What can i feed my baby ducklings

What Do Ducklings Eat? 13 Foods for Baby Ducks

More Great Content:

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/Shutterstock.com

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/Shutterstock.com

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/Shutterstock.com

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

1 July

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.

Browse Our Duck Feed

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.

Try Organic Duck Feed From Nature’s Best Organic Feeds

If you want your birds to grow up on organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and non-medicated feed that is formulated specifically for the needs of ducklings, turn to Nature’s Best Organic Feeds. Our Organic Duck Crumbles have just the right balance of protein, vitamins, amino acids and minerals.

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!

Find Our FeedContact Us Today

How to feed ducklings to gain weight: my experience

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

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 off 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.

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.

What 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 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.

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.

How to feed week-old ducklings.

Ducklings at a week old 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.

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.

To improve digestion, ducklings need to 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.

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

But of course, one green food will not be enough, you also need to feed the ducklings with wet mash, I add grated zucchini to the mash, the ducklings willingly eat such food and grow well. Duckweed can also be added to mash, ducklings eat such food well.

Table of feeding rations for ducklings by age.

During the summer period, the ducklings gain very good weight and by the fall you will have adult well-fed ducks. Thanks to plant foods, duck meat is not fatty, more dietary and juicy.

I recommend watching a video on how to make food for ducklings.

Another video about feeding ducklings.

What to feed little ducklings at home