Ducks make amusing and engaging outdoor pets, but like all pets, they require care and maintenance to help them thrive. While ducks do not need as much maintenance as a dog, for example, they still need daily attention, a suitable living environment, quality food, and social interaction. Understanding what your ducks need enables you to give them a happy, healthy, fulfilling life.
Ducks are social creatures. They naturally live in groups. Therefore, keeping just one duck is not advisable. Their physical health and well-being is dependent on their mental health. Therefore, for happy, healthy, well-adjusted pets, you need more than one duck. Having two ducks is acceptable, but four is ideal. Handle them as early as possible, so they are used to it, and interact with them daily. This ensures that if you need to give them medication or pick them up for a trip to the vet, they are comfortable with the handling and do not become overly distressed.
Ducks need a multifaceted living environment. In the first instance, they need a shelter, such as a duck coop or duck house that is completely secure against predators and vermin. If the duck house has a raised doorway above floor level, then you need to provide a ramp for easy accessibility. A duck run or a secure open space attached to the duck house is advisable, as this allows them access to the outdoors. Your ducks also require access to a pond or a paddling pool to swim and paddle in. Add straw to your duck coop as bedding, or if you do not have any ducklings, you can use sawdust as bedding. Never add wire mesh to the floor of your duck house, the entry ramp, or any part of the duck run. Some people do this, thinking their ducks need extra grip. However, ducks do not need extra grip and the wire mesh actually harms and damages their delicate webbed feet.
Your ducks need a balanced diet, so feeding them a diet of bread as you did in the park as a child is not acceptable. Ducks make fantastic pest control as they wander your garden, devouring slugs, snails, and insects. They also eat weeds such as dandelions, as well as some garden plants and seedlings. To ensure you give them a nutritionally balanced diet, use a complete duck food, such as Layer's pellets. You can supplement their diet with fruit and vegetables, as well as vegetable peelings from your kitchen. Using meal or scratch grains, alongside Layer's pellets, provides extra fibre and helps your ducks enjoy natural behaviours. Make sure your ducks always have access to fresh drinking water, as well as an ample supply of tasty, healthy food.