Up to 3 weeks old, ducklings should be fed waterfowl starter crumbs or unmedicated chick crumbs. You can start them off the day after hatching by sprinkling a few crumbs on the floor of the brooder near a feeder that they will eventually use.
They won’t usually start eating during the first 24-48 hours but don’t worry, the yolk sack from the egg is absorbed into their body before they hatch and provides them with sufficient nutrition during this time. Ducklings can be allowed to eat as much as they want, so keep feeders topped up and allow free access.
Topping up the feeder with crumbs in a FIEM brooder unit for 1 week old ducklings.
If you can’t source waterfowl crumbs for feeding ducklings, you can substitute these with chick crumbs but these must be unmedicated to be suitable.
Some chick crumbs are medicated with drugs that help to prevent coccidiosis. Some of these coccidiostats (the drugs they put in the feed) cause ducklings to go off their legs and eventually die. Look at the ingredients for ‘Contains ACS’, ‘Contains Coccidiostats’ or ‘Medicated Feed’ and ask the shop where you are buying the feed (many don’t actually know though I’ve found so do check the label).
You can buy Crumbs here. You only need them for 3-4 weeks so a 5Kg bag will usually be big enough for raising 10-15 ducklings.
Ducklings should not be kept on starter crumb for too long, they are too high in protein. At 3 weeks old (4 weeks for Calls so they can handle the pellet size), start to wean them, changing very gradually to waterfowl growers pellets over the course of a week. Again, if these aren’t available locally, you can use grower pellets formulated for chicks but as with chick crumbs, you need to ensure they aren’t medicated.
These ducklings are 3 weeks old and ready to start the changeover to growers pellets.
Chopped greens and grass cuttings can be fed from 3 weeks onwards but in order to digest these, they also need to be provided with chick grit.
If the weather permits, ducklings can be moved outside once they are 4 weeks old, here they can select their own greens and will be able to soak up the sunlight, essential for growth and strong bones. Remember they must be protected from rats and have a draught free house.
If their run isn’t covered, keep them in on wet days so they don’t get wet and ensure their bedding stays dry.