If you have never raised ducklings before you may be wondering what to feed ducklings.
If there is a number one, most important thing to raising healthy ducklings, it is getting the food and water right. So, what do baby ducks eat?
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A duck that is started with a healthy diet early in life will be a healthier adult duck later on. She will provide more and better quality eggs and will have a longer more productive life.
Related>>How and Where To Buy Baby Ducks.
Table of Contents
What Do Ducklings Eat?
Ducklings are omnivores. They can eat all kinds of plants as well as bugs and worms. But you will want to start them off on a balanced diet of waterfowl crumble.
Water Is An Important Part Of Feeding Ducklings.
The most important thing is not what to feed ducks, it’s ALWAYS providing clean water with a duckling’s food. Ducks of all ages have trouble swallowing dry food and need to wash it down with water. They also need to wash out their bills frequently. A duck can choke without an adequate water source they can stick their whole bill into.
Related>> How To Get Clean Water For My Ducks.
It’s also a good idea for the first week or two to feed “mash” to your ducklings. That is nothing more than putting water onto the duckling’s crumble. Doing this takes it from the consistency of “grape nuts” to “oatmeal” and is much easier for your ducklings to eat.
They are less likely to choke on the mash. You will, however, need to replace their food a couple of times a day as it does tend to sour when it is wet.
What Do Baby Ducks Eat?
Do ducklings need different food than chicks?
What to feed your ducklings can be as easy as feeding them waterfowl crumble, If you can find it.
It is your best option, but it’s just not always easy to find. However, chick crumble can be made to be satisfactory for your ducklings with a few additions and one caution.
Related>> Setting Up A Brooder Box For Baby Ducks.
You will want to feed your ducklings Chick Crumble NOT adult chicken feed. Ducklings need more protein than adult ducks (or chickens) for the first 2 to 4 weeks. After that, you can start mixing in 1 part oatmeal to 3 parts chick feed or just switch them over to starter grower crumble. (they grow so fast!)
Ducklings need the extra protein (20% compared to 15% for the adult duck). However, you will find that this does not fulfill everything a duckling needs.
Related>> Raising Ducks – 101 Duckling Care
What To Feed Ducklings? Don’t Forget the Niacin.
A duckling needs 2 or 3 times the niacin that a chick needs to grow strong bones and joints.
If a duckling does not get the added niacin it requires it can get bowed legs, joint disorders, and have a shortened lifespan.
But all you need to do is add brewer’s yeast to your duckling’s feed. Brewer’s yeast is a wonderful, easy provider of niacin.
A good ratio to use is 2-3 cups of brewers yeast to 10 Lbs of feed. However, it is easier to just sprinkle a little on the top of each batch of feed as you scoop it out for them.
Fresh Eggs Daily makes a brewer’s yeast that is in powdered form with garlic in it. Garlic is good for their immune systems so that is a win-win.
If you need it quickly and can’t wait to have the powdered brewer’s yeast shipped, you can usually find it in pill form at the local feed store or in some pharmacies. But you will then have to use your mortar and pestle to grind it up yourself.
A little added vitamin & electrolyte powder mixed into their water is a good idea for strong healthy ducklings.
Related>> 30 Gift Ideas For Duck Lovers
Can You Feed Ducklings Adult Duck Food?
Feeding your duckling the same food as your adults is a bad idea. Layer feed contains much too high a calcium content and not enough protein. If they are eating nothing but layer feed the amount of calcium could be toxic to ducklings.
They should be switched to layer crumble when they lay their first egg.
But don’t worry. If the ducklings are in with the adult ducks and they swipe a few mouthfuls it’s not going to hurt them, but make sure they have their own food and know that is what they are to eat.
If you keep the mother and babies separate from the rest of the flock, for the first couple of weeks, they will get the idea. Raising the adult feeder high enough so the ducklings can’t reach it can help keep the feeds separate.
How Do Ducks Eat?
A duck doesn’t have teeth. It swallows whatever it can get down its throat and the organ called a gizzard is what grinds it up.
So everything a duck eats needs to be cut up fairly small.
The gizzard, a very strong muscle uses very small stones to grind up the food so it can be digested. In the wild, the ducks can forage for small stones. If your ducks are confined, you need to supply them with grit. Ducklings need especially small grit (chick grit) for the first few weeks.
Related>> 10 Necessities To A Perfect Duck House.
What To Feed Ducklings Besides Crumble?
You can start introducing your ducks to greens and herbs right away. Chop them up fine and float them in their water bowl or give them a little dish of veggies and fruit on the side. Much like a side salad.
Ducks can have an unlimited supply of greens. Kale, romaine lettuce, chard, celery, or carrot greens, herbs, cut grass, and edible weeds. (small pieces please)
They can have up to 10% of their diet in other healthy treats such as raw or cooked cucumbers, peas, broccoli, corn, sweet potato (all parts of the plant – My ducks LOVE sweet potato leaves) whole grains, edible flowers, and fruits such as blueberries, cut up grapes, strawberries (tops and all) and my ducklings favorite, watermelon. They will eat a slice of watermelon down to the tough outer rind.
Another favorite of the ducks is tomatoes. If there isn’t enough to go around, they will chase the lucky one who gets the cherry tomato all over the pen.
Ducklings Love Bugs
Try raising your own red wigglers. They can make great fertilizer for your garden and protein for your baby ducks!
Ducks even like scrambled eggs. A really fun treat, both for you and the ducks, is to put minnows, tadpoles, or feeder fish in their pond and watch them dive for them. They will have the pond cleaned out in no time.
Note: Caution with Ducklings and Ponds. Believe it or not, ducklings can drown.
Related>> Do Ducks Need A Pond?
Remember the more varied the diet the more healthy your ducklings will be and the sooner you introduce new foods the more likely your ducks are to eat a varied diet as an adult. Sounds a lot like people doesn’t it.
What NOT To Feed Ducklings!
CAUTION! When you choose the chick crumble MAKE SURE IT IS NOT MEDICATED!Chickens often get a disease called coccidiosis. Many chick feeds contain medication in the feed to prevent this. Ducklings eat more than chicks and can overdose on this medication. Also, ducks seldom get the disease so they don’t need to be treated for it. Yes, there are a few things that are just not very good for your ducks, and some things that are toxic.
Just a few of the most common Don’ts:
- Don’t feed Bread! Your duck can get an impacted crop. No sugary, fatty, or salty foods. Too much weight will cause problems with their delicate legs and they can die from an overdose of salt.
- Don’t feed long pieces of grass or other plants. They don’t chew and it will get impacted in their crops. If they eat it from the yard they pull off small pieces and this is ok.
- Other no no’s are citrus, mango, white potatoes (all parts), and the seeds or pits from apples, cherries, peaches & apricots.
- Don’t feed your baby ducks the leaves of any nightshade plant. Those are tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, or white potatoes, as these are toxic.
- Even though these two are from the same family, garlic is good but onions are not.
If you want to know more about plants that are toxic to ducks check out: Toxic Treats – What not to feed your flock.
What To Feed Adult Ducks
When they are grown, and they grow up very fast, You will want to start them on adult duck food. this will support their laying wonderful, healthy, fresh duck eggs! Yummm.
Related>> What To Feed Ducks In Your Backyard.
More Duck Reading>>
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