Raising Ducks on The Homestead 101

Raising ducks on our homestead was a natural step after chickens.

We wanted some personality, some different meat and a variety of eggs in case we decided to sell them.

Indian runner and Pekin ducks
Indian runner and Pekin ducks

It was mind boggling to us how different they were in the beginning, and how fun they are now.

Getting started with ducks can be an exciting project. Here’s how to raise ducks in your backyard.

Ducklings are best started as purchased vs. being hatched for newbies.

Since there are so many differences with chicken hatching vs. duckling hatching it can be frustrating for a newbie.

here are changes in humidity levels, turning the eggs and heat temps that drove us crazy at first.

So, if you are new to ducks, may I recommend that you get hatched ducklings to start?

ducks bathing in pond on the homestead

Ducks are waterfowl.

Not that should surprise anyone, but when raising ducks,  will need lots and lots and lots of water.

Seriously, gallons. But only after they have feathers. When they are in the wild, ducklings get an oil to cover their down from their mothers that keeps them afloat in the water.

When you have ducklings that YOU are the mother, you are not able to add that protective oil and they can actually drown in a large pool of water. They get waterlogged, and exhausted and without that oil, they can sink.

For ducklings, they can easily use a regular chicken waterer to get their daily water needs. Plan on filling it 2-3x a day and keep it as fresh as possible.

For older ducks with feathers, consider a plastic hard kiddie pool. If you don’t have the room for a kiddie pool, a washtub or low bucket works just as well.

Ducks are happiest when they can fully submerge, but if all they can do is dip their heads, they will be good.

Ducks will make a huge mess out of whatever water you give them.

They love to play and splash around in it and will dip their bills in the dirt surrounding the water, then back in the water. If they can get into the pool or bucket, they will also poop in that water.

Plan on changing it at least daily. You can pour the water directly on the garden by dipping a bucket. It’ll fertilize the plants with a ready made “tea”.

Ducks also need water by their food.

They will grab some food, dip their bill and wet that food down to swallow. You can place just a small waterer or bucket near their food to keep the mess at bay.

We use a chicken waterer near our duck food so they don’t get wet food everywhere and have it get all moldy or smelly.

ducks on the winter homestead

Ducks are great foragers.

They will catch mosquitos in mid air, grab some grubs from the garden beds, and find all the worms by digging their bills into the dirt.

Of course, their bills dig tiny holes all over, but to me it’s worth it. When raising ducks, you can let them loose in the yard. They are not nearly as destructive as chickens in the garden.

We let our ducks loose in our garden beds in the evenings while we are working in it, and they get all the bugs for us.

Ducks also need food from you.

We *personally* use a “all layer” food for our ducks and chickens since they live together and eat from the same area.

Some people may not agree with that, but it works for us. It also helps that we are not buying several different types of feed for our flocks.

When raising ducks, they DO need more niacin than chickens. What we do is add a duck supplement in the form of brewer’s yeast to some feed out in the garden area.

When we let them play in that area at night, they get the niacin they need.

To see more about raising ducks vs chickens on your homestead, read this post.

When raising ducks for eggs, know that they are excellent layers.

Our ducks will lay 5-6 eggs a week, consistently, all year long. They don’t mind the cold winters, or the super hot summers.

They just keep swimming, just keep swimming. 🙂 Their eggs are also on average 1 1/2 times the size of a chicken egg and are GREAT in baked goods.

Duck eggs are fluffy and rich tasting in an egg dish and I will never use a chicken egg for homemade mayo as long as I have ducks.

The only problem with raising ducks for eggs in the backyard is that ducks do NOT lay in nesting boxes. Ours are known for waddling around, stopping, then just dropping and egg and going.

Each morning begins a new and exciting egg hunt for us, especially in the warm months. During the winter, the eggs are usually in the barn, but not always.

Mostly they are near their source of water, and that does give us a place to start our hunting.

What are your favorite things about raising ducks? Share some tips on raising them with us!

6 thoughts on “Raising Ducks on The Homestead 101”

  1. This may be a silly question. We have been thinking about getting ducks but were unsure how you keep them from leaving. Do they just stay because it is home? I have read several articles and no one speaks to this. Also, we have a pond right behind our house. Would it be acceptable for them to use the pond instead of providing a kiddie pool all the time?

    1. Heather Harris

      That’s not a silly question at all!!! First, the larger ducks won’t fly away. Breeds like Indiana Runner, Pekin and Swedish Blue are great for the homestead for that reason. Also, the pond will be fantastic!!! They will love it! What you want to probably consider is that they WILL POOP in it, and mosquitoes and flies…so you may want a way to keep the water moving with a pump. Thanks for asking!

  2. How much brewers yeast per cup of feed would you give the ducklings? I bought some in capsules that I can cut open and mix into their starter feed. Thank you. My geese are raising my baby because my son stuck a baby under a setting goose whose eggs did not hatch.

  3. I bought a duck from the auction becuase i needed more grown females. she hurt her leg and the first time i just kept her in the coop and by the end of the week she was fine. Now she hurt it again and this is a few months later and it is swollen so i gave her some antibiotics penicillin and she seemed to improve but the leg is still sore and has a bump on the bottom. she will stand on it but has difficulty walking. still keeping her seperated from the male geese and ducks. Any thoughts?

  4. Hi.
    Approx 6-8mnths ago my partner & i decided to buy 2 ducks(MatingPair) and ensured us they were due to lay within the next few weeks/month. It has now been atleast 6-8 and still nothingg. Just curious as to why this may be?

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