How to raise ducklings: a step-by-step guide

How to raise ducklings: a step-by-step guide thumbnail
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Quick introduction to our guide on how to raise ducklings

Our step-by-step How to Raise Ducklings Guide is intended to provide you with all the information you need to know to raise happy, healthy ducklings from hatch day to adulthood. This article is directed towards backyard duck owners and homesteaders with small flocks, not farmers who raise ducklings by the hundreds or thousands.

Also, please note that if you plan to get Easter ducklings as a gift for children who will soon lose interest in the ducks or not take adequate care of them, please do NOT get ducklings, for reasons we’ve written about here.

Raising ducklings is a lot of responsibility. Failure to properly plan for and care for ducklings will end up in sick, dead, or abandoned ducks. However, if you plan to be responsible and dedicated duck parents, thank you and please read on!

Warning: There will be many duckling photos throughout this article. If you're allergic to cuteness, please stop reading and consult your physician.

Warning: There will be many duckling photos throughout this article. If you’re allergic to cuteness, you might be in trouble!

Table of contents: 

1. Should you incubate eggs or get hatched ducklings?
2. What time of year should you get ducklings?
3. Preparing for ducklings:

  • A. Duckling brooder
  • B. Duckling temperature needs / heat source
  • C. Duckling food & water
  • C. Duckling grit and supplements
  • E. Duckling bedding
  • F. Duckling sanitation
  • G. Raising ducklings: materials & supplies checklist

4. Duckling swims and outdoor trips
5. Duckling maturity & move-out day
6. Integrating new ducklings into an existing flock
7. Additional recommended reading

1. Should you incubate eggs or get hatched ducklings?

If it’s your first time raising ducklings, we highly recommend you get hatched ducklings.

Properly incubating duck eggs requires a lot of extra work, knowledge, and equipment. Also, duck eggs have slightly different requirements than chickens (such as higher moisture levels), so the process is more specialized.

See: How to hatch duck eggs, complete guide

Where do you get ducklings?

You can source hatched ducklings from either:

  1. a local breeder near you,
  2. a local farm supply store in the spring, or
  3. a well-known national breeder such as Metzer Farms.

The advantages of going with Metzer Farms are:

  • you can get the exact breed(s) you want;
  • you can get the exact sexes you want (all females, all males, mixed);
  • you can select your ducklings’ arrival date in the warm months (they ship ducklings immediately after hatching and your ducklings will arrive at your local post office for pickup within 24-48 hours, depending on where you live);
  • you’re not contributing to/incentivizing irresponsible “impulse” purchases of baby waterfowl, as often happens at farm supply stores. 
The great duckling un-packaging! This was our first shipment of ducklings from Metzer Farms. Metzer includes grow gel, a specialized food/liquid that provides the ducklings with all the nutrition and water they need for the journey.

The great duckling un-packaging! This was our first shipment of ducklings from Metzer Farms many years ago. Metzer includes grow gel, a specialized food/liquid that provides the ducklings with all the nutrition and water they need for the journey.

The importance of getting sexed ducklings

Getting sexed ducklings is especially important whether you’re aiming for egg production, breeding, meat production, or a calmer, lower-maintenance flock. 

Why? Having multiple males in your mixed-sex backyard flock will cause your adult males to fight endlessly if there are females around to compete over. Separate pens would be required once the males reach mating age in order to prevent injury via fighting or over-mating.

Also, a female:male ratio lower than 3:1 (better is 5:1) will lead to over-mated female ducks and a higher likelihood of injury. On the other hand, if you’re raising ducks purely for pets or meat production, you can get all males.


And they're out! The ducklings moments after coming out of their box from Metzer. How to raise ducklings by Tyrant Farms

And they’re out! The ducklings moments after coming out of their box from Metzer. It took them about 2.5 seconds to begin making an absolute mess, a talent which ducklings are masterful at.

Thus, for first-time duck parents we’d highly recommend getting a sexed run from Metzer Farms.

Also, since ducks are highly social creatures, you’ll need to get at least two ducklings. We’d recommend getting three just in case something happens to one duckling.

This ensures you won’t end up with a single duckling who doesn’t have a 24-7 companion.

One of the reasons we have such tame adult ducks is that we interacted so frequently with our ducklings, including countless hours of duckling cuddles. Read our article full of tips about how to get your ducks to like you.

One of the reasons we have such tame adult ducks is that we interacted so frequently with our ducklings, including countless hours of duckling cuddles. Read our article How to get your ducks to like you for more tips about how to raise tame ducks.

2. What time of year should you get ducklings?

In the wild, ducks lay eggs in the warm months of spring and summer. This is because young ducklings require lots of warmth and food.

Depending on where you live, we recommend you only get ducklings between the months of April – July.

Ducklings should only be raised during the warm months, mimicking nature. How to raise ducklings by Tyrant Farms

Ducklings should only be raised by humans during the warm months, mimicking what happens in nature.

Even though you’ll be raising your ducklings in a climate-controlled environment, you’ll still want to take them for outdoor excursions to acclimate them to their environment, keep them happy, and inoculate their developing biomes and immune systems with beneficial microbes.

It’s much easier to accomplish these aims when it’s warm outside than when it’s cold.

3. Preparing for ducklings

To raise ducklings responsibly, you should prepare for them weeks/months BEFORE you get them, NOT after you’ve brought them back to your home.

Our ducklings sleeping peaceful their first night at Tyrant Farms. We initially had an empty cracker box in their brooder in case they wanted to hide away or explore. Humorously, this inspired the name of their outdoor coop: The Quacker Box.

Our ducklings sleeping peaceful their first night at Tyrant Farms. We initially had an empty cracker box in their brooder in case they wanted to hide away or explore. Humorously, this inspired the name of their eventual outdoor coop: The Quacker Box.

Here are the steps you should take and supplies you’ll need to prepare to raise ducklings:

A. Duckling brooder

A duckling brooder will be the home where your ducklings are raised for the first 6-8 weeks of their lives. Given the care requirements, you’ll likely want to set up your duckling brooder indoors on a tile or vinyl floor (easier for cleaning).

There is no single way to make a duckling brooder. Materials will vary depending on how many ducklings you get.

We’ve raised ducklings multiple times and our preferred brooder is a baby pool with 1/2″ wire mesh caging wrapped around it 4′ high

This setup is:

  • easy to clean,
  • keeps the ducklings in even as they start to get older/larger, and
  • keeps our cat from getting in (even though our cat now knows not to mess with ducklings or ducks).
Bob the cat's first viewing of our ducklings. Today, our cat and ducks will sleep on the couch together. Our ducks will even beat Bob up if he irritates them, without him lifting a finger to defend himself. Do note that if you have dogs or cats, you need to take every precaution necessary to make sure they can't get to your ducklings.

