“What Do Baby Ducks Eat” Ultimate List Of Treats, Feed, Fruits, & Vegetables

Raising ducklings from day olds to maturity can be a tricky business. It’s a lot of work! A frequent question I’m asked is “what do baby ducks eat?”

Knowing what you can and can’t feed your ducklings is critical to getting them through the first few weeks of life. Raising ducklings isn’t hard but they do need a certain amount of vitamins – and often, they’re not present in chick starter.

In this article, you’ll discover what you can and CAN’T feed your ducklings, as well as what to add to their feed, so they grow into healthy layers.

What Do Baby Ducks Eat (List Of Treats, Feed, Fruits, Vegetables, And More)?

Adult backyard ducks can eat a wide variety of food, but your baby ducks should have a very specific diet from the time they hatch until they’re fully feathered. Baby ducks eat duckling starter, vegetables, fruits, and protein like dried insects (mealworms, black soldier fly larvae, etc)!

Feed for Day Olds – 16 Weeks Old

Of course, you can feed the the occasional treat or mealworm, but the basis of your baby ducklings’ diet should be a starter/grower feed that’s formulated specifically for ducks.

Unlike chicks, ducklings need an extra “dose” of Vitamin B (specifically niacin) for their bones and bills to grow correctly. Without it, your ducklings might end up with crooked legs and/or bills that curve up and do not close correctly.

Most duckling feed on the market contains that extra booster of Vitamin B.

If you don’t want to buy extra feed, you can purchase chick starter and easily add extra niacin to their diet with brewer’s yeast. Just mix it with the starter feed – 1 pound of brewer’s yeast per 40 pound bag of chick starter is fine.

(The brewer’s yeast we sell in the store here is formulated for ducklings, and it contains oregano, echinacea, and garlic – herbs traditionally used to support healthy immune system functions. It’s packed with lots of good stuff!)


What Fruit Can Ducks Eat? 8 Fruits You Can Feed To Ducklings

As a treat when they’re fully feathered, or if it’s very hot and you’re worried about them staying hydrated, you can offer fruit.

Yep, ducks LOVE fruit. For baby ducks, you’ll want to cut the treat very small and float it on water so they can easily reach and eat it.

Fruits contain a lot of natural sugars, so you’ll want to feed it sparingly – but get ready to hear lots of happy quacks!

Some fruits baby ducks can eat are:

  • Tomatoes (only the flesh because the vines and leaves are toxic)
  • Pears (mash them up)
  • Apples (the flesh – not the seeds. You’ll also want to mash them a bit to make it easier for your ducklings to consume it.
  • Bananas (mashed is best – flesh only, not the skin. You can use the skins in your garden)
  • Peaches (just the flesh – remove the stone)
  • Cherries (remove the stones)
  • Strawberries
  • Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc)

A common question is can ducks eat pumpkin? Yes, they can! They love it!

Vegetables & Leafy Greens

Oh my, do ducks love their leafy greens! It’s always best to float them on water, and tear them into smaller pieces.

Ducks don’t chew their food, and you don’t want long strands of grass or other goodies getting caught in their digestive systems.  This is important whether your feeding young ducklings or mature ducks.

Some veggies and leafy greens that ducks love are:

  • Cut grass (that hasn’t been sprayed with any chemicals)
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Radish & turnip greens
  • Lettuces & other salad greens
  • Cucumber
  • Peas

Consider creating a garden just for your ducks – the greens are pretty inexpensive to grow, and will supply your flock with an extra amount of food, pretty much for free.

[brid autoplay=”true” video=”453677″ player=”19074″ title=”How To Grow Free Food For Rabbits & Chickens” description=”Buying grain for your livestock can add up – ask me how I know. This year, we decided to do something different – we planted a garden to grow greens for our rabbits and chickens. It’s been a success and now we have enough free food for everyone to have an extra bite every day – and it’s lowered our overall feed bill.” duration=”470″ uploaddate=”2019-08-21 17:19:36″ thumbnailurl=”//cdn.brid.tv/live/partners/14575/thumb/453677_t_1566407967.png”]

Dairy Treats

You can start feeding these treats when your baby ducks are at least 12 weeks of age. When they’re day olds, it’s better to not feed these treats.

I’m not the biggest fan of feeding dairy to ducks, but the items on this list won’t hurt them.

Note that dairy might cause their poop to be more stinky. If that happens, stop offering dairy immediately.

  • Whole milk plain greek yogurt (great to add extra probiotics to their digestive systems).
  • Cheese, especially cottage cheese. If you feed regular cheese (cheddar for example), it’s best of it’s shredded. That way, your ducks can easily swallow it.


This is also a good go-to “what to feed baby ducks in an emergency” food list.

A common question from first time duck owners is “Can I give my ducklings treats?” In short, yes!

You might wonder what can I feed my pet duck that they’ll love?

It’s always a good idea to offer high protein treats. In fact, if you want to give your baby ducks something besides their feed to snack on, dried insects such as black soldier fly larvae or dried shrimps are the best option.

Ducks LOVE dried shrimps – they float on water, are easily digested, and ducks LOVE to filter through their water to snap them up.

We sell dried shrimps in the store here.


Some other high-protein treats you can feed baby ducks are:

  • Mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Eggs (boil and dice – leave the shells off. Too much calcium can cause problems with young poultry.)
  • Dried shrimps
  • Black soldier fly larvae
  • Superworms (extra large mealworms)
  • Darkling beetles

Remember: Ducks aren’t chickens – they have round bills that don’t pick easily like hens’ beaks. So, it’s best to float treats on water so your ducklings can easily dig them up.

Before deciding what treats you’ll offer your ducklings, consider their age. The last thing you want is for your fluffy butts to choke!

Larger treats like black soldier fly larvae or chunks of pumpkin might be harder for hatchlings to swallow.

Dried river shrimp are always a safe bet – they’re tiny and soft, and easy broken into smaller pieces.

Treats (anything other than duckling starter) should be no more than 10% of a duck’s daily diet. Remember that treats can change the way a duck’s poop looks: either in color, consistency, or odor – so monitor what and how much you are giving them.

Can A Baby Duck Survive On Its Own? Can Ducklings Survive Without Their Mother?

Yes, a baby duck could survive on its own in the wild (and definitely with a human mama). Ducklings walk soon after birth, and automatically know to start looking for food – and know it’s food when they see it!

They’ll also try to “taste test” everything from your fingers, to shavings, to actual food!

That being said, ducklings DO have some special needs. For example, ducklings are born with down, and need to be kept warm until fully feathered.

In the wild, they need their mother’s protection to keep them safe and they require warmth to regulate their bodies. Their mother helps them stay warm.

In captivity, we have to provide a heat source until they have feathers. Luckily, ducklings grow VERY fast.

Ducklings in general are easy prey for predators such as foxes, weasels, snakes, skunks, raccoons etc. They have no defenses against these scavengers – they can’t even run that fast. So, you need to make sure your ducklings are kept in a very safe brooder and coop.

Can Baby Ducks Eat Bananas?

Yes! If you’re wondering “what do baby ducks eat?” One answer is BANANAS! Like berries, melons, seeded fruits, and pit fruits will have your pet ducks bouncing with joy. Just make sure to mash them up so their tiny bills can dig in.

Can Ducks Eat Chicken Feed?

Adult ducks can – layer feed has all the nutrients they need. Baby ducklings, however, should eat starter that’s specially formulated for them. Ducklings require a lot of niacin for proper bone and bill growth, and most chick starters do not have enough. If you have chick starter on hand, you can increase the niacin by adding brewer’s yeast. Add 1 pound of brewer’s yeast per 40 pounds of chick starter. You can buy brewer’s yeast for ducklings here.

Can Ducklings Eat Strawberries?

Yes! They can – just be sure to chop them into small bits and mash them. They’ll make your baby ducks happy all day long!

Can Ducks Eat Scrambled Eggs?

Yes, ducks can eat scrambled and boiled eggs. For adult ducks, you can include the eggshells (provides extra calcium). For ducklings, leave the eggshells out. They’ll be too hard for your tiny pets to eat, and too much calcium can inhibit organ growth.

Can Ducks Get Lonely?

