Raising Mallard Ducklings

In March, Courtney and I decided that we would try our hand at raising Mallard ducklings. We have a large pond with plenty of land, and it seemed like it would be fun to have some quacking around.

About a week ago out little ducklings arrived from the hatchery in Texas. Both are female, and were only three days old when these pictures were taken. We have them in a kiddie pool with some cardboard to make the walls higher. The bottom is covered with hay, and they have a heat lamp to keep them warm. They have both grown a lot, and seem to need the heat from the light less and less each day. You would be amazed at how fast these little ducks can run!

Every day they get to follow us around the yard, and go for a swim. They eat game bird starter as a staple, but really seem to enjoy chives, blackberries, clover and dandelion greens as a treat. The larger one even ate a slug.

Tame Ducklings

Tame Ducklings

320 thoughts on “Raising Mallard Ducklings

  1. We just purchased two Mallards today for our son’s for Easter, this is is our first time doing this. We live in WI. so it is a little cold here. I have them in our house currently in a box with a light. I gave them a little bowl of water and food. I like your idea about the pool. We live in an area with a pond and land for them to enjoy.

  2. I purchased two mallards the other day to raise as pets, thay are also going to be the first ducks of many that i will be getting. I live in Northern Wisconsin so the babies are in my bedroom staying warm till they get older. i also have a lot of land and neighborhood kids for them to run around with, they really love that.

  3. Thanks for sharing your stories Deanna and Faith. Please come back and let me know how it goes. The two little ducks in the picture turned out to be male and female (Hank and Lola). They are acting like they’re about to make some little ducklings of their own.

    • Good Morning Cliff, How do I keep my mallards from flying off? onced released on my pond. Bought them so they can stay on my pond. I need help fast, due to they are out growing the pen they have been raised in.

  4. i found one dozen ducklings in my pool with the mom yesterday.But the mom left without two ducklings i found a dead one today and another one alive. im not sure what gender it is but if you know any thing please comment i don’t want it to die. please and thank you

  5. hay I have a 4 day old mallard duckling and if I were you I would get a red heated light and make sure you leave it on all the time because they are so young they need this to keep warm. What have you been feeding it.

  6. Kristen is right. Raising ducklings is fairly easy so long as you keep them warm. A heat lamp is prefered, but you can always use a 100 wat light bulb if you don’t want to buy a heat lamp. Your best resource is a local feed store. Here is your shopping list:

    1) Heat lamp, or 100 wat light.
    2) Game bird starter crumble. I use Blue Seal. (Never feed ducklings chicken feed. It usually has antibiodics in it, which will be toxic to the little duck.)
    3) A 1 gallon drinker
    4) Hay of wood shavings
    5) A box of some kind

    That should pretty much do it. You will want to set up a box, and attach the light so that when you put your hand under it you can feel the warmth. Make sure there is also a shaded are for the duckling to get away from the heat if it wants to.

    Line the box with either wood shavings or hay. I prefer hay because it is easier to clean up, but either will work. Put the game bird starter crumble in a dish that will be hard for the duckling to tip over (they are clumsy) and fill up the drinker.

    Ducklings need water along with their food or they can choke. You will find it difficult to keep the box clean because ducks make a real mess with their water. Do the best you can and the little guy or girl will do well.

    Letting the duck swim is totally up to you, but you will have a very happy duckling if you decide to. When it is very little, you can use a paint roller pan filled with water, but as it grows you may want to pick up a kiddie pool. Normally the mother duck will oil the ducklings feathers making them waterproof. Since she is not around to do this, you will have to make sure the duckling has a warm place to dry off when it is done swimming.

    Since I would imagine you don’t want to have this duck for ever, you are most likely wondering how long a ride you will be in for. The simple answer is about 5 to 6 weeks. Once the duck gets its feathers and starts oiling them itself, it should be safe to take it to a local lake or pond to release. I would suggest waiting six weeks rather than five because the bird should be just about able to fly by then, giving it a better chance of getting away from anything that may want to eat it.

    A word of warning: Releasing the duck will be a heart breaking activity for both you and the duck. In raising them, we imprint on them and they become very bonded to us. The duck will most likely runn after you when you release it, wanting to go back home with you. In order to minimise this imprinting, don’t allow the duckling to follow you around. When they follow us, they think that we are their mothers, so you can imagin how sad it can be to just leave them on their own.

    That’s what comes to mind for now anyway. I will update this if I think of anything else. Please ask if you have any more questions. I’m glad that such a caring person found this poor little duckling.

    • Hi Cliff, we are new parents to 6 baby mallard ducks. I’ve already named two. The biggest of the bunch’s name is Moby, the runt is sassy. I plan to keep them in the yard as we have a BIG one. Right now, we have a mom and dad (not theirs) who hangs out in our covered pool. Needless to say, removing the cover is not fun! These little guys eat and drink constantly. Myquestion is…how often should the be fed? Water is a no brainer, as they go through 4-5 dishes in a day, though I’m unsure as to how much they’re actually drinking since they like to bathe in it too. Today, I let them swim in the bath tub. They had a blast! One duck in particular is a real swimmer, diving under the water at a very high rate of speed! LOL Any advise woud be much appreciated. Jan

      • I have always just filled up a tub of food and let them eat as they wish, but other people feed twice a day. It’s really up to you. If you want to pin them up at night it might be a good idea to get them used to a feeding schedule so you can bribe them in with food.

        They will go through more and more water as they get older. I highly recommend a poultry drinker because it helps keep them from making too big a mess with their water. Ducks should pretty much have water available to them all the time.

        Watching them swim is fun. I especially like the divers myself 🙂 Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

    • Hi Cliff,
      This is quite an interesting site ! I have been
      wanting to get some ducklings (mallards) so
      I have been doing some research beforehand. I DID just get them yesterday, &
      love them dearly already ( & I think the feelings are mutual !!)
      A problem though….the feed store only carries Purina feeds, & the owner who said
      he has ducks told me to use the chick starter
      with medication in it ! He told me I should NOT
      believe everything I read on the net. I am very
      confused. He fed them even before I got them.
      I did buy his starter food (felt pressured to).
      Have I hurt them already ?? Do I still need to
      get the other kind ( & where ?) Or is it too late
      now?? I hope I did not do wrong by them.
      They are so cute & sweet. Love them !!

    • A mother duck and 13 ducklings are living in the courtyard of the elementary school I work at. There is a small pond with goldfish that they enjoy, but I worry about them getting enough to eat. They scurry around and appear to be eating something (bugs?) and the lunch lady has been giving them lettuce. Any suggestions? Also, when should we move them out? We feel that they are safer where they are for now but don’t know that they’ll be able to fly out when the time comes. Thanks for any info!

      • Barb,
        Don’t worry. The mother will take them elsewhere if there is not enough food to eat. Feeding them is fine, but make sure it is greens, and not bread or a lot of berries. Ducks love junk food and will fill up on food that is bad for them and ignore what they really need. Bread is always bad, berries are good, but in moderation. Spinach, sprouts, greens, etc are always really really good.

    • About a month ago, a mallard duck made a nest and laid about 14 to 15 eggs in our flowerbed. I feed her on a regular basis. A couple a days ago, I saw some egg shells and this morning I saw some more. As I went to feed her once more, she was gone with her ducklings. But to my surprise, one was left behind. Upon hearing my daughters’ voice, the duckling woke up and starting following them. We are uncertain as to what to do. We brought the duckling inside but I don’t know if she will come back to her nest being that she still has eggs there that didn’t hatch. What do you suggest?

      • If she has been away from her nest for more than a day, she will most likely not return. I would suggest taking this baby duck to a wild bird rehabilitator. They have the skills and training to raise them in such a way that they can be returned to the wild.

  7. Hello, well my problem is that i have a pond on the back of my lake and well it is full of life but, a mother had baby’s and like last year i am afraid they will die! I am trying to convince my mom with some of those e-mails and she said that she well see. that is what she says when she wants to change the subject! I need some good advice and fast!! Because today history repeted itself! Last year a male killed the mom and the babys died and today he had a go at her and all mast killed her but she got away !!! I need your help or eleas 10 little duck will sadly die!!!

  8. Kathryn,

    What you are describing sounds very strange! Are these ducks Mallards? Normally, the male (drake) does not harm the mother or the ducklings, so I’m wondering if you might be observing mating behavior. Does he climb up on her back and seem to bite at her neck? If so, he is not harming her… They are mating.

    Did you actually see the drake kill the mother duck last year? It is common for the mother to be killed when taking her ducklings from the nesting grounds to the lake, but again, I have never heard of a drake killing a mother duck.

    As far as what you can best do to protect them from predators, an island works best. If you take a piece of plywood with Styrofoam on the bottom it will make a nice floating platform. On this you can put an upside down 20 gallon plastic tote with openings cut in either side for the ducks to go in and out of. Make sure everything is secure so it won’t blow away, drag the island out into the lake and anchor it with some rope an a heavy object like some bricks or a large stone. Make a little ramp for them to walk up from the water.

    This will keep the mother and her babies safe from land based predators. Having the plastic tote to go into will help protect them from avian predators. Make sure there are two openings cut into the tote so they can run out if an animal tries to come in one of the openings.

    Hopefully this will help. Good luck!

    • I saw your comment about building an island to keep the ducks safe from preditors. I have 8 ducks (malards and misc others,) I purchased an old jetski dock with cracks all over the plastic pretty cheap, threw some mulch and rocks on it and anchored it to a brick in my pond. Its great because Its stable enough to walk on when I’m changing their bedding and food and low enough for the babies to jump up on.

  9. Thanks on your tips on protecting the ducklings! i was wondering about a couple things like is it ok to feed them bread, and how can you tell them apart from boy and girl. the cutiest thing happend today! The mother duck need a cold drink because the pond is so hot, and so insteed of them getting a drink she thought of taking a smim! So one by one her little ducklings followed her into the pool!

    After their swim was over the mom got out but the duck were to small! So i came over with a pool net, and a body bourd and made a slide and pushed them onthe slide. One by one they all cralled out and to their mom! It was so adorible!

  10. Hi Kathryn,

    Sounds like you hae having quite the adventure with these little ducklings. Let me see if I can answer some of your questions.

    1) Feeding the Mother duck bread once in a while is OK, but the little ducklings might choke on it. As a rule bread is not the best food for ducks. The best thing you could feed them is spinach or strawberries. Make sure to chop them up into little pieces for the little ones. They love to eat spinach or other greens right out of the water.

    2) Telling if the baby duck is a boy (drake) or a girl (duck) is not something we can really do without special training and equipment. They look exactly alike until they are several months old, so you have to wait until they get their voice. After about four of five weeks, some of the ducks will make a loud “QUACK”. These are the girls. The boys will make a more raspy sounding “quack” that is not nearly as loud. The little ducklings in the pictures at above turned out to be a male and a female, but when I ordered them, I had requested two females. It’s just really really hard to tell if they are a boy or a girl when they are ducklings.

    It sounds like you are really doing the right thing by making a little ramp for babies to get our of the pool. I’m glad they have such a caring person looking out for them 🙂

  11. hi.
    we had a ducks nest in our garden and when the duckling hatched the mother duck left and we decided to leave the ducks. but later on we spotted the ducklings walking around in one of our nearby feilds with no site of the mother duck around we decided to take in the ducklings,there was seven at this time but now there is only five but they’re all very strong,and we’ve had them a month today!!!!!!!!
    we bought a chicken run for them and a paddling pool and they seem to be very happy.We’re going to release in about two weeks time but we dont know whether to release them in a river which has many humans passing by and feeding the ducklings(but it’s near a busy road )or to put them in a calm lake which very rarely has human visitors but is full of wildlife and possibly foxes!!!!!!!!

    yours faithfully shannon,12,England

  12. Hi Shannon,

    Well, you are right to be worried about both cars and fox… Either can be dangerous for little ducks that have not learned to fear them and stay away. From the sounds of things, both places have good points and bad points, so I would suggest letting them go in whichever place has other ducks. Ducks are social creatures, so they will tend to flock together and the older ducks will teach your little ones the ropes. This will keep them safe and out of trouble. It sounds like you have had quite an experience raising your five ducklings. I bet they make quite a mess with their water!

  13. I purcashed 10 mallard ducklings 2 weeks ago and now I only have 4 left. They die and I don’t know why. I am keeping them in a cage outside with a light, food plate, and 2 water sources (I live in Louisiana). I change their water and food daily. What could be the problem?

  14. Hi Brandi,
    I’m sorry to hear about your ducklings… What are you feeding them? I had a duckling that choked on starter mash once, so I’m wondering if this might be the problem. Ducklings need food that is not as large as a pellet, but not as fine as a powered mash. I have had good luck with game bird starter from blue seal.

    I’m also wondering how the ducks are acting? are they all huddled around the light, or are they staying away from it? This will tell you if they are feeling comfortable with their temperature. They should be walking around and seeming comfortable. Huddled under the light means they are cold, and staying away from it means they are too hot.

    It can also be a problem if the ducklings get wet. In nature their mother oils them so that they can swim and repel the water. Since their oil gland is not developed yet, they can get soaked and catch a chill. Keeping them as dry as you can is always a good idea until they start to oil themselves.

    • Hi- My girls have been raising baby mallards for 4 weeks and they are getting very big. We love them, but know that they will need to be released soon. I really can’t find any information on how to release them into the wild. I did read that to release them would be a cruel thing to do to them, giving them no chance at survival because they are domesticated. Is that true? Is there a proper way to release them into the wild? I would love any advise you might have for us. Thanks!-Brooke

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  16. Hi! My husband is a contractor and has found a mallard or american black duck on a nest of eggs. He wanted to relocate them, as they are going to blast within 6 feet of them in the next day or so. I fear that if he tries this the mother will abandon the eggs. We have borrowed an incubator and are ready to bring the eggs home, but we know nothing about raising ducks. Please advise as the babies may come any day now and we want to be ready! Does the blue seal wild bird starter work for ducklings? I thought we’d get a kiddie pool for them too–how soon will they swim? We have a large wooden box for hay for them to sleep in–is this sufficient? How will dogs & cats get along with them–should I worry and seperate them? Thanks.

  17. I actually have a question. We have raised 11 mallard ducks and they are 8 weeks old. We had been keeping them in our garage at night in a pool with wood shavings in it. Each morning we would let them out and they would stay right near our section of the river eat their food I put out for them and stay right near our house, then in the evening about 8:00 they would come back to the garage and get in their pool for the evening. We seeded our lawn and had to moved our dog on a lead over closer to where the ducks were. One night we forgot to bring our dog in and it was already dark. That night the ducks never came in. The next morning the ducks were in their usual spot and very excited for breakfast when I went out. I moved their food to a new spot thinking that they might like to be further away from the dog. There after I brought the dog inside early so that the ducks could come in the garage at their usual time. Three days went by and they never would come back to the garage. On the forth day I found them way up stream. They hadn’t eaten any of their food and so I herded them back down the river and gave them some food. The next day I had to do the same thing. For the next few days They weren’t eating the food I put out and they weren’t hanging around. One was missing some of it’s tail feathers so I’m assuming that some critter tried to get it. I finally ended up herding them into a coral that I had made for them when they were smaller so that they could be outside. I could only get 9 of the 11 because two of them can fly now and I couldn’t find them when I was catching the others. Any way, My husband ended up making a box type house for them that we thought we could put them in at night but with every attempt we could not get them to go in it. I’m wondering if I should just let them be and put food out so that perhaps they might come to eat it when they get hungery enough, or should I keep them caged for a few days. i just feel responsible for them and I don’t want them to starve of get eaten by a predator. Any Suggestions?

  18. @Tracy

    You are right that moving the nest will cause the mother to abandon her eggs. Chicken nests can be moved, but duck nests can’t. Hatching them yourself is probably the best option. Let me see if I can answer some of your questions.

    Blue Seal game bird starter is perfect for ducklings. After that, you can start them on layer pellets.

    Ducklings can start swimming almost as soon as they are born, but you have to make sure they can get out of the water and under a light to warm up. In the wild, the mother will oil the ducklings, but since she is not around to do this, they will become a little wet until their own oil gland starts working. It’s safe to let them swim, but make sure they have a ramp to get out of the water and a light for them to warm themselves under.

    A wooden box with hay is perfect. You will most likely find that they will make a mess with their water. I have found that putting their drinker on a piece of plywood with many holes drilled in it allows the water to drain off when they spill it. Then the water can drain into a pan or something that they can’t have access to.

    Other animals are tough. If your dog seems OK with the ducklings everything will most likely be fine, but cats are another matter. Their instinct is to kill small, running things like ducklings and unless you have an extremely well-behaved cat, you will most likely need to keep him or her away.

    Hopefully this will help. Let me know how it goes.

  19. @Char

    Believe it or not, this is fairly normal behavior for ducks. They are afraid of the night, so at the outset, they will return to a safe place, but as they become more and more brave, they will venture further away and stay out all night. You are right to worry. This is what happened to our first two ducks and we ended up loosing them to an owl.

    You basically have two choices. You can keep them under tight wraps, or you can let them be and accept that they will have to deal with animals that would like to eat them. Most serious duck keepers have a “duckyard” that is fenced in for their ducks. I do not, but I have found a method that seems to work.

    I have a coup where I lock the ducks in each night. I let them out during the day and when I notice that they start getting more brave around dusk and I have a harder time getting them in, I keep them in the coup for a few weeks. After their time being grounded passes, they seem much more willing to come in for a few weeks. As they get more brave, they get grounded again. This seems to keep them from becoming too independent. You mileage may vary, but it seems to work for us.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes.

  20. thanks for your prompt advice. I’m going to try it. I have a few more questions. At what age are they able to fly? Right now at 8 weeks they still all look like females. When will I know if I have any drakes?

  21. Hi again Char,

    Well, at 8 weeks they should be just about flying now. In fact, I have seen ducks fly at 5 weeks. Interestingly though, some ducks like to fly more than others. We had two ducks that would almost never fly even though they were perfectly able.

    It will be some time before the drakes develop their male plumage. The best way to tell at this point is by their voice. The females will have a loud “QUACK” while the males will have a quieter, more raspy “WRACK” sound.

    Hopefully this helps. Good luck!

  22. Cliff,

    I tried to hatch 6 ducklings and only 1 hatched so I ordered 6 live ducklings ang they sent 10….wow, wasn’t expecting that but we love them. I have a pond and a lake and am hopinig to let them out during the day so they can swim and eat and then bring them back in at night. I’m concerned they will fly away but noticed you let yours out. I don’t want to clip their wings as I want them to be able to get away from predators but want them to stay? Any suggestions? Also I would like to make a home-made waterer if I need to be away for a couple days…..any ideas.

