Keeping a few domestic ducks in the garden is a growing trend and having kept them myself for a few years, I can understand why people are drawn to keeping a few of these webbed wonders. Nine out of ten people who start keeping ducks started with chickens first.
I frequently get asked questions about keeping ducks from experienced chicken keepers, there seems to be a common belief that ducks are more difficult to keep than chickens and that you need a pond or small lake to be able to keep them which will soon turn into a mud bath. When I started keeping ducks, I also had many of these preconceptions most of which turned out to be wrong. Continue reading
Ducks love to forage for insects, snails, worms, especially near water where they will also find aquatic insects when dabbling or ‘sifting’ through the water or mud. While free ranging on grass, they will also consume seed heads as well as small amounts of grass, chickweed and clover.
Given sufficient food on their pasture wild ducks find most of their own food, however domestic ducks have been bred to lay more eggs and are restricted to a smaller area or run, they have a greater protein and energy requirements than wild ducks and are unable to survive without a ‘top up’ so a common question asked is what do ducks eat?
To ensure they are getting enough food, domestic ducks require a balanced feed which is also why it is cruel to release domestic ducks into the wild. Continue reading
Ducks can carry worms, just like other poultry. Worming ducks (or de-worming as I think the correct term is) is not difficult using a suitable product and usually simply involves mixing in a given quantity with their normal food ration.
Many health problems can be avoided by worming twice a year. This is usually done after they have stopped breeding and again before they start laying, i.e. over the winter months since ducks will naturally find more earthworms during the wetter months and it is the earthworms that are the intermediate hosts, carrying the worm eggs. Continue reading
At one time Call Ducks were known as Decoys and were fed or tethered at the entrance to long traps. Their loud calling would entice wild ducks into the traps which would then be caught for commercial use. Calls have been known in Britain since the 1850’s and was one of the first few breeds to be standardised in 1865.
Please note this article on how to care for wild baby ducks pertains to wild Mallard ducklings only. Domestic breeds of duck and wildfowl require different types of care.
There is information on feeding domestic ducklings here.
Mallard ducklings are more likely to be found in the first 24 hours after hatch as the mother may have to lead them a fair way to water resulting in a few getting left behind. During the first week, out of a clutch of 12, she is likely to lose most of them. Most mallard mums will end up with 2-4 ducklings surviving to adulthood.