Bob the cat’s first viewing of our ducklings years ago. Today, Bob and our ducks will sleep on the couch together. Our ducks will even beat Bob up if he irritates them, without him lifting a finger to defend himself. Do note that if you have dogs or cats, you need to take every precaution necessary to make sure they can’t get to your ducklings.

Ideally you can also set up your brooder in a room:

  • where you can close the door for extra safety – especially if you have pets or small children;
  • that isn’t drafty and can maintain an even temperature;
  • that lets in as much natural sunlight as possible.

B. Duckling temperature needs / heat source

Ducklings don’t have feathers and aren’t able to keep themselves warm. Being too cold is perhaps the most common cause of death or illness in young ducklings

This means you’ll want to pay especially careful attention to your ducklings’ temperature setup and needs.

Raise your right flipper if you love cute ducklings!

Raise your right flipper if you love cute ducklings! In all seriousness, ducks are hilarious animals with peculiar habits. For instance, our ducklings (and adult ducks) love to stretch and kick a flipper back when they’re relaxing.

To keep your ducklings warm, we recommend getting one of the following:

  • brooder lamp/heat lamp with a 125 or 250 watt red bulb (this provides warmth without mimicking natural sunlight which can interrupt their sleep cycles); OR
  • Brinsea EcoGlow brooder heater. Four big advantages with the EcoGlow are that it’s not a fire hazard, it can’t tip over, it’s adjustable to three different height positions, and it’s very energy efficient.

You’ll also want to have a thermometer that you can safely mount on the side of your brooder to monitor temperatures.

If you opt for the brooder lamp, it should be:

a. firmly secured to a stable object (example tied with wire to the side of your brooder) AND have the bulb protected by a wire guard (good lamps come with a guard);

b. placed far enough away from any flammable objects (bedding, plastic, etc) so that it’s not a fire hazard;

c. placed in one corner of the brooder so the ducklings can come underneath it when they’re cold and go elsewhere in their brooder if they get hot.

What temperature should your brooder lamp be? 

During your ducklings’ first week, the temperature underneath the brooder lamp should be 90°F. Every 7 days, you can raise the lamp up a little higher so as to drop the temperature another 5 degrees as follows:

  • Week 1: 90°F
  • Week 2: 85°F
  • Week 3: 80°F
  • Week 4: 75°F

Once you hit 75°F, you can keep the brooder lamp at the same height until your ducklings are 6-8 weeks old and ready to move permanently outdoors. Your ducklings will huddle together for warmth and comfort as well.

Your ducklings will love cuddling together for comfort and warmth. This is perfectly normal and doesn't necessarily mean they're cold or you need to adjust the temperature. How to raise ducklings by Tyrant Farms.

Your ducklings will love cuddling together for comfort and warmth. This is perfectly normal and doesn’t necessarily mean they’re cold or you need to adjust the temperature.

C. Duckling food & water

Duckling feed 

Ducks are not chickens. Seems obvious, right?

Nevertheless, many new duckling parents give their ducklings unmodified “chick feed.” Problem: chick feed is formulated specifically for baby chickens, and chicks have different nutritional needs than ducklings.

As detailed in our duck food guide article, we recommend one of two options to make sure your ducklings get the right nutrition:

Option 1: Get pre-formulated non-medicated certified organic duckling starter feed. McGeary organics has a good product. If you get McGeary duckling starter feed, we still recommend you taper down the protein content at Week 2 as detailed in Option 2 below.

Option 2: Use non-medicated, certified organic chick feed (here’s a good onebut modify it for ducklings as follows:

i. Taper protein content after two weeks.

Ducklings (like chicks) require higher levels of protein the first two weeks of life, 18-20% protein to be exact. When your ducklings are 3 weeks old, bump the protein levels of your chick feed down to 15-16% by mixing in 20% organic old fashioned oats to their crumble.

This encourages your ducklings to grow at a healthy, normal rate vs. the more accelerated rate commonly recommended for broilers & commercial egg layers (as per duck expert, Dave Holderread, in Storay’s Guide To Raising Ducks).

This step is extremely important because sustained higher levels of protein can cause leg and wing deformities in addition to causing kidney and liver damage.

ii. Add Niacin (Vitamin B3). 

Because ducklings grow faster than chicks, chick starter does not have the niacin levels that are optimal for ducklings. NRC requirements for ducklings = 55 mg/kg niacin per 2.2 pounds of feed compared to only 27-35 mg/kg for chicks.

Niacin deficiencies in ducklings can cause leg deformities since they don’t have the nutrition to support proper bone and muscle development. To supplement, we typically add 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast per cup of crumble or 100mg B-Complex. (You can also add the same amount per gallon of drinking water instead of to their food.)

You can order either form of Niacin via Amazon: Nutritional Yeast or as B-Complex vitamin capsules. (Make sure you don’t get timed-release or flush-free B-vitamins — neither of those are Niacin!)

iii. Add water.

What happens if you put dry niacin/Nutritional yeast in your duckling’s dry starter feed? All the niacin goes to the bottom of the bowl.

To make sure your ducklings are eating good ratios of niacin with each bite of food, stir in just enough water to make the food + niacin stick together. It should be the consistency of oatmeal.

Nutritional breakdown of required duckling and duck feed.

Duckling feed bowl

Duckling (and ducks) are hilariously messy creatures. We recommend putting your ducklings’ feed in metal or ceramic bowls that are difficult to tip but very easy to clean. Clean their bowls once per day with hot soapy water.

For bowls, we recommend either: 

If you use larger jug-style feeders that utilize gravity to refill their food, the stored feed will likely get wet, moldy and contaminated as the moisture wicks up via capillary action. You risk losing your food, but more importantly you risk causing your ducklings to get a chronic infection from eating contaminated food.

Duckling water

Years ago, we very nearly lost one of our ducklings, Marigold (she prefers to be called “Mawy”), due to drowning in a water dish. If I hadn’t heard her loud panic peeps and woken up at 2am to drag her out of her water bowl, hand dry her, and warm her up under my shirt for 45 minutes, she probably wouldn’t be here.

The reason we made the mistake of having a larger water bowl in her brooder is because we were allowing Jackson, one of our adult ducks, to raise the ducklings and wanted to make sure Jackson could easily drink.

The moral of the Marigold story: to safely raise ducklings, use hard-to-tip, but shallow water bowls that your ducklings can easily get out of if/when they happen to get into them. 

Three additional duck water tips:

i. Have two water bowls, not just one.This is backup in case they spill, drink, or muck up one bowl of water. If they continue to eat food without having water present, they could choke to death.

ii. Don’t put your water and food bowls right next to each otheror your ducklings will quickly turn both bowls into a disgusting muck pit.

iii. As mentioned above in the food section, you can also add niacin to your ducklings’ water bowl. 2 tablespoons of Nutritional yeast or 100mg B-Complex per 1 gallon of drinking water.

