Ducks that are being kept for their eggs require a balanced diet with adequate vitamins and minerals to lay good quality eggs.
A protein content of about 16% is ideal for most laying ducks and if they are free ranging they will supplement this with slugs and insects that they find. It is particularly important to choose a feed that does not contain coccidiostats which are found in many poultry feeds as these can be harmful to ducks.
There are many mixed opinions about keeping chickens and ducks together in the same enclosure. From a purists point of view, they should be kept in separate enclosures but I have kept my chickens and ducks together for many years with very few problems. Here are a few things for you to consider.
Before getting some ducks for the back garden, many people ask how noisy they are going to be. Many of us have neighbours to consider and just like a crowing cockerel can be a problem, some ducks can make quite a bit of noise.
The noise ducks make really depends on the breed and the number of ducks you plan to keep as well as the time of year (considering the breeding season for example). Call ducks, even though very small, as their name suggests are the noisiest. Other bantam and light ducks are fairly quiet most of the time and when they do quack, it is usually quite quietly. Ducks are by no way as loud as a cockerel crowing though which as well as loud is piercing due to the high frequency of the crow.
Keeping too many drakes in a flock will cause too much competition and over-mating will occur. This is a problem since the ducks can be hurt by repeated mating which can cause injury or even death.
A ratio of 1 drake to every 5 ducks is about right for light breeds however you can keep 1 drake with 1 duck, it should not hurt. Just keep an eye on the duck to make sure she isn't losing too many feathers on the back of her neck / head when the drake grabs her to hold on during mating. If you have too many drakes, it is better to keep a pen of drakes on their own during the breeding season from February through to September to be on the safe side.
You can feed chick crumbs / growers pellets however, they must not be medicated. Ducklings and Goslings should not be fed medicated feeds that are for Chicks since they eat a greater quantity of food and can overdose.
They usually go wobbly and lose their feet if you feed medicated feed and risk becoming seriously ill. Some Chick Crumbs are medicated to try to prevent Coccidiosis, a common poultry disease. This can be identified on the white ingredients label that is often stitched to the top of the sack.
Up to 3 weeks old, ducklings should be fed duck starter crumbs. Ducklings can be allowed to eat as much as they want, so keep feeders topped up and allow free access to the feed.
At 3 weeks old, start to wean them on to duck growers pellets. Do not feed ducklings chick crumbs as these almost always contain an anti-coccidia drug. Since ducklings eat crumbs faster than chicks, they end up getting the wrong dose. In the U.K. there are companies like Allen & Page (who produce the 'Smallholder Range') selling specialist duck feeds formulated for ducks.