If you want to keep ducks as pets, it is important to note some of the following hints and tips.
Ducks require plenty of water, feeding and adequate housing to protect them from predators, especially at night. Ducks do not need anything particularly special in the housing department.
A converted shed would be adequate to protect them from the elements and the predators. Ducks are happy as long as their habitat is dry and draught free. There should be a ‘run’ for them to be able to exercise and feed. See photo left for an example.
Ducks also require an area of water, as ducks love being in and around water. It would not have to be as spectacular as in the photo, a small but adequate pond would suit them just as well. A home made pond is easy to construct. A storage tank can be embedded into the ground and filled with water.
Domestic Duck Diet
There is not a simple answer to the domestic duck diet. A ducks diet varies depending on the time of year and the conditions in which the ducks are kept. If ducks are generally free-range, they will mostly find their own food which consists of slugs, worms and other insects found in the grass and in streams, also greens such as grass and duck-weed.
However, food given by their keepers should be non-medicated pelleted mash as their staple diet and supplemented with fresh vegetables, chopped hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes and cracked corn. It is best to avoid commercial diets designed to grow ducks quickly for meat and egg production as these can be harmful.
Wheat contains more protein than maize and is higher in vitamin B, and is also cheaper.
Maize is good on colder winter days as it contains more calories and oil which keep the ducks feathers supple and water-proof in winter.
Protein is very important to your ducks growth. Ducklings need starter feed with 20 – 22% protein for at least 3 weeks. Adolescent ducks do best on 16% protein and adult ducks need 16 – 18% protein in their diet. However, it is important to note that too much protein can cause a condition called ‘Angel Wing’ where the feathers on your duck protrude upwards.
Too little protein can cause nutritional deficiencies and health problems. Cracked corn is an inexpensive and popular food for ducks and contains half the protein a duck needs to stay healthy. Free-range ducks do not mind being offered pelleted mash from the pet store as this will fill them up, especially on long winter nights. The best food is wheat which should be fed in the water or left on the waters edge.