California Hatchery Duckling Care information is intended for the care of day old ducklings received through the mail from our hatchery. For Chick Care Instructions, please click here: Chick Care Instructions

Duckling Nutrition
Ducklings do not need food or water for the first 72 hours. Their body has retained the yolk sac from their hatching egg for nutrition. If food and water are available they will start to eat and drink on their own between 24 and 48 hours. Ducklings need a waterfowl duckling starter feed containing approximately 23% protein, which can be purchased from our Duck Food page.  It is very important that it is non-medicated feed because organ damage can occur if a medicated chick starter is used. The protein range is usually 18-23%. For the first few weeks they will need a constant supply of food and water. If they have food, water must be present or they will not be able to process the food. Ducklings will take a mouthful of food and then take a drink in order to swallow. Depending on the size of the duckling they should be switched to a pelleted food at 3-4 weeks.

Duckling Housing
Ducklings need a warm brooder box set to around 90 degrees and draft free. A brooder Heating Lamp and Heating Bulb can be purchased from our website. These lights can take up to a 250-watt bulb. You will know that the ducklings are warm enough if they are moving around the entire area you have set up for them. Ducklings typically fall asleep alone instead of in a group. If they are too cold they will huddle together, and you will need to lower the light or go to a higher wattage. If they are too warm they will breathe with their bill open and will not go near the heat light. If they are too warm try to decrease the wattage or raise the bulb.  We recommend starting with the 250-watt bulb and not placing it in the middle. Instead, it should be placed off to one side so that ducklings can get away from the heat. After they are 10 days to 2 weeks of age you should begin to decrease the heat until the bulb is off. Eventually, your ducklings can be moved to the porch/garage and then outside! Bedding in the brooder can be wood shavings or old towels, however, we recommend you do not use newspaper as this gets slippery and is unsafe for duckling stability.