How to feed a wild baby duck
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:
- Plant matter
- Small fish
- Cracked corn
- Mixed greens
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.
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 PredatorsPredators like foxes, raccoons, and hawks eat ducklings.
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
- Large fish
- Snapping turtles
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 PetDucklings eat birdseed, pellets, mealworms, and fruit.
You can feed ducklings a variety of things when keeping them as pets:
- Duck pellets
- Chicken feed
- Vegetable scraps
- Fresh lettuce and mixed greens
- Cracked corn
- 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!
How to Care for Wild Baby Ducks: A Complete Guide
This article on how to care for wild baby ducks pertains to wild Mallard ducklings only. Domestic breeds of duck require different types of care.
There is information on feeding domestic ducklings here.
Mallard ducklings are more likely to be found in the first 24 hours after hatch as the mother may have to lead them a fair way to water resulting in a few getting left behind. During the first week, out of a clutch of 12, she is likely to lose most of them. Most mallard mums will end up with 2-4 ducklings surviving to adulthood.
Although ducklings get straight onto the water after they have hatched, they will have already benefited from being waterproofed by their mother. Ducklings with no mother have to work much harder to waterproof themselves. You, therefore, need to exercise caution regarding any water they may be able to enter. A waterlogged duckling can drown or die from hypothermia surprisingly fast.
The first 24 hours
After they have hatched, the ducklings survive for 24 hours on the yolk sac they have absorbed just before hatching. Consequently, they may not be interested in eating or drinking during the first few hours after rescue. They do, however, need to be kept dry and warm until they are ready to eat.
If you can’t get your duckling(s) to an experienced person, keep them in a medium-sized, high sided box, with a hot water bottle under a towel at one end.
They will benefit from somewhere to snuggle where they can keep warm – a furry hat with ear flaps, placed over a covered hot water bottle is ideal, but do make sure they can get away from the hot water bottle if they want to. A duckling can also suffer from overheating as well as being cold. Don’t leave the duckling(s) in direct sunlight, behind a window with no shade or ventilation.
Occasionally, ducklings may benefit from being kept close to your body to keep warm if you can’t get them set up properly when they are first rescued. If the duckling is wet, use a soft towel/cloth, and dry until its down is fluffy again.
You can use a towel, or puppy pads to line the box. Don’t use newspaper as this causes the ducklings to slip and their legs are delicate. Also, avoid straw at this age and never use hay, as it can harbour mould spores, which can be extremely harmful to ducks.
Try not to leave the ducklings unattended for more than 2-3 hours at a time. Nigh time is an exception but they will be up when it is light.
During daylight hours ducklings will have a routine of eating and drinking then preening then snoozing on an hourly basis (approximately)
If the duckling needs first aid, a solution of sugar water can be offered from a dropper into the end of its beak or in the nook/well of your thumb and forefinger. Do not syringe feed a duckling you may get liquid in its airway.
For food, offer a jam jar lid with a small amount of hard boiled egg or crushed dried mealworms, crumbled with chopped oats. Also provide a shallow dish of water filled with pebbles. The pebbles protect against the duckling getting into the water where it could get waterlogged, or even drown. Never offer food without water.
Don’t hold a duckling too tightly. Ducks have a complex respiratory system and have air sacs all around their body. Holding them too tight can cause breathing difficulties and even suffocation. Try to hold your hand gently around them, making sure there is always room for them to move around a little bit inside your hands. They are also quite bouncy so be prepared for them to try and jump out of boxes/hands etc. onto the floor!
If your duckling appears to be injured or has been attacked by a cat or dog please get it to a vet as soon as possible. Ducklings often have leg sprains that are recoverable, however, a duckling with a broken leg will not survive in the wild. Puncture wounds from cats can cause bacterial infections, which can kill a duckling within 48 hours. If you can see a puncture wound on the duckling please point this out to the vet. Please note that ducks have holes for ears that shouldn’t be confused for puncture wounds.
If the duckling has been found in long grass check it for ticks. Ticks can be debilitating and need to be removed as soon as possible. They are usually located on the head and around the eyes. Please seek professional help to remove ticks if you are not fully comfortable removing them with tweezers.
This care regime can be used for 2-3 days. If you have the ducklings for a longer period, the following care will need to be put into place.
Feeding Mallard Ducklings
3 days to 5 weeks
From day old to 3 weeks feed starter crumbs formulated for ducks. Starter crumbs for chickens can sometimes be harmful to ducklings because they contain medication (coccidiostats). Ducks have different vitamin and mineral requirements so if possible choose a feed formulated for ducks.
