Ducks are adorable birds you can raise right at your home if you have enough space and time to give them the attention they need. Ducks will make delightful pets for you and your children, but they need special care to survive. Ducks are not like most pets that you can leave to thrive alone. Ducks need careful attention to their diet and daily activities for them to survive in the environment you provide for them.
Here are some steps that you can follow to raise ducks as pets.
- Understand a duck’s needs. Ducks would make wonderful pets, but they will not last so long if you do not understand that they have needs that are unlike that of other animals. Getting just one duck is ill advised, as ducks are pack animals and they grow better with other ducks. Ducks are small even when they are fully grown, making them excellent prey to other animals. If any other animal in your home has sharp teeth, then your home is not safe for ducks. Ducks need a lot of space and water for both swimming and drinking. They also need someone to accompany them later on in their lives to areas with ponds if you do not have a pool for them. Taking care of ducks is a tedious task, and if you do not have time invested in caring and nurturing for ducks, then you might want to consider a different pet.
- Buy your duck responsibly. Purchase ducks from trusted sellers only. Some duck sellers sell sickly, frail ducks that die soon after you purchase them. Buy ducks from reputable sellers that have positive reviews about recent transactions with other duck buyers. You should also know the age of the ducks you are buying. Ducks have different needs at different stages of their growth. The type of care they need depends on their age.
- Prepare duck feed. Before you get your ducks, you need to have their food ready. Ducklings 3 weeks old need starter mash with 20%-22% protein. Adolescent ducks that are 3 weeks to 6 weeks old need 16% protein in their mash or pellets. You can also get crumbs with the same amount of protein if they are more convenient. Female ducks age 6 weeks and above need 16% to 18% protein in their mash, crumbs or pellets if they are laying eggs, and males need 14% to 16% protein at the same age. Do not get medicated duck feed. Medicated duck feed or commercial duck feed have chemicals meant to make your duck grow bigger at a faster rate, but they can harm your duck. Buy fresh, natural, organic feed for your ducks.
- When your ducks arrive, they might need food immediately since they might have gone through stressful travel. Continue feeding your ducks the appropriate type of diet and make sure their food stays fresh. Keep their food in airtight containers to keep mold and bacteria away.
- Provide fresh water. Ducks need fresh, clean water every day. Provide a water feeder that your ducks can access easily. Replace their water with clean, fresh water every day. Ducks also need a place to swim in, so provide a shallow pool for the ducklings as a swimming area. For adult ducks, the pool has to be a little deeper since they like diving. If you do not have a pond especially for the ducks to swim in, you need to replace the pool water every day. Ducks drink the water they swim in a lot, so the water they swim in, apart from the water in their feeder, has to be clean all the time. Provide a ramp for them to access their swimming pool easily. You can get non-bendable pools meant for children as an alternative to a duck pond for your ducks.
- Provide good shelter for your ducks. Make sure the shelter you provide for ducklings are safe from predators such as stray dogs or cats. The shelter should also protect the ducks from harsh weather like rain or intense heat. For both adult and baby ducks, the shelter has to have a heating lamp that they cannot reach. Make sure the heating lamp is not too hot; ducks like warm places. Do not forget that they need access to water 24/7, so keep the water dish or water feeder on the opposite side of where the heating lamp is.
- Ducklings should stay in a spacious, sufficiently heated cage while they are still young so they stay away from places that predators like dogs, cats or other wild animals can access. Ducklings can slip through gates or cage gratings so make sure the cage has small slats.
- Let your ducks exercise. Ducks need to waddle around under the sun at some point in a day. Make sure you supervise your ducks when they are on their way to a pond or when they are walking around under the sun, as they might catch a predator’s attention. Cats and dogs think ducks make tasty treats, and you have to keep your duck safe from all animals that can harm them.
- Provide tender loving care for your ducks. Make sure you pet your ducks on a regular basis. Ducks like attention. You need to hold them at regular intervals through a day. If you have children, make sure you supervise your kids when they are holding or playing with the ducks, as ducks cannot handle rough play and your children might hurt the ducks.
Following the steps above will help you raise and take good care of your ducks. Remember that they need safe shelter, food and water. Most of all, they need safety from anything that can harm them, as they cannot be relied on to protect themselves against other animals and harsh weather. Ducks need a lot of attention and love, and you need to fulfill all these needs when raising ducks as pets.