D. Duckling grit and supplements


Like adult ducks, ducklings also require grit (sand and tiny rocks) in order to grind food in their gizzard. In the wild, ducklings get grit by foraging on a lake shore or sand bar.

To get grit into your ducklings to aid digestion, we recommend some combination of:

  • Bringing your ducklings outside daily to forage in your yard (if the weather is within 10 degrees of their brooder temperature) and it’s not raining; or
  • Providing a bowl of soil from your yard in their brooder.

Hopefully, it goes without saying that no synthetic pesticides should be used in your yard when you’re raising ducklings – or any other time for that matter.


In the wild, ducklings eat quite a bit of duckweed and other wild greens that grow in and around the water.

One of the reasons we garden is to grow a diversity of the most nutrient-dense plant foods possible – both for us and our ducks. We always make sure there are fresh, finely chopped garden greens in our duckling water bowls, which they eat with great gusto.

We have a list of top-10 favorite garden plants for ducks and chickens, if you’d like to buy and grow your own duck and duckling plants in your garden. A few quick notes about duckling greens:

  • our ducks and ducklings don’t like “spicy” greens like mustards and arugula;
  • use plants with high concentrations of oxalic acid very sparingly or not at all since the oxalic acid in those plants can keep ducks from absorbing calcium (examples: spinach, beet greens, chard, sorrel).

E. Duckling bedding

Our personal preference for duckling bedding is either:

  • large flake pine shavings, or
  • aspen flakes (which are less dusty than pine).

Don’t use cedar, since it contains volatile oils that can cause both you and your ducklings respiratory problems or allergic reactions. (Related: read about our recommendations for adult, outdoor duck coop bedding.)

F. Duckling sanitation

Did we mention that ducklings are hilariously messy creatures? You will be shocked at the mess that such small and adorable animals can make in a relatively short period of time.

Unfortunately, that mess means you’ll need to plan to do a good bit of cleaning to keep your ducklings dry and healthy as follows:

  • Several times per day once their brooder bedding is caked in water, food, and duckling poo, you’ll want to top up the surface with a fresh layer of pine shavings or aspen.
  • Every 2-4 days, you’ll need to plan to change out the entire floor of pine shavings and start from scratch (which will make your compost pile happy).
  • As previously mentioned, you’ll want to completely clean their water and food bowls daily as well.

Again, to raise ducklings that don’t get sick, it’s very important that your ducklings have a dry, clean brooder and sanitary conditions so they can stay warm, happy, and illness-free.

G. Raising ducklings: materials & supplies checklist

Below is a full list of eleven recommended supplies you should have ready BEFORE you actually raise ducklings. Each item/supply and the rationale behind it was detailed in the sections above.

1. Climate-controlled indoor room with no draft. Ideally the room comes with plenty of sunlight, tile or vinyl flooring, and a door that can be closed to keep pets or children out and smells in.

2. DIY or pre-made brooder (we use a baby pool with 1/2″ caging around it).

3. Large flake pine shavings or aspen shavings.

4. Heat source – either: a) Brinsea EcoGlow brooder heater (ideal), or b) a brooder lamp/heat lamp with a 125 or 250 watt red bulb.

5. Thermostat. 

6. Small, shallow, and difficult to tip bowls for food and water. Either: a) 4 oz Weebo no-tip bowls, or b) bowls that attach to the side of the brooder. We recommend two water bowls be present at all times.

7. Duckling feed (McGeary organic duck feed or organic chick feed modified as detailed above).

8. Organic old fashioned oats.

9. Nutritional Yeast or B-Complex vitamin capsules that can be added to duckling feed or water.

10. Small grain grit or access to healthy garden soil with grit naturally in it.

11. Fresh organic veggies that can be fine chopped and added to water bowl. 

4. Duckling swims and outdoor trips

How to safely swim your ducklings 

Ducklings swimming for the first time = pure cuteness. How to raise ducklings by Tyrant Farms

Ducklings swimming for the first time equals pure cuteness.

Like adult ducks, ducklings LOVE to swim. After all, their bodies are amazing hybrid machines adapted for swimming and flying – it’s what ducks do.

In the wild, ducklings start swimming on day 1, and yours can too! 

Swimming your ducklings helps with proper muscle development, and makes them (and you) exceedingly happy. You’ll get a good laugh the first time you see your ducklings splashing and diving.

However, young ducklings have three things going against them when it comes to swimming:

1. They get cold very easily. This can quickly lead to hypothermia, illness, and death.

2. They don’t produce their own oil yet, so they’re not waterproof. In the wild, ducklings cover themselves with momma duck’s oil when they cuddle underneath and against her feathers.

3. They might not be able to get out of the swimming hole on their own when they need to. 

Drowning is another common cause of death in ducklings raised by humans. The highest risk of drowning is when the ducklings are youngest; the risk continues to decline over time.

To ensure that your ducklings don’t drown or get too cold during swims, follow these FIVE precautions:

1. Don’t put large or deep water bowls in your duckling brooder. Instead, the water dishes should be no deeper than a couple of inches and easy for them to get out of.

2. Don’t put a swimming pool or swimming bowl in their brooder.

3. Swim your ducklings for about 5 minutes or less (less if they look like they’re done or getting bored) during the first two weeks, and stay with them the whole time. During the first week, a large kitchen bowl will do. By week 4+ an outdoor kiddy pool or indoor bathtub will be needed, and you can also start letting them have more swimming autonomy, deciding when they’re done and when to get out of the water.

4. Use mild water, not cold or hot water in their swimming container.

5. As soon as you take them out of the water, make sure they have a warm, dry place to dry themselves and preen. (Preening is the grooming ducks do after a swim.) Putting them back in their brooder with access to their heat lamp will do.

Duckling post-swim and post-drying. Next up: nap time!

Duckling post-swim and post-drying. Next up on the busy schedule: nap time!

Duckling outdoor adventures

Another beneficial (arguably essential) activity for both you and your ducklings is taking them outdoors for adventures. You’ll be proud duckling parents when you see your ducklings becoming increasingly independent, bravely foraging and hunting insects, nibbling plants, etc. 

Ideally, foraging adventures can take place at least once daily so your ducklings get plenty of natural, unfiltered sunlight which is important for their health and development. 

Five safety tips for your ducklings’ outdoor adventures:

1.. Stay with them the entire time for the first 4 weeks. A young duckling is a tempting snack for neighborhood cats, snakes, and other predators.

After 4 weeks, you might consider constructing a 1/2″ mesh wire enclosure/run to allow them to play outdoors on their own in a protected environment. Even then, make sure you’re within hearing distance in the event they sound the alarm.

2. Ideally, outdoor temps are no more than 10 degrees cooler than their brooder temps. The younger they are, the more important this is to ensure that they don’t get too cold.

3. If it’s a cold or rainy day, skip outdoor adventures unless your ducklings are 4+ weeks old.

4. Don’t put your ducklings anywhere near spots where pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, etc) have been used.

