Good food for baby ducks

What Do Ducklings Eat? 13 Foods for Baby Ducks

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Adorable and fuzzy, ducklings eat a slightly different diet than grown ducks. What they eat helps them grow into strong swimmers, capable flyers, and the chatty birds we know and love.

So, what do ducklings eat?

Ducklings eat insects, plants, algae, and worms.

Wild baby ducks eat differently from pet ducklings as well.

But how much does a duckling need to eat in order to become a fully fledged adult? And what is best to feed your new pet duckling, should you have one? Let’s learn about this adorable bird now.

What Does a Duckling Eat?

Baby ducklings eat bugs, algae, plan matter, and birdseed.


A duckling eats a variety of bugs, including worms and beetles, plant matter, algae, and more. They are considered omnivores and opportunistic eaters, which is why the ducklings in your local park aren’t shy about taking your bread or other bird food!

According to The Wilson Bulletin, the beak structure and overall width of their mouth can affect what a baby duck can eat. Depending on the species, they have the ability to strain food from plants or peck food from the water.

A duckling’s diet changes as the bird ages. Their diets expand and become more omnivorous, depending on the species and the available regional food. Let’s take a look at what a duckling eats on a more in-depth level.

A Complete List of 13 Foods Ducklings Eat

Ducklings have been known to eat the following foods:

  • Worms
  • Bugs
  • Invertebrates
  • Algae
  • Grass
  • Plant matter
  • Small fish
  • Cracked corn
  • Oats
  • Barley 
  • Mixed greens
  • Birdseed
  • Nuts

Ducklings should be fed a diet of mealworms and plant matter at an early age, though grasses tend to make baby ducks bloat. Wild ducks tend to stick to whatever bugs they find, and they will eat food that is fed to them by park visitors or guests.

Bread has been long regarded as a bad thing to feed wild birds. Molding bread can be fatal to baby ducks, and the lack of nutritional value in processed bread can damage a duckling’s ability to grow.

Keep in mind that a duckling’s food source changes as it ages. Even after as little as four weeks, a duckling can shift to eating more bugs or grain meal should you be keeping ducks as pets. 

By four weeks of age ducklings are eating more bugs and grain meal.

©Matias Gauthier/

How Much Does a Duckling Eat?

A duckling eats around ¼ pound of food per day. It will depend on the age of the duckling and the food available, as ducklings are keen eaters. They free graze as young birds, and require even more food as they age.

It is important to stick to this amount of food if you are raising ducks from a young age. While ducklings free graze for the first 4-5 weeks of their lives, you should be sure to stick to a certain amount of food once they age a bit more.

A study performed by Waterbirds: The International Journal of Waterbird Biology states that younger ducklings dive for food much less often than older ducklings. This usually leads to an uneven feeding in very young ducklings, and can even put them at risk of predation.

As ducklings age, they begin to behave more like adult ducks- diving for bugs or water invertebrates is less of a problem for them, and therefore they eat in larger quantities. A 0-5 week old duckling is most at risk, between its many predators and its inability to dive for food.

Speaking of predators, let’s take a look at some animals that are a risk to ducklings… There are quite a few.

What Eats Ducklings? Their Main Predators

Predators like foxes, raccoons, and hawks eat ducklings.

©Jody Ann/

Now you know the answer to the question, “what do ducks eat, when they’re newly hatched?”, it’s time to take a look at what eats them too.

Ducklings have many predators that will eat them, including cats, foxes, and large fish. The following predators will eat ducklings:

  • Feral cats
  • Foxes
  • Large fish
  • Snakes
  • Bullfrogs
  • Snapping turtles
  • Raccoons
  • Hawks
  • Owls
  • Crows

According to Ducks Limited, a duckling is unable to fly until it has reached at least 50 days old, making this period of time the most dangerous for them. Their potential survival rate is anywhere from only 10% all the way up to 70%.

Their survival rate depends on many things, including their location and the size of their brood. However, ducklings are indeed easy prey, especially considering their inability to escape or fly away!

What to Feed Ducklings as a Pet

Ducklings eat birdseed, pellets, mealworms, and fruit.

