What to Feed Ducklings When They Hatch

what to feed ducklings when they hatch

When you raise ducks, one of the most important decisions is what to feed your ducklings. They need protein in their diet to grow. So, there are several options for food: Starter crumbles, Grower pellets, Scratch, and Whole or cracked grain mixes.

Chewy Online Pet Supplies

35% Off at Chewy.com

+ Free Shipping

Save Now


Starter crumbles

During the first two weeks after hatching, ducklings should be fed a starter diet. This feed consists of one-eighth-inch-diameter pellets. After two weeks, it is time to switch to a grower diet. Grower pellets are larger and contain slightly less protein than starter pellets.

When feeding ducklings when they hatch, it’s important to remember to limit the amount of grain in their diet. Their teeth are not developed yet, so they’ll have difficulty chopping food. To supplement their diet, provide them with grit. Additionally, be sure to provide clean water at all times. You should also avoid feeding ducklings bread, grain or other high-fat foods.

Ducklings will also benefit from small amounts of fruits and vegetables. Some of their favorite treats include dandelion greens and Swiss chard. Other foods include moistened oatmeal and peas. Try to remove the skin and seeds before offering your ducklings these treats.

Grower pellets

If you’re looking for a nutritious and affordable way to feed your ducklings when they hatch, consider using grower pellets. These pellets contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals and protein that can help your ducklings grow. They can be used right from the moment of hatching and you can easily change the contents to suit your duckling’s nutritional needs.

The best diet for ducklings is one that is free of excess calcium, since they have no teeth. While you can use oyster shell, this is not the ideal food for ducklings. The calcium it contains can be harmful to them. Therefore, it’s best to avoid oyster shell. You can use decomposed granite instead, which is suitable for ducklings and adult ducks.


The first step when caring for ducklings is to provide them with a nutritious diet. Although grit isn’t essential, it can help. However, ducklings need to be given food that they can readily digest. This means that you should not feed medicated chick feed to your ducklings.

Starter feed is higher in protein than grower feed and should be fed to ducklings for the first two to three weeks after hatching. Starter feed should be supplemented with water to keep ducklings hydrated and prevent them from choking on it. When the ducklings are about 18 weeks old, you can switch them to regular layer feed. Some areas will also sell waterfowl-specific layer feed.

Scratch is a cracked or whole grain mix that should be fed to ducklings in small quantities. It is not a complete diet, and contains only nine percent protein. This amount is too low for a growing duck. It should not be fed as the primary feed for ducklings. Grain-based feeds should be supplemented with grit. The diet should also include fresh vegetables and fruit.

Whole or cracked grain mixes

When feeding your ducklings when they hatch, you must avoid feeding them too much protein, as it can lead to foot and leg problems. They also require adequate fresh water. It is best to feed ducklings a low protein mix that contains approximately 16-18% protein. If you are unable to find such a feed, you can substitute rolled oats. If you are worried about the amount of protein your ducklings need, you can give them a supplement of niacin, like brewer’s yeast.

If you’re concerned about dietary protein, consider giving your ducklings cracked corn, which is easier to digest. Cracked corn may contain natural oils that your ducks can benefit from. You can also feed your ducklings nuts, but make sure you choose small nuts. Nuts are high in fat, so you should avoid giving them large chunks of nuts.

Niacin supplement

During nesting season, a supplement of niacin is essential for your ducklings. Deficiency can cause the ducklings to become limp, not walk properly, and show other signs of malnutrition. The symptoms vary, but they usually include enlarged hock joints, weakness, and bowed legs. In addition, they can develop wet feather-like spots around their eyes.

You can give your ducklings niacin powder or niacin-based food. Mix a teaspoon of niacin with about 50 ml or one-fourth cup of water. Then, hold the duckling in your hand and pour the solution into his or her mouth.

A deficiency in niacin can be fatal for ducklings. Not only can it cause painful and bowed legs, but it can also lead to seizures and death. To prevent this from happening, feed your ducklings a niacin-rich diet for two to three weeks.