Ducks are very social animals – they do feel loneliness, isolation, and grief just like us. They love being part of a flock! It’s important to never leave a duck alone or caged for too long as it can cause them to be emotionally unhealthy.

Can Ducklings Drink Milk?

Yes, but it’s not the best treat to give them. It’s important they don’t eat too much dairy products. Opt to give them leafy greens, dried river shrimp, or other treats instead.

How Long Can Ducklings Stay In Water?

They can stay in water for short periods as long as it’s a warm day (above 80 degrees). Do not put them in water if it’s below 70 and they aren’t fully feathered – you’re asking for trouble. Also be sure to give them an easy way in and out of the water, such as having a ramp in the water. If they get cold, they need to easily leave the water.

Can Ducklings Eat Cucumber?

Yes ducklings can eat cucumber. Just be sure to dice them into very small pieces or grind them up. Ducklings love vegetables!

Can Ducklings Eat Oatmeal?

Yes, they can eat oatmeal (uncooked; rolled, or quick). However, it’s best to feed them duck starter instead. Oatmeal is yummy, but it doesn’t have all the nutrients they need. If you’re stuck, and oatmeal is all you have on hand, then it’ll be fine for a day or two. You can also offer cracked corn, wheat, and barley.

Can Ducklings Eat Grapes?

Yes, ducklings can eat grapes as long as they’re mashed. Be sure to remove seeds and skins before feeding it to your ducklings.

Can Ducklings Have Tomatoes?

Yes, they can eat tomatoes. Just make sure they’re mashed, and only feed the tomatoes – not the leaves or stems.

Can Ducklings Have Blueberries?

Yes – ducklings LOVE blueberries! Just be sure to mash them, and don’t feed too much – otherwise your ducklings might get the runs!

Do you still wonder “What do baby ducks eat?” What’s your ducklings’ favorite snack?

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Those Sneaky Chicks! Confessions From The Coop (TM)

Well, it finally happened.


We finally had a chillier than normal (read: in the 60s F), which tells me that soon, the dang mosquitoes will go back in hiding for another 6 months.


I started putting the finishing touches on the duckling coop (they’re WAY happier to be out of that tractor and near a big pool of water for splashing), and in the video, all you see is Larry and I swatting at mosquitoes, LOL!


The video of what we have so far is almost complete – hopefully, it gives you some inspiration. The building, that is – not the mosquito swatting.


We’ve completed most of the repairs on the main run and the duckling run – which means roofs are next!


The duckling run has a high fence, and the wire extends about 1 foot into the floor of the pen to deter predators, so I don’t need to worry about a full roof for them – just a secure shelter where they can sleep and stay safe.


Up next is the shelter – for now, they’ll come into the coop at night, but very soon (meaning, after I buy some 2x4s, lol) there will be a run in for them.


When they’re full grown, we can easily expand the run to accommodate them.


I’m dying to see what their final feathers will look like – the tail feathers are just starting to peek through. I think we might have a couple that feather out black.


Won’t that be fun?


The chicken run definitely needs a roof. The fence is 8 feet high, but the hens can fly 8 feet. And get mauled by roosters, dogs, or whatever critter is passing by.


So, I’ll be getting some simple trusses, then adding chicken wire on the top. Part of it will be open to the sun and part will have a solid roof so they can get out of the rain and sun.


Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?


I’m pretty sure we have predators still running around – I think my next product review will be those predator lights.


Speaking of predators, for 2 days, one of my chicks went missing.


They’re in the coop full time because they’re too big for any of the tractors and too small to free range while we redo the run (yes, for the 3rd time – Dahlia the goat got loose and rubbed against the wire, pretty much tearing it to shreds).


I looked and looked – and by looked, I mean I searched every nook and cranny of that coop. Then I realized the wire we have over one of the doors is loose.


I figured a skunk got him, but the next day I looked again, and he was STILL missing. So, I gave him up for lost.


Then yesterday evening, he reappeared in the coop – there’s no way he left then returned, because that loose wire was easy for a skunk to wiggle in and out of, but not so obvious for a chick to wiggle out and then BACK IN to the coop.


So, I have no idea where this chick was hiding, but clearly, he is far cleverer than I am!


backyard chicken


That’s it for this week! Hope you enjoyed these photos!


