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Baby Ducks & How to Raise Them (Guide to Duck Care)

Raising baby ducks isn’t an easy task. You need a feeder, a brooder, housing, water, social interactions, and patience. Ducks are very gentle and entertaining and can make great pets.

If you enjoy having pets around, you may enjoy raising ducklings. They’re very gentle creatures and can be very entertaining.

It can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to know what to do in order to care for them properly.

In this guide, we’ll outline the basics of duckling care, including tips on feeding, housing, and keeping the ducklings healthy and safe.

What Are Baby Ducks Called?

Baby ducks are called ducklings. 

Ducklings live with their mother in a group and stay very close to her. When they’re first born, they are taken care of by their mother. When they’re about 7 to 9 years old, they will have fully developed feathers and can begin to venture out into the world.

Related: What are baby ducks called?

Mother Duck Quacks to her Ducklings

What Do Baby Ducks Eat?

Ducklings should receive a very specific diet from the day they’re born. Ducklings are typically fed duck starter or duck grower, but chick starters can also work.

If you are raising baby ducks, you want to keep them healthy. It’s important to feed them the correct diet from day one.

Chick or duck grower is typically fed to ducklings, as this provides them with the exact nutrients they need.

It’s important to buy non-medicated food for ducklings. This is healthier in the long term. As ducklings eat a lot, they may also become sick from overmedication.

Ducks are very sturdy and resistant creatures, which is why they don’t need medicated food.

In the wild, baby ducks typically feed on:

  • Vegetation
  • Fruits
  • Insects
  • Seeds

Related: What do baby ducks eat?

duckling eating

What Do Baby Ducks Look Like?

Baby ducklings are very small, covered in a layer of fur-like hairs, as they aren’t born with feathers. They’re typically either yellow, brown, or a combination of the two.

While baby ducks have certain qualities that will help you identify their species, gender, baby ducks can also look very different from one another.

Baby ducks are born with fluffy down and will look a lot like baby chicks at first. Their yellow-orange legs and bill are also very notable.

pair of ducklings

Why Are Baby Ducks Yellow?

When baby ducklings hatch, they can come in a variety of colors and patterns. They’re typically a mix of brown and yellow.

Baby ducks are yellow because this is the color of their own. Ducks actually don’t change the color of their own, but rather grow a layer of feathers on top of it.

Domesticated ducklings are also yellow due to selective breeding. Pekin ducklings, which are domesticated ducks, are indeed yellow, but other species have different colors.

How to Take Care of Baby Ducks

Raising baby ducks can be a very rewarding experience, but it requires hard work and dedication. Baby ducks will grow at an amazing rate, and they require constant attention to make sure they are healthy. 

Even though baby ducks are adorable, they need help to grow up strong and healthy. 

Here are a few things you can do to make sure baby ducks have all they need to be happy.

1. What to Feed Baby Ducks

Baby ducks can be fed duck starter, chick starter, mealworms, fruit, and vegetables.

One of the most important things baby ducks need is proper nutrition; baby ducks can be fed real food, duck starter, or even chick starter.

Ducklings do best when they are fed mealworms, earthworms, crickets, and other small insects; baby ducks should be fed these once a day. 

Baby ducks also enjoy berries such as blackberries and strawberries. They can eat feed corn, wheat, and oats after they are four weeks old. 

It’s important that you don’t feed ducks bread. This is essentially junk food for ducks.

duckling eating

2. Where to Raise Baby Ducks (Brooder)

Providing a brooder for your ducklings ensures that they don’t make too much of a mess. It also provides them with a place that they’ll think of as their home.

When raising baby ducks, you need to provide them with proper housing and shelter, also if you’re raising them indoors.

This is also called a brooder.

Ducks are very habitual creatures, meaning they get used to their surroundings. Having a proper brooder makes it more comfortable for them.

The easiest way to provide a brooder is to buy a plastic container. This makes it easy to clean and manage.

cute baby ducklings

3. Raising Ducklings Take Time

Raising baby ducks takes time. You need knowledge about caring for baby ducks, you need supplies, and you need to spend plenty of time with them. 

Ducks are social creatures and need to be around other ducks or beings. Hence, raising more than a single duckling is a good idea. 

If you’re going on vacation, you should also have a duck sitter to take care of them.

It also takes time to feed them, provide water, and clean up after them. 

ducklings on the farm

4. What You Need to Raise Ducklings

When raising animals, you need a lot of equipment. The same goes for ducklings. Below are some items that you will need if you wish to raise baby ducks:

  • A brooder. You will need a place where baby ducks can stay warm and dry when they’re not swimming in their pool or pond.
  • A pool of water. Baby ducks need to be able to swim and play in water. A baby pool, kiddie pool, etc. works great.
  • Food. Ducklings need to eat.
  • Water. Duckling drinks a lot of water, so it’s important to provide them with plenty.
  • Feeder and waterer. It’s not enough to just have food and water. You also need a way to provide it to them.
  • Dry bedding. Baby ducks aren’t exactly clean pets. Especially when they’re young. Make sure to buy plenty of bedding.
  • Nesting Box. When the ducklings grow older, you may need a nesting box for egg-laying.
  • Heating Lamp. Ducks need to stay warm, hence a heating lamp is a necessity if you’re living somewhere cold.
newborn ducklings

5. Ducklings Need Water

Ducklings drink a lot of water. Hence, you need to provide them with such.

