Whether you're raising ducklings as pets or for eggs or meat, you'll find them somewhat easier to care for than chicks. They're more disease-resistant. Whatever type of feed you give your ducklings, use a pelleted or crumbled form. It's easier for them to pick up and eat. Ducks and ducklings are notorious for wasting food, so you must supply even more than they can eat since so much becomes fouled.
If you're raising newly hatched ducklings in a brooder with a heat lamp, only put in half the amount of baby ducks that the manufacturer recommends for chicks. Ducklings grow much faster and require more space. If your local farm supply store doesn't stock and won't order special food for ducklings or waterfowl starter feed, you can feed these babies feed designed for chicks. They should have food in front of them all the time. However, don't use the medicated chick feed for your ducklings as it can harm them as they are more sensitive to certain pharmaceuticals. Because chick feed doesn't contain sufficient niacin for waterfowl, add a supplement for the chicks, either in the water or the feed. Continue supplementing niacin as long as your ducks are fed rations designed for other fowl.
Two Weeks and Up
Once your ducklings reach the age of two weeks, transition them to a 16 to 18 percent protein chick starter, if duck feed isn't available. That percentage is a little high for ducklings, so add regular rolled oats to the feed to cut down on the amount of protein the ducklings eat. At the age of one month, transition your ducklings to a lower-protein maintenance diet, generally with a 14 percent protein content. At that point, you can stop adding the oats.
About the age of 14 weeks, female ducks begin egg-laying, so they are no longer ducklings. You should feed your female ducks a diet designed for laying hens, with higher protein, but don't feed this diet to your male ducks. They should continue with the 14 percent protein feed.
All animals need a constant supply of fresh, clean water for drinking. Ducklings take a bite of food, then wash it down with water. That means the waterer gets pretty dirty very fast, so clean and refill the waterer frequently. You can provide tubs for your ducklings to swim in, but these also get dirty very quickly and require constant water changing.
Ducklings can free-range outdoors on warm days, as can ducklings raised by their mothers. They'll consume pasture and other greenery,which provides good nutritional support. If it's too cold out for ducklings, you can give them good-quality hay. Don't feed hay to ducklings if still using brooder lamps to avoid the risk of fire.
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