The True Costs of Buying and Raising Ducks

If there is one “sting” that I think every animal lover is familiar with, it has to be the one associated with sticker shock. That’s because the animals that we love might be affordable, themselves, or even free, but the cost of raising them and keeping them healthy can drive you out of your house and home.

Black Swedish and Ancona ducks sharing mud puddle
Black Swedish and Ancona ducks sharing mud puddle

Even for those sold by the truckload, like ducks, the real costs associated with their acquisition and care can be eye-watering. So, what is the actual cost of buying and raising a duck?

A duckling will cost anywhere from $10 to $40 depending on the breed and seller. Buying everything you need to care for those ducks can go anywhere from $300 to $1,000 or even more. Caring for an individual duck will cost anywhere from $40 to $120 yearly.

That doesn’t sound so bad compared to a whole lot of pets, but when you consider that ducks are highly social animals that really need a flock, even a small one, to thrive and stay healthy those costs can quickly turn frightening.

There’s a lot more you’ll want to know about the actual cost of buying and caring for ducks, so if you’ve been thinking about it, read on.

The Cost of a Fertilized Egg

If you want to buy a fertilized egg with the intention of hatching your own ducklings in an incubator and then caring for them in a brooder, you might spend as much as $10 or as little as $5 per egg.

Obviously, getting an egg is invariably the cheapest option and that’s because the seller has very, very little invested in the egg itself.

However, you’ll need an incubator and brooder if you want to reliably help the little ducklings develop, and that can set you back anywhere from $100 to $600, or more for advanced models!

It’s possible to DIY a brooder easily, but a home-brew incubator tends to be highly failure-prone.

How Much Does a Duckling Cost?

A duckling, depending on the breed, will run you anywhere from $10 to $40 depending on the breed and the seller.

Farm or backyard sellers often sell cheaper, whereas proper hatcheries that can tell you everything about a duckling’s lineage and also provide proof of health and vaccination will usually charge more.

They also have more requirements for ownership, and it’s hardly uncommon for them to only sell larger numbers of little guys to a seller to ensure that they will have the makings of a flock in order to develop properly.

But if you look at it that way, you can have a very modest flock of 10 ducks for about $100 in some cases!

How Much Does an Adult Duck Cost?

The costs of adult ducks are highly variable, and you’ll only occasionally see them for sale compared to ducklings.

Depending on the breed, lineage, age, and any other factors, an adult might go for anywhere from $40 to $100 or so, and potentially much more in the case of fertile drakes from champion or highly productive lines.

In any case, unless you have your heart set on an adult for breeding purposes, make it a point to get ducklings. They will imprint on you while they are growing up, and that will make your interactions with them much easier and more pleasurable.

Never Plan on Just One or Two Ducks

One thing to keep in mind when purchasing ducks is that you must never, ever get just one duck. I know the temptation is there for those of us who just want an adorable duck as a pet or companion, but that isn’t fair to the animal itself.

As mentioned, ducks are highly social and they absolutely require other ducks, preferably multiple ducks, in order to develop properly, stay healthy, and thrive. This means you need at least a flock, and strictly speaking, a flock is at least 3 ducks. I recommend no less than 4 and preferably 6 if you want your birds to enjoy the good life.

White Call Duck (miniature) Hen
White Call Duck (miniature) Hen

If you can’t commit to that financially, or for any other reason, I strongly urge you to think twice about getting any ducks.

Basic Equipment and Shelter

You’ll need a few things for your ducks, the most important of which is a shelter. Ducks can make use of a coop like chickens, but they can also do with a simpler duck house which provides them protection from wind and rain.

Ducks enjoy much better insulation compared to chickens, and they typically sleep on the ground instead of on a roost bar, so their housing can be accordingly much simpler.

There are all kinds of premade duck houses on the market, in kit form or fully assembled, but you can easily make your own if you are handy and have the materials close at hand.

Otherwise, expect to spend around $200, at the least on a duck house suitable for keeping a handful of ducks sheltered.

Ducks will also benefit from a feeder and waterer, and depending on which style you buy the pair could set you back as little as $50 or as much as $200 or much more. Materials and features will dictate prices, here.

And, of course, ducks have to have water, specifically a pool to swim around in. If you have just a handful of ducks, you can probably get by with a kiddie pool or some other improvised pool, and that might set you back as little as 25 bucks.

A larger and more elaborate pond or pool installation can run many hundreds to many thousands of dollars. Obviously, if you have an actual pond or lake on your property, you’ll be all set.

Food, Water, Supplements and Medicine

As always, the single biggest ongoing cost when it comes to keeping any animal is food, and ducks are no exception. Ducks don’t eat as much as you think, though they eat more than chickens: around a third of a pound of food a day for adults.

But the true costs of that food are dictated mostly based on the size of the duck and also what kind of food you are feeding them.

Duck feed goes anywhere from about 30 cents a pound to more than $1.20 a pound, with the major factors being the ingredients list and whether or not the feed is organic. Then you have to consider the cost of supplemental foods like seeds, fish, insects, and the like.

Altogether, and depending on what kind of deal you can work out on price if you are buying in bulk, it might cost as little as $4 a month to feed your duck, if they have plenty of forage on your property, to as much as $50. Remember that is per duck and per month!

Healthcare Might Be Needed

Healthcare is something that all animals need, but in this regard, ducks will usually treat you pretty good.

They are incredibly hardy, healthy birds, especially compared to chickens. I know more than a few people that have ducks, bought from good breeders, that have never needed the attention of a vet.

But if your ducks do, you’ll be shelling out anywhere from $45 to $75 dollars just for the visit, and if you have multiple ducks that need care there might be a per-head fee.

Then a sick duck will need medicine, or an injured duck will need treatment. Medicine costs can vary considerably, you should expect to shell out anywhere from $40 to $100 for a course of medication these days. The cost of treatments, including surgery, varies dramatically.

Yearly Costs

So, what’s the bottom line figure for raising ducks?

Assuming that you’re going to buy the ducks and then purchase the bare minimum of needed equipment, you’ll have to spend anywhere from $300 to $1,000 for a flock of six and the basic supplies they will need to stay safe and healthy.

After that, assuming that they don’t get sick or injured and require the services of a vet, that flock of six ducks will run you anywhere from $244 to $864 in food yearly.

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