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Supply List for Ducklings

Supply List for Ducklings
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Are you getting ready to welcome some little fluffy ducklings?! Ducklings are easily some of the cutest babies on the farm – those flappy webbed feet, the sweet little bill, and chubby cheeks. Super cute!

If you aren’t quite sure yet if ducks are right for you – click here to read my Ducks Pro & Con List. Ducks are mighty cute, but they are also mighty messy, so be ready!

Brooder Box

The first thing you need is a place for those babies to live. Because ducks like to splash in water and make a mess, many people use a spare bathtub to brood ducklings. Put their water & feed near the drain, and all the spilled water goes right down the drain. If you do this, put down a rubber shelf liner in half the tub. Add straw on top of the shelf liner. This way the ducks have a place to rest that isn’t slippery. They need to grow strong legs and they can’t do that if their feet are always slipping out from under them, and it can cause spraddle leg.

What if you don’t have a spare bathtub? I use a large storage bin. Click here to see how I made it. Get the biggest bin you can find and follow the instructions in the link to add hardware cloth to the top. When brooding ducklings, I put an old baking sheet in the brooder bin and put the feed & water on that, it helps contain some of the water. If you don’t have other animals that might hurt the ducklings (like cats or dogs) you can use a plastic kiddie pool as a brooder.

Must have supplies for raising ducklings


Straw is my choice for brooding ducklings. I usually use pine shavings with chicks because they are absorbent. With ducks, the shavings just absorb all the liquid they splash about and very quickly become a soggy mess. Straw will stay drier giving them a place to nest that isn’t mucky. Under the straw, I like to put rubber shelf liner. It raises up the bedding a bit to keep it out of the muck and gives them a sturdy, non slip flooring.

Must have supplies for raising ducklings

Heat Lamp

For the first few weeks, ducklings will need to be kept warm. Use a heat bulb with a red filter to ease stress. Start out at 90 degrees Fahrenheit and go down about 1 degree each day. You don’t have to be crazy about getting it just right. By the end of the first week, aim to be around 83 degrees, by the end of the second around 76, and around 69 by the end of the third week. By then, if the ducklings are in your house it should be about room temperature.

You could also use a radiant chick heater like Brinsea Eco Glow. I love radiant heaters for brooding chicks, but you have to be careful when using them with ducklings. Ducklings grow really fast so you will need to keep an eye on the height of the heater. They are designed so the birds can go under the heater to get warm and have adjustable legs. Be sure you are adjusting the legs often as the ducklings grow. If they get too close to the heating element they could burn their feathers or skin.

Shallow Dishes for feed & water

Plant saucers or ramekins work great for feed & water in those first few weeks. Traditional poultry feeders can be difficult for ducklings to navigate with their wide bills. Ducks need water to digest their food, and they need to be able to dunk their entire head in the water to clear their nostrils and eyes. So a shallow, wide container is needed for their water bowl. It should not be more than an inch or so deep for the first week or so. Young ducklings can be awkward on their feet and you don’t want them to fall on their back in their water bowl and drown.

Must have supplies for raising ducklings

Non-Medicated Chick Starter Feed or Waterfowl Starter

It’s better if you can find waterfowl starter feed, but that can be hard to come by. Chick starter feed will also work. You want to buy non-medicated feed. Chick feed is sometimes medicated to prevent coccidiosis, which is common among chickens, but pretty rare in ducks. Ducklings eat much more than chicks, so they will end up over-medicating themselves.

Look for a high protein feed – around 20% is good for the first two weeks. From 3 weeks until they start laying you will want a “grower” feed with slightly lower protein (16-18% is good). Too much protein during this later duckling stage can cause a wing deformity called angel wing. Click here to read more about feeding ducks at different life stages

Brewer’s Yeast

The one thing chick feed will not provide your ducklings with is enough niacin. Ducklings require 2-3 times more niacin than chicks. A deficiency during their critical developing months can lead to lifelong bone and joint issues with their legs.

To increase their niacin, add 1.5 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast to every 1 cup of feed. The brewer’s yeast has a tendency to settle to the bottom of the feed, so I add it every time I fill up the feed bowl. If you mix a ton of it into the whole feed bag, much of the brewer’s yeast will end up at the bottom of the bag.

You should keep adding brewer’s yeast until they are 18 weeks old and fully grown. During adulthood, you can still add it now and then as a dietary supplement, but it isn’t as critical as when they are ducklings. click here to read more about ducklings and niacin supplements

Spray Bottle with Diluted Vinegar

Ducklings are messy. You don’t want to use harsh cleaners or bleach to clean up the brooder space. Mix equal parts white vinegar & water in the bottle and use this to clean the duckling’s space. You will be cleaning the brooder A LOT. I usually clean the duckling brooder 2-3 times per day. I keep my cleaning solution, paper towels, and small trash bags right next to the brooding space to make it convenient and quick. Is vinegar smell not your thing? Click here to see how I make this natural Citrus Lavender Cleaner

Must have supplies for raising ducklings

Optional Fun Additions


Ducklings love other ducklings, and they love looking at their reflection. Make sure any mirror you add is plastic and shatterproof. Self-adhesive mirror panels can be found in most craft stores and are perfect for this!

Must have supplies for raising ducklings

2 – 3 inch deep baking dish

Once your babies are at least a week old, they would love to have some splashing time! Make sure the dish you use is easy enough for them to get in and out of on their own and they should be able to stand up in the water. If you have space in your brooding area, a paint tray also works great for this with a shallow and deeper end.

7 Must Have Supplies for Raising Ducklings

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Friday 27th of October 2023

Hello Liz, thank you for this excellent list with explanation, I am preparing for my 4 ducklings to be sent next week. Regarding the feed during the first few weeks, Amazon does have Manna Pro Duck Starter Grower and I will be ordering this weekend along with a few other items on your list. Since it has niacin and is intended for ducklings, does it need to be supplemented with brewer’s yeast? Also, how long do you think one 8 lb bag will last, given their incredible birth rate? I am getting 4 female buff Orpingtons, fingers crossed they all make it safely from Metzgers. Best, Elle in South Florida (still warm but so many predators to plan around when they move outside!)


Sunday 29th of October 2023

If you are feeding them duck starter the extra niacin will not be needed because it is formulated for ducklings nutrition. Sometimes you end up with a duckling who just has higher nutrition needs, so still keep an eye on their legs. If you notice one that is having leg weakness or is rocking back on their legs or not wanting to move much, they might need some supplementing with the brewer's yeast. But most will be just fine with the duck starter. An 8 pound bag should last about a week with 4 ducklings during their first few weeks

Diana Robinson

Sunday 16th of January 2022

I have two Pekin duck girls and one has a swollen bulge on the bottom of her webbed foo†. I have been soaking it in hot water 2 times a day and she is now walking it bit better but it is still swollen. I feel sure this is bumble foot and I wonder how any of you have treated this. Thank you for any help you can offer me.


Monday 17th of January 2022

Hi Diana, it certainly sounds like bumblefoot. Unfortunately, soaking it is not going to make it go away if that is the problem. If you are uncomfortable with medical procedures, it will be best to have a vet handle this. Treating it yourself will involve soaking the foot, then using a scalpel to remove the infection kernel. Then you will need to be sure to keep the wound the cleaned and the bandage changed daily for about a week as it heals. There are several very helpful videos on youtube if you search bumblefoot surgery. I haven't had to do it on any of my ducks, but I have done it a few times for my chickens and the procedure is the same. Good luck!


Monday 5th of April 2021

Are Electrolytes something they need in the first few weeks aswell?


Tuesday 6th of April 2021

It isn't necessary, but will give them a great start!

Lee Olley

Saturday 27th of March 2021

Hi Liz, I ned your advice please, we have 4 Khaki Campbells and 2 Chocolate Runners that are all 7 weeks old. For teh first 5 weeks of they were in the house then we moved them into their coop. (The coop is made of 1 inch thick oak with a bed of wood shavings and given temps can still swing around I've buttoned it up pretty tight but still keeping upper ventilation) . Day temps have been no lower than 40 farenheit and night time the coldest has been mid 30's. In the day time they come out of the coop into their run. There are 2 heating matts in the coop but I never see them using it. Next week we go away for a few days and we have some neighbours looking after them and I see the estimated temp for 2 of the evening will be around 20 (the days will be mid 30's to 40). Should I put a heat lamp in on those 2 cold nights for extra warmth or will they be OK ?

Many tks, lee


Saturday 27th of March 2021

That is definitely pretty cold for ducklings but I would not recommend putting a heat lamp, especially where you will not even be in town. Heat lamps cause 100s of fires every year in barns and coops. It would be terrible for that to happen while you aren't home, destroying your babies and possibly spreading to your home or neighbors. Do you have a garage or basement maybe you could move them into? Even though the space is unheated at least there would be no added wind chill.


Thursday 17th of December 2020

Hi Liz, I am curious if you have an opinion on brooder plates? I have found a few other resources recommending them over heat lamps for fire safety concerns and reduced electricity use. There are quite a few brands and all seem to come in varied sizes and have adjustable legs to change the height as ducklings or chicks grow. I am planning this spring to start with 6 female Pekins (planning from Metzer) this spring in my spare large and deeper than normal tub. I also plan to supplement the bathroom with any needed ambient heat in the bathroom so it will be kept slightly warmer than the rest of the house initially until it is not needed (the house is kept between 60-66F normally). I'm in NE Ohio so with planning a mid April arrival for them it will still be pretty cold outside until the last frost which is projected beginning of May for the coming spring.

Literally trying to get all my ducks in a row far in advance! Already have a solid plan for a large fenced in area (to avoid wandering into neighbor property and boundary from any potential unwanted guests including our large rambunctious dogs), building a nice size duck house with small covered run inside of the fenced area, baby pool set up with drain stop/hose hook up to use some of the poopy water as a supplemental fertilizer for our garden beds (might as well make use of all that poop!). I plan on building a decent sized duck house because I'm sure in the next years the number I want to keep will increase! Sorry for the info dump! Just excited to get started with expanding my little homestead!


Thursday 17th of December 2020

Hi Kellie, we actually switched over to a brooder plate for our chicks this spring and it was awesome! It gave them just the right amount of warmth and had adjustable legs to grow with them, and of course is much safer. We brood them in the house and then move them to a temporary grow out stall in the barn and I felt safe enough with the grow out plate to move that out there with them. The brand we got was Brinsea Eco-Glow. Sounds like you are going to have the perfect set up for both the ducklings and for once they get older! Good luck, I am sure you will love having them around. They have such great personalities! :)

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