Ducks

    What to feed pet or backyard ducks to maximize their health and longevity

    What to feed pet or backyard ducks to maximize their health and longevity thumbnail

    The conventional wisdom about what to feed pet or backyard ducks may be causing preventable health problems or even deaths in your flock. In this article, we’ll detail an avian vet-approved feeding regimen you can use to promote the long-term health of your ducks. 


    When we first got Welsh Harlequin ducks many years back, we didn’t know much about duck nutrition or have any experience to draw on. Thus, we sought out formulas/regimens from experienced duck experts that we could use to provide our ducks with the nutrition they needed.  

    The traditional wisdom as to what to feed backyard ducks goes something like this:

    1. On or before the day your mature female ducks start laying eggs, switch them off of maintainer feed and start giving them layer feed. Layer feed is higher in protein, calcium, and other nutrients which provides your ducks with the extra nutrition they need to produce eggs.  
    2. Once your ducks stop laying eggs, switch them back over to maintainer feed. 
    3. Repeat. 

    This is the duck feeding formula we started with

    What’s the difference between waterfowl maintainer and layer/breeder feed? 

    For context:

    • “maintainer” feed is 13-15% protein and about 1% calcium; 
    • “layer” feed (aka as breeder feed) is 16-17% protein and about 3% calcium.

    After having three of our ducks die in the first five years and several others experience egg and reproductive health issues related to over-laying, we realized something was wrong… 

    Three of our Welsh Harlequin ducks engaged in their favorite activity: foraging for worms (plus slugs, snails, crickets, and other goodies). Foraging provides a larger share of their diet during the warmer months, but it primarily makes them happy. From: What to feed pet or backyard ducks to maximize their health and longevity.

    Three of our Welsh Harlequin ducks engaged in their favorite activity: foraging for worms (plus slugs, snails, crickets, and other goodies). Foraging provides a larger share of their diet during the warmer months, but it primarily makes them happy.

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    Ducks Gift Guides

    Duck parent gift guide

    A gift guide with over 30 great gift ideas that backyard duck and pet duck parents are sure to love. Get the perfect gift for the "quackaholic" in your life! …