What ducks eat affects their health, growth and production
How to feed your ducks?
Like humans or other animals, good nutrition is crucial to the health of your ducks.
Here are some important information you need to know to ensure that your ducks receive the nutrition they need to be healthy:
1. Ducks have different dietary needs than chickens.
Ducks can do very well on a chicken feed basis with some niacin (vitamin B3) supplements among other things.
2. Ducks’ nutritional needs vary according to their life stages and sex.
There are three distinct types of food according to gender and stage of life:
- starter power supply – 0-8 weeks
- Support feed – for ducks or non-laying ducks over 8 weeks old.
- feeding of layers – for laying ducks
Step 1: Start-up (0-8 weeks)
Ducklings need high levels of protein in the first few weeks of their lives:
- 0-2 weeks – 18-20% protein;
- 3 weeks – at the age of 3 weeks, we reduce the protein content to 15-16% by adding 20% oats to their food.
Reduce a duckling’s protein intake; by the third week; requires it to grow at a slower rate than that; generally; recommended for broilers and commercial layers. Also note that higher levels of protein can cause; in ducks; malformations of the legs and wings and cause kidney and liver damage.
Note 1: Niacin (vitamin B3)
Because ducklings grow faster than chicks, the starter feed does not have the niacin levels that are optimal for ducklings. It is very important that:
your ducklings receive specific starting feed for ducklings (not for chickens)
if you buy a feed for chicks, you can enrich it with niacin, which is very easy to do.
Niacin requirements for ducklings = 55 mg/kg niacin compared to only 27-35 mg/kg for chicks.
Note 2: The ducklings choke on a dry feed.
The ducklings are constantly eating, and every time they do, you’d think they’d never seen food in their lives. They swallow their food voraciously and sometimes choke on food that is too dry.
Tip: Add enough water to their food to make a moist meal. This also ensures a uniform mixture of brewer’s yeast if you add some (niacin supplementation).
Note 3: Do not use medicated feed.
Do not feed your ducklings medicated chick feed. Ducklings eat more food than chicks of the same weight and can take dangerous doses of medication.
In addition, ducks are much less susceptible to disease than chickens and ducklings are not susceptible to chick infections, so there is no reason to treat them.
STEP 2: Support feeding (8 weeks or more, non-laying ducks)
When your teenage and adult ducks (hens) are not laying eggs, they will need a supporting food (13 to 15% protein). Your adult males will need supportive feeding from 8 weeks of age.
STEP 3: Laying feed (mature laying ducks)
When your ducks start laying eggs, make sure that their diet covers their needs (16-17% protein, 2.5-3% calcium). Feed for laying ducks contains more protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals than maintenance feed. This extra nutrition is essential for the health of a laying hen.
Combination of support feeds and layers
We recommend that you mix support and laying feed while your ducks lay eggs, which gives them the nutrition they need without pushing them to overproduce eggs. The formula may need to be modified according to the results.
You can start with a mixture of 30% laying feed and 70% maintenance feed and increase (or decrease) the percentage of laying feed in the mixture if necessary. Ducks that do not have enough calcium lay thin and soft shell eggs.
It is recommended to start feeding adult ducks with layer feed three weeks before laying begins. You can also provide them with a bowl of calcium, which can be made up of pulverized oyster shells. This allows them to absorb more calcium when they feel their bodies need it.
You can then immediately start feeding the layers on the day the first egg arrives. Remember to put them back on maintenance feed once they stop laying so they don’t consume too much calcium and protein, which could cause health problems.