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I have spent over 20 years keeping, breeding, and showing ducks. Keeping ducks has become my real passion, and I have several different breeds in my care right now.
Breeding ducks or raising your own ducks from fertile eggs is one of the most enjoyable parts of running a homestead. Whether you’re raising your ducks for eggs, for meat, or just as pets, the whole process is a journey you will enjoy from start to finish
One question I am frequently asked when giving duck keeping talks is ‘How much water do ducklings need?’. In this article, I will address the issue and cover everything you need to know about duckling’s drinking requirements.
Ducklings need constant access to water. From the moment they are born they will need to drink as well as keep the membrane in their nostrils wet at all times. Ducklings up to around 1 week old will drink about 1/2 a gallon (1.9 liters) of water each week. By 8 weeks old a duckling will drink about 1/2 a gallon (1.9 liters) of water EVERY DAY!
How Much Water Do Ducklings Need?
Ducklings are tiny, and they have a very small body mass, especially when they are only 1 or 2 weeks old. As such they are susceptible to dehydration. Ducklings need access to water at all times.
In my experience, when ducklings are in the first few weeks of their lives, traditional waterers like we might use for chicks are absolutely fine. I tend to use one like this one I ordered from Amazon last week.
The amount of water a duckling drinks does vary depending on its age, with the amount consumed increasing each week a duckling gets older. The table below is a rough guide to how much water each duckling will drink.
|Age of Ducklings||Daily Water Requirements|
|1 Week||0.075 gallons (0.28 liters)|
|2 Weeks||0.15 gallons (0.56 liters)|
|3 Weeks||0.20 gallons (0.75 liters)|
|4 Weeks||0.25 gallons (0.95 liters)|
|5 Weeks||0.30 gallons (1.14 liters)|
|6 Weeks||0.35 gallons (1.32 liters)|
|7 Weeks||0.45 gallons (1.70 liters)|
|8 Weeks||0.50 gallons (1.90 liters)|
Of course, the numbers in the table above are just a rough guide, and the actual amount of water an individual duckling needs to drink on a daily basis will vary depending on local conditions, including how warm the day is.
The most important thing to remember is that ducklings should have access to water at all times.
Can Ducklings Drink Too Much?
I suppose, technically a duckling could drink too much water, but I suspect it is very unlikely.
My ducklings have access to fresh water at all times. I never give them periods where the water is removed, and I have never seen any evidence that giving ducklings access to water at all times will lead to them drinking too much.
Can Ducklings Drink From The Pond?
Ducklings can drink directly from a pond, providing the water is not contaminated for any reason. However, ducklings should be allowed anywhere near a pond until they are at least 6 weeks old, and 8 weeks might even be a better age.
If ducklings go out onto the pond before they are ready there is a good chance they will drown.
Also, young ducklings do not have fully developed preen glands and they will not be able to waterproof their coats, meaning they will become sodden, and there is a good chance they will get cold and possibly die.
I do not allow my duckling’s free access to the pond until around 8 weeks old, at which point they are free to drink the pond water if they wish to.
Best Waterer for Ducklings?
There are many different designs of waterers. Some are designed for ducks, but the vast majority are designed for chicks.
Chicks and ducklings have very different beak (or technically bill) sizes and shapes. What works for a chick may not work for a duckling.
For the first week or two, I tend to use a standard chick waterer for my ducklings. The great thing about these waterers is, that not only are they sturdy and hard to knock over, but my ducklings can’t get into them.
Ducklings will waste about 3 times as much water as they actually drink.
By using a waterer that your ducklings can only dip their bills into, you will spend less time changing their water because they have fouled it.
Once my ducklings are 3 or more weeks old, I will usually swap their waterer for a heavy, no-spill dog bowl.
Bowls like these are typically around 3″ (7.5cm) deep, so they may require a layer of pebbles in the bottom initially to stop your ducklings from drowning.
The minute your ducklings are given a bowl of water like this they will be straight in it.
Unfortunately, ducklings quickly foul their drinking water, so you may need to change the water a couple of times a day, or more.
By 5 or 6 weeks old your ducklings may well be ready to move from a large dog bowl to a small pond.
I have had great success using these Tuffstuff KMM100 Aquaponics Tanks. I purchased my ones from Amazon.com.
You will probably need to add a layer of large pebbles to the bottom once again, just to make sure your ducklings can not drown if they haven’t mastered swimming yet.
Alternatively, do not fill the trough all the way up, meaning the water is not too deep.
Do Ducklings Need Apple Cider Vinegar in their water?
Apple Cider Vinegar is an acidic liquid that is made by fermenting apples. Apple Cider Vinegar is often added in small quantities to chicken’s and duck’s drinking water to make the water slightly acidic.
This acidic water helps create a slightly acidic environment in the bird’s crop and stomachs, reducing the number of parasites in the bird’s internal system.
Once my ducklings are about 2 weeks old I start adding a very small amount of apple cider vinegar to their water.
I tend to use apple cider vinegar more frequently in the winter when the ground is wet, and less so in the summer went the ground is dryer.
In my experience ducks, and chickens for that matter, seem more prone to picking up internal worms and parasites during the wet winter months.
Do Ducklings Need Water At Night?
Yes, ducklings should have access to water at night, especially if they also have access to light.
Typically, when ducks are kept in a totally dark coop or duck house, they will sleep and stay still until daybreak. If there is light in the coop, there is a greater chance the ducklings will want to drink during the night.
I tend to leave water in the coop all the time, just to be safe.
Ducklings drink a surprising amount of water. At 1 week old a duckling will drink around 1/2 a gallon of water every week. By the time that same duckling reaches 8 weeks old, it will want to drink around 1/2 a gallon every single day.
As ducklings grow, so does their demand for water. It is our job to keep up with demand and make sure they always have fresh drinking water available.
If you found this article interesting, why not take a look at another one I wrote recently titled ‘Why are my ducklings dying? (5 possible reasons with solutions)’