Wild Duck Care

Wild ducks are very hardy and make great additions to the aviary or backyard pond. They have an average lifespan of 5-10 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.

Shopping List: Mazuri Waterfowl Feed, waterer, and feeder, nesting box or ground cover.

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At the Post Office: Our ducks are shipped express mail in a USPS-approved box. Promptly pick up your package and follow the release recommendations below.

Live Guarantee: We guarantee that properly cared for birds will be alive and well for 48 hours after they arrive at your post office. Please see our full policy CLICK HERE.  

Release: Pick your ducks up from the post office as soon as possible to minimize stress. While maintaining a calm composure, release your ducks into a quiet area once you arrive home and handle them minimally. Their enclosure should provide ample space and have an area where they can hide if desired. Be sure to provide your ducks with access to swimming water and food when they arrive. The water source should have low sides for getting in and out. To acclimate your ducks to their new home, house them in the enclosure for several days before releasing them on their pond or lake, or introducing them to an existing flock. If your only option is to place your new ducks with existing birds, make sure they aren’t kept away from their food or water source and are not picked on. If this happens, remove the existing flock from the enclosure to let the new ducks adjust. After several days, begin reintroducing the birds back into the pen one bird per day. 

Feed: We recommend Mazuri waterfowl feed, but any 17% protein pellet is fine. Chicken layer feed is an acceptable substitute if waterfowl feed is not available. You can give the layer feed by itself or mix it with grains like wheat, corn or milo. Ducks are omnivores, meaning they eat and forage for both meats and plants. In the wild, they eat fruits, nuts, berries, worms, frogs, slugs, snail, insects, pond algae and vegetation, small fish and eggs, and more. Diving ducks also enjoy catfish or trout pellets.

Water: Ducks need water. The source can be as simple as a kiddy pool, but they will be much happier in a larger setting. Circulating water is ideal, but not a requirement. In the winter, an aerator is recommended to keep your pond from freezing so the ducks may still drink. Water should be one to two feet deep for breeding purposes. 

Housing: We sell most ducks with full wings, not pinioned. Upon ordering, you can choose to have your birds’ wings clipped to help with acclimation, or we can pinion them for you to render them permanently flightless. We recommend you keep them in a fully enclosed aviary if they are not pinioned. 

The pen size will vary for the breed(s) and quantity of ducks you have. Provide at least 10 square feet of floor space for one pair of ducks. As the pen size increases you can fit more than one pair per 10 square feet; consider the types of nesting space needed, the ducks’ temperament, the size of the water source, etc. Two sides of the aviary should be solid for weather protection and security for the birds. Predators can be a problem, so use a heavy wire mesh on all open sides of your aviary, including the ceiling. Use four feet of hardware cloth or solid construction around the bottom of each side to keep your ducks safe.The aviary should have an enclosed floor, either a solid foundation or a buried wire, to prevent predators from digging their way into the pen. The aviary should be kept clean with no mud on the floor. The water source also needs to be kept clean at all times. A few inches of gravel covered by a couple of inches of sand is a great choice for the floor of your aviary and helps with drainage. 

Wild ducks are cold hardy, but you may need to take precautions if temperatures reach the single digits or lower. Layers of hay bedding or bales of hay will provide protection from the wind. Cold sensitive species may need to be kept indoors if it gets too cold. 

Breeding: Keep wild ducks in pairs. Duck species in which the males develop their color in the first year may be able to breed during their first spring, such as Mandarins, Wood Ducks and most Pintail and Teal species. If the coloring does not come in until their second year, they may not breed until year two or three. There are numerous circumstances that affect whether a duck will breed. Some factors include cleanliness of the environment, depth of water for mating, availability of a breeding partner, the size of pen and nesting space, and the amount of stress due to other birds in the cage or outside distractions.  

Most wild ducks will only nest once a year. Wood ducks and mandarin ducks need a raised nesting box. Provide a ramp for pinioned birds to get up to the nesting box. Most other ducks will make a nest on the ground. If there is a lack of brush or plants for cover, a few cedar branches in a corner will do. Otherwise, a plastic storage tub with a hole for the entrance works fine as well. Provide three nesting boxes (space) for every two pairs of breeders. 

Safe Handling of Poultry: After handling poultry, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Do not let young children, elderly persons, or people with weak immune systems handle or touch live poultry. Do not snuggle or kiss your birds. You can get Salmonella from touching live fowl. Your birds can carry Salmonella and still appear healthy and clean. Regularly clean your poultry equipment.

 

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