  23. Hi Stacy,

    Striking the right ballance between letting your ducks out and getting them back in at night is a little tricky. I have found that always feeding them in their coup is helpful, as is never letting them stay out all night. Always try to get them in before it starts getting dark because they tend to want to stay in the water after dark.

    Our first ducks would come back on their own for a few weeks, but finally they just started staying at them pond. They lived for a long time, but were finally caught by an owl. Now our ducks always come in at night. I think the trick is having the coup close to the water and large enough so they don’t hate going in it. If they feel safe, but not too enclosed, you are likely to be able to get them in much more easily. Our routine involves walking down to the pond, talking nicely to them until they come over to greet us, and herding them up the hill and into their coup for the night. Herding them is fine, but if you chase them, you are likely to lose their trust, which could cause problems down the road. I made this mistake, and it was several weeks before our ducks would come to me when I called them.

    My personal through is that ducks are better off being able to fly. Ours like to fly around our house, sometimes for as much as 30 min at a time. They are also much more able to escape danger if they can fly. The only downside to not clipping their wings is that you will need to put wire or mesh over your coup or duckyard so that they don’t fly out at night.

    One other thing that comes to mind is that females tend to be more independent than males. They are more likely to want to stay out all night, so try to make sure you always have enough males so that they are a good influence on the devious females.

    Hopefully these little tips help. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

  24. I was driving down the road today, on my way home from work and on the highway were 2 little malard ducks I couldn’t believe it.. so I pulled over and got them.. there was no mother or other babies insite so, I couldn’t leave them they are so tiny, and no I don’t know what 2 do one of my baby ducks got away when I got out of my car I had them in a box and they both jumped out, I caught one.. but the other I hope got to the creek behind my house so my questions are… Will the one that got away be ok? Will it stay in the creek behind my house? and will the baby duck I have be ok because, its very small… I went and got everything that you told the person in one of ur comments to get. I really don’t want the baby to die.. please I need help!!

  25. Hi Stacey,

    Sadly, the little one that got away does not stand much chance of surviving unless it finds a mother duck that will adopt it. We can’t do anything about that though, so let’s move on to helping you get the one little guy/girl you have all grown up and healthy.

    The first, and most important thing to know about raising ducklings is that they are hearty and tend to do well. Ducklings are generally shipped in the mail when they are one day old, so you should have no problem raising this duckling if you follow a few basic guidelines.

    1) Keep it warm. You will want to set up a brooder box that has a heat lamp in it. This can be a card board box, or a big rubermaid container. The walls need to be high enough so that it can’t jump out, and you will want to line the bottom with hay or wood shavings. I prefer hay because it does not get as soggy and smelly as wood shaviings. You can get the light at your local farm supply store. The duckling should be walking around normally if it is the right temperature. If it is laying in the shade and panting, it is too hot. If it is huddled under the light, it is too cold.

    2) Provide PLENTY of water from a chick drinker. Ducks always need water, especially when they are eating so that they don’t choke. They also love to play in their water, so you will have to get creative to minimize how often you need to clean the brooder. Don’t worry if the duckling gets a little wet. So long as it has a warm light to get under it won’t be a problem. When we have baby ducks, we run a little luke-warm water in the bathtub and let them play in it for ten or fifteen minuets. Just make sure they can warm themselves under a light when you take them out, and never leave it unattended int he water.

    3) Feed a high quality game bird starter crumble WITHOUT antibiotics. Chicken feed has antibiotics, which will kill ducklings. Most farm supply stores know about this, but some do not. I use and suggest “Blue Seal Game Bird Starter”. For the first two weeks, the duckling should have all the food it wants. After that, you can back off to feeding two or three times a day. After the first three to four weeks, you can switch the duckling to a grower diet or layer pellets. Again, make sure the food does not have antibiotics.

    Those are the most important things you need to know. Some tips that will help make your duck happier include:

    1) Letting the duck eat fresh greens out of the water. Ducks love to eat their food and especially greens out of the water.
    2) Letting the duckling swim for a little while each day. Make sure the water is not so deep that the duckling can’t touch the bottom.

    Hopefully these tips help. I’m here if you have any trouble, so please don’t hesitate to ask.

  26. I think it’s wonderful that so many people want to assist ducklings, but we should all remember that they may not always need our help.

    This is taken from http://www.tc.umn.edu/~devo0028/guideto.htm:

    Each year (especially in the Spring), many people call us who have found a baby bird or mammal. People usually think the animal needs their help and want to bring it in. These well meaning individuals usually assume the babies are orphans.

    Most babies are still under the watchful eye of their parents and are taken from them by people only trying to help. Unlike human babies, wild babies are not constantly watched by their parents and spend large amounts of time alone.

  27. Me and my family were sitting on our porch when i looked out in the yard and saw a baby duckling we looked around but didn’t find anymore or the mother what should i do?

    • i found 2 mallard duckling a week ago. i was’nt sure what to do either. first i tried giving them to another mother duck along with her ducklings, but sad to say, she would’nt keep them. she tried to drown them. . i decided to keep them and they are doing really good. i keep them in a large plastic container with a pan of water to swim in and feed them bread greenbeans, mustard greens, oats and cereal. they let me know when they are hungary. at night i let them out and they follow me around and either i catch moths for them or they do theirselfves. they are so cute. i hope you enjoy yours as much as i do mine!!!!!!!!!!! michelle

  28. Hi 🙂 I work in a vets office and one good citizen brought in a mallard duckling our vets estimated to be only a day or two old. I took it home to raise it, Ive had him a week today. He did have a laceration on his neck (the duck was found in a VERY busy road so unsure what caused the laceration) and he finished up his antibiotics (Ciprofloxacin) and gets a recheck at the vets today. But, Im wondering if I am doing okay by the duck. I have him set up in my “dog room” and I live in Michigan, we are having an abnormally warm summer right now. He has a “heat lamp” with a regular bulb in there (it does produce warmth on my hand). He is a lab sized dog crate. Instead of hay or wood shavings, though, I am using towels and washcloths. Ive raised a litter of puppies and found this easiest for me, I just change the towels and such daily, sometimes twice daily if they are really messy. I have a large litter box with water and ramp for the duck to access anytime. There is dry food, watered food, and water in spill proof dishes (yes, he does make a mess with the moistened food). The food is what the clinic gave me – Dumor show quality feed for winning results (designed for chickens and ducks)… Its a grower/started 20% food, but I dont see any other values on the bag.
    Anyway, I guess Im curious why you recommend hay or wood for the pen?
    Oh, and “he” (Ive been calling it a he, “Webster”) gets to swim in a rubbermaid storage tub a few times a day, and in nice weather go outside and chase my dogs around (2 very nice shelties, 1 thinks its his mom and cleans him). So he has also been eating some grass, ants, and who knows what else outside in my yard…
    As far as releasing, my agility instructor has 20 acres of land, including 2 ponds and she has 4 pet ducks. She is allowing me to release him there when he is old enough, so he can decide if he wants to be free, or stick around and be a pet with her ducks (indian runners and rowans).
    You can see pics of my little guy on my dropshots account – http://www.dropshots.com/shelteak
    I would appreciate any reply being sent to my email address if possible (shelteak@aol.com)
    Kelly & Webster

  29. Hi Kelly,

    From the sounds of things you are doing everything correctly. Webster will be very happy since he gets to swim! It sounds like you are having a great time raising him. He’s a very lucky duckling! The only reason I suggest wood shavings or hay is that it is very inexpensive and you can just toss it out when it gets dirty. I don’t think most people are willing to do all that laundry, but if you are, towels are perfect and will be very soft on his little feet.

    Thanks for sharing the pictures and good luck with Webster.

    • i found 2 ducklings about a week and a half ago and decided to keep them and raise them, the animal lover i am. i have been feeding them oatmeal, cereal, and vegetables. at night they follow me on the porch and eat mostly moths. they seem to be doing very well. Can anyone tell me if I am feeding them a good diet? Also I am concerned about when and if i can release them to the wild and will they leave on their own. please help, michelle

  30. @Lisa,

    It’s very hard to do, but usually the best thing you can do is let the duckling be. Most likely its mother is somewhere nearby. If you are very very sure that the mother is not around at all, you can decide to raise the duckling yourself, but please do not do this unless you are absolutely certain that the duckling has been abandoned.

    Wildlife experts suggest leaving the area as quickly as you can when you see a lone baby animal. This is because the mother may not return if there are humans around for fear of putting the other babies at risk.

    It’s a tough call, but you are usually better off leaving the little guy be.

  31. Cliff,

    Thanks for the reply. Now I have a new question….The single duckling we hatched seems to be very agressive to all the other ducklings. He pecks at their feathers and chases them around. We love him but now he has injured one of the other ducklings which is bleeding from one of it’s wings. We have segregated the injured ducklings as the others started picking at it’s wing which was bleeding slightly. Is there anything we can do to curb this behavior or will he have to be separated from the others to prevent more injuries? Is there anything else you recommend for the injured duckling?
    None of the other ducklings seem to have conflicts with the others but the one we hatched actually pulls out the others feathers and eats them. The 9 ducklings we shipped are only 2 days younger than the one hatched at our home. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  32. yesterday I found a baby mallard duckling. It was running back and forth across a very busy road near walmart. I could not even believe what I was seeing. This was in the middle of the city, no lakes, streams or water around. I looked and looked for the mother or signs of other ducklings. After stopping traffic several times and no sightings of mother or other babies, I took the duckling home. It seems to be doing well except for its sleeping habits. The only time it sleeps is when I have it cupped in my hands. I have a heat lamp in its plastic tub and a nice warm nest like area for it but it just seems to cry (peeping very loudly). I feel so bad for it that I let it sleep in my hands all night. Mean while I got little sleep. I plan on keeping the baby. Any advise on how I can get this poor duckling to sleep by itself?

  33. @Stacey,

    This is fairly uncommon, but it does happen on occasion. The book I have calls it feather eating, and it says that it usually caused by the ducklings being bored. The smell of blood makes the problem worse and the other ducks join in. Aside from giving the ducklings a swimming pool and a bunch of grass to munch on, I can’t imagine how to make brooder life more interesting for them though. It may be that you will want to keep them separated until they are old and strong enough to defend themselves. As I recall, this is what my book suggested. Good luck 🙂

  34. @barbara,

    It sounds like you did the right thing by saving this little guy. It’s always hard to know when the parent might be around, but a duckling in the road needs to be saed and fast. What a lucky little duck that you found him.

    In nature, ducklings peep loudly when they are separated from their mother. This helps the mother duck find the little ones when they are lost. Their mother seems to imprint on them by their act of following her. I let one of my ducklings follow me for the first few days and he still thinks I’m his mother more than a year later 🙂

    Depending on how you want to raise this little duckling, you could become his mother by letting him follow you. This does not mean he will peep less when you are away, but he will be peeping for you rather than the missing hen. Either way you handle it, the peeping should only last a week or so… I would not worry too much about it.

    On to the second question about sleeping. Again, in nature, very young ducklings huddle up next to their mother for safety and warmth. Your kind act of holding him in your hand must feel very similar to being next to her. I don’t know if there is any way you can instantly make him feel totally safe and secure by himself, but putting a soft crumpled up towel or cloth in with him might give him something to get near and help feel a little better. I have a feeling that you might have to let him cry it out to some extent though… After all, you need some sleep too 🙂 I had one duck that used to cry for me all night long. The towel seemed to help, but he still peeped a lot.

    Good luck, and thanks for saving this little guy! Let us know how it goes.

  35. Cliff,

    Thanks again….I am keeping the agressive duck isolated for now. None of the other ducks join in on this activity. We have built 2 large pens for them, one for night time which is more secure with a coup and the other a wheeled ‘playpen’ on wheels which is larger and moved to different locations every couple days. We also feed them greens everyday and with a rare exception, they are taken out into the yard daily to forage. We also sit on the ground and play with them so I don’t think it’s boredom related, especially since there is only one that seems to have the behavior. We took them all to our pond yesterday. They had a great time although they were aprehensive and did not do much swimming, just digging in the mud along the shoreline.


  36. Cliff,

    PS…..The ducks also have pools in both their night time and daytime enclosures.

  37. I could use some advise about mallard ducks and ducklings. We have 2 acres with two stocked ponds. We also have a female and two male Mallards. Several days ago we had an addition of 7 baby ducks. Now (3days later) we only have two. I have watched the adult ducks, they are not aggressive to the ducklings. We believe snakes or other wildlife from the surrounding woods are killing the babies. My husband thinks we should capture the remaining ducklings so they may have a better chance to live. We had to do this several years ago with another female, the ducklings lived, but after a few months the mother duck vanished. I felt bad for the mother duck she squawked for several days. We want the best chance of survival for the little ones. But, I don’t want this female to “fly the coop.”


  38. Help! I am the proud mom of 2 boys who hatched eggs for their science unit study. Quack and Fuzzy are doing very well and are about 5 weeks old. We have built a pen for them at the pond as they are getting too big for their quarters in the garage. They now jump out of their pool and it is quite the duckling rodeo to get them back into their pen. My question is how does one protect them form snakes? The pen will keep out the fox, raccoon, etc. but now I fear snakes. The only commercial snake repellents that I have found are not safe to use near water. Does anyone have any advice? Thanks in advance as these are our babies I know I’d be sad if they were killed.

  39. I have a pond on the other side of my road and last night our cat came across it chasing a baby duckling. We saved him but we don’t know what to feed it. Its sunday so stores are closed we curshed up chicken layer feed and have a light for him we get eggs from our chickens so we dont belive it has antibyotics. We are not sure if its a male or female and are still trying to find its home please help us we need it.

  40. P.S. We have chickens and are wondering if when the duck grows up we could put it with them or if they would fight

  41. @Candace

    Snakes are really only a problem for duck eggs. While I suppose an aggressive snake could harm a very small duckling, they should be quick enough to get away from it. More likely the ducklings are being taken by another animal such as an owl. Owls are the usual suspects when you don’t find any evidence.

    The basic rule is that ducks (and ducklings) should be kept in an animal proof enclosure at night. Since they can be tricky to get in at night, feeding them at dusk, just as they are locked up for the night tends to work well.

  42. @Sharon,

    It sounds like your enclosure is fine. Again, it’s easy to blame snakes for lots of things, but they are really not a threat to ducks or ducklings. They really only tend to raid duck nests for eggs. It sounds like you have done a good job building the enclosure. Just make sure nothing can dig beneath it and you should be fine.

  43. @Hannah,

    It sounds like you are doing everything correctly. The best duckling food I have found is Blue Seal Starter Crumble. There are some guidelines here.

    If you do decide to keep this little guy, he should do fine with your chickens. Just beware that ducks tend to be a little messy with their food and water compared with chickens. Making sure the food does not contain antibiodics is the other big rule.

  44. @Candace, Sharon and Hannah,

    Sorry it took me a little longer than normal to get back to you. I was away for the weekend and did not get a chance to read my comments. I hope I answered you in time 🙂


  45. hello cliff i have to ask u a seiris ?
    i had two birds and the guy i got them off of said that they were ready to go at 4 days aod and somi went up and got them at 5 days old and i have only had them for like a week and 4 days and they died and i do not know why i HAVE THEM a little thing so they can swim in and i put them in my room for like 3 days or 2 days and then i fed them maybe 2 or 3 times a day and then they already died…..so please cliff answer me back so i know what to do right next time!!!!it just broke my heart to see them dead:-(

  46. Cliff,
    Thanks so much for answering me, the baby duck is fine. Will he ever learn to follow me? He doesnt seem to want to and he all ready starting to get his tail feathers could he be to old to imprint?

  47. @kayla,

    I’m very sorry to hear about this. Sadly, it’s very hard to say why the ducklings died. In all likelihood, however, the death was caused by any one of the three most common reasons for mortality in ducklings:

    1) They were too cold
    2) They were too hot
    3) They choked

    Beyond that, it’s very hard to say. I am guessing there was no evidence of drowning??? There are aslo some diseases that can cause sudden death in ducklings. Perhaps asking the person you got them from how the others are doing could rule out disease. Sorry I can’t be of more help, but it is very hard to say. Did they appear sick before they died?

  48. @Hannah,

    It sounds like it might be a little old for you to imprint on him… Perhaps, since you might not be able to trick him into thinking you are his mother, you can bribe him with food as a way to get him to come running. I fill the food dish and shake it, which always causes my ducks to run over to me. Imprinting usually happens pretty early in life for these little guys. One footnote, however, males tend to imprint more easily than females.

  49. I am not sure that my duckling is a mallard it doesn’t have a stripe to the beak it just goes to the eye from the back of the head and there are two of them. Its back is all dark brown no stripes and its feet have light colored dots all over the toe part not the webbing. Its chest and yellow colored areas are more white than yellow. Could he be a wood duck not a mallard? Oh and he also loves swimming in our kitty pool but how long should we let him go swimming? Thanks for answering my questions.

  50. Hi Hannah,

    The only ducks that I have any experience with are Mallards, so I don’t really know what other types of ducks look like as they mature, but from what you have told me, it sounds like a Mallard. The stripes don’t show up on the bills for some time. The bill tends to be almost black when they are ducklings, and slowly turn into either a greenish color (for males) or a brownish color, sometimes with stripes (for females). Also, the webbiing on their feet will slowly change color as well. Usually to an orangish color. My guess is you have a Mallard.

    As far as how long you should him swim, it really depends on his age, his ability to repel water, and the temperature of the water itself. If he looks like he is having fun, staying more or less dry and seems energetic, I would let swim as long as he wants. Just make sure he can get out of the pool when he is done. Little wooden ramps work well for this.

    If he plays for a little while, then seems tired, wet or shivering, it may be a good idea to take him out. I think the best bet is to just let him play in the water as long as he wants and to make sure he has a way to get out when he has decided he is done. As you know, it’s also important for him to have a dry, warm place to dry off when he gets out.

    Take care, and good luck. Thanks for sharing your duckling stories with us!

  51. We have two 1 week old mallard ducklings. Our hope is to return them to the wild as soon as they are ready. From what I’ve read, it sounds like that will be at about 6 weeks. We have a 3/4 acre pond but there are no other ducks. We live in Central NY and I’m wondering if the ducks will know enough to fly south for the winter when the time comes or do I need to plan for winter housing? Thanks.

  52. Hi Kate,

    In our experience, they will not fly south for the winter unless they have other, wild ducks to show them how its done. We thought our first ducks would fly south, but they were still hanging out at our pond in mid December. Needless to say I had to slap together winter housing for them pretty quickly. I think that unless there are wild ducks around them, I would start planning to have them all winter.