5. Remove anything that could injure them if ingested: scraps of aluminum foil, plastic, screws, pieces of ribbon, etc.

The risk of duckling injury or death continues to decline the older they get. Your goal is to slowly and safely get them acclimated to the outdoor environment that will eventually be their permanent home.

The ducklings first

The ducklings first “wild swim” in the outdoor kiddy pool. Notice the rocks are situated so they can easily go into the shallow end of the pool to rest or hop out if they want to.

5. Duckling maturity & move-out day

Duckling development 

Ducklings grow incredibly quickly, far faster than chicken chicks. Each time we raise ducklings (we have Welsh Harlequins), we regularly weigh them and find that they more than double in weight each week.

In fact, we observe noticeable differences in size between the time we put them to bed at night and see them in the morning!

Week-by-week duckling development:

Here’s a general timeline of what you can expect to see and hear as your ducklings develop, with some variation by breed:

Day 1-10: Classic “fuzzy” duckling look.

Weeks 2-3: Chest, wing, tail, and underbelly feathers begin to come in.

Weeks 3-4: You’ll begin to hear the females first squeaky “proto-quacks.” (Adult females are the loud quackers, adult male ducks make a raspy “blurp-blurp” sound.)

Weeks 6-8: Full set of juvenile feathers are in. Juvenile feathers look like a dull, mottled version of their adult feathers. 

On our girls, the last feathers to come in are the top of their backs between their wings. Here you can see one of our girls almost finished developing her juvenile feathers.

On our girls, the last feathers to come in are the top of their backs between their wings. Here you can see one of our girls almost finished developing her juvenile feathers.

Week 10: Mature duck voices have been fully established. 

Weeks 11-12: Ducks molt juvenile feathers and replace them with their adult feathers.

When to move your ducklings outdoors 

Once your ducklings have their juvenile feathers and “look like ducks” (weeks 6-8), it’s time to move them outdoors into their permanent home. This process is likely to be much more emotionally traumatizing to their parents (you) than it is to the ducklings.


Our “ducklings” at around 7 weeks old in their juvenile plumage. They’re now of age to be outdoor flock members.

This should be a graduated process, not a sudden transition. Each day leading up to move out day, your ducklings should be provided with more time outdoors (with safety precautions taken to keep them safe from predators).

This graduated process helps them gain a sense of autonomy and comfort in their new outdoor surroundings.

Our ducklings spent a lot of time with us and alone exploring their new outdoor home before they moved outdoors. As you can see here, they had a coop plus a protected run to explore during the transition process.

Our ducklings spent a lot of time with us and alone exploring their new outdoor home before they moved outdoors. As you can see here, they had a coop plus a protected run to explore during the transition process. Overhead protection (like netting) may also be essential to protect them from aerial predators if you can’t be around. 

Here again, the first nights that your ducklings are outdoors in their coop on their own will likely be a stressful experience for you. Much less so for your ducklings, who will just huddle together and sleep peacefully.

To help yourself through the transition, we’d recommend building or placing your duck coop so that you can easily see it from a window in your home. 

Safety first: securing a safe outdoor living environment for your ducklings

Your ducks’ outdoor coops, runs, and/or living areas should have been carefully planned, designed, and built weeks or months in advance to ensure their safety. When preparing your ducks’ final outdoor living area, please read our articles:

It’s hard to imagine how painful it would be to go through the process of raising ducklings, only to see them injured or killed by a predator after their outdoor transition. Please plan ahead so this doesn’t happen to you or your flock!

Once you’ve gotten to this point in your ducklings’s development, congratulate yourself. You’ve successfully raised ducklings, which is not an easy task!

6. Integrating new ducklings into an existing flock

We’ve now raised and integrated three flocks of ducklings/ducks. If you’re introducing new ducklings to an existing flock, there are a few precautions you should take to ensure a peaceful transition that doesn’t result in fighting or injury.

During your outdoor adventures (see #4 above) with your ducklings, make sure to have as many of those adventures as possible around your existing flock. Just keep your ducklings (and you) inside a piece of fencing that keeps your adult ducks out. Don’t let them begin to physically commingle (with human supervision) until they’ve had multiple weeks to acclimate and your ducklings are much larger.

Our adult ducks are typically just very curious, not aggressive, towards new young ducklings, but they could easily hurt them, so we don’t take risks. With regular visits over the course of the 6-8 weeks before you put your ducklings outside, the two flocks will have plenty of time to acclimate and integrate.

You’ll know better than anyone when it’s time for them to be allowed to be together unsupervised.

Also, don’t be concerned about the occasional nip between your ducklings or a nip between your older ducks and your new duckling flock members. This is simply ducks establishing their boundaries and social dynamics.

Wild card: male ducks (drakes) 

Male ducks (drakes) are far more aggressive and territorial than female ducks. Integrating female ducklings into a flock with a male is much trickier than integrating two groups of females.

Susan the Tyrant giving Sir Winston Duckbill a lecture about his poor decision making.

Susan the Tyrant giving Sir Winston Duckbill a lecture about his poor decision making.

In fact, our drake, Sir Winston Duckbill, still can’t be trusted to behave himself around our girls, much less new ducklings. That’s why he has his own house and run, and is only allowed brief “conjugal visits” with his flock in the morning and at night.

Our girls are much happier and cohesive with Winston separated.

Sir Winston Duckbill has his own run inside of our fenced backyard. He still spends his day with the flock, but he's separated out to improve flock social dynamics and prevent him from mating disinterested females.

Sir Winston Duckbill has his own run inside of our fenced backyard (he refers to this area as “his estate”). He still spends his day with the flock, but he’s separated by fencing in order to improve flock social dynamics and prevent him from over-mating females.

Integrating mixed male-female flocks together would be even more challenging. Upon reaching sexual maturity, our multiple original male ducks spent their days trying to attack and kill each other for rights to the females. This is the reason we only have one male duck today.

Likewise, we recommend one of the following sexing scenarios for YOUR duck flock:

  • all female;
  • all male (apparently, male ducks can coexist harmoniously so long as females aren’t around to compete over);
  • minimum of 3 females to 1 male, with no more than 1 male per flock (5:1 or higher is a better ratio, 3:1 is absolute minimum).

Can you raise ducklings and chicks together?  

Yes, you can raise chicks and ducklings together! In fact, they make fast friends. Be prepared for your ducklings to quickly outgrow your chicks though. You’ll also have to take certain precautions to make sure each species is getting the exact nutrition they need. 

If you’re trying to integrate ducklings or chicks into an existing poultry flock, we still recommend you follow the advice above about slow, cautious, safe integration.

For a more detailed discussion on this topic, read, Raising mixed species poultry together: tips & advise from other experienced, mixed-poultry experts we know. 

7. Additional recommended reading

Want to learn even more about ducks/ducklings and prepare to give your ducks an amazingly happy life? Here are some additional reading resources we recommend:

Do you have questions about how to raise ducklings that we didn’t answer? Ask away in the comments below!

