10 Budget-Friendly Ways to Raise and Feed Ducks
Suburban, even urban, homesteaders choose ducks because they are the easiest domestic poultry to raise. In fact, a small fence will be sufficient to keep them from waddling far and protect them from wild animals and neighborhood pets. Likewise, ducks prefer to forage for much of their own food. They're resistant to parasites and diseases too. Also, they are cheaper to raise than chickens.
Is raising ducks new to you?
Here are 10 cost-effective ways to raise and feed them.
# 1 Select the best duck eggs for incubating and hatching.
Not all duck eggs are perfect for hatching. You can actually tell whether or not these are duck hatching eggs or fertile duck eggs by just checking their size, color and shell quality.
To get started, carefully select the assorted duck eggs before placing them inside the incubator. Avoid cracked, double-yolked, irregularly-shaped, undersized, over-sized, or dirty eggs to ensure that they will hatch.
Note that the process involved in incubating and hatching chicken eggs can also be applied to duck eggs. So, there's no hassle at all.
Note: The book on the right side is what I am using right now to guide me through the production of duck eggs I home, which I think every duck raisers should have. It has great collection of helpful articles to incubate, hatch, and collect duck eggs. Everything is there. It is a one stop guide.
Enjoy hatching your own ducklings then!
Here's how to know by candling the duck eggs.
# 2 Remove the useless eggs in the incubator.
After 5 to 7 days or one week, check the eggs in the incubator. This time, your goal is to determine infertile or useless duck eggs. And, there are many ways you can do this investigation part.
You can either use a flashlight or by simply using a candle. What you should do is remove the eggs with clear and cloudy shells.
Eggs with clear shells indicates that they are unfit and infertile while eggs with cloudy shells are eggs with dead fetus inside.
# 3 Raise 3 to 4 ducklings.
If you prefer to buy ducklings instead of raising them from eggs, it is best advised to acquire two to four so that you can take care of them better and they can mingle with other ducks.
The ducklings can be so cute to look at!
# 4 Give them water to drink.
Hydrate the ducklings with room temperature water in shallow container. You can also add 1/3 cup of sugar for each gallon of water.
# 5 Put a brooder made of recyclable or used materials.
Set up a brooder using an old bathtub, plastic tote, dog crate, or cardboard box lined with plastic to keep your ducklings safe and warm and shield them from predators, drafts, and diseases. Place a water dish on one end of the brooder and line a few layers of newspaper under it to absorb the excess water that the ducklings will splash out.
# 6 Prepare chick fountains and shallow bowls.
Ducks love to splash in ponds to easily swallow their food and keep themselves clean. If you do not have pond in your backyard, it is recommended to prepare chick fountains and shallow bowls, not deeper than 1/4 inch to prevent the ducklings from drowning. A plastic wading pool can also be used as a swimming hole for adult ducks. Keep a dish of water near the ducks' food source.
Here's an example of non-medicated duck feed.
# 7 Feed with organic food.
Give them specialized duckling feed or plain, non-medicated chick feed.
You can also opt to for a chick feed sprinkled with brewer's yeast in order to provide extra niacin. For additional protein, slowly add one part oats to three parts feed to their food.
You can also offer healthier treats, such as commercial chick grit, dandelion greens, grass, untreated weeds, worms, kale, peas, and moistened oatmeal every couple of days.
# 8 Let them forage around.
Adult ducks will forage for slugs, grasses, and other foods on their own, but you need to supplement their food supply with balanced, nutritious food, such as commercial waterfowl feed, commercial gamebird feed or non-medicated chicken feed. You may also add supplements of grit for better digestion and calcium to strengthen their bones.
# 9 Protect the ducks through fencing.
Surround their grazing area with a protective fence to protect them from wild predators and bad weather. An insulated house, coop, or enclosed pen will work best, although it does not need to be perfectly snug.
Am I sick or not?
# 10 Watch for illness signs.
Watch out for signs of illness, including ruffled feathers, lethargy, changes in food or water intake, and bloody diarrhea. If you notice any sign that your duck is sick, you should quarantine it and treat it immediately.
So, are you excited to start raising ducks at home?
These guidelines will surely help you raise healthy, strong, and good-laying ducks so you have fresh and organic egg supply in your kitchen every day.