What to Feed Ducklings When They Hatch

Baby ducks require a balanced diet with various nutrients and vitamins in order to grow properly, stay strong, and show signs of fatigue. Without adequate nutrition, their behavior may suffer as well.

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Starter crumbs are the ideal food for young ducklings until they reach ten days old, when they should transition onto grower’s pellets. You can purchase these at your local feed store.



Ducklings require a balanced diet that provides them with plenty of protein and essential vitamins. Without these vital nutrients, ducklings may experience skeletal issues, lethargy and slow growth.

They require plenty of water, which is why you should make sure they always have access to clean drinking water. Your ducklings will be much happier and healthier if they have access to clean drinking water.

Commercial duck feed is your best bet for their diet, but chick starter can work too if you can’t locate it. Add in some brewer’s yeast, niacin or dried meal worms for protein and grit to help prevent pasting (droppings sticking to their behinds).

Feed should always be dry (not wet) in either mash, crumble, or pellet form. Pellets are the least wasteful option and can easily be fed from their back with a feeder that hangs from their necks. Mash can be difficult for ducklings to consume and may sour quickly if fed too frequently. If you need to feed them quickly, try whipping together 50-50 blend of rolled oats and cornmeal in your food blender into mash or crumbles in no time at all


Ducklings must be fed regularly to develop into strong and healthy adults. Three to six times a day is ideal; this can be done through either a feeding dish or by hand; however, ensure there is always water available at all times.

Young ducklings can be introduced to swimming by being placed in a cake pan or clean paint tray inside the brooder until they reach 5 weeks old. This helps them become comfortable with swimming, and by one month old they are ready for longer supervised swims in a larger tub.

They require access to fresh, cool water at all times – not cold or hot – for drinking and washing down their food. This is especially important when hand-feeding them since they may have difficulty swallowing dry food which could lead to impaction.

Your brooder may require one or more quart-size chick founts to fill with water for ducklings up to about two weeks old. As they get older, a gallon fount or large water bottle is suitable.


When ducklings hatch, they remain dependent on their mothers for protection, warmth and guidance. Furthermore, in order to forage for food, they need to be outdoors where sheltered from predators and exposed to natural sunlight.

Once they have developed their flight feathers, it is beneficial to let them out for short excursions each day and explore the world around them. Unfortunately, due to their clumsiness and potential vulnerability to predators, take proper precautions when they are outdoors.

Newborn ducklings require a heat source that mimics their mother’s body, so provide one using either a heat lamp or radiant heater. Adjust the height of the lamp each week until they feel comfortable.


When your ducklings hatch, make sure they receive plenty of nutritious food. Ideally, three to six times a day is ideal.

Start by providing them with high quality grower feed specifically designed for ducklings. The protein level should be around 15%.

Once they are settled into a pond or water source, you can gradually transition them away from foraging for food to foraging and hunting for themselves. Switch their basic diet to an unmedicated waterfowl or poultry ration which should be available at most feed stores.

Add some fresh greens and vegetables like dandelion greens, Swiss chard or kale for extra nutritional benefits. Your pets will surely love these treats since they contain lots of essential vitamins and nutrients.