Examples of starter crumbs suitable for ducks are:
From 3-4 weeks change over to duck and goose growers pellets, mixing the pellets in with the crumbs over about 10 days phasing out the starter crumb. Do not feed the starter crumb at all after 4-5 weeks old, as the protein content is too high.
Tip: Angel Wing
Too much protein after 4-5 Weeks of age is thought to cause the wings to develop too quickly which may result in a condition called angel wing. A wild duck with angel wing will not be able to fly, and would be unlikely to survive in the wild.A duck with Angel Wing
From 5-9 weeks add in some whole wheat until they are happy with whole wheat scattered on the ground, as they near release time.
From a few days old ducklings must learn to forage for food. Provide shallow dishes of pondweed/water from rivers and streams. There will be tiny crustaceans and bugs in this water, which they will forage for. Supplement the insect life with a few crushed, dried mealworms sprinkled in the weed. Clods of turf served in water will also encourage natural feeding behaviour.
Prepare for the ducklings to make a considerable mess with this feeding, but do encourage it, as it will be vital for their future survival. Use mealworms sparingly, especially after 5 weeks of age, as they are extremely high in protein.
Finely shredded romaine or round lettuce and watercress should be fed if natural greens cannot be provided.
Tip: Leg Weakness
If ducklings are showing leg weakness or a reluctance to walk properly then you can sprinkle a pinch of dried brewers yeast powder on their food for a few weeks as a supplement. Brewers yeast is rich in B vitamins that ducklings need. You can buy Brewers Yeast online or in health food shops.
Natural sunlight (not through windows) is vital for vitamin D synthesis and good bone development. Try and let the ducklings forage outside on grass from as early and long as possible if the weather is warm enough.
Drinking water must always be available. If you have one or two ducklings a shallow dish with pebbles will suffice as long as it isn’t left to go dry. Ducklings not only drink but ‘use’ a great deal of water and will get through a small dish very fast.
For more than two, provide a proper drinker.
Putting the drinker on a plastic tray will help to stop wet bedding. Ducklings must have an area available, which remains dry.
Water is essential and must always be available. Never offer ducklings food without water.
How to care for wild baby ducks when there is no mum to keep them warm? Well ducklings can’t regulate their own body temperature until they have feathers. You need to control their environmental temperature to ensure they don’t get too hot or too cold. Unless ducklings are outside in the sunshine with no wind chill, you will need to provide supplementary heat for the first 1-3 weeks. Ideally they need a brooder, that’s adjusted as they grow. You can also use an electric heat source or lamp.
The Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder is ideal for ducklings. The small version will be OK for up to 5-6 ducklings, the larger one if you have more. Heat lamps are also useful but need hanging from the ceiling so are not as convenient. Floor standing brooders are also much safer.
Heating while outdoors
If your ducklings are outside unsupervised for more than an hour, and are under 3 weeks old it is vital to provide them with a heat source in a dry area. Do NOT let them get wet and cold at this age.
Adjust brooders and heat lamps to the correct height as the ducklings get older. Always provide enough space for them to decide where they want to be. As a general rule, if they are huddling they are too cold, if they are panting and spread out they are too hot. Take note of their behaviour and you can adjust the temperature.
After 4-5 weeks they should not need a heat source unless you are in a particularly cold environment.
When indoors, disposable puppy pads or towels are best. Change bedding at least daily. As ducklings get older (4-5 weeks) use chopped straw, dust free wood shavings or hemp style bedding. Never use newspaper or hay and always check that ducklings are not ingesting wood shavings or hemp if you choose this bedding. Outside time is vital and ducks should be on short grass. Avoid concrete if possible.
For the first 2-3 days keep ducklings indoors. They need an area that they can move around in comfortably, where they can move between their drinker/food and their dry warm area.
Depending on how many ducklings you have, the area should be between 3ft x 3ft (up to 4 ducklings) to 6ft x 3ft (up to 12 ducklings). You can either buy brooder panels or you can make a high sided enclosure with stiff cardboard.
After 2-3 days they will enjoy having time outdoors. As already mentioned in the temperature section, they will need to be warm and protected from predators (ground and aerial). They must also be enclosed, so they cannot escape.