  53. Hi Cliff. I thought I’d update you on my little “Webster” since you gave me advice before. “He” is thriving wonderfully. 3 weeks ago “he” was 35grams, today “he” is about 470grams. “He” enjoys spending time in the water – diving “his” head down and even swimming underwater. As far as food, “he” enjoys catching insects (worms, spiders, ants!!) more so than eating the duckling starter pellets. The reason I am contacting you now is that Im begining to think “he” is a “she”. Do you know when they change color? We’re guessing Webster is probably almost a month old. For the past week, Webster had “baby duck feathers” (the down has been gone for a little bit) but “he’s” been plucking those out and they are being replaced with brown-toned feathers. The bill of the duckling IMO seems to be turning a brownish color. Could you peek at my pictures to maybe help me figure out if in fact “he” is a “she”?
    Thanks, Kelly

  54. Hi Kelly,

    WOW! It really seems like Webster is growing fast and living the good life. As far as the gender goes, the males don’t get their colorful plumage until they are about six months old, so you can’t really tell by looking at the feathers. Both males and females have nearly identical feathers for the first season.

    You can, however, tell by keeping an ear out for their voice, which should be developing pretty soon on Webster. Males will make a raspy “wrack” sound, while females will make a loud “QUACK” sound. Has Webster started to develop a voice yet? Another indication can be the color of the bill. Females tend to have a brown or black bill, while the males tend to have a greenish bill. This is not always the case, but judging by the color of Webster’s bill, it certainly seems like there is a good chance he could be a she. Thanks for sharing the pictures. He or she certainly seems like a happy, healthy duck.

  55. HELP! Has anyone ever heard of a female mallard abandoning her hatching eggs? We’ve been watching her since she started to nest over a month ago. Last night when she was off her nest we saw 7 eggs, no signs of hatching…this morning I saw her waddling away with 3 ducklings…4 eggs are still in the nest. The 4 remaining eggs are moving, cracking, & we can see the beaks poking out slightly on 2 of them. We can hear the ducklings peeping! Will the mother return for the remaining ducklings or should we just wait a few hours & rescue them? The mother left the nest withthe other three over 4 hours ago. The temp is getting chilly tonite & I’m concerned! Please advise! Thanks!

  56. Lynn & Zack,

    Normally she would be glued to her nest until all of her eggs have hatched, but I suppose that she could wander off for a little while as her other eggs are hatching. I do admit that this seems a little strange though. Your best bet is to leave the nest alone for as long as you can, but ducklings do need to be kept warm, so if it is obvious that she is not going to return I suppose rescuing them might be the thing to so. I’m no expert on wild mallard ducks, but my domestic female gets really temperamental when she broody and seems to defend her nest with a vengeance even long after the last egg has hatched. Only a day or two later will she take the little ones for their first drink of water.

    Sometimes the will abandon their nests if they sense danger, which is why it is always best for us to leave them alone as much as possible when they are nesting. I would say that if she does not return for a fairly long time (several hours) rescuing the ducklings might be the thing to do. Good luck.

  57. We have two female mallards that we have raised from a week old to now 9 weeks old. Our intentions were to raise them until they were ready to fly into the wild. They don’t seem to want to leave. Is it normal for them to want to stay? Is there something we could do to better adapt them into the wild or are we stuck raising ducks? if so, what do we feed them now that they are older? We have been feeding them wild bird grain & feed fro birds 3-7 weeks. We give them feeder fish in a baby pool and give them bread and noodles.

  58. Just wanted to ask a question. We are raising our little Ahbee Dubee (kids named it that) duckling. She is doing really good. I was told to start her on chick feed (but we did not do this). Another gal told me to try oatmeal (mushed down). We did this and our duckling loves it. Do I need to still get the game start feed? I just want to make sure our little mallard is getting the right nutrition.

    Thanks for any information.

    Also, thanks for this great website :).

  59. Cliff,

    Just a little update. All ten ducks are back together now and doing great with no more feather eating! I was able to get a local grocery store to “donate” their outdated produce as they just throw it away. They are now eating fresh greens like gang-busters. I am only feeding the duck chow in their evening enclosure and that seems to be working great for keeping them coming in at night…..For now. As a matter of fact, they wait by the door to their house to be let in. I do let them out to graze when I’m at home but they sure don’t go very far. Is it normal behavior for them not to be interested in swimming in the pond? All they do is dig in the mud at the shore. They love to swim in their baby pool but it would be so much better if they would swim out in the pond as they dirty up their pool so quickly. Love hearing everybody’s duck stories!!!

  60. hi
    my mallard ducks should hatch on august 1 and i was wondering…… well we have a small dog and could the ducklings and our dog be friends or would it be a HUGE mistake?

  61. Hi Cliff,

    Looks like you are the resident mallard expert on the internet. 🙂

    We woke up to a mother and her 7 ducklings waddling through our neighborhood on June 11th. There are lots of dogs and cats (not to mention hawks and coyotes), and no water or anywhere for them to go. So we decided to catch them all and take them to a park. I talked to a friend of mine who has two domestic ducks and she said that only 1 out of 10 wild babies survives. So we decided to take them over to her place. She ownes a horse boarding facility and we put them in a box stall where the babies could not get out, but the mother could come and go. After 2 days, the mother left and did not come back, so we have been raising them by them selves for the last 3 1/2 weeks.

    Ok, so here is my problem. The lady who ownes the facility needs to wean her colt so she needs the box stall. We were going to take them to the park today to free up the stall. This morning I decided to get on the internet and see if I could find any information on whether or not 4 weeks old was a good time to release them. I Googled 4 week old malard ducks. On one site I read that the ducklings dont produce their own oil until 4 weeks old and somewhere in this blog of yours I read that 5-6 weeks might be a better time. What do you think?

    After reading your blog I told my friend my concerns and we decided to move them to her chicken coup. So far the mother hen has not tried to peck them so I think they will be okay in there for awhile. Do you think they will be okay if I release them next weekend? Should I wait until the weekend after that? The park where we are releasing them has a big pond with an island in the center for the birds but there is a tall cement curbing surrounding the island and the outside edge of the pond. If we put them in the water, I’m afraid they won’t be able to get out. They will be 4 weeks old tomorrow and they are not even close to flying yet, so I don’t know how they will get up the curb. However, there are some cat tails they can hide in. Putting them in the chicken coup has bought us some time, so I want to do what is best for them.

    I would love to know your thoughts and look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks so much for your help.
    Jenny in AZ

  62. @Anette Cieker

    It is normal for ducks to want to stay with you. The best thing you can do if you want to release them is to take them to a park with LOTS of other ducks and let them make some new friends. You may want to hang out for a few hours and watch as they adapt to their new environment. Then, when they are not paying attention, get in your car and drive away.

    If you do decide to keep them, please don’t feed them feeder fish, bread or noodles. They are very low in nutrients and will harm the ducks over time. A good game bird layer pellet is the best option for food.

  63. @Kristy

    Oat meal is great for a treat, but you really do want to give the ducklings a well-balanced game bird starter. They will develop problems with their legs if they don’t get enough niacin and other needed vitamins at a young age. Fresh greens are also a great treat.

  64. @Stacy

    That’s great news that the feather eating has stopped. It’s amazing that these cute little birds can do that to one another.

    It’s also wonderful that you were able to get a source for veggies for them. This will do wonders for their health as well and their happiness.

    To answer your question, it can be expected that some ducks may be hesitant to really swim in the water until they become used to it. Sometimes this can take quite a while. Just let them do their thing, and I suspect you will see them swimming and dabbling pretty soon.

  65. @sarah

    I guess it just all depends on the disposition of your dog. If it is a friendly dog that does not like to chase other animals, it might be OK, but otherwise I would not try it. Good luck.

  66. @Jenny

    I know you were only trying to help the ducklings, but there are several reasons you should never interfere with wild ducks, or any other animals for that matter.

    First, as you discovered, the mother is likely to abandon them.

    Secondly, the ducks will not learn to protect themselves from danger under the care of a human. When they are with their mother, she teaches them how to keep themselves safe. While it is true that many ducklings are killed, this is the natural way, and the ones that do make it know now to defend themselves. If you release the ones you took, it is likely that they will all be killed because they are not aware of the dangers that are out there.

    Thirdly, most states have laws against keeping wild animals. Often the fines can be very very steep if you are found with wild birds.

    Again, I know you had only the best of intentions, but please leave the wild ducks alone in the future. Interfering with them not only puts them at a disadvantage, but it could put you at risk of getting in trouble with the law.

    Since you already have them, and the mother has abandoned them, I would wait until they are a full 5 weeks old to release them, but not later. Please try to find a place that has LOTS of other ducks for them to befriend. Hopefully they will all them into the flock and teach the ducklings the ropes.

  67. My question is not about mallards but ducks in general. Today one of my daughters ducks (about 5-6 weeks old) choked on a slug and died. I was wondering if choking is a common problem for ducks. We tried to massage the duck’s neck to help it get the slug out but it was dead in probably 3 or less minutes. We’re very sad about it. Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.

  68. @joseph,

    I don’t know the exact laws for Ohio, but the laws usually surround catching wild ducks / animals and raising them. I don’t know of any state that has a law against raising domestic Mallards. My guess is that there should not be a problem so long as you purchase the birds or eggs from a hatchery.

  69. @Deanna

    Choking can be somewhat common in ducks, but they are usually able to dislodge the obstruction themselves. The only time we should interfere is when they are clearly not going to survive unless we do something.

    Here is some information about how you might help a choking duck.

  70. Hi Cliff… Thanks for all of the advice you’ve given me so far… I was wrong earlier, he really is a he. Webster now has a green head 🙂

    Well, I said Id take more duck pictures so here they are…

    They are more on my dropshots account – Dropshots. But, as always I need to leave you with at least one Webster shot.

    We’ve enjoyed having him. Its been almost 6 weeks I believe. When he came here he was about 35grams. Now he is too big for my little scale (he cant fit on it anymore). He’s been a great duck to have – following me and the dogs around. I’m gonna miss the little guy. I’ve always heard its hard to raise ducks b/c they get sick easily and that you should never raise a single duck b/c they need companionship. I think Webster has been a joy to have here (if you ignore the messy pen I need to clean 1-2 times a day!) and I think he did have his companionship b/w me, hubby, Belle, & Tigger.

    So, now its time to pack up his stuff and leave in ~30 minutes to take him to Beth and Garys. There he gets to decide if he wants to be a pet duck or go back to the wild. This has been an experience, I will say that. If anyone has the opportunity to raise one of these little guys, I say go for it. Its very rewarding IMO.

    So – goodbye our friend. We hope you live a long life and that you stick around Beth’s so we can see you sometimes.

    The Clark Family

  71. This forum has been realy helpful! Yesterday it was raining a bit and i was driving down a highway (side road) with my mother when i pointed out a cute little cluster of ducks. She missed it the first time so we drove by a second time, and realized the 8 ducklings were alone and headed for a 4 lane expressway. We pannicked and tried to scoot them away, but they were scared and we didn’t see a mommy anywhere. 🙁 so we gathered them up for a fun filled drive home. We stoped by a petCo and got some starter feed and a little splash pool. So far i have been keeping them in my enclosed shower with a towel to cuddle in and some water and feed, sometimes i shred some carrots or fruit. They seemed to sleep all night long, and i wasn’t sure of their usual sleeping habbits, i think they are about 3-6 days old.

    how long do they sleep? And should i wake them up every couple of hours to make sure they are eating? Also if they are all huddled in a group under the towel are they too cold or is that normal? I have the overhead shower light on them and it does produce a little heat, but not extream heat. Thank you guys soo much for all your helpful instructions. 🙂

  72. Hi! My family and I own lots of land and are thinking of getting Mallard Ducklings. We have a desent sized pond and I was wondering if I should put a game bird fence around it to stop them from getting out and also from stopping the prediters from getting to them. Also wondering if dogs and cats get along with mallards??? I need advise!

  73. Hello Cliff. I enjoyed reading the information on mallard ducklings, as my husband and I just adopted 4 mallard ducklings. It seems we are doing everything right and they are thriving! Here’s our question….we live in Wisconsin and our winters get harsh. Keeping them inside is not an option, as we have two dogs (albeit very well behaved dogs and they are protective of the ducklings). The habitat we have for them now includes a well insulated dog house and about 40 square feet of fenced in yard with a small children’s sled as a watering hole. Can you help us determine what we will need to keep them warm and safe this winter? Thanks!

  74. hey i just found a duck thats looks like3 a mallard duck but it dosent open its one eye but when it dose its like all foggy dose anyone know what it may be???

  75. We recently took our two 8week old mallard Both brown head females) ducks to a pond with other ducks but had to bring them back home because one of the ducks looked like something had plucked off all the feathers off his back. There are other ducks there. Do you have any clue as to what happened?

  76. Hey,
    My husband, and I have a mallard ducklings, they were born on July 17,2007. My question is, what can we do to get them more comfortable, and more relaxed with us? When we get them out of their cage they’re uptight, but once they’re out , and walking around on us they seem to calm down. We take them outside, and they swim in the pool with the kids. Will they ever relax around us? If anyone can tell me what to do for them so thay’re more relaxed with us please let me know. We enjoy them so much. Our daughter plays in the bath tub with them, we are so glad we got daisy , and donald. we want to make sure that we do what ever we can to make them healthy, and happy!

  77. Amy and Kevin-

    i’m no expert but you could try to handle them more so they will get used to you. you can also try hand feeding them. i hope this helps and good luck with daisy and donald.

  78. Sandy-

    the other ducks might not have accepted them or a predator might have attacked them. sorry about your duck. good luck

  79. justin-

    i’m not sure whats wrong with it but you should take it to a vet that treats ducks. i hope your duck is alright

  80. Monica and Brian-

    the best you can do is get insallation for their home and make sure they are away from predators with plenty of food and water. i don’t know if their home has a roof but you should think about putting one on so they get the most warmth they can get

    good luck

  81. Luna-

    you should get a fenced in home for them and depending on where you live you should get insallation for the winter. you can let them in your pond but you should watch so they won’t get hurt by any predators.

  82. Laura-

    i’m not sure how long they sleep but i don’t think you should wake them up in their sleep so they eat. i’m sure that they will be ok through the night. you might want to give them a little more heat just to be safe. good luck and i hope this is helps

  83. Sarah,
    Thank you for responding. We are handling them more, and they’re getting a lil better. We will do whatever it takes for them to be happy, and spoiled. All of our other animals are spoiled to. Thank you

  84. Cliff,

    The ducks are doing great!! Although we hatched one and received the others within three days of hatching, they still seem a bit skitish. We spend tons of time with them and they follow us all over when we are outside however they don’t really want to be handled. My question is….they have begun to fly and love it. We also enjoy watching them. We get a lot of wild ducks coming to our lake and pond. Will our ducks fly away with the wild ducks or will they stay? If they fly away would they be capable of surviving?
    Also, do you know of any type of deterant to keep them out of the garden or flowers. They love to eat everything eventhough we give them tons of fresh greens donated from our local produce department everyday.

  85. Stacy,

    Chances are that they will fly away in the fall since they have other ducks to show them how. Also, don’t worry about them when they go because they should be fine. The other ducks will show them what is dangerous, etc. Most likely the same ducks will come back to you next Spring, so you might think about banding their legs so you can identify them. 🙂

  86. Cliff,

    We are now considering clipping their wings to prevent them from leaving. We love our ducks and unfortunately they love our large hunting dog who suprisingly hangs out with them. They have no fear. The kids love them and we have a great set up for them. Wing clipping seems fairly simple. Is it common to cut a blood feather? It seems like they would be more likely to fly away in the fall so I would probably only clip them in the fall. What do you think? Do you know any good web sites showing the proper procedure?


  87. Cliff- We had a momma abandon her nest 2 days shy of hatching due to a predetor. We managed to save 4 eggs out of 8 and one hatched. We have a pond behind our home and are wondering if it is ok to release him/her when strong enough to that pond. Could we set up some kind of “dog house so it could come and go or is that not the best idea for the duck. Also, I have it in a hamster cage with paper towel is there something a little more absorbant I can use considering it drains it’s water daily! Thanks!

  88. You really don’t want to release the ducklings before they are old enough to oil themselves and fly. Also, you will really want to set up some kind of brooder box because a hamster cage will be much too small. Read through some of the other comments here. Most of the questions about raising ducklings and when they can be released have been pretty well covered.

    • Cliff, I have a mallard duck, given to my grandchildren by a “friend”. Her age is a guess but I think around 8-10 weeks. I have had her since the 24th of April and she looks almost as big as the adult mallard females on the lake. I take her to the lake daily to swim but do not have aclue how to get her to fly. She “runs” across the water flapping her wings but never takes off. I don’t want to release her until she can fly but she’s so attached to me now I’m not sure she’ll ever take off. Any suggestions? Mary in the NC mountains

  89. We have raised 3 mallard ducklings from about 10 days old to now 8 weeks old. They can fly short distances and love the baby pool we have for them in their pen. However, when we take them down to our pond (1/2 acre pond) they show no interest in getting in. Even when herded by the dogs, they will not get in. What can we do to get them to go to the pond when a predator is around? We want to release them back to the wild, but want to give them the best chance to make it. They will fly around the house – but show no interest in leaving. Should we take them to a lake that has ducks and release them there? If so, will they learn to get into the water? Or will they be pushed away by other mallard ducks? (we have seen this behavior in other wild mallard ducks).

  90. I have a duckling here that we hatched in an incubator. I think he has a cold. I know this sounds funny, but I didn’t realize several things about ducks… and now, I hope it isn’t too late. I did let it swim several times a day and would bring it in and put it back in its cage. I had already turned off it’s light as it didn’t seem to need it anymore and now I think it has a cold. It has it’s head constantly tilted to one side and it appears to sneeze periodically. Other than that though, it is just as active and peppy as usual. He eats and drinks well.

    This duckling is 2 weeks old tomorrow. He was hatched as part of a school project and will be released back to a non-profit farm that works with kids when we are done.

    Any advice? Obviously not to do what I did. I didn’t know if I should contact a vet about medication or not. I do have him under his light again… and will not allow any more swimming until he is better. I feel horrible about the entire thing.

    We really want Pip to get better… I am just not sure if he will recover without medication. My husband may not appreciate it much if this school project ends up costing us a large vet bill.


  91. @Diane,

    It’s funny, but Mallards do sometimes have trouble adapting to larger bodies of water. I had a pair of ducks once that stood around the edge of our pond for several days before they mustered the courage to get in.

    If you want them to migrate you will have to introduce them to other ducks. The flock will teach them how to migrate and where to go. I would suggest, however, that you let them get used to large bodies of water first. Simply let them stand around your pond for hours and hours and they will eventually get in.

    Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

  92. @Anna,

    Most likely you little duck is fine. Depending on what you are feeding, they tend to get a lot of food stuck in their bills and have to sneeze and cough to get it out. This is why we always suggest having enough water for them to submerge their bills. The need to clean them out quite frequently. At this stage he should be on game bird crumble and not a starter or mash of any kind. I put my ducks on pellets at about three weeks, but some say this is a bit early. Four, depending on development might be a bit safer.

