawk killed one of them. I know they are social animals and should not live alone so we have ordered 3 ducklings to be her friends. The ducklings should arrive in a little over a week. Do you think our duck will be ok until then? Should we brood the ducklings or try to give them to her to raise? If we brood them ourselves what is the best way to introduce them? Thank you for any help you can give.

    • Most of the time an animal will not accept a baby that is not theirs unless they have just “given birth or hatch” themselves. There are exceptions to this of course. some animals are just better mothers than others. You can give it a try. Just make sure you have a backup.

      • I rescued all my ducks. They were all orphaned ducklings. But I have heard great things about Murray McMurray Hatchery. I’m sure there are many others that are good too. You might also look local so you don’t have to ship them. Ask the local feed stores or your local 4-H club. Good luck.

  14. Hi, we reseanlety got some ducks that came into my building inseted of takeing them out we took them in. Because around my building they are a
    lot if cats and raccoons that eat them. We are planning on realizing them when they get a little bigger, now we have them for a week. They are with their momma but I want to know if after they are realesed they will be able to survive. Since they have been here for a couple of days. By the time we get them out we dont know if we are doing any good for them or not?
    Please answer as soon as possible.
    Thank you,
    Email for any suggestions:

  15. Hello! Just found an abandoned baby duck at the side of the road this morning. No other ducks in sight. I went to the feed store and they said to use the chick starter and electrolytes/probiotic in the water as well. Not sure what else to be aware of…we have it in a large cardboard box with high walls, clean towels, red bulb heater lamp aimed at one corner away from the food and water. We have a bigger dish with just water and a smaller feeder bowl with the food and water combined (the feed store said to do this because of how their bill is shaped?). Anything else we can do? I have no idea how to tell how old it is or at what stage we can hope to get it back to the wild.

    • That same thing happened to us. The poor thing was so scared and cried all the time. Because they are flock animals they don’t like to be alone. So we went out and bought it a buddy and it calmed down a lot. However….after all the people interaction, I don’t know how well it will go back to the wild. You might find a farm that will take it as wild animals that are raised by people don’t learn the same skills as those raised in the wild. It sounds like you are doing all you can. Good luck.

  16. Hi there! We are getting 4 little Cayugas from Metzer farms.. super excited! But also concerned.. we have a concrete slab and we’re building a pergola with a brooding box and fencing the entire thing in with chicken wire… I’m sure we will line the bottom with straw, but will that be ok? I suppose I’m just nervous… should I keep them inside our home for the first couple weeks?

    • Oh yes! Temperature is the big thing. They should start at around 95°F and be decreased by about 5° each week. They shouldn’t be “out in the cold” until they are fully feathered. Hope that helps. Let me know if you need anything else.

  17. We found a duckling in our front yard, although there is no lake, pond, or man made pond near by. I read that sucks can sometimes carry salmonella in there feathers, feet, bills, or fecal matter. How can I get rid of it? I understand hygiene after handling bird but can it be removed? Will the mother take it back after we touched it? I appreciate your response

    • Any animal can have “germs” including your family cat and dog. Unless you are immune compromised, Just wash your hands. If the duckling is not with its mom, the mother is most likely dead. Momma ducks don’t leave their ducks like some other animals do. That’s how I acquired my first ducklings.

  18. Hi Mary my Husband and I bought 6 duckling today and we both think that one of them is very sick what should we do? We both think that they are really cool and very fun to watch play around. Please help us!

    • Debra,
      The most critical time for ducklings and chicks are the first two weeks. Any weak or unhealthy will usually succumb during this time. You can give all your babies a boost by mixing a probiotic into their water and make sure they are kept clean and warm, but I’m afraid that it is natures way to eliminate the weak to preserve the best genes. I’m so sorry. I hope the little one pulls through.

      • I work at a vet office (ironically for a poultry vet however she is out of the country at the moment) and our local wildlife shelter got in a baby duck that was having problems walking. Luckily I had a relief vet that also does poultry and he said that it was something that happened during incubation. His left eye is facing the wrong direction, left side of his head is shaped different, and left wing and leg are about half a cm shorter than the right. So he isn’t releasable and now he lives with me. I am trying to figure out the best way to care for him since he is eating and drinking well and seems to be happy. I don’t know if I should get him a duck friend and I’m really scared to let him try to swim. Any advice would be wonderful. Thank you

        • All prey animals do better with a friend. (safety in numbers). However, I have seen ducks do well if they have a person who pays a lot of attention to them. They can adopt them as a buddy. As far as swimming. Start them off in something like a paint rolling pan. It’s not very deep and they can get out easily and just see how he does. Good luck.

      • I have a question of my own , we recently got a baby duke due to my dad finding 2 eggs at his work that the mom left because she thought they were dead. It so happend that only one dies and the other one survived , we shave been googling information about baby ducks and what to feed then and all & I️ recently recived a call of my mom saying that the baby duck has stop quacking. And she thinks he might be dying but i think she’s exagerraging , could they be any other season?

        • I wish I could answer that. You are right that a healthy duckling is usually very noisy. Make sure it is warm and has plenty of water and food. The first week or two is the time a duckling is most vulnerable. Also, he may be very lonely. Ducks are prey animals and do not like to be alone. I wish you well.

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

    • 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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???

    • 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.

      • 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?

  23. 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.

    • 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.

  24. 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

    • 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.:)

      • Hello …i currently have a lonesome mallard duckling my husband and i named Duck Norris …my momma duck was attack and eggs were every where i have 3 more eggs that have nickel size hole in the top but membrane sack is intact ..i wrapped the eggs in cling wrap to keep them from drying out will they be able to continue to hatch and be fine or am i just being hopeful ….please any advice on what to do with the other ones would be greatly appreciated ….p.s the ducks in the eggs are moving i had 9 total all the other ones were rotten

        • If they were about to hatch, they probably will. If not they would have to be kept at the right temperature and humidity to continue to develop. It is a very tricky thing. I love the name you gave the one. is it one of the hatchlings or the father? If it is one of the hatchlings and is the only one who makes it, he will need a buddy. I hope they were ready to hatch.


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