How to raise ducklings, article by Tyrant Farms. All about raising ducks: swimming, duck food, duck brooder, duck heat lamps, duck coops, and more.

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  • Reply
    March 4, 2023 at 11:05 am

    If I am asking a question that has already been answered above or any other blog post, I do apologize. I am wondering at what point did you begin feeding your ducklings the variety of mixed veggies? Did you start right off the bat, or at a particular week post hathching?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 5, 2023 at 9:45 pm

      You can start feeding your ducklings veggies from Day 1, which is what we did. Obviously, the veggies will need to be cut into small pieces. Also, ducklings and ducks can be surprisingly picky. Favorite veggies for our ducklings is always mild-flavored leafy greens like lettuce, kale, chickweed, etc (they don’t like spicy greens like arugula or mustard). They also LOVE diced tomatoes.

  • Reply
    Debbie Fleischer
    January 18, 2023 at 12:26 am

    Hi, for those people who can’t find brewers yeast, a good place to buy it is Josh’s . They have large bags which are more economical. I have bought from them for a couple years. Since my ducks and chickens eat together I just add it to everyone’s food. I just sprinkle a little on top.
    I sure wish I’d found your site before my ducklings were grown. Quite an experience. Now I just go to your site for any duck questions. This year we’ve had a lot of snow. When I’ve been able to let them out, they don’t quite know what to do. They finally figured out that they could walk on top of it. They have built in snowshoes. Poor chickens fall in. I hope my Buttercup can raise babies this year. Will definitely protect her nest from the chickens. Don’t think I want to raise ducklings myself. Lots of work. When you say messy, that’s an understatement. I used to change their bedding and clean their box 2-3 times a day. Everything would be soaked with water, food and poo. Was so glad when they could go outside to the pen. Now they’re way easier than the chickens.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      January 18, 2023 at 4:08 pm

      Ha, thanks Debbie! Yes, flippers do double as effective snow shoes. Our ducks aren’t huge fans of the snow either – although they do love it when it turns to the mucky, slushy stage. Fingers crossed for you, Buttercup the duck, and her potential ducklings.

  • Reply
    Susan Weaver
    May 6, 2022 at 8:26 am

    I have 3 ancona ducklings that are about 4-5 weeks old. They are doing great and I have really enjoyed the information that you post. My question is more about their housing. I live in town so I don’t have a lot of property but do have a large, fenced in back yard. In addition to that, I have a 13’x10′ enclosed area inside with a small house for them to be confined in when the are not free in my main backyard area. I am trying to decide what to use inside their enclosed house are and run. I doubt the grass their will last long and didn’t know if I should but something like pine shaving or straw over the whole area and use the deep litter method throughout the entire run or if perhaps a gravel base would be better. The other tricky issue is that if we have several days of heavy rain my whole back yard gets a little swampy. It doesn’t last long but I feel like that could be an issue to consider. Any suggestions you have would be great.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      May 7, 2022 at 2:31 pm

      Hi Susan! Nope, that grass won’t last long in a duck run so there’s no point in trying to keep it alive. There are a few different options you could use to cover the area, two of which you’ve already mentioned: pine shavings or straw. Either would work fine, as would aspen shavings or hemp (although those are more expensive). We prefer pine shavings to straw since pine shavings aren’t likely to have pesticide residues in them. Pine shavings don’t break down as quickly as straw, which is either a benefit or a detriment depending on how you look at it.

      A gravel base under your duck run could be problematic from the standpoint of foot pad damage/bumblefoot. Also, since rocks aren’t absorbent, that setup wouldn’t lessen your moisture problem and would also allow the duck excreta (fancy word for poop) to wash right through and cause more pollution vs being locked up and composted in carbon-heavy media like straw or wood shavings. If you do use a deep litter method, the area will also soon be above ground level since you’ll continuously add more material on top every day. That will help prevent your ducks from living in a mud pit, although they can certainly handle moist conditions better than chickens since they’re waterfowl.

      Hope this info answers your questions and helps you design a good setup for your ducks in your space. Feel free to ask more questions as you get going!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2021 at 8:50 am

    My daughter and I have been raising 6 Ancona ducklings who are now almost 3 weeks old. We are new to this and your articles have been invaluable to us! Currently, the ducklings seem to be thriving, but I am still a bit unsure regarding the protein in their feed as they reach 3 weeks. Our plan was to mix in 20% oats with their organic starter crumble until about 8 weeks when they are ready for Mazuri Maintenance Feed. The issue is considering oats seem to have about 11% protein, it would have to be mixed with any starter crumble at an almost 1:1 ratio to achieve the target of 15-16% protein. Is your suggestion to just add the 20% oats even if this will only very slightly bring down the protein? It seems so hard to find a consensus out there on this and we are struggling with what to do.

    Thank You!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 21, 2021 at 12:59 pm

      Hi Reid! Sorry for any confusion. The reason there isn’t 100% consensus on this question is there isn’t a single 100% right protein % target for young ducklings in the 2-8 week stage. It’s going to depend on what you’re trying to do… For instance, if you’re raising ducks for meat production, higher protein levels are fine because you’re trying to maximize growth rates. However, for pet ducks or backyard ducks where the goal is often the healthiest birds possible, it is definitely a good idea to lower the protein ratios by supplementing in organic oats, thereby moderating duckling growth rates and decreasing the risk of physical deformities and other health complications as they develop.

      Not to muddy the waters too much, but not all protein is created equally as far as bioavailability is concerned. Animal protein (such as fish meal which is often used in waterfowl feed) is much more bioavailable than plant-based proteins (such as protein found in oats).

      In our experience, ramping up to a 20% whole organic oat ratio (which you can pulverize in a blender before adding to crumble) in your chick starter crumble will lower the bioavailable protein content of their overall food enough to slow growth rates and prevent health problems. You could also go higher if you want. As per Dave Holderread in Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks [Page 251] if you have a starter feed with over 16% protein:

      “Begin by adding 5 percent oats by volume (either meal, rolled, whole, or pelleted) the first week and an additional 5 percent each week until the birds are receiving three parts starter/grower and one part oats.”

      Last two points we want to make sure are crystal clear:
      1) If using chick feed, be sure to add supplemental niacin in to either the ducklings’ food or water, as recommended in the article. Either 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast or 100mg B-Complex per cup of crumble or per gallon of water. 

      2) Ducklings and ducks don’t do well with powder dry crumble, so add some water when mixing the food prior to serving it. You want it to have moisture levels high enough that you can just form the crumble into a ball that sticks together in your hands when squeezed.

      Hope this info helps and thanks for taking such great care of your ducklings! Reach out any time we can be of help.

