Simply Skiffs

This is a brief guide to some of the key aspects of duck keeping. There are many guides and starter books for duck keepers available, and these should be consulted before you go ahead and purchase your ducks.

The topics below contain hints, tips, and opinions, and should be read and followed with caution!

Hints and tips for lakes, ponds, and boats.


Feeding your Ducks

Different breeds and sizes of duck have different nutritional requirements. Ducks are Omnivores, and will forage for food in their natural environment as well as eating what they are given by their owners. In cold climates they will require extra calories. Ducks should always have a constant supply of clean fresh water, especially when eating, ideally close to their pellet bowl. This point cannot be emphasized enough.

Ducklings should be given free access to starter crumbs up to the age of three weeks old, then duck growers pellets should be introduced into their diet. It is important to use feed specifically designed for ducks, never use the medicated feeds commonly used for chickens.

Adult Ducks should be fed with layer pellets as the core of their diet. The pellets are generally considered better for ducks than the dust/mash based feeds, which have been found to block up their nostrils. Pellets should be given to the Ducks in a low sided heavy bowl (e.g. ceramic), this stops the ducks turning the bowl over and wasting the food. A responsible owner will ensure the bowl is cleaned regularly to prevent disease. A nice idea with the pellet bowl is to sight it under an awning of some kind, to keep the pellets dry in case of rain. A common tactic is to feed your ducks their pellets in the morning, so they fill up on them. Pellets contain important vitamins and nutrients, so you must ensure that they are eaten.

A second key ingredient in a ducks diet should be grain. This can be crushed (although this can produce undesirable dust), or cut, to create smaller pieces. By far the most important grain for ducks is wheat grain. Ducks love it, and it is rich in the vitamins they use. Another common grain that can be fed to ducks in winter is oats, these should be mixed with wheat grain and fed to duck in winter only, it will provide extra calories, and is good for their feathers, but it generates excess body heat, and should not be used in summer. Steam rolled corn is also used by some breeders. It is common practice to put wheat grains in a bowl, then pour some clean fresh water over the grains. This prevents other birds from flying down and taking the ducks food It will also help to soften the grain, making it easier to eat. Furthermore, ducks enjoy poking around in the water with their bills. Some owners will even submerge a bowl of wheat grain in the shallows of a pond for the ducks to find.

Ducks will try to eat almost anything, so many owners feed them kitchen food and peelings. Never feed ducks food that is moldy. Bread should ideally be soaked in water first, as ducks can choke on it (believe it or not!). If you intend to feed ducks potatoes, they shouldn’t be green, and should be boiled first. Any food fed to ducks should be as fresh as possible, do not feed ducks food that has had any salt added.

Another key part of a ducks diet is in the form of Grit. Ducks do not have teeth. When they eat food the food is swallowed whole into the stomach, then it enters the gizzard, where it is pulped by powerful muscles. Ducks eat small pieces of grit, which stay in the Gizzard, and help digest the food. It is important to ensure that grit is sprinkled around the ducks enclosure or left in accessible places, so they can consume it as required. Grit is available in three sizes, small pieces are suitable for Bantams and Call Ducks, size number two is suited to light and heavy ducks, size three is commonly used for Geese.

Ducks that are laying have slightly different nutritional requirements. If your ducks are laying it is common practice to mix flaked/crushed oyster shell in with their grit for calcium, vitamin D3, and manganese. Another practice is to mix very small limestone chips in with the grit

Ducks that are breeding should be fed duck breeders pellets.

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