A 6ft by 6ft aviary is an ideal enclosure for two to six 2-3 week old ducklings. After that they will need more space, from 2-3 weeks old they will enjoy an enclosure at least 8ft by 18ft. Enclosures can be made from the fine gauge plastic garden fencing that can found in stores like B&Q and garden netting can go over the top of the enclosure to protect from birds of prey or corvids and seagulls.
Tip: Outdoor Enclosure
The outdoor enclosure needs to have space for a drinker, food dish, brooder, bathing facilities and a shallow dish of weed.
It must offer protection from wind and have a covered area to provide shade as well as protection from rain.
From 3 weeks old, wild baby ducklings can have larger gauge netting such as plastic coated chicken wire. In the UK they are less vulnerable from corvids and gulls once they reach this age, but a mesh roof may be necessary if you live in an area with birds of prey present.
Even with all these precautions it is always best to check on the ducklings at least every half hour, even in good weather. If they cannot be checked with this frequency, it is safer to bring them into their indoor enclosure.
Electric brooders can be put outside and plugged into a garden extension reel providing you take the necessary steps to stop them getting wet. Shade is essential if the weather is hot.
Provision of bathing water
It is sensible to supervise ducklings up to 1-2 weeks old (or until you can see they are waterproof i.e. stay fluffy) when swimming. It is VITAL that they have an exit ramp that they can use to get out of the water.
Ducklings prefer a shallow incline to enter and exit water. Water should not be too deep. During the first week supervised bathing in the sink or bath is acceptable. Watch them at all times when bathing and let them bathe up to 5 times a day. Towel dry them then leave to preen in a warm place. Bathing and preening encourages them to use their oil gland, which will waterproof them.
Paint trays make excellent bathing facilities. The smaller trays for the first week and the larger ones until the ducklings are big enough to have a small pond or tub. They may need a step up into the paint tray as they can be high off the ground.
Strips of carpet are great for using as exit ramps in ponds. Stone pond liner as shown in the image below is ideal but can be expensive.
When ducklings reach 4-5 weeks, provide them with bathing facilities big enough to swim and dive and flap around in. This helps develop their wing muscles for flying. (They will still need an exit ramp).
Social requirements and imprinting
Will the duck know it is a duck?
Imprinting in ducks is a complex subject. There are two types of imprinting: Filial and Sexual. Simply put, filial imprinting will determine what species the duckling will see as a mother figure or who to follow. This type of imprinting occurs at hatch.
Sexual imprinting determines what the duck sees as a mating partner. This develops over a much longer period, as the duckling develops into adulthood. Generally if you have a wild mallard duckling, the first thing it would have seen when hatched, is its mother and other ducklings. It should therefore imprint on ducks, and always know it is a duck. Even if you raise that duckling with only human company for the first few weeks of its life, it should still integrate with other ducks when reunited with its own kind.
Tip: Single Ducklings
It is often the case that you find a single duckling. Place it with other ducklings as soon as possible, but if that's not possible, it can be raised on its own. Always provide a single duckling with a mirror and cuddly toy and try to avoid leaving it alone during the day.
In these circumstances, it is better to keep it with you as it needs company, ducks are flock animals and generally don’t feel secure on their own. Never release a single duckling socialising it with other ducks first. You need to seek specialist advice if you have a single mallard that has grown to adulthood with only human company.
Humanisation is different. Avoid letting the duckling become used to dogs and cats. It will lose its fear of them, and will be more susceptible to predation when it is older. Additionally, try not to hand feed and cuddle the ducklings as they get older. They will associate humans with food and this may affect how well they can find food in the wild.
If the location of the water source where the rescue took place is known, it is always ideal to release ducklings back to where they were found. This is easy if they have been found at a local park with a pond or a quay etc. However, much of the time ducklings are found in built up areas, or places far from a pond or river.
If you cant release back to their original pond then you must ensure they are released somewhere with water where there are other ducks.
What age to release?
The age that the ducklings should be upon release will depend on how safe and populated the area is. Ideally they should be released when they can fly, which is between 8-9 weeks. They can be released as young as 6 weeks if they are fully feathered and the location is safe from predators – such as a pond with islands and with lots of people around.
When released, young mallards like to tag along with older mallards to show them the way.
Please make sure you DO NOT release mallards in an area where there are no others. Any fast flowing rivers should be avoided, but a slow-flowing river which meanders through fields and marshes is ideal, as good cover and a good food source is available in such an environment.
At this age their flight feathers should be fully developed and the tips of their wings should cross over near their tail.
Feeding after release
If at all possible, you should return daily to feed them. Feed with whole wheat until they have had time to familiarise themselves with their environment. If released where humans feed other ducks, then they will adjust a lot faster.
Release first thing in the morning and take some whole wheat with you so they can feed. Stay with them until they venture onto the water. Don’t try and hustle them onto the water. At first they will be afraid; let them make their own way. This may take a few hours, so leave the day free so you can ensure they have settled onto the water.
Go back to the same spot every day at the same time, for as long as you can, to bring them wheat. Wherever you decide to release the ducks, make sure you pre-plan it. Talk to the park supervisors, rangers or land owners first so they know what you are doing. Make sure you will be able to check on them every day for a few weeks.
Do as much research as possible into release options early on. If you live within ¼ or ½ mile of a water source and are not in a built up area, let the mallards go from where you are raising them when they are ready (if you can give the time to look after them for a couple of months longer).
When their flight feathers develop they will start to practice flying and will take little test flights. They will fly very short distances at first and return home.
As they get stronger, they will fly higher and at this point they will be able to get a ‘birds eye view’ of their surrounding landscape. They will at some point go and investigate water sources.
It is likely they will keep coming home for a few weeks, then they may stay away over night, (usually during a full moon). Mallards usually take flight at dusk and dawn. They will appreciate food when they return home, but may stay away for longer and longer periods of time.
If you are lucky enough to have a pond on your garden, the mallards may decide to stay and become resident, in which case be prepared for more ducklings the next year!
Do not ever clip the wings of a wild mallard, nor keep it enclosed after it can fly to ‘try and keep it safe’. Although quite used to humans in lots of areas, mallards are still wild birds. Flight is an essential part of their life.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances and the duck is disabled in some way, ALWAYS give mallards the option of flight, even though some may never fly further than the end of your garden.
Release is both the saddest and the happiest of experiences. Watching rescued mallard ducks you have raised, fly away, is a privilege few people get to experience.
Legal considerations (UK)
When you come across any abandoned or injured wildlife you need to be aware of legal considerations. Without going into detail you must never take an animal from the wild unless you are 100% sure it is injured, abandoned or orphaned.
Ducklings often get separated from their parents and are often on ponds or grass alone. Their mum may not be anywhere in sight. Leave them alone unless:
- Cold and wet
- Out of water / sinking in water
- Being attacked or is in imminent danger
- Found in an isolated area with no other ducks around
If you are concerned please try and watch it for at least 2 hours before you remove it. A ducking should look fluffy, rather than wet and slick.
Once you have them, you must go to reasonable lengths to get them professional care at either a vets or a wildlife rescue organisation. You must not release a duckling back into the wild until it is able to survive on its own.
If the duckling is on private land try and seek permission from the land owner.
Mallards all have the same plumage until about 7-9 months old when the drakes develop colourful feathers. You can tell their sex from about 8 weeks old by their voice.
The drakes have a nasal ‘raab’ sound, and the females have the more traditional quack. Drakes also tend to develop a greenish hue with black to their bills, while females are more orange/yellow with black.
Are you interested in seeing photos of the many breeds of domestic ducks? Then check out our Duck Breeds photo page.
There are also many other articles about keeping ducks in this section, including our Beginners Guide to Keeping Ducks.
I hope you found this guide on how to care for wild baby ducks useful. Please leave a comment below and tell me how you got on!
How to feed a wild duck at home: compiling a menu for a chick
02/18/2022 22 654 21 home conditions. With patience, you can get a small herd. This is due to the fact that birds are unpretentious in keeping. Caring for ducks can bring a lot of positive emotions. And in this review we will talk about how to care for them and feed them.
Features of wild ducks
How to keep
Feeding wild birds
- 310 .900
Birds love to swim
Video “Wild Bird Drilling”
Features of wild ducks
Wild ducks do not need special conditions of detention. They do not need to be fed any specific food. There is no need for additional heating of the house, there is no need to arrange special cages. In addition, you do not need to purchase an incubator. This makes raising birds easy even for beginners.
As shown by numerous videos, wild ducks can live both in winter and in summer in a simple brick shed. For full-fledged breeding, you will need to design a special corral, enclosing it with a net. Ducks are able to easily endure low temperatures, coping well with adverse conditions.
The summer period can be called the bathing season. Ducks at this time try to spend as much time as possible in the water, to swim.
Birds require the same amount of water in both winter and summer. Poultry farmers will need to ensure that the drinker is constantly filled. In addition, the water must be fresh. In the summer, greens and small fish should be added to the duck's diet.
Keeping wild birds in bad or hot weather may require the construction of a special shelter. Under it, ducks can hide from the sun or rain.
With the onset of warm weather, females begin to build nests and incubate eggs. Little ducklings hatch into the light. Wild birds are considered magnificent mothers. They are excellent at incubating eggs.
The drake also takes an active part in the upbringing of ducklings. He is next to the offspring, guarding him. You should know that on the 70th day the drake begins to molt. Therefore, it must be sent to the slaughter earlier. Otherwise, it will be difficult to pluck it.
The video will show what wild ducklings look like when they live at home.
How to properly care for
Experts in numerous videos say that ducklings need warmth. Breeding chicks at home, it is required to equip the house with special equipment.
You can use some tricks:
- You can construct a wooden box by placing it on the racks.
- The inside must be lined with foam.
- Place a container filled with hot water in the drawer. Volume - 10 liters. From above, the box should be covered with a blanket or pillow to provide thermal insulation.
- Cut a hole in the side wall through which the ducklings can get to the heating pad.
This design is able to retain heat for 8 hours. In the first 7 days of the life of young chicks, a high temperature (28-30 degrees) should be maintained on the floor. After two weeks, the level must be reduced to 22 degrees. In three - to 16.
As numerous videos show, the easiest time to take care of baby ducklings is during the spring months. For a duck, it is enough to enclose a space in the yard. The main thing is to make sure that the chicks are protected from drafts.
Important! The room with young birds should be constantly lit. This will help the birds get used to the new conditions and environment. Subsequently, it will be possible to reduce daylight hours.
Wild ducklings are not indifferent to water. Numerous videos serve as excellent proof of this. However, experts do not recommend letting them into water bodies until they are 20 days old. If the chicks start swimming in cold water, they can catch a cold. Therefore, it is enough to put a container of water in the duckling.
Feeding wild birds
Ducklings should be fed once every two hours until they are 5 days old. Boiled and chopped eggs mixed with millet or barley grain should be added to the diet. It is also recommended to include greens (nettle, dandelion, clover) in the diet without fail.
As shown by numerous videos, birds love to eat mash, which is based on fermented milk products. Fish oil can be included in such food.
An approximate ration for a duck should be as follows:
- Grain in ground form (20%).
- Wheat bran (10%).
- Various legumes (10%).
- Cake (7%).
- Half of the diet should consist of greens.
- The rest of the diet falls on chalk, salt, shells.
As soon as the duckling is one month old, it is recommended to feed it three times a day. Experts in numerous videos recommend including potato or carrot tops, food waste in the diet. A real delicacy is duckweed and other vegetation growing in open water.
What should birds not eat?
Do not add sour food to the diet of ducklings. This is bad for their digestion. Experts in numerous videos claim that it is not recommended to feed waterfowl with bread. The greatest danger is the black edge, which can cause fermentation processes in the gastrointestinal tract of the duckling.
Birds love to swim
Raising a wild duck at home means that it must be released into the water. It is recommended to do this after the age of the chick exceeds the three-week mark. At first, they should swim no more than 3 hours a day. As soon as four weeks old, you can allow ducklings to swim at least a day and a half.
It is necessary to teach the duckling to return home from the pond on its own. To do this, you need to feed him regularly in the evening. The young will understand that food awaits at a certain time. The task can be simplified if an adult bird swims with ducklings.
Quite often, wild ducks are bred for meat. In this case, it is important not only to send them to the slaughter in time, but also to know how to pluck. There are many methods. However, you need to know some nuances.
Birds can be plucked hot. However, there is a high probability of discoloration of the meat. Therefore, after this method, it is better to cook the bird immediately, and not store it. If you plan to keep the meat in the refrigerator for a while, you can pluck the duck using the dry method.
If you decide to use the hot method, do not rush to remove the feathers immediately. Otherwise, you may damage your skin and burn your hands. Allow the bird to cool before plucking.
Video "Breeding wild birds"
The video will demonstrate what conditions it is possible to keep wild ducks.
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How to grow and feed wild ducklings at home?
Breeding birds can be profitable because of the valuable meat. Wild ducks take root well in captivity, not trying to leave the yard. They reproduce well, producing viable offspring.
If you feed wild individuals in the same way as domestic ducks, then the taste of their meat will change and will be no different from the meat of ordinary ducks.
- What breeds are there?
- Details of maintenance
What breeds exist?