  • Reply
    August 26, 2021 at 6:08 am

    Hi, I’ve recently got my first ducklings to raise- I already have adult runner ducks and have raised lots of chicks. I’m just wondering what age is appropriate for them to start eating treats as they are only a few days old and I have tried them with some mashed up peas and they loved them and I know they’re healthy for them due to the niacin content but then read somewhere that they have to be 4 weeks for treats? Can they eat all different fruit and veg from this young age as long as it’s mashed to cut into appropriate pieces? Thank you, you’re page has been very informative for me 🙂

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      August 26, 2021 at 2:07 pm

      As long as:
      1) the treats are just treats and not a significant percentage of their overall diet, and
      2) the treats are bite-sized pieces of fruits, veggies, insects, worms, etc and not processed duck “junk food”,
      then you can start giving them treats from Day 1.

      If your ducks are like ours, they’ll be quite particular even from a young age about what treats they do and don’t like. Here’s a list of our flock’s favorites (that seems to line up with most other duck parents’ experiences as well):

      Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    July 15, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    I really want to get some Saxony chicks, but I have some questions.
    1. Can I use old towels and shirts as bedding for the coop? That would be a lot easier for me to just wash then put back.
    2. Can I leave my ducks at home while I am at work? If so how old do they have to be to be left alone? I plan on getting a large cage type thing as well as a coop so they would have plenty of space to run around whilst I am gone.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      July 16, 2021 at 1:19 pm

      Hi Chloe!
      1. Yes, you *could* use old towels and shirts as bedding. However, you’ll probably regret that decision pretty quickly because your ducklings will make them quite disgusting in a hurry. You’ll be washing the cloth materials constantly and it might not be a great idea to wash your own clothes, towels, etc in the same washing machine where you’re also washing used duck bedding. Fine wood shavings (or something similar) help mask the smell and allow you to top up/cover duckling poo spots more easily. You also don’t have to change out the shavings daily – you can get by for a few days with top-ups.

      2. Yes, you can leave your ducklings at home so long as there’s no way for them to kill themselves or be killed by something else in your absence. That means no large open bowls of water where they could potentially drown, a spot for them to stay warm or cool off as-needed, no way for any pet cats or dogs to get to them, etc.

      Hope this helps and please let us know if you have any additional questions about how to raise ducklings that we haven’t covered in this article!

  • Reply
    July 4, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    Hi so I’ve got a 5 week old duckling whom we let out too early with the other free roaming chickens and ducks and he was attacked by a cockral .
    He’s pecked his head and his eyes the poor thing, so I’ve used saline on his eyes and coconut oil on his wounds after antiseptic. Now because he can’t see well I’ve been hand feeding him , he was on chick crumb and I didn’t know about the nutritional yeast so I will add that and also some oats and make it into a porridge and hold it to his beak . Do you have any other advice ?
    I’ve just started working on this small farm and the guy who owns the ducks is well not a great duck dad so I’ve taken this one under my wing bless him .

  • Reply
    Miglshi Giruakonda
    June 10, 2021 at 9:09 am

    very educational and inspiring for me as I have an interest to get into duck farming.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      June 10, 2021 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks Miglshi! Glad our article on raising ducklings was helpful for you.

  • Reply
    Melissa Brodhead
    May 15, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    Hi, I was wondering if you knew why it says on the back of the chick grit packages to only give it to ducklings if they are at least 2 weeks old. I read on your page and in the book you recommended, Storey’s Guide to raising ducks that it is okay to give it to ducklings when they are just a couple days old….

    Right now I am feeding my ducklings chick grit (Dumour chick grit w/probiotics) and I just want to make double sure that it’s okay. I am feeding my ducklings little bits of parsley, lettuce, and some rolled oats in addition to their starter/crumble.

    • Reply
      Melissa Brodhead
      May 15, 2021 at 3:33 pm

      Just to clarify, the reason I am starting rolled oats this early, is because Dave Holderread from Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducklings said he sprinkles a little bit on the top of their food starting on day 3. (I think the reason is to gradually get the ducklings used to rolled oats in their food so that by the time they are 3 weeks old, they won’t reject their food when it has 20% rolled oats mixed in.)

      • Reply
        Aaron von Frank
        May 16, 2021 at 7:39 am

        Hi Melissa! A lot of times, people just feed their ducklings the crumble feed with no extra treats. Nothing wrong with that. However, crumble feed is made to be very easily digestible by ducklings’ digestive systems so they don’t technically need grit (which helps them grind chunkier/harder food in their gizzards/ventriculus) to digest crumble. We like to give our ducklings treats and let them start foraging outside immediately so we allow them access to grit (we do NOT mix it with their food) so they can get grit as-needed to aid in digestion. When we let them out to forage, it’s usually in grassy areas or mulched garden beds where they can’t easily access grit from the soil. Since you’re providing treats and oats, it also makes sense to provide a small separate bowl of grit for your ducklings. Again, do not mix it in to their food since they’d eat more grit than they need.

        Here’s an article that goes deeper in-depth about how a duck’s digestive system works if you’re interested:

    • Reply
      February 21, 2023 at 6:48 pm

      My guess would be because ducklings need more niacin in the begining and about 4 percent more protienn then chicks.

  • Reply
    Jennifer Miller
    April 14, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    Thank you for a very informative article. Before I ask my question let me describe my situation. We got our annual chicks last Friday Apr 9. Saturday my dad had ducklings that he didn’t want to mess with so we brought them home Monday and keep them with the chicks. Right now they have heat water and chick starter. I now know to add niacin so my question is can I use flush free niacin? Each capsule is 400 mg so what do you suggest I do about the dosage? I realize in 3 weeks we’re going to have to set the ducks up in a different brooder. Also, you’re right they are MESSY little buggers! Thanks for reading.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      April 15, 2021 at 9:31 am

      Hi Jennifer! First, good luck with your ducklings and chicks! Yours is a fairly common question which we directly address in the article, so I’ll just copy and paste below for clarity. No, you don’t want to use flush-free B vitamins.

      “To supplement, we typically add 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast per cup of crumble or 100mg B-Complex. (You can also add the same amount per gallon of drinking water instead of to their food.)

      You can order either form of Niacin via Amazon: nutritional yeast or as B-Complex vitamin capsules. (Make sure you don’t get timed-release or flush-free B-vitamins — neither of those are Niacin!)”

