Start Raising Ducks: Introduction
Raising waterfowl can be a unique, rewarding experience for anyone with a little bit of patience and a love for nature. Raising ducks is an especially good choice for several reasons. Ducks can survive well outdoors and require a minimum of housing options. Also, ducks are generally healthy and resistant to many common poultry diseases such as Mareks.
Start Raising Ducks: Beginning Your Flock of Ducks
To start raising ducks, you can either purchase fertilized duck eggs or buy a batch of young ducklings. If you choose to start with fertile duck eggs, you will need a good dose of patience, but you will be rewarded by the experience which never loses its charm: watching a brand-new duckling struggle from its shell, ready to start life in a strange new world. Before getting your duck eggs, research and purchase an accurate incubator. Turn your duck eggs as often as possible, especially during the first week, but make sure you do it an odd number of times per day. This ensures that the eggs will not be left in the same position every night.
Duck eggs, depending on the breed of duck, typically take 25-35 days to hatch. It is important that you do not assist the ducklings as they break and emerge from their shells. As with butterflies, this experience is a necessary to their health and strength.
Start Raising Ducks: Brooding Ducklings
Baby ducks will need heat lamps to take the place of their mother’s brooding. Provide them with a safe, enclosed place—either a cardboard box or some other container—with plenty of dry litter. This litter should be changed regularly. After five or six weeks, the ducks should be old enough to live outside.
Start Raising Ducks: Feeding Ducks
Feeding ducks is as simple as it gets. Simply provide duck food in troughs twice a day, if the ducks are allowed to forage for themselves. If the ducks you’re raising do not have other food sources, the feed should be available at all times. Try to find poultry feed that is specifically formulated for ducks, as chicken feed often contains medications that can be harmful or even fatal to waterfowl. It is also imperative to always provide plenty of fresh, clean water available. Ducks consume considerably more water than chickens or turkeys.
Start Raising Ducks: Raising Ducks Outdoors
With their thick down and protective, waterproof oils, adult ducks can manage quite well outdoors, although you should provide a simple shelter for nighttimes. A duck house does not require nests or perches because ducks roost on the ground. This, however, brings a greater threat from predators, so make sure that your ducks are in a well-fenced area.
These birds are enjoyable to watch as they feed, swim and play. They make great pets, but they can also be a useful source of meat and eggs. Funny, friendly and easy to raise, ducks are a wonderful choice for anyone interested in raising waterfowl.
For more information about the habits and care of ducks, consult our free duck articles library for free duck information.