    You should leave the light on for at least another week though. Two weeks is really too soon to turn off their light. Also, think about doing it slowly. Perhaps turn it off during the day and leave it on at night for a few days before taking it away entirely.

    Swimming is fine and should be encouraged so long as the little duck can warm itself somewhere dry. There is some thinking that duck’s eyes will not develop correctly unless they can dunk their heads when they are growing up. Let the little guy swim, but make sure he can get dry quickly and you should be fine.

    The sign you are really looking for is lethargy. If he starts sitting around a lot and moving seems to be an effort, you will want to get him to a vet. Otherwise, he’s most likely just fine.

    Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

  93. Thanks so much for a quick response. I bought the wildgame bird food for Pip this morning. He had been having just typical poultry food…. I found that yes, the wildgame food does have much more to it in as far as vitamins and minerals.

    The people thought I was a little crazy when I asked for vitamins for the duckling.

    They asked if he was dropped, because when they have had ducks in that were dropped at the farm supply place they would tilt their heads like that. I am not sure this was the case, or they just figured that they were dropped, since their heads were tilted. I don’t know. I asked if the ducklings recovered and they said that they just gave those ones away… so they really didn’t know.

    What concerns me is that the head is really at a right angle… and because of this he does seem to go around in circles to a degree. I really can’t seem to find anything on this online.

    I do not think he was dropped because I did not drop him and I am very careful with the kids handling him. He does run around the yard supervised and does sometimes fall off of small things and does sometimes trip over the hose. So… who knows. He does not act hurt though at all.

    I hope he doesn’t always have his head at an almost 90 degree angle… it just looks a little odd to be honest!

    Thanks again for your help!


  94. @Anna,

    I have to admit to being a bit perplexed at the question of what is causing his head to tilt. Ducklings can have developmental problems with their bones due to a niacin deficiency, but this usually manifests itself in the legs. I will check the literature tonight to see if I can come up with something more helpful. In the meantime, I would suggest lots of fresh greens to hopefully get some niacin into him. I’m on the East coast, so check back sometime around 9:00 EST and I will put up what, if anything I can find.

  95. @Anna,

    I think we have the case pretty much cracked. I’m going to play a hunch and guess the food Pip was on prior to the game bird food had some form of medication in it. I’m sorry for not catching this earlier when you mentioned poultry food. Most poultry feed, especially starters are medicated because chickens are so prone to disease. Medicated foods should never ever be fed to ducks because they consume much more food than chickens or turkeys. This usually results in an overdose, which, according to Dave Holderread’s book “Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks” can cause ducks to show signs of neck paralysis.

    He writes that ducks showing signs of poisoning from medication should be taken off the meds at the first sign. He does not mention how likely the duck is to recover from the neck paralysis, but I would hope for the best since he seems otherwise healthy.

    The only other disease I can find that manifests itself in the neck is botulism, which seems unlikely in this case, especially since there is no loss of controll in the wing and leg muscles.

    Please check the feed he was on prior to the game bird food to see if it was medicated. If so, I think we can pretty much attribute the tilted neck to this. Please let me know how this goes… I’ll be pulling for Pip!

  96. Thanks so much! I have emailed the farm caretaker and will let you know what she tells me. I got the food from her but I do remember her telling me that the ducks were eating what she had given the chickens before.

    The Farm Supply store really tried to push the Chick starter on me… She told me that is what they used for all of their chicks… then told me about the necks that she believed were from the ducks being dropped. I went ahead and bought the wild game bird feed instead, I am so glad that I did! I may call the store and let them know what you have found concerning the medication and ducks!

    I really do hope that Pip recovers from this. I feel so bad for the little guy. It must be confusing to see everything sideways all of a sudden.

    Thanks again! I will let you know when I hear from the caretaker on the food and I will update you on Pip as time goes on, and he hopefully recovers completely!

  97. Cliff, I left our ducks down at our pond all week (except at night) and they still will not get in. How long do you think this will take? They appear to be healthy and happy, they fly more and more every day. They eat the small plants and suck on the pond mud by the banks. They will sit on the dock and look down at the water. I’ve tried geting in the pond (since they think I’m their mother) and still nothing. The only time they get in is if they fall in off the dock and then they scamper out as fast as they can. Yet, they still love the baby pool that is in their pen. Should I move the baby pool down by the pond? Or should we move the pen down by the pond and take the baby pool away? We live in Ohio, and it will be turning cooler before long and want to get them ready to take to Buckeye Lake so they can mirgrate with the other ducks that live there. Speaking of….about what time of year do they mirgrate? How cold can it get? What kind of time frame are we looking at? Or, should we be setting up something for them for winter and hope they overcome the water fear next Spring. We had/have every intention when we took these ducklings in to release them back to the wild. We have tried to do everything we could in order to not make them rely on people for survival. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. As much as I have enjoyed watching these girls grow, it is time for them to move on and maybe visit next year.

  98. I have a small pond and I would love to get a couple of ducklings to raise and keep as pets.
    I live in New York and I am finding that I cannot just purchase one or two. It seems that I can only purchase min. amounts of nine or so. That is really way to many.
    Can anyone reccomend someplace that either will ship one or two ducklings or I can drive to pick up ducklings from in New York?
    Thanks for all your help.
    Also.. I am looking for a small, friendly breed.

  99. Well the girl few off last week and have not come back. We are hoping they fell in with a good crowd.

  100. @Diane,

    I bet they will be back in the Spring… Some people band their legs so they can tell if the same ducks are coming back year after year. I’m sure they will have a nice journey South for the winter.

    Did they ever get into the pond? They can be very stubborn that way sometimes. Thanks for the update.

  101. Cliff,
    I wanted to let you know that Pip has completely recovered and is doing great! I believe it is a He, and he is adjusting to life on the farm. He has made friends with a pygmy goat named Dakota and they are best friends. That sounds so weird, but actually true. Pip is in an enclosed area inside the duck/goat yard. This protects him from the antagonizing goats while still allowing him to be out in the yard. He and this goat will stand on the opposite sides of the fence and chat away… it just makes me giggle… maybe he has taken on the goat as his momma figure.

    Thanks again for all the time you spent trying to figure out this problem with me. I am so grateful… I was so stressed over it.

    I appreciate it!


  102. Cliff, no we did not band the girls we where going to but they flew off before we could find something to use. No they only got in the pound a few time when landing paddle a few times then get out. We hope they come back in the spring.

  103. A friend of mine got 12 baby mallards this spring they are now all grown up and have become very fat and tame. They are living in Northern Wisconson where soon everything will be cold and frozen. We are hoping they will fly south for the winter and come back in the spring. My questions is will they do this or stay and freeze. My friend is afraid they may stay???

  104. @Marlene,

    I’m sorry to say that your ducks will stay right where they are unless they have wild ducks to show them how to fly South. Also, it is important to know that most “domestic” mallards are not “true” mallards, and have gradually grown larger in size, preventing them from flying long distances.

    The good news is that they are fairly easy to keep in cold climates. I live in Vermont where we get temps well below 0′ F and my mallards do just fine so long as they have shelter, water to drink, and a place where they can get their feet out of the snow.

    I suggest the following:

    Metal water drinker with a 100W heater base. Most feed stores will have these.

    4X8 enclosed area where they will be dry and protected from animals, wind and snow. Cover the floor with hay weekly, or more often if needed.

    Fenced in duckyard that is kept as clear of snow as possible and the ground covered with hay or something similar. This area does not have to be large, but you will find that the ducks will like getting out of their duckhouse whenever they can.

    My ducks get locked in the duckhouse every night where they are safe and protected from the wind. I keep their food and water in here. I open a little door for them to come outside during the day if they want to go, but on the colder days, they tend to stay inside.

    It is also important to make sure they have lots and lots of high-quality food all winter. Ducks stay warm by shivering and this eats up a lot of energy.

    Keep an eye out for ducks that are limping when they walk in the snow or when it is very cold. This is a first sign of frostbitten feet.

  105. Try having the fun of raising 12 that i rescued out of a sewer pond. I have always wanted a Mallard duck and now me and my son can not wait for them to lay eggs and we have babies again. We had just bought 2 Pekin ducks and they are in the pen with the Mallards. They are such fun to watch grow. The males are beautiful. Waiting for their colors and their heads to turn green is what i watched for all summer. I have 7 females and 5 males plus the 2 Pekin ducks but i do not know the Pekin ducks sex. If you love to raise babies that turn into something beautiful get a mallard. The males were fun watching them get their colors but the females are loud and i love what ever that is that they do towards the ground with their heads and making this sound bobbing their head back and fourth. They are a joy just to sit and watch. Somebody who knows more about mallard ducks please email me at kdsmith_2007@yahoo.com the answer to this. When do they nest and how long? We found some eggs the other day but noone was sitting on them and they were kind of scrattered. There was no nest that i could see. Thanks Karen

  106. Some three months ago I was given four baby mallards whose mother had been killed, three died within the first two days but the fourth has been doing well ever since. I have noticed however on every website I come across that mallard ducklings should be full grown at around two months, is this true as the duckling I have raised still has a lot of down although the tail feathers have come through quite well and it has grown a lot since early september. It has also developed a slight limp and while its legs appear fairly strong it walks a little on the strange side. Any info would be greatly appreciated.


  107. @ Nate,

    They are not hard to raise so long as you have enough room to keep them, and the ability to keep them safe from predators. Read through the comments in this thread and it should give you a pretty good idea of what is involved.

  108. hello. i was reading your posting and you have very good info on here about raising ducklings. about three years ago i found a baby duck (mallard) trapped in tree roots that grew into the water on the lake i live on. i watched as the mother swam away and left the little guy by himself. i couldnt let him sit there and get eaten by the huge snapping turtles that live in our lake. so i kayaked over and took him and raised him myself, not knowing anything and he grew to be of an age where he could fly anf flew awa one night while i was sleeping. it was so much fun that i found another duckling the next year. however he died within a matter of days but im not sure why cause i raised him the same as the first.. anyways im really bumming cause its been a year and i miss the little guys running behind me or playing in the lake with me. so i live in ohio near cleveland is there a chance of getting a duckling from you or do you know of anyone close by that could give me one. and also could u give me some info on how to raise a new little guy. thanks

  109. Michael,

    The first and most important thing to remember is that you never want to take ducklings from the wild. In most cases the mother will come back for them, and you can also get in trouble with the law by doing this. I know you only had the best of intentions, but it’s really important never to take animals from the wild.

    Secondly, it is really not a good idea to raise ducklings by themselves. They are social creatures that need to be with other ducks to be happy. If you want to try raising ducks again, you can usually order them from local feed or farm stores. They just put them in with their chicken orders. I really suggest raising at least two though, and please read up on proper diet.

    Finally, the thing that usually kills ducklings is either choking or becoming too cold. Can you tell me a little about how you tried to raise this duckling? Perhaps then I can lend some insight on what might have caused him to die.

  110. yeah i feed it starter feed and used a heating lamp and had a little pond for it that i cleaner every day. i think it was overwhelmed and just couldnt handle life anymore. so it was sad but im ok now. and you can’t send me ducklings? am i too far away?

  111. My best friend and I really want to raise ducklings this summer but we don’t no really what do, I’ve read a lot about ducklings and we have a plan going so we thought we would run it by you to make sure we are doing this right: First we want to raise them from eggs, but we have to find an incubator, is there a specific one that is best? Also, how long does it take for the eggs to hatch, and what temperatures do we keep them at?
    When they hatch, we are planning on keeping them about 10 weeks, because we are not allowed to keep them forever. : (. For their broading pen, we are planning on a plastic bin, like Rubbermaid, because it will be easier to clean out if they get happy with their water… : ). Also I found two options for there food, I would use the Blue Seal you talk about but I can’t find a place anywhere where they sell it, ( we are in the Chicago area) so the two food options are Agrimaster Chicken Starter/ Grower from Farm and Fleet ( I checked and it’s non medicated) or Kaytee Supreme Scratch Daily Blend for Ducks and Chickens from Petco. So I was wondering which would be better, I personally think the Farm and Fleet is better. And we found food and water feeders. We have a heat lamp, so that is taken care off. My friend has a small pond for later swimming, but we also have a kiddy pool and some paint tray rollers, and my friend wants to know if she can put some stuffed animals in with them- unless it’s to much : ). So thats about it, we just wanted to know if we were missing anything super important, and thank you for reading this, i know it’s a long epic…! So if we are missing anything or doing something wrong, please let no! Thanks!

  112. I bought my grandson two baby mallard for Easter – they are now five weeks old – I live in MI near the OH line – at what temperature can they go outside?

  113. @Brian

    Thanks for your comment. I completely agree with you that Michael has a lot of research to do. I also completely agree with you regarding your link about the tragedy surrounding most Easter ducks. Sadly, most of these ducks bought as gifts for Easter are neglected and soon end up dying a terrible death. Most people have neither the resources or dedication to raise ducks successfully, and it is a rare occurrence that a person buying a duckling for easter understands that it can live as long as 15 years.

    That said, however, for the dedicated person with the land, money and time to devote to raising ducks, Mallards make a delightful addition to the homestead.They are not always legal, however, so ALWAYS check your state and local regulations before raising ducks or any animals.

  114. @Alyssa

    What do you plan to do with these ducklings after 10 weeks? It can be hard to find homes for unwanted ducks, and those released at parks or into the wild seldom survive. Unless you can give them a home for the next 10 years, I really can’t suggest raising them to begin with.

  115. @Beth

    The trick is to slowly acclimate them to lower temperatures. Technically they can go outside now, but you should start by bringing them out on warm days and back in at night… Slowly (over a few weeks) slowly bring them out earlier and leave them out later so they get used to the outside temperatures. After you feel they have been exposed to the lower temperatures, pick a warmer evening and leave them out all night.

    Needless to say, PLEASE make sure they have a safe enclosure to protect them from predators.



  117. @James

    First, please stop yelling!

    Secondly, while I have absolutely no problem with hunting whatsoever (Ducks Unlimited has done more to preserve wetlands and duck habitat than any other organization I know of), this site and these comments are really not about using ducks for hunting, training or eating.

    For my part, my ducks are pets, and any ducklings I raise and give away always go to those who would keep them as pets. So, the short answer is no, you can’t have any of my ducks.

  118. Let me start off by saying I LOVE DUCKS!!! All kinds…rubber, real..etc. The Easter Bunny brought me 2 baby Mallards. I have named them Rubber and Lucky (which he started off to be another name, but because of a recent accident I have changed “his” name). Anyway back to the reason I am wriring. I have tried to introduce different things to my babies because I don’t want them to get bored with the chick starter and the corn meal. I have given them crickets, mealworms, bloodworms, and other typed of bugs they have caught while out for their afternoon walk outside. Right now they are staying inside and once they get too big to stay inside they will be brought to a friends pond where she has other ducks for them to be with. Can you give me other ideas on what to feed them? Can they eat canned cat/dog food? What about fish food? I have read that it is not good to give them bread or bread products or even to feed them feeder fish. Which I don’t think they are big enough to handle right now anyway. I had to help Lucky swallow a cricket that was too big for him. Thanks for this site! It has helped me the last couple of weeks!

  119. Hi Stephanie,

    It’s important to feed your ducklings non-medicated chick starter, as they are voracious eaters and can overdose from the medicated food that is formulated for chickens. Dave Holderread recommends a mix 50% chick starter and 50% game bird/turkey starter. It’s also important not to feed mash, as the young ducks may choke on it. Stick to crumbles or pellets.

    To supplement their diet, you can feed them leafy greens (such as dandelion or spinach) which they love to eat in water, and certainly continue to let them eat bugs that they catch while outside. You are right, don’t feed them bread, but also don’t feed them foods that aren’t formulated for their growing bodies. NO dog, cat or fish food. Right now they are growing rapidly and need lots of calories, the chick starter has everything they need. You may want to watch what they nibble on in the yard, and bring that to them while they’re stuck inside.

  120. Hi Cliff,

    Thanks for your site, very informational. I am raising three mallard ducklings, and all very healthy. However, the largest duckling has holes in the webbing of his feet. He is able to swim as well as the other two, and I have not seen him picking at his feet, so I can’t imagine why the holes have developed. Do you know anything about this? I have not been able to find any information – please help!

  121. @Kris
    I have heard of people notching or punching the webbing on a duckling’s feet to indicate gender. Are they small holes that look regular like they might have been punched intentionally? If not, do they look infected?

    If they are infected, you will first have to figure out what is causing it (sharp objects or wire floor in brooder, etc) and rectify that. Secondly, you will have to clean the feet regularly with something like hydrogen peroxide. Perhaps twice a day. Finally, you will need to ensure that their litter is as clean as possible.

  122. Thanks Courtney for handling some of these questions… It gets so busy this time of year that it’s hard to keep up.

  123. Hello,

    I live near a State Park and well this year in the past few days I noticed a duck nest underneath one of my trees directly outside to the left of my stoop. She is getting startled and flys away.(with the open and closing of the door, not with me anymore) Not so much with me. I notice that the duck is gone a lot durning the day, but does return at night and is there in the morning and probably gets spooked by the mailwoman. What should I do if anything? My lawn service is due to start-up very soon, and they are loud and noisy and use a blower…what do I tell them? We live in NY(Long Island) There are six eggs in the nest. Right now I am leaving some bread and crackers out for her.

    Thank you.

  124. I found a baby mallard the other day. S/he is only a few days old and extremely small. He was fine yesterday, but wouldn’t eat any soaked bread or greens. I’m really upset because today he seems very weak and his eyes are half opened half closed. He has been drinking water and cheaps when he is alone. He also tries to cuddle every chance he gets and sleeps. Is this normal? Or is he sick? Please help me!

  125. @Liz,

    Firstly, this is VERY important! Please do not feed him soaked bread or any other kind of bread. It has nearly none of what the ducklings growing body needs. Greens do, but you will need to also feed him chick starter that does NOT have medication in it. You local farm store or petco should have this food. Please get this duckling on a proper diet of chick starter soon because they need a lot of nutrition as they are growing.

    I’m guessing this duckling is suffering from malnutrition, which is why he is lethargic. Make sure he has a light to keep him warm and proper food. Hopefully he will start eating it.

  126. @Elizabeth,

    I am inclined to suggest that you simply do your best to avoid disturbing the duck. As she gets more dedicated and broody, she will sit on her nest more stubbornly. I would, however, have the yard guy hold off doing any noisy work around the immediate area for a while though. Some people put up a fence around the nests to keep animals away, but this can sometimes cause more harm that good. Just play it by ear and do the best you can.