      You may also be able to find nutritional yeast at your local grocery store since it’s a commonly used cheese-alternative for humans.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    Have you tried Mazuri Waterfowl Starter feed? Is Mazuri a good brand for ducklings? I’m going to be getting ducklings in May and want to make sure that I have the right type of feed. The protein is 20%. I plan on supplementing the feed with oats at week 3. Will the ducks eat the oats if it’s not mixed in with a crumble type of feed? The Mazuri waterfowl starter feed is a pellet type of feed. I’m worried the ducklings will pick out the pellets and leave the oats. Any advice? I tried to order the McGeary Organics Feed you recommended but they were going to charge over $100 for shipping and that is just too much money in my opinion.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 13, 2021 at 10:33 am

      Hi Melissa! Yikes, that is expensive shipping. If you have a Feed & Seed type store near you, they may be able to order McGeary Organics Duckling Feed and help you avoid those shipping costs. Answers to your questions:

      1) Yes, Mazuri makes an excellent waterfowl feed, whether that’s starter, layer, or maintainer. However, they’re more for large-scale operations/farms, not necessarily the small backyard/pet duck parent. The difference between those two paradigms is significant. Commercial operations aim for fast growth rates and high egg production (if a duck gets sick/injured/old, it gets culled). Our primary focus is optimal health and longevity for our ducks, which means we’re aiming for more natural growth rates during ducklinghood and lower egg production at maturity (if one of our ducks gets sick/injured we incur vet bills).

      2) With the above information in mind, if you get Mazuri Waterfowl Starter feed for your ducklings, you will want to lower that protein down at Week 3 using oats. Nope, your ducklings probably won’t eat it in the proper ratio if it’s in a separate container or mixed in with the kibble. What you can do instead is blend the pellets and the oats together. When you serve it, you’ll then probably want to add water so it’s more of an oatmeal type consistency otherwise the powdery consistency can cause some choking and coughing.

      3) Ok, now with point #1 and #2 in mind, here’s something else that *could* go wrong: If you switch food types (from kibble to crumble or vice versa), your ducklings — or some of your ducklings — might reject their food. So, if you plan to go this route, you’ll probably want to blend and serve it at oatmeal consistency from Day 1 (without the oats for first two weeks).

      Hope this helps and best of luck with your flock!

      • Reply
        Jen Muchler
        September 14, 2021 at 9:27 am

        I love all of your articles! We currently have two 12-week old runner female ducks that we are raising as pets with our 1 year old runner drake. We have fed them per your recommended guidelines, adding the nutritional yeast and cutting the protein % with organic oatmeal mixed in their crumble. I know at this point you recommend protein to be at or around 13 – 14 %. As we are raising our hens for pets and do not really care if they are big egg producers, and also as they are living with our drake, would you recommend maintenance food vs. laying food? I do not want to do harm to our hens by potentially not giving them what they may need.
        Also, at what age would you recommend that we switch the girls to adult food and stop adding the oatmeal and nutritional yeast? When this happens, what food would you recommend? I have heard great things about Mazuri Waterfowl Maintenance.
        Thank you so much for all of your wisdom! Moe, Binnie, and Woo thank you as well!

        • Aaron von Frank
          September 14, 2021 at 12:49 pm

          Hi Jen! Thanks for the kind words and glad to hear you’re finding our duck articles helpful.

          1. Just in case you haven’t read it, we have a detailed article about what dietary regimen our avian vet recommends for optimizing the long-term health of adult female ducks here: The short of it: she recommends Mazuri waterfowl maintenance (14% protein feed) + always making calcium supplement/oyster shell available. There is a caveat: if you notice egg shells that aren’t as hard as they should be, bumpy shells, or other indications that they’re not getting as much calcium/protein as they may need while they’re laying, you should bump up the nutrition by adding Mazuri waterfowl layer up to 50/50% combined with maintenance feed. We ended up at 50/50 maintenance:layer in the middle of the summer this year because we couldn’t find the oyster shell supplement our girls love and they were refusing to eat alternatives. All but one of our girls has now stopped laying for the season and are molting into their eclipse plumage (or already have). This is exactly what we want to happen: fewer eggs but healthier ducks. We haven’t had a sick duck in our flock (other than a leg injury/infection) since we started this feeding regimen. This is not to pass judgment on people who prefer to raise ducks purely for egg production or meat; this is just our approach since our ducks are more pets than production animals.

          2. Since you’re planning to raise your drake and hens together, he may end up getting higher calcium and protein than he needs if you start adding in layer feed. That’s a tricky one. As long as he’s not getting higher protein/calcium feed for the majority of the year, he should be fine though. Frankly, if he’s like drakes we’ve had over the years, we’ll be surprised if you don’t end up putting him in a separate pen and coop at some point until he calms down after mating season. Drakes can be real pains in the butt!

          3. You can switch your flock to Mazuri waterfowl maintenance (pellets) at weeks ~8-9. Since ducks can be finicky and partial to a certain type of food, you don’t want to make this a cold-turkey transition. Instead, you could start putting out both types of food (pellets and mixed crumble/oats) around week 8 and/or do a mix of pellets/crumble in the same bowl(s). Then over 10-14 days you’d gradually switch to 100% pellets once your ducks get used to them.

          Hope this helps and let us know if you have any additional questions! Best of luck to you, Moe, Binnie, and Woo!

  • Reply
    September 14, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Thank you so much for making this!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 14, 2020 at 12:39 pm

      You’re welcome! Hope it’s helpful for you and your ducklings/ducks.

  • Reply
    September 3, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    Hello, I am so glad we stumbled across your website! We are transitioning to ducks from chickens after a horrible experience with Mareks disease and have six ducklings (Pekins and Swedish) who are about 10 days old. Like you we are organic gardeners and aspiring homesteaders who want happy, healthy birds (one of our surviving chickens is 9 this year!) I really appreciate this and your other post about duck feed as the man at the feed store who raises ducks for meat and show had my husband convinced they should stay on 19% protein feed forever.
    Two questions – I was confused about whether to cut protein at the start or end of their third week – is it when they are about 21 days? And do you grind up your oats at all, since our ducklings are otherwise on crumbles, or are they able to handle a whole oat if they have grit?
    Thanks again!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 7, 2020 at 11:17 am

      Hi Mina! Wow, nine years is a long life for a chicken! Our two oldest ducks turn eight this year. Maybe we could start a poultry retirement home together. 😛

      As for your two questions:
      1. Cutting protein for ducklings: we recommend doing this between the end of the second week and start of the third week, so some time around days 20-22.
      2. Our ducklings gobbled down whole oats perfectly fine, but it can’t hurt to grind the oats first. Recommendation here: try whole oats first and if you notice your ducklings NOT eating them, then start grinding them. Ideally, you can save a little time and not have to grind them first though.

      Best of luck on raising a happy, healthy duck flock! Reach out any time we can be of help.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 9, 2020 at 3:53 pm

      Mina – Ugh, sorry. Realized I put wrong info in that previous reply. End of second week = around 14 days. Sorry about that. Tired brain does not math.

      • Reply
        September 10, 2020 at 9:43 am

        No worries, I remember the exhaustion of having an infant! In the meantime, we were devastated to come home and find our Pekin Susan (we didn’t intentionally name her after Mrs Tyrant Farms, she just looked like a Susan!) unable to stand. The Tufts ED vet thinks she has Perosis from too much weight gain, so she also recommended cutting the protein. Susan Duck is standing a little better today with her hobbles on, thankfully, but do you add any vitamins besides nutritional yeast/ niacin when you cut the protein with oats?

