Feed Guide?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Snipes, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. Snipes

    Snipes Songster

    May 15, 2010
    I am reading about feeds and I am just kind of in a jumble about what they need when and what the feed options are. Could someone write a sticky style thread about it. The information to put in it might be:
    -What age to change diets?
    -The general trend of food requirements (I know there is some debate on teh best diet as far a too much/little protein/carbs) as they grow older and for egg laying females.
    -Perhaps some differences between breeds as far as nutritional needs if any. Or mallard-derived vs muscovies.
    -What the "grower" "starter" "flock-raiser" generally mean.
    -Possible costs/benefits to certain feeds (too much corn, vegetarian, no animal by-products, too much protein/carbs, etc)
    -The options for feed
    -ETC! [​IMG]

    I would like to request this from the more experienced keepers to perhaps make a good sticky.

  2. Hattiegun

    Hattiegun Songster

    I just got my first egg.. I have had oyster shell (free choice) in a bowl, but do I go ahead with layer pellets??
    I have 2 boys/ 2 girls and they are not seperated and eat the same thing... can I throw layer in with the grower ?? my first egg seems to have a decent shell... and I put vitamin / electrolytes in the water at least once a month... I just listen to what everyone says they do, make a decision, and just live and learn....
  3. JosieR

    JosieR Songster

    Apr 24, 2010
    Orange County, NY
    I feel like I'm always researching to refresh my memory for food and to make sure I'm doing it right so I would love this, although I would think there can be so much variation in feeds it might not work? I don't know.

    Anyway, my ducks get Flock Raiser with oats added to bring down the protein. I feed oyster shell on the side, free choice. I'm going to trust nature and the ducks' instinct and figure they know better than I do what they need and how much of it so I hope that means the drake will stay away from the oyster shell and the girls will take what they need. No eggs here yet so I could end up kicking myself but we'll see LOL
  4. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Well, here's a start, anyway (hopefully others will jump in and add corrections and amendments):

    Ages 1 day to 3-4 weeks, the ducks need a duck starter ration which can be any of the following:
    * Duck-specific starter ration (very difficult to find--most rations that claim they are for ducks do not have enough niacin--don't trust the labelling) (I've never been able to obtain this, so cannot offer personal experience.)
    * NON-medicated chick starter ration, with niacin added to the water OR brewer's yeast added to the feed. Niacin can be purchased in the pharmacy and one gel cap (250-500 mg) broken into a gallon of water at each water change. (I have done this with good success but for larger numbers of birds, adding niacin each time becomes time-consuming).
    * Non-medicated chick starter ration mixed 50/50 with game bird starter ration. The game bird starter has plenty of niacin, but too much protein. By mixing them, you bring down the protein percentage while raising the niacin adequately. This is my personal choice based on convenience and availability in my area.
    * Purina Flock-Raiser is reportedly an adequate diet for ducklings, even according to the well-respected expert Dave Holderread, but the one personal experience I have with someone purchasing ducklings and feeding Flock-Raiser, is that the ducklings ended up niacin-deficient. I no longer personally recommend Flock Raiser used alone.
    * Custom mixed feed. With adequate educational resources (Dave Holderread's book provides guidance) and a feed company willing to provide custom mixes (or the ability to do it yourself), you can custom mix a good duckling starter. I have never tried this myself.

    At 3-4 weeks of age, lower the protein percentage to avoid angel wing. Switch gradually (i.e., add a handful or so a day, gradually increasing the amount over a week or two) to one of the following:
    * Non-medicated chick grower/finisher feed (with about 15% protein) with niacin in the water or brewer's yeast in the feed.
    * The same feed they have been receiving, plus about 1/4-1/3 low-protein additive, such as oats or wheat. I use both methods depending on availability at any given time.

    At 17-22 weeks of age, gradually switch to a chicken layer, chicken breeder, or chicken maintenance feed. No need to add niacin at this point.

    Hope that helps. I know others disagree with some of the essentials here, but this is the basic usually recommended advice, and it has worked for me for three years in my situation. As always, I recommend folks start with something--whatever makes sense to them--and adjust gradually according to what is working and not working. Everyone's situation is different. [​IMG]

    Edited to add: Grit/oyster shell is optional for free-ranging birds in most circumstances. If in doubt, buy the age-equivalent grit available for chickens/chicks, and offer it free choice. Better to be on the safe side.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  5. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    Nice list, but quite honest I don't go through all this stuff. Another issue that I cannot get all those different formulations out here in the boonies.
    Because of that all my ducks get the same stuff. Nutrena Naturewise Grower Developer Complete Crumble. It has 17% protein, and is unmedicated.

    For young ducklings I grind it in their first week and make a mash with electrolyte/vitamin water out of it for the first 3 days. After that they get it as is. I also provide a small bowl with builders sand in their brooder. They do not get regular water to drink. I provide electrolyte/vitamin water 24 hours until they are 10 days old. Peas for treat, but pureed in the first week. After that whole, but only as a treat.

    Over 10 days they still get the same food, builders sand, but the electrolyte/vitamin water once once per week until they are 12 weeks old.

    Over 12 weeks, same food, no sand because they free range their own, in winter grit on the side, oyster shell on the side, electrolyte/vitamin water once per month or twice per month if laying eggs.

    For the electrolyte/vitamin I buy GQF-Vitamins Plus for their drinking water. It comes in powder form and one pack will last one year. It also contains beneficial bacteria and enzymes for their digestive system. The vanilla smell makes it even better. [​IMG]

    They get salad greens every day, and refrigerated water melon when hot. Peas as a treat and to train them.

    I don't think it is a good idea to buy layer mix. I've compared it at another store and found it was identical only that it had oyster shell in it. You don't want oyster shell in it if you have males around. I know my male will not eat oyster shell so offering it on the side works well for the girls.

    I think that gives them a very balanced diet, plus they eat tons of bugs and plants outside. They love the wild grasses and it is fun to watch them jump up to get to the seeds.
  6. rgn87

    rgn87 Songster

    Mar 17, 2010
    I agree with you guys , but I don't get as technical, I just keep mine very simple and have great success with it.

    Birth-4 weeks- Purina Chick Starter

    4 weeks-12 weeks-Chicken Crumbles (the crumbles can be spilled very easily, and get very messy)

    12- weeks-26 weeks- Layena Chicken pellets.

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