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Raising Ducklings 101

The joy of raising ducklings. A group of ducklings walking.
Quack, Quack, Waddle, Waddle… Here come the baby ducklings. Are you ready?

When baby ducklings waddle into our lives we want to provide them the care they need to grow into strong healthy ducks.

Much like raising baby chicks, raising ducklings requires a good deal of your time and attention and you will need to be prepared before they arrive. In this article, we will address the basics of raising ducklings. Of course, always work with your local veterinarian to give your ducklings proper care.

The Duckling Brooder

A brooder is where your ducklings will live until they are old enough to move to the outside coop. A duckling brooder can be made out a variety objects such as: a cardboard box, a plastic tote/storage container, a wooden box or even a bathtub!

Bedding for the Duckling Brooder

As you can probably imagine, raising baby ducks is a slightly wetter experience than raising baby chicks. That being said, their bedding needs to be highly absorbent and changed frequently. Pine shavings are highly recommended. As with chicks, do not use newspapers or cedar chips as bedding. The newspapers are so slick they can damage the duckling’s legs and the cedar chips give off harmful fumes.

Heat Source for Ducklings

Baby chicks and ducklings both need an infrared heat lamp to keep them warm. However, ducklings don’t need quite as much heat. For ducklings, it is recommended you keep their brooder at 90 degrees for the first week of life and then lower the temperature by 5 degrees each subsequent week until they are 6 to 8 weeks of age. It is important that brooders are not heated evenly. Ducklings need to be able to walk in and out of the hotter area of the brooder.

Feeding and Watering Your Ducklings

Ducklings need constant access to water not only for drinking, but also for cleaning their eyes and nostrils. Feeding baby ducklings is a bit more complicated than feeding baby chicks because specially made duckling food is very hard to find and feed for adult ducks can kill a duckling. Unmedicated baby chick starter feed can be fed to ducklings, but a niacin supplement and brewer’s yeast will need to be added.

Let’s Go Swimming!

Baby ducklings love to go for a swim, but they need constant supervision. A plastic storage bin makes a great baby pool for ducklings. Fill it with a few inches of warm water and let your ducklings do their laps (or circles). They tire and chill easily so just a short (a few minutes) swim followed by a quick dry off will suffice. After their swimming adventure, ducklings should be quickly returned to their brooder where they can rest and get warm under their heat light.

We hope this article has helped you get started learning how to raise ducklings. A very social bird, ducks need the company of other ducks. If you’re planning on keeping them as pets, they will also bond to their human family members. They’ve even been known to enjoy the company of the family dog and cat. These are definitely birds with big personalities and they are a joy to raise!


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