        • Aaron von Frank
          September 10, 2020 at 10:35 pm

          So sorry, Mina! No, we didn’t add any vitamins or minerals other than nutritional yeast. We did provide access to fresh, greens and small pieces of tomatoes a few times per day, which they love. Both of those are obviously more carbohydrate-heavy than protein-heavy, but don’t really move the scale when it comes to macro-nutrient density. Best of luck on Susan’s speedy recovery.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    Awesome thanks so much

  • Reply
    July 30, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Hey there Tyrant farms!!
    Love this website…so helpful! I am looking into breeding my ducks and am wondering what to feed them. I am going to let the mother incubate and raise them and do not know if she can eat the waterfowl starter feed with them when they are living together. Any help is appreciated!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      July 30, 2020 at 1:22 pm

      Great question, Beanie! We’ve had this exact scenario play out. Our thoughts/experience: when ducks go broody and start sitting on their eggs, they take in very few calories and will lose a good bit of weight. Once those eggs hatch, they can use the extra calories/nutrition provided by starter feed. When we let one of our girls raise her own, she had access to the same starter feed crumble her ducklings got, and it helped her bounce back from being broody. Short answer: yes, a formerly broody momma duck is fine eating starter feed during the time window her ducklings need it. Do be sure to follow our duckling feed instructions since protein ratios do change over time. Best of luck!

  • Reply
    Kathleen Joyce
    July 7, 2020 at 9:01 am

    Hi Susan and Aaron! Thank you so much for the wonderful website. The information provided has been extremely helpful when raising our new Khaki Campbell ducklings. Based on your recommendation, we have been feeding our girls McGeary’s Organic Starter Feed and are very happy with it. They are approximately 6 weeks old and we have been mixing their feed with rolled oats since week 3. My question is, do you keep them on this feed until they are egg laying? Also, do you add more oatmeal at 9 weeks to further reduce the protein? Or, is there a grower feed that you recommend? Thanks again for your advice. We are new ducks parents and want to give our girls the best start possible.

  • Reply
    Kathleen Joyce
    July 7, 2020 at 9:01 am

    Hi Lauren. Thank you so much for the wonderful website. The information provided has been extremely helpful when raising our new Khaki Campbell ducklings. Based on your recommendation, we have been feeding our girls McGeary’s Organic Starter Feed and are very happy with it. They are approximately 6 weeks old and we have been mixing their feed with rolled oats since week 3. My question is, do you keep them on this feed until they are egg laying? Also, do you add more oatmeal at 9 weeks to further reduce the protein? Or, is there a grower feed that you recommend? Thanks again for your advice. We are new ducks parents and want to give our girls the best start possible.

  • Reply
    Miah Denton
    June 11, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Hello Tyrant Farms! We decided to add ducks to our farm, and while they are a whole new level of messy, they are so adorable and hilarious! With that, we eventually want to integrate them with our chickens for free ranging. Are ducks as reliable to free range and return as chickens are? Our chickens stay up around the front 5 acres, but my fear is the ducks will get curious and venture off into the back 80 acres where there is a spring fed creek. Complete with many coyotes and bobcats. Thank you for any insight you can give!

  • Reply
    Barbara Borgeld
    May 9, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Hi there Tyrant Farms. I am so glad I found you. My Giant Pekin ducklings should arrive in 3 more days. I chose them because they look like cartoons, have a perpetual smile and are listed as excellent pets. I have been prepared for over a year but have learned I am missing a few important things thanks to your wonderful articles. I have 5 Blue Cochin hens 2 years old and would like all to be friends. It will take the whole summer to integrate them and I will follow your protocol. Again, I am so grateful to have found the both of you!!!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      May 11, 2020 at 8:16 pm

      Hi Barbara! Thanks so much for your kind note. It means a lot to us. Sounds like you’ll have a beautiful, fun flock to share life with. We’re strongly considering getting Pekins in our next round of ducklings as well – they are one of the most sociable duck breeds and do make excellent pets. You may not have to go the WHOLE summer to integrate your flocks, but you’ll know when everyone is ready as you’re taking the steps we outline. Best wishes!

  • Reply
    Lauren R
    April 30, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Hello. I am feeding my 3 week old Cayuga ducklings a feed with 22% protein diluted with oats and brewers yeast. As I recalibrated their feed proportions, I realized that old fashioned oats are 20% protein themselves and the brewers yeast also has a high protein content. I have not been able to find another feed with a protein content lower than 18% and am worried that my ducklings will suffer deformities if I don’t correct this quickly. Any advice on a different brand of feed or another way to dilute the protein content in their feed? I bring them greens daily but I don’t know if it’s enough to dilute it. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      April 30, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      Hi Lauren! Thanks for your concern. Even though oats do contain some protein, they’re primarily carbohydrate and will still dilute down your overall protein ratios enough to bring it within the ideal range for 3-8 week old ducklings. A simple way to keep your duckling feed within ideal macronutrient ranges is to scoop 1 part whole old fashioned oats: 4 parts duckling feed, mix together then serve to ducklings. You’d have to add a LOT of brewers yeast to throw off their protein ratios, especially given that you’re providing greens, which are mostly carbohydrate as well. Bottom line: sounds like you’re doing a great job. Just make sure to keep the oat-to-feed ratio in line and your ducklings will thrive.

      Hope this helps, but please let us know if you have other questions.

  • Reply
    Connie Middaugh
    April 17, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Hello- I have been following your articles for a couple years – very informative – thank you! On your recommendation I have purchased WH ducklings and am following your recommendations as close as possible. My question- do I need to supplement their diet with niacin if they are getting duckling starter (McGeary Organics)?
    P.S. I live in Greenville also – close to Furman.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      April 17, 2020 at 2:37 pm

      Hi Connie! Great question. Because niacin is such a critical nutrient and there’s no harm from them getting a bit more than they need, we always supplement when we raise ducklings even if we have a feed formulated specifically for ducklings. We also used McGeary Organics, by the way. Funny you live so close to us AND have Welsh Harlequin ducks! Please reach out any time we can be of help.

      • Reply
        Connie Middaugh
        August 9, 2020 at 5:59 pm

        I thought I read somewhere in one of the comments that you are now buying your feed at Tractor Supply in TR. if so, what brand is it? I didn’t see Mazuri waterfowl feed in the store.
        Thank you for all your informative articles!

        • Aaron von Frank
          August 11, 2020 at 12:25 pm

          Connie: just ask Buddy or whoever is at the register. They have Mazuri waterfowl feed (both maintenance and layer) out with the other feed in the outdoor warehouse.

        • Aaron von Frank
          August 11, 2020 at 3:33 pm

          So sorry, Connie! Just realized I told you the wrong thing. I meant TR Feed & Seed, across from Tandem Crepery, NOT Tractor Supply. Tractor Supply does not carry Mazuri waterfowl feed.

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