How to Raise Ducklings

Raising ducks (especially ducklings) is easy, and ducks are some of the most entertaining and useful livestock you can add to your farm!


We started to raise ducklings in hopes they would begin to lay eggs once they matured.


As you might know, I’m a big believer in keeping more than one type of poultry!


Build a duck house in 1 hour and for free!


Ducklings also are a nice accompaniment to chicks you might raise in the spring, and can do just as much work in your garden when they mature.


Until they mature and lay eggs, ducklings can forage and help keep the bug population down. I think you’ll find that if you raise ducklings, they will be very cute, and provide hours of entertainment.


They’re easy, low maintenance animals that will provide and eggs when they’re ready.


It’s been very easy raising ducks in the past with success, so this year we added several to our backyard flock. You can buy ducklings to raise from hatcheries, feed stores, or local breeders.


Decide which breed of ducklings you want to raise 

There’s so many different breeds of ducklings to raise, so I won’t cover them all.


In this article, I’ll talk about the breeds I have experience raising, their histories, and why I like them.



Pekin Ducks

Pekin ducks are possibly the most popular breed of ducklings to raise in the United States. They’re the white ducks you see everywhere.


Pekins originated in China, and immigrants brought them over mid-19th century. They quickly gained popularity as a breed of ducklings to raise in the US because of their hardy, useful natures.


They’re a good dual purpose breed, and lay eggs consistently. We’ve chosen Pekin duckling to raise in the past, and they were easy, low-maintenance ducks.


How to Raise Ducklings


Indian Runners Ducks

Indian Runners are excellent ducklings to raise, and are highly prized for their wonderful pale green and white eggs. Runners are foragers, and great layers. They can lay around 180-200 eggs per year.


Runners generally are not suitable to raise for meat because the males top out at 5 pounds or so. Their value lies more in their eggs.


Khaki Campbells Ducks


Do ducks molt? Here's everything you need to know!

We have a few of these on our farm, and they lay nice white eggs regularly. They’re also very pretty!


Named after their developer, Mrs. Adah Campbell, these are the breed of ducklings to raise if eggs are your priority.


Laying around 300 eggs a year, Khaki Campbells were developed by breeding Mallards, Runners, and Rouen ducks.


They’re good foragers, and only weigh 3-5 pounds fully grown.


Learning to raise ducklings is easy, and you'll love their presence on your homestead. In this article, we cover everything you need to know. From FrugalChicken


Raising Ducks: Bringing your ducklings home


Step one in learning how to raise ducklings is to choose ducklings at the breeder or feed store (or wherever you happen to source them).


You want healthy-looking ducklings to raise that are active, curious, and free of poop on their bottoms.


If you’re buying your ducklings locally, be sure to keep them warm on the ride home, and provide an appropriate container for transport.


Anything from a cardboard box to a cat carrier will work (our cat carrier gets lots of use!), as long as it’s solid and has a way to keep them inside.


I personally use a cat carrier when transporting ducklings I’m bringing home to raise.


Keep them warm by keeping the heat in your car turned on, if it’s cool outside. Their down will provide them with a certain amount of warmth as well, but not a ton.


Because your ducklings will likely experience some stress by the move, keeping them warm will make sure they arrive home in the best shape possible.


Put something on the bottom of your box or carrier to catch any poop/pee, and to give them traction. In a cat carrier with no lining, they can easily slip.


Your goal is to make the ducklings comfortable so they are less stressed during transporting.


I’ve purchased poultry through the mail successfully, and most hatcheries want their birds to get to you in great shape. But if you’re concerned about travel conditions, you’re best off buying your ducklings close to home.


I purchased my ducklings about an hour away from my house, which ensured their ride home was as short as I could make it, and my ducklings arrived in good shape.


Raising Ducks: Necessary equipment


If you want true success in raising ducks, there’s some equipment you will need.


If it’s still cool outside, you’ll need a heat source and a brooder for your ducklings. We usually wait until warm weather – above 80 all the time – so we can skip the heat source step.


In my experience, the number one killer of young ducklings is getting too cold, so giving them a place to warm up is very important.


It can be very helpful having a heat lamp for ducklings.


