Raising baby ducks, or ducklings, is partly a pleasure because of how adorable and adorable they are and partly a challenge. Ducks are versatile and useful animals in the yard, even if you don’t have much room for them.
Ducks help with caring for insects, laying eggs, providing meat as they grow, and giving you something adorable to care for as a duck. Although they are strong as adults, ducklings that have just hatched from their shells need a lot of warmth and security to grow into strong and healthy adults.
If you’re getting ready to take care of your ducks and need some pointers, you’ve come to the right place. We have a grooming guide that will provide you with all the information you need to herd your ducks to adulthood.
Baby Duck Facts
There are more varieties of ducks, especially domesticated ones, than ever before. Most of these duck breeds can trace their origins back to Anas platyrhynchos. In Southeast Asia, breeding ducks in captivity dates back to 500 BC History tells us that the Romans enjoyed roast duck more than almost any other early group of people.
Today, there are species of ducks living all over the world. Many of them are unique to their geographic area and have evolved as separate species. The most common domesticated species in North America include:
Black East Indian Duck
Duck Campbell Khaki
There is much more available for homeowners who wish to raise their own ducks.
The first thing you should notice when you start raising baby ducks is that they are born featherless. Instead, they will have a soft, downy coat.
One way you can tell when they’re maturing is that they’re about to start growing actual feathers. Adult feathers are waterproof, which allows ducks to spend so much of their time in the water.
A fully feathered duckling is between 7 and 9 weeks of age and is often considered an adult at this time.
Do Baby Ducks Make Good Pets?
Ducks raised as pets love human interaction. They are gentle creatures and funny to watch.
Ducks are intelligent creatures although they don’t always like to be held. They are fairly clean, although their pens need frequent cleaning to keep them from smelling.
A duck needs the companionship of at least one other duck, but they enjoy life in small flocks for the most part. Keep in mind that there are many different breeds, and their preferences may change between them. For the most part, to be truly happy, ducks need a partner—they are lovers, not warriors.
Ducks can learn how to do tricks, enjoy playing with toys, and recognize the people they feel most comfortable with around them.
Ducklings should stay with their mother until they are about 2 months old and have a complete adult coat. It was then that they were able to fly far and make their own way in this big and beautiful world.
Where Can I Get Baby Ducks?
Baby ducks are easy to find from local retailers and community farms. Many people who raise large numbers of ducks will sell several ducks from each brood each year. Some of them will even turn it into a more significant retail business.
When you are looking for ducks or more than one to start your flock, the best thing to do is to look into places that sell them in your area. Do a Google search to find out which farms sell ducks and talk to them about how they raise and breed their ducks.
You can also get them from larger retailers, but you’re less likely to get well-bred ducks if you go this route.
Important note: Taking ducks from the wild is illegal. Migratory birds protect most ducks in North America. It is only allowed for humans to interact with the duck population during the hunting season.
If you find abandoned baby ducks, it’s best not to touch them for a while to make sure they’re really abandoned. If you take the baby ducks home, you cannot release them back into the wild, as this would be a death sentence for them after interacting with humans.
On the other hand, if you believe this baby has been abandoned, talk to your local Wildlife and Fisheries Officer, and they will rehabilitate him.
What Kind of Home Do My Baby Ducks Need?
Before you adopt a duck, you should make sure that you have a home ready for them when you bring them into your home or farm. Ducks take about 24 hours after hatching from their shells to get used to the new world they are in. After that, you have to move it to the parent.
The brooder is a well-insulated box that will help keep the ducks warm. Until the ducks start to grow their full feathers, they have a hard time regulating the temperature. If they were too cold, they would quickly die.
You can use a plastic storage container, a sturdy cardboard box, a wooden box, or even a glass aquarium large enough for the ducks to roam around as an effective brooding box.
Boxes need to be ventilated to allow them to breathe but not to allow cold air to enter. The top should have plenty of holes, but not too many holes on the sides of the master box.
Line the bottom of the box with wood shavings or a towel, something sticky and textured. Like many newborn creatures, ducks are little quacks who are quite wobbly during their first few weeks of life.
Install the brooding light on the side of the box pointing downwards into the box. It’s best to put them aside rather than center them, as that will give them room to cool off on the other end. Use a 100 watt bulb for very young ducklings. As you age, you can reduce the heat by lifting the lamp further away from the edge of the box.
Provide the ducks with a shallow drinking bowl, and make sure they always have water, just not enough for them to fall and drown, as their feathers are not waterproof.
What Should I Feed My Baby Duck?
Feed the ducks with the starter crumb mixture. They will not eat for the first 24 hours after hatching. They are still absorbing the last nutrients available to them from the yolk in their eggs.
Once they have finished this process, you should start with the starter crumbs. These are great duck food little pellets and the perfect size for little ducks. You should be able to find these packages at your local feed supply store and online.
After their first 24 hours have passed, prepare this for them and make sure they always have access to food from then on.
These crumbs will be unfamiliar to new ducks, and you may need to add some water to make them easier to swallow.
If you have weak ducks, you may want to add more nutrients to their diet. Feed them foods such as mashed duck egg yolks until they are firm enough to digest their starter crumbs.
After 10 days of eating starter crumbs, you can replace your duck with farmer’s pellets. It provides the same nutrition as starter crumbs but is slightly larger.
At 16 weeks, your ducklings may be ready to switch to adult duck food.
- Read Related: What Do Baby Ducks Eat In The Wild & As Pets?
How Do I Take Care of My Baby Duck?
Ducks can be handled gently during the aging process, especially if you want them to get used to human interaction. The more secure they feel around you, the more likely they will feel comfortable and happy with your interactions when they become adults.
Ducks should always be kept in groups. They are social creatures and need companionship with other ducks, especially when they are young.
Another important factor when raising ducks is helping them learn to swim. Ducks love water, and they will love to play in it from 1 week old.
In a natural situation, the mother duck will transfer some of the oil from her feathers to her duck’s feathers so that they are more buoyant. Since this is not the case with brooder, you cannot allow them to swim in more than 1 inch of water unsupervised.
We recommend filling the painter’s pan with water so they can splash in it while you watch their playtime. Let them do this daily once they reach 1 week of age for about 15 minutes a day until they start growing their full coat.
When cleaning their pens, you should remove the shavings and dry them every few days. If you have a large number of ducks in your cage, do this more often to ensure a clean and dry environment to keep your ducks healthy.
How Do I Know If My Baby Duck Is Sick?
Ducks are generally quite tough creatures. They will usually remain in excellent health as long as you meet all of their basic needs. The most important factor in keeping ducks healthy is making sure that they are always warm enough and that their food and water are clean and available. Dirty water is often the cause of health problems in ducks.
Ducks can develop breathing problems such as bronchitis. They can sound like they are panting, and you may even notice discharge from their nose.
Bumblefoot is another common duck disease. It is a staphylococcal infection that infects their feet and will often occur when they cut their feet. Bumblefoot eventually looks like black scabs on their feet and will cause the duck to limp.
Another potential disease is sticky eyes. This infection is often caused by dirt or scratching. This will look like a bubbling fluid oozing out of their eye or a red swelling that eventually causes the eye to close constantly.
Many of these diseases are more common in adult ducks than ducks, as ducks must be kept relatively protected. Observe your ducks to learn about their natural behavior so you can more easily recognize changes in their behavior and point to potential health problems.
- Next on your reading list: What Do Ducks Eat? What Feeds Them?
If you’re considering adopting a duck, you’ll need to get all the “ducks in a row” before bringing them home. Even a short time spent in cold weather can damage their health or be fatal. Make sure you have a brooding box and heat lamp set up to move it smoothly.
Ducks are adorable creatures to keep, and they can be useful as pets or in the homestead. Luckily, they are quite strong, and a little love and care can go a long way.
- Read Related: How to Take Care of a Lost Baby Bird (Care Sheet & Guide 2021)
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay