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Duckling Feeding Questions

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  • Duckling Feeding Questions

    The barn now has three ducklings - assume about six weeks old - Mallards - courtesy of the blasted feed store that sells them - and obviously someone bought them. Not me. I tried to ignore them - that lasted about two days. They are in a safe enclosure being fed baby food - of course always making a mess with their little water dish.
    So now Aunt Grayarabs cannot help it - have supplied them with various water containers - feed them - and now they see me and start the little duck chattering. I understand they need greens? Last night I took out some finely chopped romaine lettuce and put it in their water - much duckling glee. What else can I supply from the house? Spinach?
    Oh - could they safely eat alfalfa leaves?

  • #2


    • #3
      They definitely appreciate greens - but ours have never been that keen on alfalfa. That might be their personal preference. Dandelion is okay (they also like sow thistle flowers). Chickweed is liked a lot. A high end grocery store near us is kind enough to give us their discarded greens (lettuces are a big hit. Fennel is okay, but needs to be chopped. Bok choy is okay with them. Cabbages - no, absolutely not). Spinach is okay in somewhat limited amounts.

      Another treat: Japanese beetles, those irksome pests that devour leaves, leaving just the veins. Our ducks absolutely adore those. If you have them, just knock them into a container (high walled is best. Transfer to a covered container if you don't immediately provide them to the ducks, so they don't fly off).


      • #4
        I used to harvest dandelion greens for ducklings. I shredded them into little pieces then put them in a little tub of water. They can have supervised playtime in a pool or sink of warm water. Put some greens in that and let the duckling party begin!

        They also need niacin, assuming they're on non-medicated chick starter. I used to get a vitamin powder that I put in their water.


        • #5
          When you say baby food, do you mean chick starter, or actual human baby food?

          What I know about ducks is that you don't want to feed high protein (say, if someone wanted to give you a bag of meatbird or gamebird feed, that would be bad for them), they need more niacin than chickens, and they need a water container they can submerge their beaks in.
          It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


          • #6
            They also need round-the-clock access to water deep enough to fully dunk their heads. The dunking cleans the food and gunk from their nostrils, and they take water with every bite of dry food. (That's why the water will be disgusting with dissolving food round-the-clock!)

            Also, if they were hatched and brooded in an incubator they'll lack the waterproof oil that transfers from Momma Duck's feathers when she broods babies. They shouldn't be allowed to swim until they're feathered out to avoid chilling them.

            And we must have pictures!
            "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive