It is absolutely no secret that I’m obsessed with raising backyard chickens. However, it may surprise you that those sweet little baby chicks weren’t the first ones to pull on my heartstrings! I was all about raising ducks! In fact, the kids sure didn’t have to work too hard for me to cave. Honestly? At that point, I had no idea on how to raise anything with feathers. My sister had a cockatiel when we were growing up, but that was the extent of my feathered pets.
I don’t recommend buying poultry without a general knowledge of what they need to survive. Thankfully, my husband knew enough, my father-in-law knew a bit more and we had a flock of ducks for a couple of years!
Raising chickens and ducks together can be done. However, I didn’t care for the mess the ducks made. Yes, I know, chickens are dusty and messy too, but ducks are just a whole new level. If (a big if!) I ever raise ducks again, they’ll have their own special area that they can get as messy as they want! So, without further ado, here are some tips on how to raise backyard ducks!
We’ve hatched ducklings as well as purchased ducklings. Ducklings are honestly a bit more hearty than baby chicks which is a plus. The fun part is that they need the same things baby chicks do to get started so you might already have what you need on hand.
3 Things You Need to Raise Ducks
Just like chicks, ducklings need a warm, safe environment. I don’t recommend brooding your ducklings with your chicks, however. Ducklings need a lot of water and they like to splash it around which can get the bedding all wet. Baby chicks shouldn’t be constantly wet. They’re very temperamental and if they get wet, they could die. So, brood them separately if possible. To set up a brooder, take a quick look at my easy step-by-step video.
When you’re setting up your brooder, make sure the brooder temp is 90 degrees Fahrenheit the first week. Then you can lower the temp by 5 degrees for each week of growth. Their bedding will get wet so you’ll need to change it out often and be sure to use Coop Recuperate. The best way to keep their bedding fresh and clean and reduce odors.
If you can find duckling crumble that’s great! If you can’t, non-medicated chick crumble will work just fine! Go ahead and sprinkle some First Peep on top of their food to get them eating.
Obviously, ducks love water! Make sure you give them their fresh water in a bowl. Ducks need to be able to dip their beaks into the water to make sure the holes on their top beak stay clear. Add in some Chicken E-Lixir and they will get added vitamins, minerals, prebiotics and electrolytes for hydration.
How Long Do Ducks Stay in a Brooder?
We had to clean our duckling brooder out more often than our chick brooder simply because they were messy little things in the water. Around 7-9 weeks, ducks will be fully feathered and can handle moving out into their duck house (weather permitting). At this point, they’ll be able to regulate their body temperature on their own.
When Do Ducks Start Laying Eggs?
Ducks typically start laying eggs when they’re about 6-7 months old. And guess what? Within just 5 weeks, they’ll be laying eggs like champs, at a rate of about 90%! That means you can expect around 90 eggs a day from 100 ducks. Quack-tastic, right?
One duck egg is equivalent to 2 chicken eggs. Depending on the breed, ducks lay more eggs than chickens as well. They’re pretty fantastic creatures!
Duck eggs are very popular in the baking world. Duck eggs are larger than chicken eggs. They contain antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B-12, A, and D, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. They have a richer flavor than chicken eggs and hold their shape nicely. They’re also known to stay fresher longer because of their thicker shells.
Whether you choose to raise chickens, ducks, or geese (or all!) is totally up to you! I feel like there’s a certain pressure with the homesteading movement to raise “all the things”. I will always go back to, “do what’s best for your family”. We’ve raised chickens, ducks, geese and goats and decided that was too much for us at this stage of life. We’re so happy with our backyard chicken flock. However, I do miss those ducks waddling around the yard!
Until next time,
–The Wing Lady