©Santirat Praeknokkaew/

You can feed ducklings a variety of things when keeping them as pets:

  • Birdseed
  • Duck pellets
  • Chicken feed
  • Mealworms
  • Vegetable scraps
  • Fresh lettuce and mixed greens
  • Cracked corn
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Fresh fruit

Always be sure to only feed your ducklings a certain amount of food per day, and be sure to get rid of any food leftover after a 12 hour period to avoid feeding your duckling contaminated food.

Ducklings love oats, barley, and cracked corn as a treat, though be sure not to feed them too many grains when they are young. There is specific duckling feed that you can buy from pet stores and hardware stores in order to keep them healthy.

Moistening any food that you give a baby duck is a necessary part of the process. Ducklings don’t have teeth or any real way of chewing, and they instinctively prefer to peck and strain food from sources of water.

Speaking of water, having an ample amount of water available to baby ducks is key to their survival. Not only do they require it as swimmers and waterfowl, but they need to be consuming a large amount of water per day in order to survive.

Ducklings are fairly easy to care for as pets, though be sure to avoid placing any pebbles or rocks in their enclosures, as they can easily swallow these and get ill. As they age, ducklings will become easier to care for, and they will eat just about anything you choose to feed them!

What To Feed My Baby Ducks

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Ducklings are born with a good sense of hunger. They grow fast, are capable of looking for food, and are excited about eating – as you will notice when you hear many happy quacks at feeding time! Choosing the right feed ensures they grow as healthy and as strong as possible.

What Do Ducklings Eat?

The answer is: pretty much everything! Ducklings are often hungry, and as they waddle around quacking, they will sample just about anything. You will want to carefully monitor their diets since baby ducks will test out everything from fingers to shavings to other non-food items. It’s up to you to ensure they get the nutrients they need.

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What Do Baby Ducks Need?

Just because ducklings will eat almost anything doesn’t mean everything is good for them! Until they are six weeks of age, they need foods with protein and niacin. After that, they require less protein, but still need nutrient-rich food for vitamins and minerals.

How to Feed Baby Ducks

Starter feed without medication helps your ducks meet their nutritional needs in one convenient food. If you’re wondering what to feed a baby duck without starter feed, consider some fruits and vegetables, including greens, carrots, pumpkin, bananas, grapes, broccoli, celery, apples, and pears. Make sure to dice finely to prevent choking and don’t feed too many fruits, which are high in sugars.

You can supplement the diet with brewer’s yeast, a good source of niacin, and dried meal worms for protein. You should avoid bread and junk food, which contain fewer nutrients. Lower-nutrition foods are unhealthy for your duck and can even be harmful.

Ducklings are self-feeding, so you can use a dispenser and allow the birds to graze. Just make sure to remove old food each day, since old and moldy food can cause a deadly lung infection called Aspergillosis.

When feeding your ducklings, make sure they have access to plenty of fresh water while they are eating. Water aids in swallowing and is important to prevent choking. Always make sure the water is easily accessible, even for the ducks to climb in. Create an easy pathway out of the water and replace the water daily to keep it fresh and clean. Ducklings can be prone to drowning, so make sure the water is shallow — no higher than the tops of their feet — to keep them safe.

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Use our Store Locator to find local stores that carry our products so you can ensure your ducklings have everything they need. Have any questions about our feed? Feel free to contact us today!

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types of feed, diet and norms

For normal development and rapid weight gain, ducklings need to receive high-calorie balanced feed from the first days of life that meets the needs of age and direction. Health, survival, livestock productivity and, accordingly, the profitability of the economy primarily depend on the proper nutrition of birds. Thanks to a well-designed diet and feeding regimen for ducks, it is possible to improve the quality of the final product and reduce veterinary costs, both at a large poultry farm and at home. nine0003

  • What foods are good for ducks?
  • Benefits of feeding ducks specialty feeds
  • Features of the spring-summer diet
  • Nuances of feeding in winter
  • Prohibited products
  • Norms and diet for ducks of different ages
  • Benefits of compound feed for ducks produced by MEGAMIX Group of Companies

What foods are good for ducks?

