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Duckling Care and the Ancona Breed

By Sally Sunshine, Feb 7, 2013 | Updated: Feb 5, 2015 | | |
  1. Sally Sunshine



    The Duckling BROODER

    Ducklings need a warm and draft free brooder box. A Rubbermaid tub makes an easily cleanable brooder. Provide a 1/2 sq. ft. per duckling during the first week, then increased by 1/2 square foot every week or so because ducklings grow rapidly. Place a brooder heat Lamp above a corner of the brooder so that the ducklings can get away from the heat and return to it as necessary. In this corner a temp of 95°F should be maintained on floor level for the first week, after the first week begin to decrease the heat by 5° each week until the bulb is off. If the ducklings huddle together they are too cold and you will need to lower the heat lamp or replace with a higher watt bulb. If they are too warm they will pant and you will need to decrease watts or raise the lamp. Eventually, your ducklings can be moved to the porch or garage and then outside.

    Bedding in the brooder can be wood shavings (not cedar), paper towels, old towels, hay or straw. Do NOT use newspaper as this gets slippery and can lead to leg problems or a condition called "splayed leg”. Please refer to Poultry Podiatry for treatment suggestions. Make sure if you are using a wire bottom cage that the duckling’s feet can't get caught in the wire. Change the bedding often to prevent mold and mildew which can cause illness in ducklings.




    Flock Raiser[​IMG] SunFresh[​IMG] Recipe
    A 20%-protein nutrient-rich ration that provides top starting, growing and finishing nutrition for a
    mixed flock of chickens, ducks and geese from hatch until laying age (18-20 weeks)

    Ducklings require a diet of 20-22% in the form of non-medicated starter mash or crumbles for the first 3 weeks. It is very important that it is non-medicated feed as organ damage can occur if a medicated chick starter is used for ducks. Too little protein can cause nutritional deficiencies and serious health problems. Too much protein can cause a condition called "Angel Wing" where the feathers on the wings protrude upwards.
    The protein content of their feed can be reduced to 17-18% at 3 weeks. Article about treating Angel Wing: Angel Wing Summary

    WHEN USING UNMEDICATED CHICK STARTER/GROWER FEED: These feeds are formulated for chickens which have lower niacin requirements than ducks, therefore supplemental niacin should be given either in water or feed. 100 to 150 mg of niacin dissolved in a gallon of water from 0-8 weeks while being fed chick starter/grower. Niacin is available in tablet or powder from drugstores. HIGH levels of niacin CAN BE TOXIC so don’t exceed dosages. Brewer's yeast is a good safe source of niacin. 70mg diet recommended for starting and for growing/finishing ducks. Ducks and turkeys with a niacin deficiency show a severe bowing of the legs and an enlargement of the hock joint. Please refer Niacin Deficiency Information for more information and treatments.

    Ducklings can snack occationally on scrambled eggs, hardboiled eggs, earthworms, meal worms, bugs, finely chopped greens, mild veggies, and diced tomatoes. DO NOT FEED your ducks BREAD, chocolate, onion, garlic, spices, cookies, sugared snacks, seeds, nuts, and moldy food can be FATAL

    If they have food water MUST be present or they can choke to death. Ducklings take a mouthful of food to the water and drink in order to swallow. Change the water at least once a day.


    Make sure your duck has sand, chick grit or crumbled egg shells in their food,
    this helps them digest their feed. If they are often outside foraging you don't need to do this.

    Sexing Ducklings & How to Video

    Vent sexings within the first 7 days is the BEST way to sex a duckling. Ducklings will still look and sound the same until they are about 2-2 1/2 months old. Then, at that age you will be able to voice sex them. The females will sound loud when they quack (usually all you have to do is pick them up to get them to quack) and the males will be more quiet and raspy sounding. Then, around 3 months, the males will start to develop their sex feather. This is a small curly feather at the base of their tail (sometimes they can get 2-3 curly feathers).

    A few GREAT ideas to keep the Brooder CLEAN!


    A cake pan and cooling rack inside a rubbermaid tub work well to help catch
    excess water and feed for an easy clean up in the brooder. Its important to keep the brooder dry!


    Cut jugs at the base level of the chicks neck so they can drink
    and if they do get inside the jug it wont be over their heads.
    Just big enough to get their head in and out comfortably.
    Make a new jug every week or as needed, Ducklings GROW FAST!



    For your duck's swimming area, provide a ramp leading in and out of the water. Ducks can sustain serious leg injuries climbing in and out of a pool. Never leave ducklings unattended near water sources they can't stand up in as they are WITHOUT the protective oils produced by the Mother and can tire quickly and drown. Once they are fully feathered, depending on the type of duck, full feathers should be in place by 9-12 weeks of age they are safe to be in water. If you have other adult ducks in the pond/water source, be AWARE older adult ducks can kill ducklings by trying to drown the younger ducks.



    The Ancona Duck


    The Ancona Duck is a rare domestic all purpose (meat and egg) duck considered to be a descendant of the Indian Runner Duck and the Belgian Huttegem Duck breeds. Anconas were developed in England during the early 20th century, but were not available in the United States until 1984. Even though their numbers have increased in the U.S., the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy listed the Ancona's status as "critical".​


    The Ancona Duck weighs an average of 6 pounds. Varieties include Black and White, Blue and White, Chocolate and White, Silver and White, Lavender and White, and Tricolor. Ancona Ducks are robust and capable of enduring hard conditions therefore adapt well to various environments. Their excellent laying ability, tasty meat, and calm dispositions make them a great addition to any small farmstead or backyard producer's flock. Average yearly egg production of the Ancona Duck is 280 of white, cream, or blue eggs. The Ancona grow relatively quickly and the meat is high is flavor and less fatty than other duck varieties. The Anconas do not migrate so they are ideally suited as pond ducks and they stay close to home never and fly off. They are calm, and if handled when young are friendly and affectionate.​

    My Ancona Ducks!

    Setting duck Eggs! How fun they are to candle!


    Candle day 9

    Candle day 13

    New Years Eve Ducklings Hatch!
    Say Hello to Blackberry and Chocolate Drying off in the incubator.



    2 day old Ancona Ducklings!

    8 days old, please NOTE how fast these ducklings grow in one month!

    2 weeks old first swim in the bathtub!
    4 weeks old and an addition, say Hello Clementine!

    The kids truly enjoyed watching them swim!
    But this time doesn’t last very long by 4 weeks they just send too much water out of the tub!




    Ancona 5 weeks old!​

    It was a fast first month!
    Journey from Rubbermaid Tub, XXL Dog Kennel to childs play yard!
    Spring is probably THE BEST SEASON to raise ducklings!



    Bedding is removed every three days and replaced as their poo can get a real amonia/urine odor!


    But they are so DARN ADORABLE! [​IMG]


    BYC Sticky Links!

    The ULTIMATE list of DUCK Treats and Supplements

    Duck Waterers

    How Many Ducks do our Members Have?

    Duck Housing and Runs

    Migratory/Ornamental Waterfowl

    First aid kit

    Muscovy Duck Regulations

    Understanding Basic Color Genetics

    Waterfowl Incubation Guide

    2012 Waterfowl Breeders Directory

    How do ducks fare in the winter???

    Wrap for angel wing

    Hatching Intervention

    Flushes for Toxin Removal

    Disclaimer: Please note this information is offered as friendly advice only and, whilst I have made every effort to ensure it is accurate, I can not be held responsible if it proves not to be useful in your case!


    Hatching Eggs 101 ~ Guide to ASSISTED Hatching ~ Mushy Chick Disease ~ Cooler Bator ~ Pallet Hinkel Haus

    Vent Gleet/"Nasty Chicken Butt" ~ PA Unite MAP ~ Hatched ~ PINTEREST Chickens ~ Incubating Diary-Notes Thread

    DONT FORGET VOTE: BYC Member Award ~ A Good Scolding Never Hurt Anyone!

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  1. ChickenMama6RIR
    Hmm I think I have an Ancona duckling but I'm not sure...
  2. LeviS
    Great article, this is my first year with ancona's also. Have only had little call's before, though it's still the same, they are absolutely filthy! They love nothing more than to see how fast they can get their nice cozy brooder to resemble a swamp!

    Going to fashion large brooder just for ducklings, based off of your model.
  3. Sally Sunshine
    LOL Hey!! I only added pics so far!! Silly Goose!! But thanks LMBO!!
    :D good article!

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