  127. Thank you Cliff,

    Do to the rain I have yet to see the yard guys but I expect them this week so I will tell them. She has been on her nest for the past 2 days all day, through me and my husband and my daughter walking in and out. DD goes “sssh” now(she’s 2). The mailwoman and a repair person but I asked him to be quiet yesterday. Oh and 2 barking dogs.(mine). She flys away at night I assume to get food and water. She’s well hidden as my husband didn’t notice the nest or the duck. I just hope she will take care of the ducklings when they hatch, or I’ll try and release them after 6 weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

  128. @Elizabeth

    I’m glad to hear that she is sitting more regularly now. Once her clutch of eggs hatch, you will notice that she hangs around for a few days and then takes her ducklings to the nearest open body of water. Presumably this is not far. If they will have to cross a busy street to get to the water, it might be a good idea to put up a sign or something along those lines to inform drivers that there could be ducklings to watch out for soon. Many parks use “duckling x-ing” signs and such. How far you want to take it is totally up to you. The mother ducks usually have a pretty good idea of what they are doing without our help, but it’s always nice to lend a kind hand if we can.

  129. I picked up a female in our yard that had been there for 2 days just sitting!

    7 males were all around her picking on her back and trying to mate with her.

    Finally it started to rain and hail and sleet. The males not only looked like they wanted to mate with her but picked at her back until it bled.

    I couldn’t stand it any more and walked up to her in the poring sleet and the males all backed away. I picked her up and put her in my coat. She looked like she was half dead and she just kind of collapsed in my arms.

    I slept with her on the couch that night in the big fur coat until about 11:00pm then put her in our room in a big laundry basket all covered up.

    She slept all the next day, then that night she drank water, and we put her I the sink with warm water and she LOVED it. She let me pick her up and take her any where.

    I then noticed an eye was bad, almost looked covered over, and she let me put Neosporin on it.

    It’s been a couple of days and she now has scratched away at her eye. It is now open sort of but she seems as though she really can’t see out of it.

    Now she is scared of me which is normal and she let me do anything to her before.

    But when putting her outside again all the males flew into the yard and started up again. It’s like they are trying to kill her.

    We took her back inside.

    Any suggestions?

  130. @Gail

    I think it might be time for this duck to visit an avian vet or better yet a wildlife rehabilitation center. Drakes can be very hard on hens when the proportions are too far out of balance, and it sounds like that is what is happening here. I’m glad you saved her, and I do wonder about the eye… If she is opening it, it’s a good sign, but it still sounds like it should be looked at by a person who knows how to medicate ducks because they can be tricky. If you tell me where you are located I can help you find a vet that might see her, or a wildlife rehabilitation center that is near your home.

  131. Also… If you do decide to transport her, I have found that cat carriers work very well. Make sure there are some towels or cloth in there so she doesn’t slip around too much.

    Please let us know how it goes… I have a feeling there will be a lot of people pulling for this little hen.

  132. Our family recentlly got 4 baby mallards from the local farm and garden. They are growing so fast!! We live in a residential area but our backyard buts up to a local wildlife preserve that includes acres of marsh. and ponds. Currently we are housing them at night in a extra large tub in our unfinished basement and we have a small fenced in area ( chicken wire ) outside that they spend all day in. We live in MN and have some brutal winters and I am a little worried that we are domesticating these ducks and they will not fly in the fall. What are the chances that a mallard would not migrate? Are there steps that I can follow to insure that I wont have ducks knocking on the door this fall!lol I love caring for them and spend alot of time just watching them. I just worry about their safety and welbeing.

  133. P.S. I have one more question! how much room should 4 growing ducks have? At what point should I let them out of my fenced in area? I don;t know if they would return at night and I don’t think I could catch them!

  134. Hi Cliff,
    We have two mallards that are approximately 7-9 weeks old. They have lost almost all of their down. I noticed that the smaller of the two has emerald green on the top of his/her head, but no other male characteristics. If the mallard is a drake, wouldn’t the other physical characteristics be evident by now? Also, they are not flying yet. Do we need to do anything to help them along, or will they take off when they are ready? Thanks! Love this website!!

  135. Carie,

    Your care for your mallard ducklings imprints upon them, and they will soon believe that you are their mother. They will also come to know their inside and outside enclosures to be their home, and because they do not associate with wild ducks, they will not know how to migrate. This means that you will need to provide a permanent/winter home for them (they can live up to 10 years). Also, it is advisable not to release them into the preserve, as the chances of their survival are very slim.

    The chicken wire enclosure is a good idea. If you want to keep them outside at night, make sure that you use 1-inch wire to prevent predators from entering your coop. We live in VT, and keep our ducks outside all winter. They have an unheated shelter that protects them from the elements that we fill with a deep layer of hay to keep them warm. So, you don’t need to keep them in your basement forever, but you will need to provide an alternative safe shelter for them.

    You can let them out of the enclosure when they can fly away from predators, and just bring them in at night. We typically let our ducks out during the day, but are always careful to bring them in before it gets dark. You can reward them with food at night, to encourage them to return at the correct time, but ducks are not trainable in the same way as chickens. It can be tricky to get them to come in.

  136. Hi Kathy,

    The only sure way to tell the gender of they ducks at this age is to vent sex them. It is a very hard to do, and can cause harm to the ducklings, so the best thing to do is to wait a little longer. As soon as they loose their squeeky peeps and get their adult voices, the females will make a very loud “quack” and the males will make a raspy “rwack”-ing sound. They will sound like they have laryngitis. Also when their feathers first come in, both the males and the females will look the same until autumn, so the best way to tell their gender is to listen to their voices.

    They will start flying on their own. In the beginning they may just hover for a second, and once they do take flight, they will most likely have a few accidents before they get the hang of it. We’ve seen our fair share of tumbles and near collisions. It’s much like learning how to walk!

  137. I have 4 baby ducks, 2 indian runers, 1 pekin, and 1 black swede. Unfortunatley 3 died earlier in the week. We want to get more ducks. The local animal/farm store does not get in more ducklings for about a week. I am wondering if my 2 weel old ducklings wil beat up my newborn babies.

  138. Hi Emma,

    Cliff and I have never had to introduce ducklings of differing ages, so I admit that my response will be based purely on introducing adult ducks to one another. If the older duckling acts aggressively towards the younger ones, you should separate them. If you keep them within a fenced enclosure, consider fencing off a small section for the aggressive duckling. You will want to make sure that this duckling can see the others so it doesn’t feel isolated. Slowly as the babies get larger and stronger you can try short reintroductions until you feel confident that there will be no bullying. I imagine that there won’t be any problems, but please do keep us updated.

  139. Hi there, I have a lake located behind my apartments, full of all sorts of birds and wild life. Recently a bunch of mallard duckling hatched, we have 3 families of them. However, I noticed today while out walking that one of the mothers looks as if she has been attacked. She had all her ducklings with her (8 there were 9) and was very protective and would not eat when I fed them. It looks as if the feathers on her head have been plucked, it looks extremely irritated and bloody. I didn’t know if this was something to be concerned about, or if mallards went along way in protecting there young. I live in a suburban area, the only predators, besides other ducks would be pigeons, herons, and maybe a turtle or two. Wondering if anyone has every seen something similar to this before?

  140. Hi. I found an abandoned baby duck and have several questions.
    Will it survive if it is by itself
    How much do they sleep because this one seems to sleep alot.

    Should I try to raise him myself (I used to breed cockatiels so I do know a little about it) or take him to a rehab center. I’m a stasy at home mom, so I am at home during the day. Truth – I would like to raise him, but if he will not survive on his own I will take him to the rehab.

  141. We were planning on releasing our mallard duck in the morning. He is about 10 weeks old now. We have delayed his release because the forecast has been for severe storms and we didnt want him to be traumatized on his first days of freedom. We came home tonight and found him to be ill. He is fluffing his feathers and also limping. Its like he really struggles to walk. He usually runs when I approach his pen but now he just lays there with his beak open. I am really upset. I have invested weeks… with the anticipation of giving him a good home on our lake. I tried to look up various illnesses to find out if there is something that I can do… nothing except bird flu, avian, virus A (?), botulism… I dont know what it could be. I dont know what could be wrong. Please, anyone, I am desperately seeking answers / suggestions, before its too late

  142. Today my son found a female Mallard on a nest with ten eggs. The nest was is an open prairie close to a pond, behind our house. There has been a lot of coyote, fox, hawk & owl activity in the last couple of weeks, and a dead deer lay close by the nest and looked like it had been some predators dinner recently. We decided to move the mother and nest 200 yards to our back yard for a sfer place. We dug a 6 inch perimeter around the nest and scooped up the dirt and nest, the acual nest and eggs were never touched distured. We placed “nest island inside an empty bunny hutch and filled it with food water and hay. Once settled, mother duck moved the eggs around sat on the nest a few times. We have now created this situation but unsure about the nest course of action. Do we keep mother duck caged with eggs or allow her to have free access? Will the duck harm or abandon the eggs now that we have moved the nest? (again we were very careful not to disturb the nest we dug up and moved the plot of earth. Any suggestions on our next step?

  143. I have touched some of the eggs that my ducks are sitting on and they have not pushed them out yet. I also have sweet kernel corn on my hands when i touched them cause that is my i spoiled my ducks food. She will probably be fine but cagging her now might cause her not to sit on them. Mine hiss at me like a snake when i get to close. I have 5 nest with mallards and pekin. I have a toal of about 30 eggs being sat on. I have noticed that if the egg is no good the mother knows and pushes it out of the nest. I have left alot of mine alone waiting to see what will happen. I have 6 grown mallards, i have 1 grown pekin drake. I also have 3 new perkins i bought one is double crested and we call him Rockie but it is looking like he is a she and her name will be Rocket. i have 4 cayuguas 1 of these are double crested and 4 blue swedes these are all new ones and a freind gave mea male and female swede that will nest next year. Although theonly problems i have had is that the male swede sounds like the female mallard and they kind of try to have teir way with him. I have been raising ducks for a year now and i love to come home everyday and feed them cause they meet me at the gate and follow me right at my feet. Alot of this is because i feed them sweet kernel corn in the can. This is the one treat that keeps these ducks very freindly to me. Most are wild. If i can help please let me know. Feel free to email me.

  144. We have a shallow pond behind our condo and are the proud grandparents of 12 baby malard ducks. Mom, so far, is taking good care of her babies. My question is, last night mom woke me up from her quacking. It was to dark to see what was going on. Is there some kind of shelter I can give her and the babies?

  145. How long before I can put my ducks outside without a heat lamp. They are two week old now.

  146. About three weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were over at my sisters house, where a mallard duck had just laid nine eggs. We were all set to wait and watch them hatch in the wild, until my sisters dog had a go at the nest that night.

    We went to my sisters the next day for a family BBQ and found the nest trashed. All nine of the eggs, or so we thought, had been either eaten or smashed. My brother in law, however, was walking around the yard picking up the mess when he found one of the eggs. It was whole, but had a few chips in it.

    We tried putting the egg back in the nest, but the dog went after it again, despite our efforts to keep her away.

    My boyfriend and I took the egg home and rigged up a home made incubator. We keep a few retpiles and turtles, so we had a heat lamp lying around.

    At any rate… we candled it the day we brought it home and saw nothing. Eight days later, we saw veins. Now, we candle it and actually see a chick moving around.

    Im just curious what it will be like when it hatchs. Most of the posts I have read are from people who took home ducklings. We will actually be present when our duckling hatches. Will it imprint immediately on the first person it sees/hears, or will it just imprint naturally on whoever spends more time with it/feeds it?

  147. Hello!

    I hope the author of this is still replying to posts! My name is Lauren and my parents currently live in Fresno, CA where they are helping a female Mallard raise her babies. This is the second year that babies have hatched in our backyard. Last year was very successful, with only 3 baby deaths and the rest all flew away when they grew up. This year we have an odd situation: There is one duck who is much smaller than the others and seems to have stopped growing in size. He/She shows no signs of sickness, seems completely healthy, and eats just as well as the others. He/She participates in all the normal duck activities such as swimming, grazing, sleeping – a least he/she tries! Her brothers and sisters are constantly attacking her to the point where it seems they are going to kill her. Even the father quacks and bites at her, and the mother does nothing to stop them. It’s really sad and we can’t figure out why they have all turned on her. I have tried researching the internet to find information but I can’t find anything on this. Do you have any input?

  148. @Amy,

    Most likely this hen is still mating. When the drakes mate with the hens they grab the back of their heads with their bills. If the hen is mating a lot, it can get pretty irritated… On the whole, it’s nothing to worry about though.

  149. @Rhiannon,

    Usually “abandoned” ducklings are not actually abandoned, so it’s never advisable to rescue them. In some cases it’s even illegal. That said, there should be no reason you can’t raise this duckling by yourself. There should be enough information this post and comments to get you going. The most important thing is to feed high quality chick started with no medication and to keep them warm. Always remember ducklings need lots of water to keep from choking.

  150. @jody,

    I’m sorry to hear that your duck is sick. It sounds like very general behavior for a duck that is not feeling well. Is there anything else you can add about how the duck is acting? Does he eat and drink? Does he have trouble holding his head up and controlling his legs and wings? Usually when a duck gets sick it is important to get it to the vet as soon as you can because they are often quite sick by the time they show it. Ducks are low on the food chain and acting sick is a sure way to get attacked by other animals.

  151. @Will,

    I would allow the mother to have free access. They need to get off their nests from time to time to remain healthy, and I doubt very much that she would abandon her clutch at this point. Just try to keep everything as safe from animals as you can while allowing the mother to do her thing and everyone should be fine. Good luck.

  152. @Karen,

    In some very very rare instances, ducks can change their gender… Perhaps this is what is happening to your drake. Sounds very strange though. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  153. @Karen M,

    Sometimes quacking in the middle of the night has to do with a full moon, but usually it means trouble and that they are being attacked. I lock my ducks up each night in a large plywood structure that I built to keep them safe from animals. This is the only thing I have found that will work long-term. If you allow your ducks to stay out all night, you will have losses at some point… It’s just a matter of time.

  154. @Jamie,

    It really depends on the temperature outside. If your nights are warm, you can do it sooner than if your nights are cold. I have done it this way:

    Week 1: Inside, heat lamp always on
    Week 2: Inside, heat lamp off one hour on monday, two hours Tuesday, three hours Wed, etc
    Week 3: Outside, heat lamp always on
    Week 4: Outside, heat lamp off during day
    Week 5: Outside, no heat lamp

    There are no hard and fast rules. The most important thing is to gradually get them used to less heat over a long period of time.

  155. @Ashley,

    It’s wonderful that you are getting this egg to hatch. When the duckling hatches, it will be wet and weak. Keep it very warm for the first several hours. Most hatcheries keep the ducklings in the incubator until they are dry and rested. Mother ducks sit on their ducklings until they are dry and rested, so do you absolute best to keep the duckling in a stable, warm situation until it seems strong and it is dry.

    Imprinting will happen over time. The Best way to imprint is to let the duckling follow you. If you handle it a lot and let it follow you around outside on warm, sunny days, you will have a very dear duck friend. One of my ducks likes to stand on my shoes, and I have to be very careful not to step on him when I’m walking around. I can actually go running with him and he will fly next to me.

    Please let us know how it goes.

  156. @Lauren,

    Aggression is very hard to stop with ducks. It is normal for the father to be frustrated and somewhat hostile to ducklings, but the other ducklings should not be picking on it so much. Nature is cruel and often the smaller, weaker animals will simply be killed this way. Should you want to step in to stop it, I suggest separating the weaker duckling from the group and feeding / watering it by itself. After several weeks, it should be about the same size as the rest, and you can try to re-introduce him. There are no guarantees that this will work, but I have heard reports that some have been successful with the method.

  157. A nest with 11 eggs was distroyed probably by a racoon. 3 remaining eggs where ice cold and covered in blood and egg remains. I cleaned them off and warmed them up and they seem to be alive still. Chicks are due to hatch in the next few days. I want to release them to the wild as soon as possible. Vet said have a picture of a duck for them to see, don’t let them see you for 10 days. I almost wonder if it’s better to let them imprint so I can manage them until I let them go. I did not know migration was learned. I thought it was instinctual. Any tips for best results. Just want to do right by mama duck (who I hope got away OK).

  158. hey I’m Megan and I need to tell you something here it is well i have a friend that thinks she knows everything about anything animal and her sister agrees with me!! Well one day we were out playing in my filed when a mallard duck mother flew from the ground and darted through the woods into the dusk.Then I saw the 5 eggs and i was wondering should I take them or not the mom sits on them but leaves all the time. And if I grab one egg will my sent rub off I need to know before they are born. also before I go me and my friend are both 14 and want to raise them all five should we?? HELP!!

    ~from confused girl!!

  159. My husband and I found ourselves host to a female mallard nesting in a planter on our private condo roof deck above Lake Onario in Toronto, on May 12, 2008, the day after Mothers Day) in hopes that some one or group with more knowledge that we have would come to our aid. Our deck isn’t large and all the plants are in containers above the deck floor — which is brick. The mother-to-be started brooding yesterday, May 19. We’ve bought a small kiddie wading pool and plan to build a ramp down to it from the table that the planter nest sits on. We might also barricade off a small area for the ducklings’ exclusive use but it won’t be large — around 5′ X 5′ — so the wee ones aren’t too imprinted by daily human life — if such a thing is possible on a condo roof deck. We have some pigeon feed (very small pellets) which the suzy likes. We are also prepared to buy spinach and find grass clippings once the ducklings hatch. We had planned to move the family to a nearby wetland once they were a few days old. I just read, however, that such a move would cause the drake to loose track of his brood and that other males in the new area would attack and kill the ducklings. Here’s our dilemma: once the ducklings hatch it will be weeks before they can fly and escape the territorial attacks of rival males. We have close neighbours with decks abutting ours who might not look kindly on having “poop” decks if the ducklings wander or make lots of noise. The floor space on our deck is limited and we use it for entertaining, outdoor barbecuing/dining and gardening. We cannot allow the duckings free range on the deck because they’ll be able to roam into other decks and we will not have room to use the deck at all the whole summer. Have you ever encountered a situation like this? Are there any options open to us besides giving our only outdoor space over to the ducks this summer? I’ve contacted The Toronto Wildlife Centre and Ducks Unlimited for advice but so far no response from them.

  160. I love your sight thanks for all the great information. We just got into raising chickens this year and bought six. When we picked them up we also got one mallard duckling Who we named Diver. They all get along great and Diver (being bigger than the rest) is the leader of them all. My question is about the sex of the mallard. I know it is nearly impossible to tell at this age – 5 weeks – but There is definately green on its head now, Do the females have any green in them at all or do we have a male? Do we have to wait longer to tell?

    Diver has been a joy — the other day, the chicks got back into their coop but diver could not get in and s/he actually came and found us to let us know s/he wanted to be in with the chicks. We were quite a ways away from the coop — I thought it was SO great. I never knew they could be such a friendly pet.

