If you’d told us 10 years ago that we’d be writing an article titled “how to diaper a duck,” we’d probably have chortled and called you crazy. As it turns out, we’re apparently the crazy ones.
If you’re a regular reader of this website, you know that our flock of Welsh Harlequin ducks is a big part of our family and arguably even rules our roost. We initially started our backyard duck journey to procure the world’s best tasting and healthiest eggs; now we’re duck-obsessed poultry parents who enjoy the company of two of our “backyard” ducks inside our home every night.
Why diaper a duck?
Why would you possibly want to diaper a duck?
Well, unlike other pets such as cats and dogs, ducks aren’t house-trainable. Unless, they’re sitting broody on a nest, ducks have no capacity or desire to control their digestive excretions (aka poo). This is due partly to the fact that ducks’ digestive systems are much different than mammals’.
So, if you want to have a pet duck/s that spends some time indoors, you’ll want to learn how to diaper a duck or you’ll end up with a very foul (or fowl) situation on your hands. Trust us on this one.
Why diaper non-pet ducks?
Even if you have a strictly backyard duck flock that you don’t really view as pets, learning how to diaper a duck can still be important. Why?
Occasionally, you might have a sick or injured duck who needs special care, treatment, and/or rehab. As such, bringing the duck indoors for prolonged care and observation is the best solution.
In the process, you’ll need to figure out how to avoid your house turning into a public duck restroom. Solution: whip out your duck diapers!
*Coincidentally, all the information in this duck diapering article also applies to other fowl, so you can also use these instructions to diaper geese, chickens, etc.
How to diaper a duck
Now that you know why to diaper a duck, it’s time to learn how to diaper a duck. Before jumping into the instructional video, you’ll need to get your duck diapering materials together.
Here are the materials you’ll need to diaper your ducks:
1. Duck diaper “harness”
This is the colorful cover that goes over the diaper insert. We’ve used a few different diaper harness vendors over the years, and we highly recommend *Party Fowl Pets (*please see update at the bottom of this section).
For one, Party Fowl lets you either:
- get your diaper harness custom-sized to your duck’s exact specifications (you just need to do some measuring), or
- buy ready-made harnesses instantly.
Secondly, Party Fowl consistently produces extremely durable, high quality diapers with small features that add up to make a big difference. Yes, we’ve been repeat customers over many years.
Party Fowl will also tell you what sized diaper inserts you’ll need to get based on the type and size of diaper you get for your duck, goose, or chicken. (More on diaper sizes below.)
**3/9/2021 update: Partyfowl Pets has the most effective/highest quality duck diaper harnesses, but their service has been awful the past year, so we can no longer recommend them. This isn’t just our experience, many other people have told us the same thing and their online reviews reflect this as well, which is very disappointing. Alternative for sourcing duck:
- We have used The Goose Mother/Flight Quarters in the past, but their diapers aren’t waterproof and tend to leak (as in fluid seeps out) when they get really full. They do work in a pinch and contain most of the mess. https://avianfashions.com/collections/duck-duck-goose. Partyfowl diapers have a layer of PUL fabric (a waterproof barrier) between the outer layers of cloth, which keep wetness from seeping out. It’s a fantastic design, but their service is so poor that we don’t recommend them anymore.
- Someone on Instagram recommended an Etsy seller (Leighton’s Landing Farm) to us: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LeightonsLandingFarm. The person recommending had also used PartyFowl in the past (and is still waiting on diaper harnesses ordered last year) and said the quality is excellent. We ordered two harnesses in March 2021. They shipped immediately and were an excellent quality duck diaper harness. They work great although it’s a different design than we’re accustomed to so it took us a few days to adjust. Leighton’s Landing Farm is now the duck diaper harness manufacturer we recommend.
2. Human baby diapers (for duck diaper harness inserts)
As you’ll see below, each human diaper is cut in half and trimmed up before being used for a duck. One half diaper is then inserted into the diaper harness/cover.
Selecting the right diaper size
The size of human diaper you get will depend on the size of your duck breed. Not surprisingly, human diaper boxes don’t have conversion numbers telling you what size diapers to get for your duck babies. The nerve!
A size #4 diaper is the best fit for our ~4-6 pound Welsh Harlequin ducks. If you have a larger duck breed, a #5 or higher sized diaper will be best. For smaller breeds, get #3 or smaller.
Selecting the best diaper brands/types for duck diapers
We’ve tried four different types of human diapers for our ducks over the years. Below, we’ve ranked them according to which diapers work, from best to worst:
- Pampers Cruisers – These aren’t the most eco-friendly option, but they work the best for collecting the wetter waste produced by waterfowl. We’ve been using these for the past 3 years.
