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!
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LexaSeptember 17, 2022 at 3:15 am
Hey guys, I would love some advice. I’ve adopted a duckling (3 weeks old now) who has a disability, his ankle is fused and his paddle faces backwards. Anyway…. I don’t know what to do about a diaper before he gets big? I tried a sock but I can’t get it to stay. And we want him with us all the time (he can’t be outside alone because he can’t flee predators) but I am at a loss with what to do about a diaper. Once he’s fully grown I will buy some, but right now he is growing so quickly I would have to buy a new size every week! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Aaron von FrankSeptember 18, 2022 at 10:33 am
Hi Lexa! First, thanks for taking such good care of your disabled duck! As you said, it’s a big challenge keeping appropriately sized diapers on an animal like a duckling that doubles in size ever 1-2 weeks. The good news is that most ducks will reach what’s basically their full adult size by Week 8, so worst case you have to endure another 5 weeks of duck squalor. Short of some sort of temporary DIY duck diaper that you can modify, there aren’t many good solutions for duckling diapers. By the time a small diaper is delivered, your duckling will have outgrown it. If we were in your shoes, we’d just keep the duckling in a relatively confined area on tile/hardwood/vinyl floors (NOT carpet) covered with old towels. OR you could use an indoor baby pool with a 3-6″ layer of low-dust bedding like aspen shavings. Lucky for you, the disability may work in your favor here since your duckling can’t spread poo far and wide. Wish we had more helpful advice, but best of luck!
Dorka RaczJune 10, 2022 at 3:03 am
Thank you so so much for this article!! We have a rescue duckling in the house and this gonna be extremely useful for us!❤️ She (or he🤷🏽♀️) is so sweet and loves to snuggle!🥰 Now I just need to figure out how to fly with a duck (I mean with a plane😆, not like Amy in Fly away home) because we are staying in Europe for a while, and hopefully can go home soon.🥰
Aaron von FrankJune 10, 2022 at 10:52 am
Glad to hear this duck diapering information was helpful for you, Dorka! Hmm, I’m not sure we can be of help when it comes to figuring out how to fly a duck from Europe to America or vice versa, but if you figure it out, check back in and let us know. 🙂
Rebecca MaasApril 26, 2022 at 10:10 pm
We tragically lost one of our sweet Swedish ducks last weekend, leaving his bonded brother alone. He imprinted on his brother and my 16yr old. I’d love to bring him inside at times so he’s not lonely. Any ideas on sizing for a male Swedish duck?
Aaron von FrankApril 28, 2022 at 1:08 pm
Hi Rebecca! So sorry for your family’s loss. As for duck diaper sizing for your Swede, we’d recommend reaching out to the duck diaper vendor of your choice and they’ll match a diaper to the breed size. Just to reiterate information from this article, we no longer recommend Party Fowl for duck diapers. Their customer service and wait times have been inexcusable over the past few years, not just based on our experiences but the experiences of lots of other duck folks we’re connected to. Instead, we’d recommend Leighton’s Landing Farm on Etsy which has a 5-star rating across thousands of reviews. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LeightonsLandingFarm Hope this helps!
Andrea FeezellFebruary 12, 2021 at 10:43 pm
Would like to review items. Thank you. Andrea
JonathanJanuary 18, 2021 at 1:51 am
I don’t see a link to the video for duck diapers. Can you give me a link?
Aaron von FrankJanuary 18, 2021 at 8:07 am
Hi Jonathan! Sorry for any confusion. The video is under the section in the article with the header: “Duck diapering instructional video” towards the bottom. If you run ad blocking software, that could cause the video not to display, so you’d need to temporarily disable your ad blocking software to see it. Ads are how we keep our site free, so we appreciate your support.
Jonathan TrivetteJanuary 19, 2021 at 11:55 pm
Thank you!! I didn’t realize my adblocking software was on. One question if I may. When the duck poop in the diapers and then they sit down, etc. do they end up with a mess on their feathers that you have to clean when changing the diapers? Thanks!!
Aaron von FrankJanuary 20, 2021 at 12:10 pm
It depends… If you don’t change the diapers for a few hours, they can definitely get some duck poop on the feathers around their vents. With overnight diapers, that’s especially the case. For instance, this time of year, the ducks we bring indoors at night are in a single night diaper from about 8:30pm – 7:15am, which is obviously a long time. I bring them straight outside in the morning before removing their diapers and they then jump in the pond and clean off as soon as they’re freed from the indignity. This time of year, we bring them in just before dark around 6pm. We remove their diapers and give them a swim before they go into their final night diapers. You can do this in a spare tub indoors or in a smaller outdoor container, depending on your weather. You don’t have to give them that extra swim/cleaning, but they’ll appreciate it and it does make it easier to put them in night diapers without making a mess.
Teresinha (Tess) Barbaresco ReislerMarch 9, 2021 at 12:06 pm
PLEASE CAN YOU TELL ME WHERE CAN I FIND THIS KIND OF DIAPERS THAT YOU USED IN YOUR DUCK? AMAZON HAS SOME OF TYPE BUT THE REVIEWS ARE BAD.
Aaron von FrankMarch 9, 2021 at 2:57 pm
Hi! Partyfowl Pets has the most effective/highest quality diapers, but their service has been awful the past year, so not sure I’d recommend them. We’re still waiting on a duck shoe order placed at the beginning of August. We need to order some new diapers too and aren’t sure what to do.
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. The 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. I really wish I could recommend them.
Someone on Instagram recommended these to us. She also used PartyFowl in the past (and is also waiting on diapers ordered last year) and said these are excellent: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LeightonsLandingFarm. We’ll be giving them a try, too. Good luck!
Barbara BorgeldJune 11, 2020 at 8:28 am
Hi there. You guys are amazing!! I’ve had chickens…Pantalooned Cochins, for about 3 years now and have just entered the world of ducks. I have two 4 week old Jumbo Pekins and have them in the house with me in a large dog crate. Pee Yew! We head outside now that it’s warm for a good part of the day and they are all pooped out (how I wish) once returning to the crate. I am seriously looking into the world of diapers once they are full grown and as when winter comes I would like them to be house buddies. My biggest question is about them laying an egg in the diaper. What is your experience with eggs and being diapered? I’m still trying to find a really good image of their anatomy.
Aaron von FrankJune 11, 2020 at 10:59 pm
Well, things can get tricky when you have pet indoor diapered ducks who are also laying eggs. There are a couple of options…
1) Keep diapers on at night – They can and will lay eggs in their diapers. This will make the eggs a little gross if you plan to eat them, but nothing soap and water can’t fix. Keep in mind that eggs you buy in the grocery store are washed and didn’t look like they do in the carton when they were collected by workers.
2) Crate at night – You can also keep your ducks in a small indoor crate with pine or cedar shavings in it (with small food and water bowls, too). They’ll make a nest in the bedding to lay their eggs each night, usually somewhere around dawn.
In fact, option #2 is a great method to use if you ever have an outdoor or indoor duck that you want to make stop laying eggs due to health reasons. Keep them on their indoor nest with multiple eggs in it, keep them there as long as they’ll tolerate it, and you’ll soon make them go broody due to a hormonal response which then halts egg production.
Let us know if this answers your questions?
Barbara BorgeldJune 12, 2020 at 9:20 am
This is a good start. I’ll probably start with the diaper. I live in the far north and getting rid of nesting material in February with 4 feet of snow and temps in the negative digits will be tough. I’d rather wash an egg! We’ll see how this plays out. Thanks for being so much fun. I’ll report back when we get there.
Aaron von FrankJune 13, 2020 at 10:12 am
Woah, that’s a tough climate. Yes, please do check back in and let us know how things go!
A Chick and Her DucksJanuary 22, 2020 at 2:39 pm
Hello von Franks! I’m entering the world of duck diapers, and I was wondering if you had any experience with reusable inserts?
Aaron von FrankJanuary 23, 2020 at 1:12 am
Hi there! Not really. The one brand we tried (PartyFowl’s reusables) didn’t work nearly as well as the disposable option. That was about 5 years ago though, so she may have improved them since. If you find a good reusable duck diaper insert, PLEASE let us know. We’d love to make that switch.
SeaDancerAugust 14, 2019 at 4:16 pm
Unbelievable timing!!!!! I have a boy that I want to winter with me. I was thinking about duck diapers just yesterday!!!!! Thank you sooo much! I love you guys.
Aaron von FrankAugust 14, 2019 at 4:25 pm
You’re not alone. Polls show that over 95% of people in the US would keep poultry in their homes if they knew how to diaper their poultry. We interviewed two of our friends to arrive at this number, so it may not be accurate. Nevertheless, we’re glad this article was of help to you. 🙂
SeaDancerAugust 14, 2019 at 4:36 pm
I heard it was more like 105%, but who’s counting?
Aaron von FrankAugust 16, 2019 at 12:39 pm
JulieNovember 20, 2020 at 4:54 am
Hi! How do you clean the ducks once they have poo in their feathers due to the diaper? Thanks!