  161. @Pat,
    I would take the vet’s advice… Once you imprint on them, you will have a very heartbreaking experience letting them go. Remember to wait until they have feathered out and are looking like adults before releasing them. Otherwise they don’t stand much of a chance of survival. Good luck.

  162. @megan,

    Please do NOT, under any circumstances take the eggs from the nest. It is perfectly normal for the mother to leave her nest for extended periods of time. Just leave them be and they will be fine. The mother duck knows exactly what she is doing.

  163. @megan,

    If you would like to raise ducklings, there are a number of hatcheries that will sell you baby ducks and mail them to you. I have gotten some of my ducks from Dave Holderread and have been very happy with them. Raising ducks is fun, but be sure you can give them a home for the next ten years because they do tend to live quite a while.

  164. @Ane Christensen,

    Are the ducklings able to leave without flying? Mother ducks take their ducklings to the nearest water no more than a few days after they hatch. I would not have thought that she would have set up a nest in an area where she could not leave with her new ducklings.

    If there is no current way for the mother to leave walking with her ducklings, is there a way you could set something up for them? It would be very unusual for them to stick around very long after they are born. The mother usually wants to get her ducklings to the safety of the water as soon as possible after they hatch.

  165. @Corrie,
    Sometimes there can be a hint of green on a female’s head, but not usually. I would guess that you most likely have a male.

  166. Hello,
    Just an update on my ducks. They started flying! That was very exciting! Now they fly to the public lake at sun-up and come home at sun-down. I can’t get over how smart they are!

    Oh, and “Isabella” is actually a boy- he is getting the emerald green head. Gorgeous!

    Thank you, Courtney, for replying to my email. Raising ducks has been such a fabulous experience for my family.

  167. i have found a baby millard duckling as well but someone gave it to me caz it had lost its mother and five days as passed and it really loves me and thinks im its mom
    its in my lap right now and its not even a week old. i give it chickstarter and it likes that. what it dose as it eats and drinks and eats and drinks. i think thats to help it slowlo or somthing. i have a big resycl box it is in and water and food and a little blanket to sleep on. also when i leave it, it starts peeping like crazy! and it dose folo me around. we too have bedding and a heat lamp but i have a qestion, my friend says it cant swim caz it mother is sopost to put on it so it can swim. im not sure of this. urs can swim right? oh and ps i named mine doodle

  168. ten years? really? i think i have to set it free the time it can fly becase i dont think i can have a duck running from my dogs and cats!

  169. oh u have anserd all my quations alredy! sorry i guess i should of read it all before i askd! one more thing, how long til they look like adults? and i think i read to late caz doodle folows me around and dose think im its mom alredy!

  170. I found a Mallard Duckling. I waited almost 5 hours for it’s mom to return but she never did.
    I kept a close eye on him while he was calling for her. It started to get dark so when I knew she wasn’t returning for him I took him home with me. Now I’m trying to learn all this stuff real fast. Do I need a heat lamp if the duckling is indoors? Does Agway carry the Blue seal starter
    feed every one has mentioned? Please get back to me A.S.A.P. because I’m trying to do the right thing.


  171. we have bantam chickens, and a mallard duck laid an egg in the middle of the lawn, and the ducks deserted it, so we took it home and put it under our broody chickens and yesterday it hatched, we’ve set up a little pond thing, and when it’s old enough we were going to put it back on a full-size pond. We know that the ducks usually take the ducklings to the water very soon after it’s hatched, but obviously our chickens won’t know to do that. What do we do?

  172. I am Rasing a bab mallard duck. He is shutting one of his eyes and is starting to fall asleep standing up and when he is swimming he sometimes closes boths eyes. Is this normal?

  173. hi im from ohio i raised two mallard from a pet store i bought them from and they laid eggs i hatched the eggs and sold the babies and one of the person i sold 3 babies too had a game warden come there and ask him were he got those mallards ducks and the guy told him he got them from me and the game warden came to my house and said its against the law to have mallard you need a permit to have them and a federal permit to sell them so i told him were i recieved my ducks from and he said he going to investigate the pet store and he will be in touch with me im freaking out

  174. Hi Cliff I sure hope you get this as you seem too know a lot about ducks. A mommy mallard decided to choose our flower bed to lay her eggs in. On Friday her babies were born about 8-9 of them. On Sunday my daughter said mommy was gone and their was one baby moving around crying. I got on the net to see what to do. Many sites said babies would not survive more than a few hours alone. I waited a couple hours to see if mommy would return and went out to check on baby. It was laying there not moving so i brought it inside. I placed baby in a Large TV dinner tray with water and he started drinking the water. had no idea what to feed it someone suggested cornmeal but thought maybe too harsh for baby. i decided to try some of my grandsons unflavored oatmeal as it isn’t coarse and shouldn’t have any bad ingredients. duckling took right to it and ate out of a spoon very well. not sure if this is good for it or not. Also I guess mommy left baby as it cannot walk. something is wrong with legs they just stay behind the baby. Will this change? I wanted to get baby table and then go where I know there is a pond to see if mommy and sibs may be there. I know she was a good mommy as she laid there for a few weeks and we never saw her leave the nest. we put out bread and water for her as I was unsure how she was getting food. We live in a big city and in an apt complex but no pond except across a busy road and in another complex a little ways away. I may end taking baby to wildlife place as if legs stay this way it will not be able to survive in the wild. they are able to swim around in the tray of water. any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for all your great advice to others i read many of the questions and your answers

  175. Hi Cliff,
    I live in England and have enjoyed reading this site. I have 7 duck eggs in a hen house. Over time different hens have taken their turn at sitting on the eggs. The eggs should be hatching any day now if all has gone well.
    My questions are: will the hen that has been on the eggs lately be the one to raise the ducklings and will it be safe to leave the ducklings in the chicken coop where all the other hens are and also in a nesting box which they wont be able to get out of safely, I’m sure? The nesting box is not at ground level. Should we take the ducklings and the more recent ‘egg sitter’ out and put them somewhere on their own? I’m assuming in a smaller chicken run would be ok where they can get to grass but be isolated from the other hens.
    These eggs have really upset the apple cart! At night one hen sits on them and then another hen sits on top of her! All the hens have stopped laying! It seemed like a good idea at the time when I was given these eggs and hopefully they will hatch and it will be fun.

    Thanks in anticipation,

    Jeannine (Devon, England)

  176. Hi there,
    My daughter found an abandoned duck egg near our pond yesterday.The little duckling had already started to hatch. Flies had crept into the small hole and laid eggs on the little duckling. We brought it home and watched it hatch. We then cleaned the fly larvae off of it as much as possible. I am surprised it survived the night. But, this morning it is still alive, but very lethargic. We have it under a heat lamp (about 90 degrees) and it has had a little water. Besides the appropriate food (which we have), does any one have a suggestion or two about what we can do to kepp this little mallard peeping? Thank you in advance.

  177. Hello,
    At the end of May my dad bought 12 fertilized mallard eggs that we placed in an incubator and over the weekend of June 21st to the 23rd 8 of the 12 eggs hatched. I found this thread while searching for information on determining the sex of my 8 little beauties and was hoping someone may know what I should do about my newest situation:(
    This morning I woke to animal services at my door and didn’t answer it cuz I was scared for my ducks and didn’t know if they would just take them. They left a notice in my mailbox stating that we have prohibited pets and that we are not providing adequate care. The thing is they are happy and thriving and if animal services just walked around to the back of my house they would see we did our research and that they have everything they need. My question is…At the age my ducklings are could I safely let them go in the wild so that I can keep track of them myself before animal service comes and collects them??? I’m from Ontario and I was also wondering if anyone knows how long the process takes before they come and take them away??? Will we have time for them to get a little older before they come???
    I’m really upset about this cuz I don’t wanna lose track of them and I don’t want to part with them before I’m ready and I feel they are as well.

  178. @lue,

    It sounds like you are doing everything right. Ducklings eat and drink because it helps them swallow their food. You are right on the money about that one.

    Your friend is actually right… Ducklings do not produce oil for their feathers until their feathers actually come out. So, while they are fuzzy, their mothers oil them to keep them dry. This is why it is often suggested that you not let them swim until they have feathers.

    If you are careful not to let the ducklings get cold, however, they can be allowed to swim in warm water after they are a few days old. They need to be kept warm, and you will need to help dry them when they are done. I would not let them stay in the water more than 5 min or so, and make sure they can get under a heat lamp just as soon as they are done. You will see them preening and drying off. If any of them seem to be lethargic, shivering and still wet, you will need to help them get dry and warm them up ASAP.

    Good luck.

  179. @Rich,

    Sounds like saving this duck was the best option given the situation. Agway does not carry Blue Seal, but they do have a game bird starter crumble that is good for ducks. I actually used it this year to test it out, and I had good results.

    Ducklings do need a heat lamp. Even if they are kept indoors, they will still need a source of heat. In nature, they huddle under their mother’s wings, where it is about 90* F.

  180. @roy,

    I know this is the case in Florida, but I’m not sure about other states. I have also heard that it is against the law to take wild Mallards and raise them, but raising farm hatched Mallards is usually OK. Just explain to the game warden that these are domestic Mallards and not wild ones… Hopefully he will let you keep them.

  181. @kathy,

    Leg deformities are somewhat common in ducklings. Sometimes they can be resolved by using yarn to position the legs correctly, but many times they can not. I think that taking the duckling to a wildlife rehabilitation center might be the best option in this case. Oat meal is about the best thing you could have fed this little guy other than specialized wild game bird starter… Good call on that one! You will, however, want to get it a balanced diet fairly soon, as diet often causes leg deformities.

    Just keep the little guy warm, watered, fed, and try to find a vet or bird rehabilitation person that can help. Please let us know how it goes. I’ll be pulling for you!

  182. @Jeannine,

    Having two broody hens and one nest is a disaster… It happened to us this year because we have one overbearing hen and one passive one. They both got broody, but the overbearing hen rolled all the eggs from the other nest into hers… This caused quite a mess.

    The eggs should be fine, but the hens will continue to be confused. I don’t really know about your chickens and how they will take to ducklings, but I seem to remember reading that it is usually OK. I guess I would just try to let the ducklings stay with everyone, and if there are problems, separate them out. It’s up to you though… I’ve never had chickens, so I can’t speak from experience. Certainly the safe thing to do would be to separate them. They certainly do like to pick at the grass, so if you have a nice, grassy area for them once they hatch, I’m sure they would enjoy it.

  183. @Candace,

    Keep the duckling in a place where he has the ability to get warm (under a heat lamp) or cool (away from the heat lamp). I am assuming that the duckling can walk at this point? If not, use a thermometer and get the temperature under the heat lamp around 85*F and place the duckling there.

    You will want to get him eating as soon as you can. It sounds like he is drinking, so that is a good thing. Try to wet some crumble, put it on your hand and try to get him to eat it. Make sure there is water near by so he won’t choke. If he made it through the night, he stands a good chance.

    Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

  184. @Candace,

    One more thing about keeping the duckling under the light. If it starts to pant, it is too hot. If it seems to be huddling under the light, it is too cold. It should be walking around and looking comfortable.


    I am in the process of moving from Vermont to California. I will do my best to answer questions as they come up, but it may be several weeks before I am able to sit down and type up answers.

    There are many questions and answers here already, and the the information that is already up should be able to cover most questions. I know it’s a lot to go through, but please read the existing content before asking new questions.

    I’m more than happy to help, but it’s a very busy time for me right now and it will be hard to give your questions the attention they deserve.

    Furthermore, if anyone out there is an experienced duck keeper, please feel free to jump in and help folks out.

  186. Hi, I’ve been hatching and raising ducks for 4 years. i started out with ducks me and my dad saved from a car lot in December. they were frostbitten badly but 9 out of the 13 made it till spring. I’ve mixed in new birds and made sure that none of the original ducks breed each other over these 4 years but this year the babies are dieing left and right and at all ages.
    I’ve watched it happen to 17 babies so far and here’s how they go: heads close to neck and they cry a little differently they stumble around and fall over a lot and they start holding their legs straight out till they fall over backward. they kick and cry and cough. you can see their tiny muscles tense and release really fast like a seizer or stroke. they live in a very clean brooder with clean dishes and fresh clean water 2 times a day. they act fine 1 minute and 2 minutes later they are dead or dieing. brooder is not to hot not to cold and hay is dry and fresh. they die between the ages of 1 day to 6 weeks
    my cousin raises peacocks and told me to just put the dieing out of their pain by snapping their necks? what should i do?

  187. Hello,

    I live in a remote mountain lodge in the national forest in Wyoming. There is a small pond next to the lodge by which a pair of mallards took up residence. After a short while the drake left and soon we saw eight chicks with the hen.

    There are lots of predators here: cougar, fox, coyote, raccoon, owls, eagles, hawks, ravens, etc, Soon there were five chicks, then three, then two, and then one. This week the mother disappeared. We think she was likely taken by an owl.

    The remaining young duck is maybe a little over five weeks old. He has just a little patch of chick-fuzz left on his back but mostly has small but well developed feathers. His wings are still relatively small and he can’t yet fly. He seems able to look after himself and is even more wary without momma around to teach and protect him.

    My question is do you think it’d be a good idea for me to try to relocate this young orphan to a different pond or lake (one with other ducks) so it can enjoy a more social environment, share warmth and the protection of others (hopefully) and also learn to migrate?

    Or should I just leave it to fend for itself and trust that it will seek out other ducks as soon as it learns to fly?

  188. Hi,
    I live in Ohio and yes I am a licensed rehabilitator. My husband brought home mallard ducklings after watching their mother killed on the road. I have been very succesfull with the little guys untilI I released them. I live in a community where we have a great pond and tons of spoiled ducks that even eat out of our kids hands. When I released them the adults attacked them. The next day we could only find one.He has now survived 5 days on the pond but is missing his feathers from the other ducks attacking him. I caught him today and have him in “recoverey”. Will there be a time where the ducks on the pond will except him? The whole family has become very concerned about their “little guy”. Fall is coming and kiddie pools are hard to find. Thanxs!!!!

  189. Hi Cliff,
    Quackers and Isabella have been gone a week. Do ducks in Texas go even farther south than TX?

  190. I have four mallards and two pekins. One of the mallards just hatched 8 eggs. Because I keep the ducks in a pen art night, I sectioned off a part for the mother and ducklings. The mother is able to fly over the section but when she does all she does is cry. Is she wanting to take the babies out? This is the first time I’ve had eggs hatch to I’m not quite sure what to do.

    Also…is it normal for mothers to abandon remaining eggs? There were actually seven ducks that hatched one day, one died then the next morning there were two more bringing my total to eight.

    I had another hen sitting but she has now abandoned her nest. Is it just instinct that they abandon after so long?

    Thanks for any answers. I have so many questions and just can’t find the information that I seek.


  191. We get baby mallards every spring, when they were old enough to fly we took them to the lake across the street.. about 2 hrs later 1 duck was back in our backyard in the pool we had for them .. its now 7months later and she is still here, she has become a great pet and is very people friendly.. I worry with winter coming up if she will leave? Should we make her a winter shelter or will she do this on her own?

  192. @Amber,

    It sounds to me like your ducks are choking. This happened to one of my ducklings once, and it was heartbreaking. What are you feeding them? I am suprised to see that you mentioned that this happens up to 6 weeks in age, since ducklings are usually more than able to eat without choking at that age.

    The other possible problem is botulism. Although this usually does not come on quite so fast as you described.

  193. @Lowell ,

    I would relocate the duck. With numbers comes safety, and if your ultimate goal is to make this duck wild, relocation is your best bet.

  194. @Kelly,

    Amazing how cruel these funny little birds can be! Sadly, Fall is a bad time to introduce new ducks because they are starting to pair off, and the males have a lot of testosterone. Early Summer tends to be better when the drakes are loafing. As the days get shorter and shorter, the testosterone levels will drop, and you may find that you have better luck. Otherwise, Early summer next year is your best bet.

  195. @Kathy,

    I’m glad to hear that your ducks are doing well… Being in Texas, I’m guessing that your ducks will stay put through the winter. My ducks are currently living at my parent’s house in Reno, NV, and there are year-around ducks that live there.

  196. @Cindy,

    Well, the mothering process of a duck goes something like this. First, the hen starts to lay eggs. They will be scattered and stashed all over the place. Next, after she has laid enough eggs, she will roll them all into a nest and start sitting on it. She dies this because she wants them all to hatch at the same time, and the eggs do not start to develop until she begins sitting on them. Next, she sits and sits, only getting up to eat, drink and pooop (very nasty smelling and runny).

    Once the eggs start to hatch, she will continue to sit for about 48 more hours. It is during this time that all the eggs will hatch. She hovers over the nest to keep the hatched ducklings warm, and give the others time to hatch. Those eggs that do not hatch within within these 48 hours, are abandoned, since the mother needs to take her ducklings to get a drink and learn to eat. It is sad because there are always some ducks that would hatch if she had just sat on them for a few more hours, but nature is cruel, and she must look after those ducklings that have hatched.

    So, yes. It is perfectly normal for a mother to abandon eggs that are late hatching or not hatching at all. This is why most hatcheries use incubators to minimize loss.

  197. @ Denise,

    Looks like you have yourself a pet duck :). For the most part, the duck should be able to look after its self. You would do well to provide it with some protection from predators, and depending on your climate, some protection from the elements. Ducks can survive very low temperatures, but they do need liquid water to drink, so you will need to find a way to keep the water from freezing. I kept Ducks in arctic Vermont for many years, and all they needed was an unheated shed, and a metal drinker with an electric heater base to keep the water from freezing. Also keep in mind that they will require more food when the temps get really low.

  198. I live in Minnesota on a lake where the winters are very cold, last spring I purchased 4 baby mallards that I thought would join up with other mallards and go south for the winter but they have not, they do fly but always return in the morning and aftrenoon to eat. My question is what do I need to do for them for the winter as for shelter/warmth and nutritional needs that they can not get from nature like they do during the summer months…?

  199. Hi Nancy,

    To be honest with you, I thought the same thing when I first started raising ducks. I would later learn that they need wild ducks to show them how to migrate their first year, and even then, they will only migrate when they no longer have access to food and open water.

    The good news is that your ducks don’t need much to get through the winter. Ducks are very cold hardy, and can happily live in sub-zero temperatures provided they are protected from the wind, have access to lots of high quality food, and liquid water to drink. The much more difficult problem is protecting them from predators. I suggest at the minimum, a dog house with a deep layer of straw where they can sleep at night… Getting them to go into it can be tricky, but bribing them with food tends to help. Once you get them in there, you might lock them in at night to protect them from animals.

    A better solution would be a duckyard / duckhouse design, which I have discribed in some of these comments. If you would like to go down that road, I can certainly help you with design… Just let me know.

  200. Cliff,
    First of all i wanted to thank you for taking so much of your time to answer every question that is posted here! Reading this site has been so helpful for my research about getting a duckling. So far I have taken care of 4 one week old ducks for a week or two each just to get a taste of what it will be like, and I honestly think that a duck will be a great companion for me during college and for coming years. The only question that I have not been able to get answered is where to get my duckling. I would like one baby mallard and do not care if it is male or female. I do realize that ducks are very social animals and am also curious as to whether or not it is okay to expect it to just be social we me and other humans or if I need to get two so it has a duck friend. I am looking for ducks in the metro area of MN and have called a few specialty pet shops and feed and farm supply stores with no luck. Thanks for you help – Bailey

  201. Hi Bailey,

    I’m very glad to hear you have found this thread helpful! Let me see if I can answer your questions.

    1) Where to get a duck: It is going to be difficult to get just one duckling. The reason for this is a single duckling will get too cold during shipping and most likely die. They need to be shipped in groups so that they can keep warm. Your best bet is going to be to either buy an adult bird, or to find a farm supply store that is going to be ordering many birds and have your duckling added to their order. Most hatcheries that sell chickens also sell ducks, so call around a little. You may have to drive a while, but I’m sure there is a farm supply store in MN that can order you a duckling and add it to their Spring order.

    2) Will the duck get lonely: This all depends on how much time you are going to be able to spend with it. If you will only be around your duck for an hour or so per day, I would say that you duck will get lonely. If, on the other hand, you will be able to hang out with him / her a lot, you may be OK with only one duck. The basic idea is that they are flocking birds and like to have companionship one way or the other.

    I know this probably goes without saying, but you mentioned having a duck during college. Please be aware that ducks need to be kept outdoors, and in a properly designed duckyard. This requires some space, and is a fairly big investment. I know when I was in college, i moved from dorm to dorm, and from apartment to apartment almost every year. I most definitely could NOT have had a duck in college. That said, if you are going to be living at home, or in a house with a proper yard through your entire college career, it may be OK in your case. Just understand that ducks can live up to 8 years, and require fairly constant care.

    I hope this helps.

  202. Last year we had a female duck build a nest next to our front door. She had 12 eggs and 11 hatched. Since it was next to our bay window I was able to set-up a live streaming webcam over the internet and had a delight watching the whole process of her sitting on the nest, covering them before she left for an hour each day, and then finally the hatching and leading them to the lake. I even made a little video here:

    I saw her and her mate in my front yard the other day! Yes, they returned after one year! Is there anything I can do to encourage her to nest in the same place again? I really want to watch this amazing cycle of life take place again.

    • Just give her as much peace and quiet as possible. Hens like to make sure their nests will be in a safe, quiet place.

    • Thank you for sharing your video. I’m amazed that a wild duck let you get so close to her nest! Really really wel done!

      • Just to let you know – She did come back!! She built her nest about 10 feet from where it was last year and I am just so amazed that the same mother duck has come back to nest at my house again this year! I have set-up my webcam for you to see her. The expected hatch date is probably around May 5th. Here is the link: http://www.duckwatch.camstreams.com

  203. I am trying desperately to find some ducklings for my twins for easter. I want mallards and I am having a hard time finding someone that will ship them Can anyone tell me who they used? I guess I am just looking in the wrong places!!

    • Angela,

      Please please don’t get ducks for your children at Easter. Raising ducks in a way that is humane to them requires a very large investment of both time and money. This usually comes as a huge surprise for people, and the ducklings (and chicks) end up dying a terrible death. I’m certain that your intentions are only the best, but a duck is an exotic pet, and will require substantially more care than a puppy or kitten.

      If you absolutely insist, please be prepared to care for them for at least 8 years. You will need to spend $500 to $1,000 building a safe enclosure for them, as well as a substantial time commitment for both research and care. A lot of folks have asked really good questions here. I encourage you to read through them to get an idea of what is involved.

      Here is a link that talks about Easter cruelty to animals.

  204. hello I have 6 mallards 3 of each sex I got them last year .Well they have been maiting.But today two of the males have peeked all of the back feathers off the other male.Why would they do this now? I have moved him by himself and giving him a heat light because he was shaking so bad.Thanks for any help you can give me. Danny

    • Danny,

      The dominant male is picking at the other one because it’s mating season and he is being territorial. There is no magic number for male to female ratios, but one to one is certainly not enough females to avoid aggression from the drakes. You did the right thing bu separating them. There is some evidence that separating drakes in a way that allows them to see each other can reduce the aggression and territorial behavior. Just do your best to keep the weaker male safe. Keep a close eye out for lethargy and keep them separated until all your hens are sitting on their nests. Once the hens start sitting, drakes will naturally gather together to “loaf”.

  205. A duck couple has nested and hatched 11 babies in the garden area next to our backyard pool. They are about a week old. 2 babies have died. What should we do? Is it safe to allow them free reign of the pool? We are in a suburban Phoenix neighborhood so there is no “natural” habitat nearby. We placed boards in the pool to help the little ones get out safely and we have offered food. Now we are discovering that maybe we should not have done that as they all seem quite comfortable with us around. The mom will even come over by us in the evenings and lay with her ducklings under her within 5 feet or so.

    I am concerned about my pool and the effects all the waste will have on it; if I can safely clean it during their stay and especially after they leave, I am ok with it. But will their feces cause my pool’s water “permanent” damage with bacteria, etc.?

    Does anyone know anything about this?

    • I think at this point, I would try to urge them towards the natural body of water. Having a bunch of ducks around will certainly mess up your pool, and they will be much better off not drinking all that chlorine as well.

      Most likely they are sticking around because you fed them, but don’t feel badly because you were only trying to help. Just stop feeding them and try to usher them out, and maybe herd them over to the lake. Once they find it, they should be happy there.

  206. I recently got 2 baby mallards and they started to follow me like I’m their mother. Is that bad? They also lay beside me, go with me on walks, and well, everything they do is with me. My mom says that that is a bad thing because if they get to used to humans, the ducks in the lake I plan to put them in when they are grown won’t like them and they wont have a mate. Is that true? I love them a lot and really want to spend time with them but not if it wont be good for them in the future…Everytime I pick one up to put in its cage they go crazy and start to scream(well you know quack). Are they emotionally attached to each other and is that bad? And how can I teach them how to swim and catch their own food? Sorry about all the questions its just I want them to have a normal. Especially since when I got them they had bald spots because their brothers and sisters would pick on each other. Please help!!!

    • Your mother is correct, although you should never raise ducklings with the intention of releasing them into the wild. Ducks raised by people are almost certain to be killed by predators shortly after release. Their mother teaches them to beware when they are very young, and this is a critical lesson.

      Secondly, if they are following you around, you have already imprinted on them, and they will be forever tame to some degree. This is fine if you want to keep them as pets, but again, not finding a mate will be the very least of their worries if you release them. I don’t mean to sound harsh, and I know you only had the best of intentions, but they honestly stand very little chance of survival if you release them. If there is any way at all you can keep them as pets, you should. Otherwise, consider placing an add on Craigslist to find someone who has a farm and will be willing to keep them around and care for them for life.

  207. Hello everyone! We are new at keeping ducks, and recently purchased two mallard ducklings. This site has been a wealth of information, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the information provided here.

    Our babies are about 3 weeks old now, and are growing up so fast. Their toenails are getting so sharp! Is there ever a need to trim their toenails, or is this something that occurs naturally from walking around outside?

    Also, when we purchased our mallard ducklings, their leg bands indicated what sex they are…we got a male and a female. How on earth do they tell the difference when they are so tiny…or is it just a guess? What are the odds that we really have a male and female?


  208. Hi Cliff! Wow I ahve read most of the comments. It is such a wealth of information. Now time for my questions and concerns. We just purchased 4 ducks. 2 yellow ducklings and 2 mallards. I dont know how old they are, because we bought them from a feed and seed place, but they are little babies!! We have a 4 acre pond, and I know they will be so happy if they can learn to survive. We live in Middle Georgia in the woods. I hear lots of owls at night and I see a pair of hawks in the day. I hear coyotes across the creek!!!! Thats just part of Georgia life. My questions are: Are hawks are a big threat?
    What age do they have to be to put them on a floating island?
    Is a Floating Island the best thing for my situation?
    Will they stay in a box on a floating island so they will be protected?
    How can I make them smarter and fear their surroundings?
    Will they fly away and if they do will they come back?
    What is their success rate in the wild if not raised by humans?
    Do they mind rain?
    I await your reply!!!!!

    • Q. My questions are: Are hawks are a big threat?
      A. Yes, but not as big a threat as many people think. Weasels, fox and raccoons are a much larger threat.
      Q. What age do they have to be to put them on a floating island?
      A. Generally about 5 to 6 weeks.
      Q. Is a Floating Island the best thing for my situation?
      A. A locking nighttime enclosure is always the best option. Anything short of this, and you will suffer losses. Using a floating island only minimizes losses.
      Q. Will they stay in a box on a floating island so they will be protected?
      A. Sometimes. They do tend to like islands, but the need to be trained to live in a box. Only animals who can swim can get to the island, and ducks can generally swim much better than their predators.
      Q. How can I make them smarter and fear their surroundings?
      A. This is really something they have to learn on their own. You can make them fear humans by chasing them, but humans are not their biggest threat. The mother usually teaches this when they are babies, but most ducks do seem to fear unknown things.
      Q. Will they fly away and if they do will they come back?
      A. If they are larger, white ducks, they won’t be able to fly. If they do fly away, they will usually come back.
      Q. What is their success rate in the wild if not raised by humans?
      A. Not good. Even when raised by their mother in the wild, many ducks are killed by predators. This is why one hen will hatch 12 or more ducklings every year. If all of them lived, the world would be overrun with ducks pretty fast, so they make up for their poor survival rate by having lots of ducklings.
      Q. Do they mind rain?
      A. No

  209. oops! Another question. We have mallards and Candian Geese that occasionaly come to our pond, however they never nest. I would love it if they would. How can I entice them?

    • You can make them feel safe by giving them a secluded, hidden area with some straw or other material to use for making a nest.

  210. Hi ,
    I was Just given 6 mallard ducklings, for mothers day. which hasn”t came yet 🙂
    I was letting the little guys swin in a homemade pool with a big flat rock in the middle that they can climb on.
    One of the little guys feathers looked really wet. more then the others. Is this something I should be worried about. and the feed Im giving the says its for chickens and ducks. I read chicken feed wasnt really good. what should i do…. its all the feed that is avalible in my area.

    • Ducklings tend to get wet when they play. I would only start worrying if the duckling can’t get warm and looks uncomfortably cold.

      Chicken food is OK provided it is NOT medicated.

  211. Hi everyone i bought a baby duckling about a wk before easter, so she is about 2-3wks now i’m not sure how old she or he was when i got her..I am raising her in the house, which is awesome….This has been a wonderful experience…I have one problem though. Does anyone know how i can potty train my duck, maybe use a litter box, take it outside to poop??? I change the cage once a day, it seems like the older she gets the quicker she can mess it..Oh and one other thing how do i know if i should be calling my duck Daphney or Donald?? As of right now its Daphney…Peace thanks for reading

    • There is absolutely no way to potty train a duck. Ducks are outdoor creatures, and should really not be raised indoors.

  212. Hello Cliff and Courtney! Thank you so much for this exchange of information!

    We purchased two flying mallard ducklings, a male and a female, from a local feed store. I am guessing that they are now about 4 weeks old now…maybe a little older.

    The female (who started out a little larger than the male) is quacking quite loudly, and from your description of mallard voices, we gather she really is a female. She is almost fully feathered, still some fuzz on her head and lower back, and the wing feathers are just starting to come in.

    The male, however, has now passed the female in size, but still remains one big fuzzball. The only noticeable feathers are the tiny ones on his tail. He still peeps…no quacking or hoarse rasping. He still sounds like a baby.

    My question is…are the males typically noticeably larger than the females at this age? Are they slower to mature/take longer to get their feathers? Or is it possible I have two different types of mallards?.

    We are enjoying their company, and it is a funny picture to have a cat, two dogs, and two ducks following you around everywhere you go. Quite the menagerie.

    Thanks again!

    • Hi Kristy,
      I don’t know about slower to develop, but males are certainly larger than females. I would imagine that the bigger one is a male, and I have seen ducklings get their voice at different times. It sounds like you are doing everything right. These ducks should make great pets for years to come.

  213. Hi there, my Mum came across your website when trying to find out information on raising ducklings. It’s been a fantastic information source! Thank you so much!

    I wanted to ask a question of my own, though.

    I found an egg about a month ago, I incubated it under a lamp with a bowl of water for humidity (and occasionally put a few droplets on the egg for extra hydration)

    It hatched on Monday, It’s been fine.

    however, I got in-touch with an animal store and asked them what they had in that I could feed it (We live in a small island, it can be hard to find certain things)
    They asked me how old it was, and I told them it was literally just hatching.
    They suggested Layers mash and said that it would be the best thing for it.
    So, on Tuesday we went down and picked it up (The guy took it stright from the store room and carried it to the car, we didn’t get a chance to see what was on the front).
    We’ve been feeding it that since yesterday.
    But today, we realized that the paging actually had chickens on it.

    This is mine (And my mum’s) first time ‘bringing up’ ducklings.
    Would it be okay to continue feeding her this layers mash, or would it be best for the duckling if we changed what we were feeding her?
    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.countrywidefarmers.co.uk/pws/images/catalogue/products/1214/large/1214.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.countrywidefarmers.co.uk/pws/ProductCategoryAttributeLink.ice%3Flayout%3Ddepartmentprod.layout%26resetFilters%3Dtrue%26paId%3Dwc_dept%26value%3DSmallholderPoultryFeed&usg=__HD3GOIFI9j4bJH7kS8WCqj-oKbU=&h=420&w=280&sz=21&hl=en&start=8&um=1&tbnid=1SZ1Od1vFhRqZM:&tbnh=125&tbnw=83&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dlayers%2Bmash%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den-us%26sa%3DG%26um%3D1 <– That’s the stuff.

    If it’s not okay to continue feeding her that, would you be able to suggest something else?

    Thank you
    – Eleanor.

    • Elanor,
      Mash should be fine, but make sure the duckling has plenty of water as they can sometime get their bills all clogged up with mash. You did a great job getting that egg to hatch! Not a lot of people have the ability to do that, and you should be proud.

      Based on what I could see about the mash you bought, it does not seem to have antibiotics in it, but it might be worth a call to the feed store where you got it just to be sure. Many times they include medicine in chicken feed, but since ducks eat a lot more than chickens, they can overdose if their food is medicated. I don’t believe yours is, but again, it might be worth a check.

      Good luck

  214. Hi Cliff,

    Thank you so much for your informative site. I got 3 babies from the local co-op 3 weeks ago and have loved having them ever since. I have been raising them in a Rubbermaid style tote, feeding them chick starter (unmedicated) and letting them play in an enclosed pen out in my yard daily. I live on a very large lake and would like to release my babies when they get large enough to fend for themselves. My question is how can I begin to wean them from their dependence on me? I spread their food directly on the ground when they are in their pen so they get used to eating from the ground, not a dish. Two of my babies aren’t the least bit tame, one seems to have imprinted a little more on me. Any advice on how to give my little guys the best chance of survivial on their own?

    • This is one of those areas where people have mixed luck. Sometimes the ducks will simply take off, and other times the find that they have a pet for life. Generally, I recommend that people plan on keeping their ducks for their entire life when they go to buy ducklings. Even when released as adult birds, they really don’t stand as great a chance of survival in the wild as they would if they had been raised by their mother. I always feel like I’m sounding all doom and gloom when I answer this type of question, but ducks that are raised by people are tame, and the experience of abandoning them when they are adults is usually heartbreaking for the humans, and devastating for the duck.

      So, having made my obligatory “please don’t raise baby ducks and expect them to become wild birds” statement, what are your chances of successfully getting them to adapt to the wild? Since you live ON a lake, you probably stand a better chance than most. Hopefully they will see some wild ducks, swim over to them and become socialized that way. Understand that it will most likely be a very long process and that they may never actually fly away with them. During this time, please be prepared to care for them as if they were your pets. The wild instinct is pretty strong, so you may find that it’s easy… You just never know.

  215. I just found your website and found it extremely helpful. My husband was out with our youngest child and they saw the baby ducks we just rescued. He also saw the mom on the street whom had been hit by a car. I am assuming they are only a few weeks old as they look just like the ones above. We have only had them for a couple of hours and I have gotten them chick feed. I put some dry feed in a feeder and wet some and put in a small bowl. I also have a watering bottle that the feed store recommended. I have them in a kiddie pool with hay. Is there anything else I can do at this point? They have not eatten the food yet and they cry when I am not in the room but quiet down when I am there.

    • From the sounds of things you are doing everything right, but I do have a few questions. First, is the chick food a starter? If so, is it crumble or mash? Generally, you will want to feed an unmediated starter crumble, but mash can work too. With both kinds of food, please make sure they have LOTS of water. It is actually a good idea to get them drinking before introducing them to food.

      Secondly, do you have a heat lamp on them? They will need some form of heat. This can be a 100 Watt light bulb, but it should be positioned in such a way that they can get under it to warm up if they get cold.

      The kiddie pool is a good idea, but you will find that they will be able to jump out of it pretty soon. You can either build the walls up with cardboard, or put them in a bigger box.

      It’s sad to hear them cry, but you will want to spend absolutely as little time with them as possible if you want to release them into the wild. If, on the other hand, you want to keep them as pets, then by all means, hang out with them and let them think of you a their mother.

      Good luck. Make sure to keep them warm, and get them drinking, The rest should be pretty easy. I will be here if you have any more questions.

      • Thanks Cliff, Yes, there is plenty of water they I have a bowl which they can fit in but not big enough to drown and I have a water feeder I purchased from the feed store. The food is a crumbled chick feed. I did make some wet and have some dry in the feeder as well. Last night they lost the fear that was overwhelming them before and they are now walking around from water to food to nap. They are doing absolutely GREAT! We are keeping them in the enclosed porch during the day where it is nice and warm and inside with a lamp at night.
        Thanks for all of your help you have been great!!!!

  216. Thanks for your wonderful reply Cliff! Our baby ducks are doing fantastic. I have a new question. My ducks follow me around sometimes. Mostly they hang out by the pond edge, but they do NOT get in and swim. (They will swim in their baby pool -so sweet) They come near me if I call, and they like to be close to me, but they do not like to be petted. Is this the way most are. Mine are definitley tame! I just wonder if anyone has a duck that likes to be petted. PS> ducks are a lot of work! Putting them up every night is getting harder and harder~

    • Hi Angie,
      It is in the act of following their mother that they come to know her as their mother. When they follow us, they do so actually believing that we are their mother. This is called “imprinting”. If your ducks are following you, they are definitely tame. Keep in mind that this will pretty much make them pet ducks. Do you plan to keep them? If not, finding someone with a farm who might be willing to take them on and let them live in his barn might be a good idea.