Cereals are the main component of feed mixtures. They contain a lot of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and fiber necessary for good growth and muscle gain.
  1. Corn. It is rich in protein (almost 10%), easily digestible product. It contains about 2-3% fiber, which improves digestion. Most carotene, necessary for the synthesis of vitamin A, is found in yellow varieties of corn. The volume of this culture in the diet of ducks can be up to 50% of the total amount of feed. nine0006
  2. Wheat. It contains about 14% of proteins, as well as vitamins of groups B and E. The content of wheat in the total amount of feed can reach up to 1/3. Ducks are usually fed fodder wheat or wholemeal flour. Fine grinding for the preparation of mixtures is not suitable, as it can clog the respiratory tract of the bird.
  3. Oats. Nutritious grain that is included in the diet of meat ducks so that they gain weight faster. The protein content in oats is about 15%. However, before adding to the feed, the cereal must be cleaned from the shell. nine0006
  4. Barley. An economical analogue of oats, practically not inferior to it in nutritional value. In the diet of ducks, it can be approximately 30% of the total mass of the grain mixture. Like oats, barley has a rough skin that is difficult to digest. In feed, it is used in powdered form.
Legumes are a high-calorie source of protein
  1. Soy and soybean meal are rich in proteins and trace elements. They are especially important for feeding meat ducks, as they are quickly digested and well absorbed. nine0006
  2. Peas. Contains about 20% protein. It can partially replace soy, although its nutritional value is somewhat lower. Due to the specific taste, peas are added to the feed in an amount of no more than 10%.
Juicy feed enriches the diet of ducks with vitamins, stimulates appetite
  1. Fresh herbs. Stems and leaves of peas, alfalfa, young nettle clover can be added to feed mixtures. Greens are given in crushed form, adding to wet mixers. The share of fresh grass in the diet of ducks should be up to 20%. nine0006
  2. Seaweed is one of ducks' favorite ingredients. Birds with appetite eat elodea, ryama, pondweed, duckweed, etc. and well assimilate vitamins and microelements contained in plants. From the 2nd week of life, ducklings can be given no more than 15 algae per day. Adults at the fattening stage require about 50 g per day.
  3. Vegetables and root crops. Rich in amino acids and vitamins. Ducks benefit from chopped cabbage, carrots, sugar beets, boiled potatoes, and gourds. nine0006
Animal products are necessary for the normal development of the bird's body, rapid weight gain or increase in egg production.
  1. Dairy products and whey. They contain a large amount of easily digestible proteins. Fat-free cottage cheese is recommended to be given to ducklings from the first days of life. However, fresh milk should not be added to the feed, as it can provoke indigestion. nine0006
  2. Meat and bone meal. Important source of essential amino acids. The protein content in it can reach up to 30-50%. The product is recommended to be added to the feed for ducklings, starting from 5 days of age in an amount up to 5% of the total volume. In the diet of adult birds, its share increases to 10%.
  3. Fishmeal. Rich in protein, vitamin B, phosphorus and calcium. Permissible share in feed 7%. At the final stage of fattening, the product is excluded from the diet so that duck meat does not acquire a specific smell and taste. nine0006
Minerals are important for good food digestion and egg formation.
  1. Eggshell, shell, chalk. They contain natural calcium and other trace elements necessary for the formation of the skeleton and hard eggshells. They are added to the mixer in a crushed form in small quantities.
  2. Gravel, coarse sand. Birds need it to stimulate digestion. Getting together with the feed into the stomach of the bird, they grind solid grain components. The recommended rate does not exceed 10 g per week. nine0006

Benefits of feeding ducks specialty feeds

High-quality ready mixes are biologically safe and balanced. They are made from natural components of plant and animal origin, which has passed multiple tests. They use the most digestible grains as the main ingredients. Starter mixtures can be additionally enriched with pure amino acids obtained in the laboratory. nine0003

Ready mixed feeds and meet the age needs of birds. In the production process, they undergo short-term heat treatment, which destroys harmful microorganisms, but does not have time to destroy useful substances. The use of purchased compound feed simplifies the care of ducks and frees the poultry house from additional work on the preparation of mash.

Features of the spring-summer diet

During this period, the chicks are actively growing and gaining weight. If the breeder specializes in meat breeds, then feeding is limited only to the spring-summer season. In large farms, where birds do not have the opportunity to walk, ducks are given compound feed 4 times a day. For home breeding, summer is also the best period. On small farms or in subsidiary farms, wet mashes are usually alternated with a mixture of cereals and fresh herbs, and concentrated mixtures are used instead of complete feed to enrich the diet. nine0003

In duck breeding, the cultivation of birds in water bodies is used, however, such conditions are not suitable for all breeds. The advantages of the method are that ducks independently extract all the necessary nutrients. However, to gain weight, they need to additionally give high-calorie feed. Because of this, the fattening time can increase up to 4-6 months. instead of 2.5. However, as a result, the breeder receives lean, juicy meat with excellent taste.

Nuances of feeding in winter

In egg breeds, the diet during the cold season changes significantly. The amount of succulent fodder and greens is reduced. Instead, the proportion of meat and bone and fish meal, dried hay, and boiled vegetables is increasing. Ducks need to be fed only twice a day: in the morning and in the evening. The main volume is made up of grain mixtures, wet mixers. To compensate for the deficiency of proteins, vitamins and calcium, special premixes or protein-vitamin-mineral complexes are used.

In winter, it is important to ensure that egg breed ducks receive enough calories, but do not gain excess weight, since obesity leads to a decrease in productivity. nine0003

Prohibited products

Despite the fact that ducks are almost omnivores, some foods can harm them. It is not recommended to give the bird:

  1. Moldy feed. Mycotoxin poisoning can lead to serious consequences.
  2. Fine flour. It can clog the nose and swell in the stomach, causing a false feeling of fullness. As a result, ducks receive less nutrients, eat less feed, and gain weight worse. nine0006
  3. Bread. Such food causes dysbacteriosis and upset of the gastrointestinal tract in the bird's body. Only crackers in small quantities are allowed.
  4. Fresh milk. In the stomach, it is not absorbed, but folds, causing indigestion.
  5. Poisonous herbs for ducks: celandine, cocklebur, henbane, poisonous milestone, maple leaves, etc. When chopping fresh herbs, you need to carefully check all the plants.
  6. Fresh nettle. Untreated stems and leaves can burn the walls of the stomach and lead to irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. nine0006
  7. Cucurbitaceae, in particular cucumber and marrow. Their excessive use provokes the excretion of calcium.
  8. Vegetable and fruit cleaning. They are too dense and hard to digest.

Norms and diet for ducks of different ages

Calorie and nutrient requirements change in chicks as they grow. When choosing feed for ducks, you should pay attention to its labeling and composition.

In the period up to 4 weeks, the digestive system of the chicks is still not sufficiently formed, easily digestible proteins predominate in the feed. Enzymes are added to the feed mixture to improve digestion. The diet of ducklings is enriched with organic acids, vitamins, macro- and microelements, which are responsible for the formation of a strong skeleton and the normal development of internal organs. Since the immunity of chicks is weaker than that of adult ducks, coccidiostatics are added to the starting compositions. These substances destroy pathogens and prevent the massive spread of coccidiosis among young animals. nine0003

In the finishing phase (4-8 weeks), ducks require less protein. The protein content in the feed is reduced, but the amount of carbohydrates and fiber is increased so that the bird gains weight faster. Laying ducks require specialized feed. It contains antioxidants that increase the productive period of birds and improve the palatability of eggs.

The feeding schedule is developed taking into account the age of the bird, the season, the size of the livestock and the characteristics of a particular breed. Violation of the recommended regimen can provoke gastrointestinal diseases and blockage of the goiter. In the starter phase, food is given frequently, but in small portions. As the ducks grow older, the dosage increases. By the finish stage, the number of feedings is gradually reduced to 2 times a day. nine0003

Feeding large portions increases the average daily weight gain of birds. It usually takes 2.5 months to raise ducks for meat. Birds are kept in separate pens or cages and restricted in movement so that they gain mass faster without wasting calories on movement. They are fed high-calorie mixtures containing a large amount of cereals and starch. Wet mixers are filled with whey. 2 weeks before slaughter, fish products are excluded from the diet.

During the period of active laying, ducks need to provide a varied diet with a high content of vitamins. In winter and early spring, it is useful for laying hens to give sprouted grains of oats, wheat and barley in the amount of 10–15 g. Every day, the bird needs to drink about 1 liter of water, so it is not recommended to feed it with wet mash. The diet of egg breeds should include yeast rich in B vitamins. nine0003

The MEGAMIX company produces all types of complete mixtures for ducks of various ages.

PK-21 Starter feed for ducklings from 0 to 4 weeks

PK-22 Finishing composition for young animals 4-8 weeks, accelerating weight gain

Benefits of compound feed for ducks produced by MEGAMIX Group of Companies

You can order all types of feed mixtures for ducks and geese from us. The company has created all conditions for the production of high-quality feed: nine0003

  • our products meet the age and species requirements of the bird;
  • all components are mixed with high precision and carefully processed on modern equipment;
  • incoming raw materials and final product are tested for safety in a world-class laboratory;
  • prepared feeds are stored in ventilated warehouses and are not affected by mycotoxins;
  • wet mixes are packaged in special packaging that maintains the required moisture level throughout the entire shelf life. nine0006

Here you can buy ready-made compound feed for ducks or order the development of a product according to an individual recipe. The company's technologists will advise you on the best way to feed ducks, calculate product rates for birds of different ages and give useful advice on livestock keeping conditions.

How to feed ducklings to gain weight: my experience

How to feed ducklings so that they grow well and gain weight quickly, I share my experience of feeding at home. nine0003

Feeding ducklings is slightly different from feeding the same chickens, ducklings can quickly gain weight due to green fodder, which significantly reduces the cost of purchasing compound feed and grain for poultry. In this article I will tell you how to properly feed ducklings so that they gain weight well.

Feeding day old ducklings in the first days of life.

Immediately after the ducklings hatch from their eggs, they need to dry on a warm heating pad. The ducklings are placed in a cardboard box in which there is a heating pad and bedding; on a warm heating pad, the navels of the ducklings heal well, which is very important. nine0003

On the first day, ducklings rest and gain strength, during the first day of life they do not need food yet, they still have a supply of nutrients in their bodies.

On the first day, the ducklings already need to put a drinker with boiled water and teach them to drink water. To do this, you can tilt the ducklings with their beaks into the water so that they learn to drink it. You can give the ducklings water through a pipette.

It is important that the ducklings cannot climb into the drinker with their paws, otherwise they will get wet, and hypothermia is extremely dangerous for ducklings at this age. A drinking bowl can be made from a nylon lid from a glass jar, in the center of the inverted lid we put an inverted glass cup filled with water. nine0003

How to feed ducklings in the first days? The first food for daily ducklings will be millet and a finely chopped boiled egg, any chicken and duck eggs will do.

Tip! The boiled egg must be crushed very finely, if a large piece of duckling comes across, it can choke on it.

In order for ducklings to learn to eat food, you can take millet in your palm and roll it by bringing your palm to the beaks, ducklings see the moving grains of millet and start pecking at it. It is important to simply show the ducklings that this is food, give it a taste, after which they themselves will find the grains on the litter and peck at them. At this age, food should be constantly in the feeders. nine0003

Starting from the third day, ducklings can already be fed finely chopped greens, ducklings are very fond of and willingly eat knotweed, alfalfa, clover, onion greens, young nettles. Greens must first be washed well.

What to feed week-old ducklings.

Ducklings at the age of one week are already actively eating food and the main food for them will already be compound feed, you can make compound feed for ducklings yourself from turf. Contain week ducklings in a brooder.

To do this, you need to finely grind corn and wheat grains in a grist, mix and give to ducklings in the form of wet mash. nine0003

Tip! Wet mash quickly begin to sour and deteriorate, so knead so much mash that the ducklings eat it right away.

Ducklings should be fed at least 6 times a day.

Do not forget about the prevention of gastrointestinal diseases, add a little potassium permanganate to the water a couple of times a week so that the consistency is slightly pink.

From a week old ducklings can already be pastured on the grass, for this you can build an aviary and put it on the young grass. If this is not possible, then you can simply pick the herbs and put them to the ducklings, they can already peck it on their own. nine0003

To improve the digestion of ducklings, put a feeder with crushed chalk, crushed eggshells and fine gravel.

Feeding one month old ducklings.

Ducklings at the age of one month already need more green fodder, at this age ducklings need to be kept on grazing, they graze well and gain weight.

For good growth and development, ducklings need a body of water or a container of water where the ducklings can bathe. I always feed ducklings fresh duckweed, this is an excellent source of vitamins, duckweed contains many microorganisms that serve as a source of protein for ducklings. nine0003

I put the duckweed in a pond and the ducklings swim all day and catch duckweed and other algae.

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