Category: Ducks



WATER:  The majority of baby chick fatality is because the chick does not start to drink right away.  Water is more important than feed on the first day.  Never let them run out of water.  For the first 24 hours, add 1 tablespoon of molasses/gallon of water (sugar water). On the 2nd day add vitamins-electrolytes to water. One gallon waterer is adequate for 50 chicks. Even if its self-filling there MUST be 1 waterer per 50 birds to prevent overcrowding. If you choose to use apple cider vinegar, it is very important not to use more than 1 teaspoon per quart of water and do not use a metal waterer with it as the acid will corrode the metal causing it to leach into the water.

*Ducks may swim in water after 4 weeks.  Attempt to keep them dry until then.


*One-foot minimum feeder/waterer space per 25 chicks to prevent over-crowding.

Chicks:  Purina program

0-18 weeks: Flockraiser 20% until harvesting or until 18 weeks for layers.  Flockraiser is available with medication or without medication.  If using medicated, we recommend that it is used for the first 2-3 weeks.  Chicks need to be taken off medicated feed within 2 weeks of harvesting.

After 18 weeks:  Layena

Broiler Chicks:  Prince program

0-4 weeks:  Prince Broiler Starter 25% Non med.

4 weeks to finish:  Broiler Finisher 20% Non med.

Layer Chicks:  Prince program

0-10 weeks:  Prince Chick Starter 20%

10-18 weeks:  Prince Pullet Grower 17%

18 weeks-life:  Prince Layer

Organic Broiler Chick Program

0-5 weeks:  21% Organic Chick Starter/Grower

5 weeks–finish:  19% Organic Chick Starter

Organic Layer Chick Program

0-5 weeks:  19% Organic Chick Starter

5-18 weeks:  16% Organic Chick Grower

18 weeks:  Organic Layer

Turkeys:  Prince program

0-8 weeks:  28% Turkey Starter (med or nonmed)

8 – life:  18% All Flock mini pellet

Ducks or Geese:  Purina program

0-18 weeks:  Flockraiser non-medicated

18 weeks – life:  Duck grower or Layena

Pheasant or Quail: 

0-6 weeks:  28% Prince Turkey Starter (non-med)

6 weeks-life: 24% Prince Gamebird Grower or Purina non medicated 20% Flockraiser


0-6 weeks:  28% Prince Turkey Starter (med or non-med)

6 weeks-life: 24% Prince Gamebird Grower or Purina non medicated 20% Flockraiser


HEAT:  Use a heat lamp in a draft-free area.  Place heat lamp approximately 20” above chicks.  Baby chicks need a temperature of 95 degrees.  Please use a thermometer to be sure you have them at the correct temperature.  You will lose chicks if they are too hot or too cold.  If they huddle together, they are too cold.  If they huddle in corners, they are too hot.  Reduce 5 degrees each week to a minimum of 65 degrees.

BEDDING:  Straw or Large Flake wood shavings are the best choice for chickens and turkeys.  Allow approximately ½ square foot per chick, and 1 ½ square feet per adult.  Straw is the best choice for ducks and geese.

Space Requirements for the Home Flock

*A 10’ X 10’ brooder house is adequate until 8 weeks of age.

Poultry prosthetics

duck with fake leg

One of our ducks had an injured foot that took two months to heal.

In the past few years 3D printing technolgy has been used to give a prosthectic leg to a rooster and a duck.

The surgery costs 2500 dollars, which is a little out of our league. Maybe the cost will go down when home 3D printers get better and cheaper.

Image credit goes to Terence Loring who created the 3D template.

Free-range ducks survive but don t lay eggs

Foraging ducks

We’ve been writing a lot more about ducks than chickens for the last month or so, which isn’t because we love our chickens less. In fact, our land fowl are much more malleable, while our waterfowl seem to require much more supervision to make sure they come home for the night and lay eggs. On the other hand, ducks are quite interesting.

Duck swamp

When half of our farm went underwater during the floods early this month, our ducks flew the coop…or rather, they swam away and refused to come home at night. We’d hear them quacking at intervals down the huge lake that had taken over our lowland areas, but even as the floodwaters receded, the ducks refused to even return to the coop for a snack. I thought they’d run away for good when Mark came home from checking on the chickens one day and excitedly told me that the ducks were back! He fed them a much-relished meal, shut them in for the night…and waited in vain for eggs.

At first, I thought our ducks had found somewhere else to lay during their two-week excursion and that they were rushing out of the coop in the morning to return to that hidden nest site. But over the course of a week, one duck, two ducks, three ducks, and finally all four ducks began to lay at home once again. My final conclusion was that the ducks were able to consume enough wild food to keep them alive, but not enough to make eggs, and that the laying pellets we offered when they came home slowly worked through the waterfowls’ system and resulted in eggs in short order.

Why is our experience relevant for the 99.99% of you who aren’t likely to lose your ducks to floods? I think we all like to dream of letting our livestock free range for all their food, but the reality for most of us is that production will be low to none if we don’t provide supplemental feed for our flocks. Perhaps if our ducks had run away while the world was at its most green, they might have been able to lay on wild food alone. But I suspect that if we want duck eggs, even if we had a pond, we’d need to pony up the cash for some extra grain and soybeans to supplement their wild diet. I guess there really is no free lunch…even if you’re a duck and have acres of water to choose from.