      It is common for ducklings to be shy of large bodies of water at first. Rest assured though, they will come to love it and eventually, you will have a hard time getting them out. It just takes time

      It is true that ducklings are a lot of work if you are not really setup for it. If you have the right facilities though, it’s really quite fun and easy. Depending on your long term plans, there are some things that can make it easier. Let me know, and I can share some of the things that worked for me when I first started out.

      It’s pretty common for ducklings to like to be close to you, but not held or touched. Generally the females will stay pretty shy, but the males will be more likely to warm up to you. I have a drake that likes to sit on people’s lap and be held. It’s actually quite ridiculous.

      • Hi Cliff! You said in your last reply that you would offer me some advice for long terem plans. I do defintintley plan on keeping my ducks. We have a 4 acre lake and it is the perfect home for our 4 baby ducks. Only problem is where am I going to keep them at night. I always call them and put them in their pen at night. Their pen is about 5 feet long 3 feet wide. So it is small, and is only used to protect them from owls and coyotes at night. I hate cleaning it everyday. Its getting to be such a BIG chore. Any suggestions? Will I ever be able to not pen them up at night. I would so so sad if anything happened to my babies. I just want a simplier solution to their nights. They don;t seem to mind their pen yet. However they are only 6 weeks old.

        • Hi Angie. Sorry about the delay. I’ve been putting together a FAQ so that I can answer these questions a little more easily. Please see: http://spiralbound.net/2008/05/24/mallard-duck-faq#Q2. You should find that they will like their house so long as they are always encouraged to sleep in it. Once they start sleeping outside, it can be nearly impossible to get them to go back in there. In the link above, i described my duckhouse, Depending on how many ducks you want to keep, you may think about making a larger one.

    • Generally speaking, they will eat anything they can get their bills on. I saw one eat a frog. I would say yes, they would eat goldfish.

  217. It started with a momma duck and 8 ducklings a few days old in our pool. We were able to get ducklings out and reunited with their mom. However that night a HUGE windstorm hit. The next morning we found 5 duckling back in the pool. No sign of her. So we have had the ducklings in a large rabbit cage in our garage. I got chick starter, pine shavings, and water and feed dishes. The first week I lost one, perhaps choked, not sure. The last four are doing great. I have two that are so much bigger than the other two. The smallest one hardly looks like it has grown at all. Will this little guys/girl catch up with a big growth spurt or do I need to separate the smaller ones to ensure that they are gettin enough to eat and not getting pushed out by big ones? I leave food for them all the time and plenty of fresh water. I am also introducing diced strawberries and some spinach in thier water. What are some wild foods that I can give them? At what point do I stop giving the chick starter? My plan is to release them at a local park with lots of ducks and other birds when they are older. I have not handled them much so neither of us gets too attached but these darlings have already stolen my heart. Thank you in advance for any help.

    • Hi Jacquie,

      It sounds like you are doing everything right with the possible exception of a heat lamp. By far the most important thing for baby ducks is heat. If you see that they are all huddled together, it is because they are cold, and need a heat lamp. They don’t cost a lot, and can be found at most feed stores.

      They will need to stay on chick starter for five to six weeks. After that, they can they can go onto a maintainer. Feeding them berries and other natural foods is a very good move. They seem to like daddelion greens in their water. Be careful about feeding too many sweet foods. They need their greens more than anything, but they will always go for the berries first.

      If you are truly in a pinch, releasing them at the local park works, but please understand that ducks who live at parks are fed a notoriously bad diet, and have a shorter life expectancy than those living in the wild or on a farm. This is because of all the bread that people feed them. It’s sad because people honestly feel like they are doing the ducks a favor, but bread really is junk food for ducks. I feed ducks at parks, but I always make sure to feed them duck food with the hopes that it will help balance out their diet. Other options are a wild bird rehabilitation group of a craigslist add offering them up for free to a good home.

      Good luck

    • You mentioned shavings, but also a rabbit cage. Please make sure they are not walking on bare wire. This can injure their feet.

  218. hello folks,

    I am hoping someone might have some thoughts and/or answers for me regarding mites.

    I have four new Mallard ducks this year – they are about two months old now, and appear to have most of their adult feathers (they started flying last week).

    In the past few days, I have been noticing that one of them seems to be losing feathers on their breast, in a pattern I have seen before in chickens with mites.

    To my knowledge, mites are pretty uncommon in ducks unless their living situation is really nasty.

    Do you think this could be mites? if so, and if it is related to cruddy living conditions, what are thoughts for improvements?



  219. Hi!! I found five baby ducks wandering around a parking lot at my work. I live in Washington DC so do you know a website I can buy the feed off of?

  220. I have six Mallard ducklings that I bought and they are were borne April 16th.I am currently raising them in my basement on a concrete floor.They are actually in a dog kennel we made for a dog that preferred outside.I have so many questions because I am retired and love spending time with my ducklings.
    1. At what age do I take their heat lamp off them.
    2. At what age do I put them in their portable duck coup I made
    3.I have a small pond I want them to live in but it is very close to a natural fast flowing creek. My house is 400 feet from the pond. What should I do?

    • Please be careful that they are not walking on a slippery floor. This can cause leg development problems. Let me see if I can answer you questions.

      Q. At what age do I take their heat lamp off them.
      A. This is a gradual process. Start on week 2 by turning the light off during warm days, but leave it on at night. Then, on week 3, you can try leaving it off on warm nights, but still leave it on when there is a chill. By week 4, you should be able to leave the light off most of the time.

      Q. At what age do I put them in their portable duck coup I made
      A. Pretty much whenever you want. Just make sure they don’t get cold. Ducklings love running around outside on warm days.

      Q. I have a small pond I want them to live in but it is very close to a natural fast flowing creek. My house is 400 feet from the pond. What should I do?
      A. Start by bringing them out for supervised play. You will most likely find that they will be afraid of the water at first, but grow to love it. They will most likely come running after you when you walk away, so it will take some patience before they can be left out there alone. Make sure to always pin them up at night and only feed them in their enclosure. This way they will always come in at night.

      • thanks, a few more, the easiest way to get them from the pen inside to the portable coop outside and then back inside at night?

        When I do let them go to the pond, are they smart enough not to go to the flowing creek? If they get in the creek it will flow them down and out of sight.

        • Q. The easiest way to get them from the pen inside to the portable coop outside and then back inside at night?
          A. Food. Always feed them inside their nighttime enclosure. Until they are trained, you can herd them in there.

          Q. When I do let them go to the pond, are they smart enough not to go to the flowing creek? If they get in the creek it will flow them down and out of sight.
          A. They can go to the pond once they are about 2 or 3 weeks old. They may go over to the creek, but they are very good swimmers and should not get swept away.

  221. I guess I have enjoyed them so much that I don’t want to let them go outside and not be able to get them back to their coop.And, the biggy, I don’t want anything to happen to them.
    I figure they are about 6 weeks old now and I just don’t want to part with them

      • I still have my appox. 7 week old Mallards in my basement.I have granddaughters coming for July 4th,so I haven’t ever put them outside.Am I hurting my ducks by leaving them in the basement so long?

        Also, I have blue showing on wings,I think I have 5 out of the six with the blue wings.Does this mean they are male? Will this be bad news if I have only 1 female?

        • I don’t know if keeping them in the basement is doing them any harm as such, but I’m sure they would be happier outside. You would also have a LOT less mess to clean up.

          The blue on their wings does not indicate gender one way or the other, but you would have a problem with 6 drakes to 1 hen. Listen to their voice. The loud quack is a hen, while the raspy wrack is a drake. Check out: http://spiralbound.net/2008/05/24/mallard-duck-faq#Q7

          • I listened to the sounds and have only one making the hen noise. So,I am back to one hen and five drakes.I still have them in the basement and will put them outside when my granddaughter comes.

            What am I going to do about having only one hen?

          • One hen and five drakes is a recipe for trouble. If I were you, I would try to find the hen a good home.

          • what ratio should I have? I met a man today selling mallards at the flea market?What about me buying more hens? If you say yes,will the new hens get along with the one or ones I have? And, do they have to be the same age? He was v ague on their age ,but,I could definitely here the hen he had in the bunch

          • There is no magic number. Some people say 2 hens to 1 drake, or even more. Others think 1 to 1 is right. I have found something like 5 hens to three drakes to be about right. Your mileage may very. The age differences should not be a problem so long as the younger birds are fully developed and feathered out when you introduce them to the older ones.

          • I went today to buy some kakhi campbell hens,but, was wondering ,should the those hens sound like my mallard hens?I didn’t buy any because they didn’t have that loud quack like my hens.

  222. I have a mother mallaerd named dizzy she has been coming to our house for the past 7 years very firdnley sits at the front door steps to be feed etc. she has 12 eggs and this moring I notice a hatched egg but no baby howvere, dizzy did have something in her mouth flew away twice thism oring and now back on her nest. Would you say that these chick were dead and she took them elswhere????

  223. Hi! I live in the country, the closest water to us in a ditch in the back yard or my neighbors pond which is about 300-400 yards away. Anyways I heard a little chirpping noise and looked out the window and saw a little duckling all by himself. Im not sure where he came from, since there isn’t water near by. And I haven’t seen any ducks around here lately. I have him in a large tub right now with some water and shavings….food is on the way. I was wondering what I need to do to help this little guy/gal live to be a happy healthy adult. Can he make it by himself? Or will he get lonely? Thank you!

    • Ria,

      The cheeping you heard was the duckling calling its mother. Most likely she was hidden, but close by. For future reference, you have to be very careful about rescuing baby ducks in this way. Most states have laws against taking animals from the wild, so you could get yourself into trouble. I only recommend “rescuing” them if they are very obviously not going to survive unless you do. An example of this might be a situation in which the duckling has been observed to be alone for several hours and a cold night is approaching.

      That said, your heart was most certainly in the right place, and now have a baby duck, and need help with it. Let me see what I can do. The first thing I would do is search all the local bodies of water to find the mother and other ducklings. If you can, try to reunite them. If not, the absolutely best thing to do would be to call a wild bird rehabilitator. They have the skills and training to raise baby birds in such a way that they can be integrated into the wild when they are adults. If you raise the duckling yourself, follow the advice given in these threads about building a brooder. You will need a heat lamp, box, shavings, drinker and food. Unless you plan to keep him as a pet, interact with him absolutely a little as possible.

      Again, a wild bird rehabilitator is your best bet unless you can find the mother.

  224. Pingback: Raising Mallard Ducklings spiralbound net | Shed Kits

  225. My husband has been watching some mallard ducklings the last few days and hasnt seen any adult ducks around. Last night all 5 of the duckings were swimming in the pond and as soon as we walked up to the pond they walked right up to us and huddled at our feet! it was the cutest thing. we decided to bring them home for the night and kept them in a box with a towel as the lining of the box. This morning my husband put them back in the pond to swim and eat and they seem to be doing fine. Im sure that we will bring them home again tonight .. is what we are doing the right thing? or should we let them live here at our home permanately and provide them with what they need here??

    • Well, if they are not with their mother, they stand very little chance of surviving on their own. As to if you are doing the right thing; I don’t know. This is a judgment call. I think the best thing you could do is talk to a wild bird rehabilitator. Perhaps putting them back in the pond and waiting until nightfall. Often the mother is simply hiding nearby.

  226. Cliff is there any way to tell what are boy ducks or girls. just bought 8 Mallard Ducklings.

  227. Me again,my friend brought me a big black duck that noone wanted anymore.It has black bill ,feet and the whole body except for a little white around its chest.What could it be?Will it get along with my mallards? I put it with two mallards and they seem to shun it.

    • It’s hard to say what kind of duck it is. I have only had mallards, so I’m not very knowledgeable about other types. I would say shunning is fine, but you want to discourage agression.

  228. It broke my heart,but,I put three of my seven ducks on the pond.I am praying no wild varmits get them.Do I continue to bring them the food ? Or, do I leave them alone and let them eat from the wild?

  229. I put my ducks on the pond.Do I bring them food or let them eat from the wild?


  231. This morning I was walking around my pond and I saw what looked like a small duck head (with feathers) swimming very low in the water – I didn’t really see the back end of it. The it dove under the water. Do baby mallard ducks swim under water? I never saw it come up for air. Did I scare the duck to death???

    BTW – I do have other ducks in my pond. No babies though – or at least I didn’t think so.

  232. I have 4 mallards. one of which is older and just started flying. today she flew away and hasn’t come back yet. The other 3 are looking around for her and i dont know if she will come back. Is this typical behavior? She was rescued when she was a duckling but i bought the other 3 to keep her company. Will she return?

    • IN my experience they always come home. Some people have had them leave forever, but I think that is pretty rare.

  233. Hi I am a college student in Orlando with 3, 3 week old mallards. They’re awesome. One has a weird white puff of on the back of his head, what’s that? And also I have cracked corn for their sustainer is that good? I have been mixing a little bit of it in with their starter and they seem to like it. They’re already living outside foraging and eating everything.

  234. We have a Mallard male who’s mate has died an won’t leave her dead body. How do you handle this so he won’t die either. He refuses to leave her the last 2 days.

  235. I have 6 newly aquired ducklings. I intent to make a large pen that will but up next to a small garage. my question is about a holly tree that would be enclosed within the pen if I don’t remove it. It is a nice one and I would hate to cut it down. I know that holly is poisonouse to many animals, yet redbirds eat the berries with no problems. would this be true for the ducks when they are ald enough to be left in an outside pen, or does the tree have to go?

    • Nancy,

      I can’t find any information about holly berries being specifically toxic to ducks, but I also can’t find any material suggesting they are immune to the holly toxin either. It would seem that the berries are generally toxic to birds (http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=15+1912&aid=2236) so I would error on the side of caution and not put your duck housing anywhere near your holly tree. I agree that it’s a shame to cut it down… Is there another place you can put your ducks?

  236. i have had kaki cambels. mine did not quck loud till they were over 5 months and they were both girls, possibly this helps, most places can tell what sex they are by around 4 months due to size not just voice

    • That’s a very good point. The drakes are usually going to be larger than the hens; even before they develop their voice.

  237. hello,
    we have a mixture of kakhi cambells and mallards . These two breeds don’t sound the same, yet they get on great and mate together very well.
    Hope this helps 🙂

    • That’s good to know. A lot of people have had questions about other breeds, so I’m glad you have shared your knowledge — Thanks!

  238. Yesterday morning my cat hunted this baby mallard duck somewhere, i have no idea where. I saved the duck from my cat and its doing just fine. I looked all around my yard and i didnt see nor here and mother or baby ducks. Also, it was okay that whole day, but today all it has been doing is making a chirping noise its not that loud but its loud enough to give everyone a head ache. Will it ever stop? How do i make it stop? And will it grow out of it as it gets older?

    • Your baby duck is chirping to call for its mother. If it’s warm outside, you may do well to bring it outside and let it peep for a while to see if the mother returns for it. Likely she has not gone far.

      If you can’t find the mother, the peeping should subside after a while. Just make sure to keep it warm and well fed / watered and you should be fine. There is a FAQ that should answer most of your questions.

  239. Good Morning Cliff, I have a question on how do I keep my mallards from flying off? I am raising for my pond. They are ready to be put out at the pond, but I do not want them to fly off. I know I can clip their wings, but if I do that the I will not be able to see the beauitful colored feathers they have. Please help, they are getting to big for the pen I have them in. I do have 3 geese and 2 baby anconas (ducks) at the pond now. I just want to keep them on the pond, I do not want to lose them.
    Thank you in advance

  240. I was given 2 ducklings recently. When they are old enough, they will move to a farm. The farm has a pond but there are predators that once killed 3 chickens. I was wondering if the ducks could live in the hen house to be safe? One of the ducklings is a Mallard, and the other a white Peking, I think. They are not imprinted on humans, they prefer not to be handled and do not want to be separated. Please help!

  241. Hello great site I have read every post and learned alot so I will try and keep this short and sweet. I bought some chickens yesterday to control a out of control tick problem we are having on our new farm. While at the mans home he offered us 4 mallard ducklings which we where thrilled to have since the 2 acre pond at our old farm was a release location for the NC water fowl rescue and we missed the ducks and geese. He advised us to buy chicken starter from Souther states but after reading all the posts I found a farm cand garden center that is a dealer for blue seal and they will be ordering me some wild bird starter crumbles. In the mean time I have the ducklings inside living in my garden tub 1/2 the day and roaming my den hardwod floors during the other 1/2 of the day due to being such wonderful poopers. It will take 7-10 days for my new feed to come in. In the meantime I have been collecting them Rolly Pollies since we are also overwhelemed by millions of them and I have been putting Lettuce, carrots, oats, celery and water in the food processor making them a soup so to speak as well as collecting grass clipping and cutting them up with scissors. Till my feed arrives what should I feed them ? soup of the day, rolly pollies and grass or the chicken starter w/ the antibiotics UGH! Also 3 are the standard black and yellow and one is a brownish tan leather looking color. Could this mean the single is a male or female or is it just the way she/he came out and just wait for the quack to identify gender or is this a totally diffrent breed. They are all 4 the exact same size and shape and are all 4 joined at the hip and love to cuddle with each other so I do not believe it to be an outsider. and last question. With there being 4 of them and wanting to bond with them as we will be keeping them for our farm pond if I bond with one will the others come around or should I spend equal time with each handleing them and bonding. Again great resource and wonderful website. Saved to my favs for all my duckling needs 🙂 OH just remebered one seems pigeon toed and week in the knees ( it squats ) and seems to walk more squatted then the other 3 would this be a result of not enough Niacin and the chicken started and will the blue seal help to bring him/her upright ? or do they make a supplement that you can add to their water that contains Vits and Mins.

  242. Oh I forgot Im also adding a handful of oatmeal to their soup of the day 🙂 They love my concoction and eat like crazy. I just dont know where they are putting it all but I can tell you they must be gettng lots of fiber and good stuff because they are regular thats for sure.

  243. I had a drake mallard that was a gift and wanted to get him company so I purchased some ducklings. IThey didn’t have mallards at the time so I purshased the whie duckling..Pekings??? I raised the ducklings and have now released them on the pond with the drake. There were 5 of them. They are about the same size as the mallard and have all their feathers. I noticed immediately that the drake started mating with the ducklings.and now I found one floating in the pond so I am assuming the draked drown the other??? Is this common and should I pen up the drake? the ducklings are way too big to go back inside now. I do have a temporary pen that is part on land and part in the pond, but I have some mallards ducklings in it now. ( I found and purchased these after the others.) Can I mix the ducklings of different ages? The Pekings are pretty large now though and the mallard ducklings are about 3 weeks just getting their feathers so I was afraid to mix them.

    Any suggestions? I just don’t want to lose any more ducks. 🙂

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