What Feed for Ducklings to Grow Big and Strong
Ducklings grow rapidly with proper feed for ducklings from babies to fully mature birds in 16 weeks. Use duckling-specific feed that is unmedicated and limit the number of healthy snacks to keep their growth on target.
Feed Ducklings High Protein Feed
Ducks require feed with a high protein percentage. This ensures proper health during their rapid growth spurt in the first 16 weeks of life. While it is fun to offer ducks snacks and alternative feed sources, keep this to a very small amount during their growth stages. Plenty of time in the future for feeding them peas, watermelon, and tasty treats. This is the time for feeding what is required for healthy growth.
A duckling during the first 2 weeks needs feed with a protein in the 22-23% range. Ducklings need a crumble STARTER feed designed for their needs not what a chicken is fed.
From the 3rd week until they produce their first egg the ducks require a GROWER feed that ranges between 17.5 and 19% protein. This can be offered in either a pellet or a whole-grain option.
Scratch and Peck offer starter and grower that works for ducks if you are seeking a high-end organic feed for your flock.
Once the ducks are mature and successfully laying eggs switch their feed over to a traditional layer feed. This can be the same layer pellet or grain offered to chickens. Using the same feed for all the birds in your mixed flock helps keep things simple.
Avoid Feeding Ducklings Medicated Food
DO NOT FEED DUCKS MEDICATED CHICKEN STARTER. This is the best general rule to go by.
There are certain medications that might be beneficial if the duck is experiencing certain conditions such as a respiratory disease. Also, if you have chicks and ducklings at the same time and accidentally mix up the feeds and give the ducks a medicated feed it is not going to kill them.
Most medicated feeds are much better quality than in the past when this big concern became a popular topic in duck-raising circles. The duck feed studies indicate it may not be as bad as strong as the rumor is. However, to be on the careful side and when able to offer non-medicated feed for ducklings it’s the best route.
Due to the way ducks eat and how much they consume during their rapid growth rate, the fear is that they may get too much of the medication in their system.
Feeding Schedule for Duck Growth
Ducklings need to be given the opportunity to feed any time they need. Keep the feeder full for ducks during the starter phase and for the first several weeks of their grower stage. When raising birds we like to give them ample feed in their brooder so they can eat, drink, poop, and sleep on their own schedule. Once they are old enough to move out into a duck coop and enclosure you can start to limit the feeding windows. Rather than two feeds in the morning and evening, I still break it up into 3 or 4 times to bring them food so they get consistent nutrition through the day until adulthood.
Ducklings get Starter feed for the first two weeks. Followed by 16 weeks of grower feed. We keep our birds on grower until they start to lay eggs and then transition them to a layer feed and offer supplemental calcium in the form of crushed oyster shells. Duck growth is rapid and you will be amazed at how quickly your ducklings grow into mature birds.
Feeding Ducklings Snacks
It is always fun to feed ducks snacks. However, ducklings and juvenile birds should be getting the vast majority of their nutrition from proper protein-level feed. The ducks will benefit from being offered garden treats to keep their curiosity level
Instead of feeding them lots of veggies. Try and get a dirty clod from the garden by scooping up a dandelion and some of the soil with it. This will allow the ducklings to get access to natural soil will help with their digestion, some leaves to peck and chew on and start to learn about what will be outside in the yard. Herbs are another great way to offer your ducks something to try eating and can be cut into tiny pieces. Keep the snacks small.
Avoid bread and cereals. They will love that, but it is horrible for their digestion. Even mature birds should never get bread as a snack. We grow lots of kale in our food forest garden as extra plants specifically as duck snacks. Give them outside time on the grass as soon as the weather allows, but bring them in before they get cold if the weather is cool.
Supplements for Duckling Nutrition
A common problem for young ducklings is niacin deficiency. This is one of the most common problems ducklings face due to not getting enough vitamin B3. A proper duck crumble starter feed will have what the birds need. However, it is easily resolved through supplementation in their diet or water. Add 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast per cup of feed to improve the available Vitamin B3 in the diet.
Keep Your Ducks Growing
Give the flock what it needs to grow and healthy ducklings turn into quackers in no time.