Raising Ducks for Beginners
Raising Ducks: Introduction
In the United States, a whopping 20+ million ducks are raised every single year. Many of these ducks are raised on commercial duck farms, but more and more backyard poultry hobbyists are discovering the joys of raising ducks on a small scale level. Raising ducks is easy and can be a great way to start raising poultry, or an extension of your current poultry hobby.
Most people start raising ducks for meat. However, ducks can also be raised for eggs or for ornamental purposes. Learn how to start raising ducks in your backyard today!
Raising Ducks: Brooding Ducklings
Most people start their flock of ducks with baby ducks. Raising baby ducks can be a lot of fun, but it requires additional equipment (e.g. a brooder for your ducklings).
You can brood your ducklings in any sheltered area that is free from cold drafts, as well as dry and well-ventilated (to prevent a buildup of fumes). To prepare the brooding area, cover the floor with three to four inches of soft, absorbent brooder litter material. Many backyard hobbyists who raise ducks like to use farm straw or finely shredded wood shavings.
Heat the brooder area to keep your baby ducks warm by using standard brooder lamps (i.e. infrared heat lamps). A single 250 watt infrared heat lamp bulb should be sufficient for most small batches of baby ducks.
Keep the ducklings in the duck brooder until they're old enough to handle non-heated air temperatures. Typically, up to five weeks of age.
Raising Ducks: Feeding Ducks
Feed your ducklings fresh duck feed and clean water. Both feed and water should be made available to your ducklings as soon as the baby ducks are placed in a brooder.
Water for Your Ducks: Use a standard poultry waterer, such as the type used for chickens. Ensure that the trough or lip of the waterer is deep enough to allow the ducklings to submerge their entire heads. As they get older, the waterers should be adjusted accordingly to continue to allow the ducks to submerge their heads. Ducks are waterfowl and should be raised as such, though it is not necessary to provide your ducks with a pond or lake in which they can swim.
Feeding Ducks: What you feed your baby ducks depends on what is available in your area. Feed ducklings food specifically formulated to feed ducklings. If your local poultry or farm feed store does not have duckling feed, you can feed your baby ducks starter feed made for chicks (baby chickens). This feed is high in protein and can help them grow properly. Feed chick starter for the first three weeks, then switch your ducks to grower or adult feed.
Raising Ducks: Additional Resources
- The Basics of Raising Ducks
A comprehensive guide to raising ducks, feeding ducks, and hatching and brooding your own ducklings
- Additional Articles on Raising Ducks
Various articles on feeding, brooding and raising ducks.
- List of Duck Breeds
Every type of duck breed has specific strengths depending on why you wish to raise ducks.
Photos of Ducks
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