- Pampers Pure – Pampers’ eco-friendly diaper option, but they don’t absorb as well or as quickly as regular Pampers cruisers and we had a few overflow incidents.
- Seventh Generation – Eco-friendly but like Pampers Pure, they lack the proper absorption needed for fowl.
- Pampers Baby Dry – Too much absorption material that ends up pouring out of the cut diapers when wet. Not good.
3. Towel and scissors
When diapering your ducks on tile or hardwood, make sure to put a towel down to keep them from slipping or falling as you diaper them, and to make any pre-diaper messes easier to clean up. Also, you’ll need scissors to help cut your diapers, which should be done in advance.
Here’s how to prepare your duck diaper inserts:
When you’re starting out, your ducks are probably going to HATE it when you diaper them. Don’t expect your ducks to ever enjoy the diapering process, but you can at least get them to tolerate it. How?
The way to a duck’s heart is treats. Our ducks go crazy for pieces of tomatoes. Yours may love peas or melon.
To condition your ducks to accept being diapered, give them some of their favorite treats immediately after diapering them. After repeat diapering-treat sessions, your ducks will come to tolerate the indignity of being diapered.
Duck diapering instructional video
Got your duck diapering materials together? Now comes the fun part: diapering your ducks!
Here’s a step-by-step video showing you exactly how to diaper your ducks:
Other duck diapering FAQs
How tight should the harness straps be?
The duck diaper harness straps should be snug but not tight. As a general rule, you should be able to place 2 fingers underneath a strap.
Your ducks should be able to walk, flap, and behave normally while wearing a diaper.
Side note: If you have a small outdoor flock and you live in an urban area, July 4th might be another good time to bring your ducks indoors (and diapers them).
View this post on Instagram
Ducks and other wildlife do not care much for our Fourth of July festivities. It would be nice if we could celebrate America’s independence without igniting aerial explosives from China. The Tyrant had to do quite a bit of extra soothing to settle Jackson the duck last night. Thankfully, Harlequon, Goddess of Ducks, brought in heavy rains around 9:30 pm to dampen nearby festivities. #ducksofinstagram #welshharlequin #welshharlequinducks #duckyou
How often do you have to change duck diapers?
The frequency of duck diaper changes (removing and disposing of the diaper inserts) depends on how much food and water your ducks consume. For example, our indoor ducks have full access to their food and water (we use a Neater Feeder to contain the mess) when they first come inside.
We put a diaper on our two, part-indoor ducks as soon as they come inside at night. Then we give them a bath and a diaper change before bed.
When they’re in full feeding and drinking mode, a single diaper will last 2-3 hours. Overnight when they’re mostly sleeping and only have access to water (not food), a diaper will last about 10 hours.
How often do you have to wash the duck diaper harnesses/covers?
The answer to this question will also depend on your ducks and your personal preferences. If you experience an, ahem, “overflow,” you’ll want to wash your diaper harness immediately.
When there are no accidents, we typically get 2-4 days out our duck diaper harnesses before we wash them.
My duck keeps pulling at their diaper. What should I do?
Even after years of diaper wearing, our part-indoor ducks will still pull at their diaper straps immediately after being diapered and when they’re preening. When your duck is new to being diapered, this will occur even more frequently until they get accustomed to it.
It’s perfectly normal and expected for your ducks to pull at their diapers. It doesn’t mean their diaper is too tight or that anything is wrong, just that they’re irritated by the ordeal.
A word of caution:
Do keep in mind that for good feather health, ducks preen frequently throughout the day and the oil gland at the center top of their tails (used to oil their feathers) is more difficult to access when they’re diapered. To make sure your sick, injured, or indoor duck(s) maintain good feather health, make sure that they have at least a few hours of un-diapered time each day to properly groom/oil themselves if at all possible.
How long does a duck diaper harnesses last?
It depends on how often you use them. Even with daily wear-and-tear, our Party Fowl Pets diaper harnesses have lasted 3-4 years, although our oldest ones have started to get a bit stretched out.
Why else would you want to diaper a duck?
Diapered ducks can also be useful as a form of indoor pest control.
View this post on Instagram
Please forgive the frontal nudity and appreciate another oft-overlooked benefit of having house poultry… when your wife spots a spider on the bedroom ceiling and asks you to take care of it, what to do? Activate your i-duck (with diaper app). #ducks #ducksofinstagram #houseduck #welshharlequin
Other duck articles you’ll enjoy from Tyrant Farms:
- How to get your ducks to like you: 3 tips
- 10 things you should know before you get ducks
- How to raise ducklings: a step-by-step guide
- 17 tips to keep your ducks and chickens safe from predators
- How to build a backyard duck pond with DIY biofilter
Or browse all of our duck articles!