Ducks need to be fed once in the morning and then again in the evening. It is important to provide a balanced diet containing adequate nutrients that include vitamins, minerals and proteins. The consumption levels vary depending on their size. On an average, they eat about 6 to 7 oz. of food every day; which translates to about 170 to 200 grams. The amount to feed a duck depends on the species and the purpose you have for raising them -- meat production, egg laying or as a pet. Around 16 percent of the diet should contain protein, if you are raising ducks for laying eggs. Consumption of an unbalanced diet ultimately affects the health of the bird, as well as the egg production capacity.
Give ducks specially formulated duck pellets and crushed grains, as they contain all the essential nutrients for optimal growth and development. Ducks love foraging on mixed corn and greens, such as chickweed, cabbage, lettuce and a variety of grasses. It is advisable to feed these food items in the afternoons, as ducks will end up eating these treats and consume less of the feed or pellets.
Foods to Avoid
Do not purchase feeds containing coccidiostats, as they are harmful for these birds. Many poultry feeds contain coccidiostats. Do not attempt to feed ducks medicated feeds meant for other birds, as this could be toxic to them. Drakes and non-egg laying birds should not be given oyster shells, as it can result in renal disease.
Pay close attention to the quality of the feed. Refrain from using feed containing dirt, weed seeds and molds. Use commercial feed within three weeks of the manufacturer's date printed on the bag. If the weather is hot and humid, use the feed earlier, to prevent formation of mold and loss of vitamins. Never attempt to give ducks feed with mold, as the toxins can result in serious health problems, such as damage to the liver, kidneys, plumage, muscles and digestive system. In addition, the mold toxins can reduce reproductive performance and growth.
Drakes are generally aggressive feeders and hence, if appropriate measures are not taken, there is a high chance of mismatch in the feed consumption of drakes and hens. It is advisable to provide enough space for drakes and hens to feed separately, in order to avoid competition. The aggressive drakes can end up causing injuries to hens -- or even killing them.
Increase the feed amount during harsh cold weather, as the ducks need more energy to grow as well as produce eggs. The recommended increase is 2 to 5 pounds for every 100 birds, according to College of Agriculture and Life Science, North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
Feed the ducks with high quality duck feed to maximize growth and prevent nutritional deficiencies. Place the feed in a heavy shallow feeder, in order to avoid waste. Also, give the birds fresh, clean water along with the feed, so that they can quench their thirst whenever necessary.
Provide grit to the ducks, if they are not let out of their enclosures for foraging. Mix grit in the feed once a week. If you have a small flock, you can reduce your feeding costs by giving the ducks stale bread and kitchen scraps. However, boil the scraps well to kill bacteria and then mix food pellets into it.
- Poultry Keeper: Feeding Laying Ducks
- College of Agriculture and Life Science; North Carolina Cooperative Extension: A Management Program for Raising Breeder Duck Flocks
- College of Agriculture and Life Science; North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Feeding Ducks
- University of Minnesota Extension: Raising Ducks
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