The most common breeds of wild ducks are mallard, gray duck and pochard:
- Mallard is the most common breed. The weight of individuals can exceed 2 kg. Mallards are practically omnivorous, easily adapting to any habitat. A feature of the breed is that drake chicks hatch with more weight than females, and 13-15 hours after the birth of the first duckling, the family leaves the nest. At this age, the chicks already know how to swim and dive, which helps to escape from predators. When breeding mallards at home, it is desirable to have a pond where the birds can not only swim, but also forage on their own.
- Gray duck - due to its discreet color, it is well camouflaged in thickets of grass or reeds. Among breeders, the breed has gained popularity due to its unpretentiousness in food. The food of the gray duck is usually food of plant origin. Females and males can reach a weight of 1 kg and 1.3 kg, respectively. In summer, individuals shed heavily, so for some time they cannot fly.
- Red-headed pochard - the weight of individuals reaches 1.2 kg in the wild, while drakes and females weigh almost the same. With home maintenance and good feeding, weight may increase. Divers are excellent mother hens, so this breed will never have problems with hatching chicks.
In order to successfully breed a wild bird at home, it will need to create certain conditions. Tamed wild ducks can be used as decoys.
Details of maintenance
In winter, the birds will need a warm room with a walking area. An ordinary barn is suitable for living. If the ceiling and walls are well insulated in it, then additional heating is not required - wild ducks tolerate cold well.
In the summer, individuals do not need a house. A corral fenced with a metal mesh will be enough for them. The height of the fence should be at least 1.5 m. If there is a forest nearby, then it is necessary to completely close the corral with a net so that the birds do not become prey to predatory animals. Also inside you need to put a small house where the ducks could go in case of bad weather and at night.
Unlike adults, ducklings need warmth. A suitable design can be made by hand:
- put a wooden box on the racks;
- upholstered inside with styrofoam;
- put a 10 l container filled with hot water into the drawer;
- cover the entire structure with a blanket or a suitable pillow to keep warm;
- cut a hole in the side wall through which the ducklings can sneak in and warm themselves.
Warmer drawer can hold heat for 8 hours.
The room with the chicks must be constantly lit so that they quickly get used to the new environment. As they grow older, the amount of daylight hours can be reduced. A prerequisite for keeping wild ducklings is the complete absence of drafts.
The diet of chicks and adults differs significantly. As for young animals, the nuances of feeding depend on age. Very small, downy ducklings are given an egg - boiled and finely chopped. After a couple of days, you can introduce dry cottage cheese and crushed cereals. When the chick is a little feathered, he is offered coarser food - chopped grass, crushed grain.
After 10 days, young animals are given boiled potatoes, chopped greens. It is good to combine potatoes with other boiled vegetables. All food must be semi-dry, as the chick does not yet know how to clean its beak on its own after wet masses. Until the age of 5 days, young animals are fed every two hours. Then the intervals between feedings are increased, by the age of one month, bringing the schedule to three meals a day. Ducklings are transferred to an adult diet only after all their down has changed to feathers.
In winter, fresh grass becomes inaccessible to birds, they cannot catch duckweed or small fish in the pond. They need to make up for the lack of protein and vitamins. The main winter food is a mixture of cereals and legumes. Grain mixtures are given both in dry and soaked form. Part of the grain should be germinated, which will replace fresh grass for the birds.
Oats, which contain a large amount of amino acids and about 5% fat, are relevant for winter feeding. A versatile food is corn, especially the yellow-grain varieties, which are rich in vitamins. If wheat is used in the feed, it is recommended to choose one that is designed specifically for pets. Legumes, especially peas, are also suitable for a winter diet.
Many individuals are not able to swallow large peas whole, so they are crushed before feeding.
In summer, the emphasis is on plant and protein foods. If there is no natural reservoir on the farm where the duck can get natural protein, minced fish, bone meal, offal, small fish, fresh meat waste are added to the mash. Protein must be present in the diet daily. To improve digestion give gravel or sand.
Algae, duckweed, beet tops, chopped grass and vegetables (pumpkin, zucchini, various root crops) are offered as succulent feed. Extremely useful for wild ducks is kelp, the roots of aquatic and coastal plants. It is impossible to overfeed a wild bird, because even when kept at home, it eats less than ordinary ducks.
Fresh and clean water should always be present in the drinker. In summer, for disinfection, you can add a little potassium permanganate to the water - until the liquid turns slightly pink.
Brooding chicks is the best solution for beginner poultry farmers.