The type of bulb you need depends on the time of year, and where you will keep your ducklings.


During the winter, I raise my ducklings inside when it’s cold, and use a heat lamp for ducklings if it’s really cold outside (we have a drafty house) or a 75 watt bulb if it’s spring, and 60 degrees or so outside.


To be honest, I prefer using the 75 watt bulb; the heat lamps get too hot, and if they fall, they can lead to a fire.


It’s not ideal if a 75 watt lamp falls, but the metal lamp surrounding the bulb doesn’t get very hot, so a fire is less likely.


I especially make sure the ducklings have a warm place to go if they’ve been swimming. Maybe they’ll need it, or maybe they won’t, but it’s better than raising cold ducklings.


I put the heat lamp in one corner of the brooder, and let them decide when they want to use it. Happy ducklings wander around and are curious, so let that be your guide to determine if they’re warm enough.


If they start panting, your lamp is too hot.


Your brooder can be as fancy or as basic as you like. I use a big plastic bin because they’re cheap and easy to clean, but you can make a brooder out of wood or metal as well.


It just needs to be sturdy and safe for your ducklings.


Most people use shavings in their brooder. I use shavings, and sometimes I add some hay. Be sure you use larger flakes because ducklings have a tendency to taste the smaller shavings, or the shavings can become mixed with their feed.


You will also need a waterer and something to keep their food in as you raise ducklings. Equipment for chickens is fine, as long as the ducks can eat or drink from it, and keep their nostrils clear.


It’s best to allow them to have a deeper dish of water so they can easily dip their bills in.


Raising Ducks: The Duck Feed

Its best to go with a poultry feed with about 22% protein.


Chick starter isn’t a good choice since ducklings have different nutritional requirements and chick starter doesn’t have enough vitamin B in it. You’ll run the risk of your ducklings developing leg issues – and this is a very real issue, so please don’t give your ducklings chick starter.


Be sure to make the feed available all the time.


Raising Ducks: Providing a Pool

One of the most fun things you’ll get to do as you raise ducklings is watching them swim and play in the water.


Although it isn’t strictly necessary to provide a pool, I provide one for my ducklings on a limited basis because I think it’s healthier and natural.


You can provide a small pool, which they will use to play and clean themselves.


Be sure the water isn’t too cold and you watch them for signs of hypothermia. Remove them if they start quacking and trying to get out, and generally looking like they’re not having much fun anymore.


Ducks are very messy when they have water to play with; I have seen backyards become muddy piles of muck by ducks in a short time. 


They will need separate drinking water, because they dirty up their pools quickly.


I don’t recommend allowing your ducks to live on a pond. They can’t fly like wild ducks because they’ve been bred to be heavier (and in some cases, their wings have been clipped), and they can’t defend themselves against predators.


If you want to be properly raising ducks for years, providing them a pool lets them play like nature intended while also keeping them safe.


Raising Ducks: Shelter

At some point, you’ll want to move your ducklings outside, and they’ll need a shelter. Be sure to give them a shelter that will protect them from predators and inclement weather and heat, and give them enough room.


I wait until mine have feathers before moving them outside in the spring. During warm weather, they’re allowed to go outside but brought back in at night so they stay safe.


If you’re going to let your ducklings free range, the space requirements are a little different than if they’re cooped in a run.


I don’t recommend free ranging your ducklings unless you want them picked off by predators. I use a tractor so they can get around to different areas without being exposed.


One thing that’s worked well for us is keeping our ducks with our goat. I firmly believe we haven’t lost any ducks because the goat is large enough – and we have small predators – that she scares off any carnivores looking for a midnight snack.


Ducklings kept in a run all the time will need about 10 square feet of space each, so when you plan your duck house, consider those space requirements.


Your shelter can be as fancy or as basic as you want, and you can keep your ducks with chickens if you only want one coop.


I’ve seen duck houses made out of chain link fence and tarps, and I’ve seen children’s playhouses repurposed as coops. As long as they can stay dry and away from predators, any shelter will work.


Our duck house isn’t anything fancy (it’s actually a repurposed shed), but it works well and keeps them dry and warm!

Do you raise ducklings? What is your favorite breed?

More Resources on Raising Ducks: