Duckling Care & Brooder Ideas

Duckling care, brooder ideas and the Ancona breed
By Sally Sunshine · Feb 11, 2013 · Updated Apr 10, 2017 · ·
  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. BYC members have some great brooder ideas! Brooder Ideas

    Bedding in the brooder can be wood shavings (not cedar), paper towels, old towels, wood pellets, 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.






    Purina Flock raiser

    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)

    HOWEVER, I used this four weeks and started seeing angel wing! Lower protien and offer more greens afterTHREE WEEKS!!!

    Great all around pdf of ducks, raising, care, feeding nutrients and health!

    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


    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 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
    Also Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks, 2nd Edition

    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

    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.
    And throw the lid out, DONT put it on the jug!

    Make a new jug every week or as needed, Ducklings GROW FAST!





    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. For your duck's swimming area, provide a ramp leading in and out of the water. If you have other adult ducks in the pond/water source, be AWARE older adult ducks can killDucks can sustain serious leg injuries climbing in and out of a pool. ducklings by trying to drown the younger ducks.

    A great starter swim is a tapered paint roller tray!

    cool link TO VIDEO SHOWING how to make cleaning a kids pool SIMPLE!
    I am doing this now!


    Mixing Medicine for Small Flocks of Ducks and Geese
    Avian Diseases: Fungal, Nutritional, Tumors, Parasites & Misc.
    Acute Aspergillosis in Mallards|PDF
    List of Waterfowl Diseases
    Duck Health Care
    BUMBLEFOOT & Treatment

    Waterfowl Diseases: Coping with duck ailments
    DUCK RESCUE NETWORK tons of info!






    The Ancona Duck

    & Brooding/
    housing ideas!


    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".


    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]


    Ancona 6 weeks old!


    I love this set up! and with the tarp under it I just drag the wasted litter to the compost pile! and pulling it up the sides of the play yard help keep feathers and shavings inside!



    OUR beautiful Duck House!



    Big Blue with FF all over him checking out the new house in his run!

    Upgraded Pond!
    NOTE: Make sure they have a WAY OUT!

    Sexing Ducklings (Please check here first [​IMG]

    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

    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

    Heavy Metal Poisoning

    Raising and Caring for Ducklings

    Incubating and Hatching Muscovy Eggs

    Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918

    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!

    Educational Incubation & Hatching, w/ Sally Sunshine Click HERE & NOTES section click HERE
    Hatching 101 Article
    click HERE & Assisted Hatching Guide Click HERE
    Cabinet Coolerbator ~ Coolerbators ~ Pallet Coops ~ Saloon Coop ~ Pallet Duck House & Duck Care
    Processing Support Group~ PINTEREST ALL POULTRY ~Our Serama House of Littles Click HERE ~Mushy Chick Disease ~ Nasty Chicken Butt ~ Easy no Strain Fermented Feed ~ Easy 5gal Waterer ~DIY Light Box for pics Click HERE

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Recent User Reviews

  1. lutherpug
    "Lots of great info"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Apr 14, 2019
    What a great primer for those of us getting started with ducks!
    WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  2. N F C
    "Good Tips"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Mar 26, 2019
    Good article for anyone just getting into raising ducks
    WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  3. Haydog03
    "Amazing; Everyone should read it!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Nov 10, 2018
    I didn’t know how to get to articles on BYC or what they were, until my ducks were 5 months. All these tips would’ve helped! Wish I had read it sooner, but I’ll definitely put some of them to use next hatchlings I get! The drinking choking hazard I didn’t know until someone online (on BYC) told me, but a lot of information is all at one place with this article, which is awesome!


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  1. SailorNoMore
    Thank you, that is the best ancona presentation that I have seen so far.
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  2. littlecollier
    This is so helpful and such a wonderful resource. Thank you for compiling and sharing such thourough information! I’m getting ready to set four Ancona eggs and hope to have success with at least two of them. Will be referencing this often, I imagine! Thanks again!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  3. PatrickRoo
    An informative article!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  4. hereorthere
    Thanks Sally for all the great info & pics! Knew to come to you for clear and concise info without shuffling through all the blah, blah and more blah! Picked up 11 Welsh Harlequins 1 day ago and gads the learning curve is big! Thought I was prepared too.
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  5. PoultryAddict 1
    My welsh harlaquin and cayuga ducklings are getting bigger every day! two days old today!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  6. Amiga
    Chock full of information! Great Photo's!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  7. mandabach
    Thanks a lot!! My Ancona eggs should hatch a week from now. It's hard to see anything when I candle them now . . .
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  8. clankeyes
    So happy I found this post !!!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  9. pfenning_pfarm
    So much great information. Thank you for sharing!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  10. mlsouth
    I LOVE this page... I have some two week old Anconas right now. Its just nuts to think how fast they grow. Im not new to ducks, but this page is still fun to look at! Thanks!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  11. Apyl
    Perfect ! I can not count how many times I have had to explain ducks needs to new duck owners.
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  12. Chicks Galore3
    Wow. Awesome job, learned a lot!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  13. 3Dchicken
    Awesome job!!!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  14. Sally Sunshine
    Thank you! Trying to share my lessons and research with others!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  15. chickenpooplady
    Your articles are always so helpful and well written!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  16. willowbranchfarm
    Another GREAT article!!!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.
  17. learycow
    :) Very good advice and the pictures are great!
      WannaBeHillBilly likes this.

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