Water is important to ducklings. Both in terms of drinking, but also bathing, playing, and learning how to swim.

While you shouldn’t provide a pool for them to play in right away, as they don’t have their waterproof feathers yet, they need it down the line.

Ducks typically grow out their waterproof feathers after 7 to 9 weeks.

Baby ducks should have a baby wading pool where they can swim and play. This baby wading pool must be filled with fresh, clean water.

In the beginning, baby ducks should be monitored when they are near water.

Related: Can ducklings swim?

duckling drinking water

6. Temperature Control for Baby Ducks

Baby ducks can’t survive cold temperatures. Hence, buying a heating lamp is a good idea.

As baby ducks are born, they’re taken care of by their mother. She also helps keep them warm. When you’re raising ducklings, you need another way of doing so.

It’s important that baby ducks have a steady temperature for optimal growth and health.

If baby ducks are exposed to too high of a temperature, it can cause them harm. Baby ducks will overheat and dehydrate quickly if the environment is extremely hot. 

If baby ducks are kept in temperatures that drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they may develop pneumonia and other illnesses as well as become more susceptible to predators.

You can provide a steady temperature by buying a heating plate or heating lamp. Place this in one end of the brooder. If they get cold, they’ll move under the heater, and if they get too warm, they’ll move away from it.

Start out by setting your heating lamp to 90°F (32.2°C).

duck family

7. Ducks Need Social Interaction

Ducks are social animals and they need to be in the presence of other ducks, or beings, at all times. Hence, it’s a good idea to raise multiple ducklings.

If you have baby ducks, it’s important that they have company regularly. Otherwise, they’ll get depressed, stressed, and their health will decline.

female duck with ducklings outside

8. Security and Shelter

Ducklings need security and shelter. If they don’t have this, they may become stressed.

Ducklings will stay close to their mother until they are approximately four weeks old. They do this partly because they feel safe when accompanied by their mother.

If you’re raising ducks inside, you can provide them with a plastic brooder. If you’re raising them outside, you can provide them with a duck coop or pen.

big family of duck with ducklings

Why Do People Raise Ducks?

People raise ducks in order to benefit from their meat, eggs, and down. Some people also keep them as pets, as they’re entertaining and gentle animals.

Ducks are easy and inexpensive to farm because they don’t require a large amount of space and their feed can be bought in bulk at low prices. 

Ducks are also less aggressive than chickens, making them easier to handle. Simultaneously, they’re hardier and can live in less ideal weather.

On top of that, they don’t need a lot of space. They can be raised by regular people in a backyard. They’re typically also less noisy than chickens and can produce as many eggs.

What Time of Year Are Baby Ducks Born?

Ducklings are typically born between March and July, where the hen (female duck) will give birth to one or two batches of ducklings.

If you want to raise ducklings, it’s important to know when they’re born. The first step to raising ducklings is to acquire a duckling.

A female duck will mate with a drake (male duck) and will lay her eggs. Afterward, she’ll sit on them for about 28 days. Then, the ducklings will hatch.

small group of ducklings

How Fast Do Baby Ducks Grow?

Baby ducks grow very fast and are fully grown after about 7 to 9 weeks.

Ducklings are very fulfilling animals to raise, as they grow very fast. Pekin ducks, which are domestic ducks, are fully grown after about 7 to 9 weeks.

During the first weeks of their life, they don’t have feathers, and won’t be able to do much on their own. After the initial 3 to 5 weeks, they can start to eat more foods, and after 7 to 9 weeks they will have developed their feathers. [1]

Other species of ducks take longer to fully grow.

When Can Baby Ducks Go Outside?

Ducks can begin to go outside when they’re between 3 to 5 weeks old. During this time, they need supervision. When they are 7 to 9 weeks old, after they’ve grown out their feathers, they can venture out by themselves.

They can start to play around in the water when they’re just 1 to 2 weeks. During this time, you should pay close attention to them, as they still can’t swim, and are yet to develop waterproof feathers.

Related: When can ducks go outside?

ducklings outside

How Much Are Baby Ducks?

Baby ducks typically range in price from $2.50 to $20, depending on the breed of baby duck and where they are bought from.

Most baby ducks cost between $5 and $7. However, some baby ducks may be up to $20, depending on the species.

On top of the cost to acquire them, there are additional costs for housing, food, water, feeders, waterers, brooder, and more.

Related: How much are ducks?

Here’s What to Do With Abandoned Baby Ducks

Sometimes baby ducks are abandoned by their mother. If you come by lone baby ducks, you should contact a Wildlife Carer or take them to a nearby veterinarian.

It’s important to act quickly, as abandoned ducklings typically suffer from malnutrition and lack of warmth.

Conclusion

If you want to raise a healthy flock of ducklings, make sure they have plenty of food, water, access to a waddling pool, and appropriate housing.

Raising ducklings isn’t always an easy task, but with a little guidance, anyone can do it. There are a few things you should remember, such as they need plenty of water, warmth, and social interaction.

Read about more duck facts.

About Kaitlin Mullins

Birds are plenty, and they can be hard to keep track of. Thankfully, Katilin Mullins has taken charge of these. With plenty of free time spent bird watching, she’s a true expert on these intriguing animals.