If you’re considering raising ducks on your farm, it’s best to raise them from birth. This will help the ducks adjust to their environment and human contact, ensuring they will be more affectionate towards you and comfortable in their home.
But, you might be wondering, how fast do ducks grow?Ducks grow surprisingly fast. In fact, they tend to look like fully-grown adults by around 10 weeks old and reach sexual maturity by around 20 weeks old. Ducks progress each week, growing and developing further into the stages of adulthood.
It’s important to note that duck growth cycles vary depending on their breed. The most popular breed of duck for domestic settings, and in the US, is the Pekin duck. These are the white, fluffy ducks that appear in Aflac commercials. They are a popular choice for pets due to their friendly demeanor, flightlessness, and high rates of egg production.
In this article, I’ll be going over the entirety of a duck’s growth cycle, from incubation to full sexual maturity. Because these cycles can vary greatly between species, I will be solely focusing on the Pekin duck. Generally, you can apply these milestones to other duck breeds as well, but they may not line up perfectly with the Pekin lifecycle.
Pekin ducks are popular in the US for meat and egg production due to their speedy growth cycle, so most ducks do not develop as quickly as they do. It’s important to keep that in mind when deciding on a breed of duck to purchase!
Duck Growth Timeline
Most people looking to start their flock of ducks for the first time will not be purchasing duck eggs. Fertilized duck eggs are more commonly found within existing flocks after the male and female ducks have become familiar with one another. However, it’s important to understand duck incubation and the best ways to support your hens during this period.
Pekins ducks typically incubate their eggs for about 28 days. During incubation, it’s important to rotate the eggs a minimum of four times a day. This can easily be accomplished by purchasing an incubator or by hand-turning the eggs.
If you’re hatching eggs that have come from one of your own flock, the mother duck will go broody and settle on the eggs herself to keep them warm during the incubation period. If you can, avoid cleaning the eggs as it may disrupt the protective coating on the outside of the shell.
Eggs will typically begin to show signs of hatching about 48 hours beforehand. The first signs of hatching are a large crack in the protective layer of the shell and movement within the eggs.
Ducklings that have developed normally are well-equipped to break through their shell due to something called an “egg tooth”. This is an appendage attached to the tip of their bill that helps them breach through their shell when it’s time to hatch. It usually falls off naturally after the ducklings fully escape the confines of the egg.
The actual hatching can take anywhere from 3-24 hours. Unlike in the movies, it’s not instantaneous and actually takes a lot of effort from the duckling to break through the shell.
Directly after hatching, ducklings will imprint on the first person they see. Imprinting in the wild usually happens between a mother duck and her babies, as a way for the babies to identify and bond with their mother. However, ducks can also imprint on humans, so if you’re looking for a lifelong attachment, make sure to show up for your ducks when they hatch!
Contrary to popular belief, ducklings are wet and exhausted upon emerging from their shell. It might be tempting to dry them off or hold them as soon as they hatch, but you should resist the urge. It’s best to give the ducklings 12-24 hours to fully recover from hatching before you disturb them.
2 Week Old Ducks
The first 2 weeks of a duckling’s life are when they are most vulnerable. They have not yet developed hearty feathers, so they are susceptible to hypothermia and waterlogging if they are left unattended near bodies of water for extended periods of time.
Ducklings do eat a lot of food and drink a large amount of water, about three times as much as chicks, so it’s important to make sure they have unrestricted access to both at any given time. All you have to do is ensure that the ducklings’ drinking water is clearly separated from any bathing and playing water.
In the wild, this is the period during which ducklings are the most vulnerable to predators. To protect your domesticated ducklings, provide them with an enclosed, outdoor space to play as well as a shelter with a predator lock on the door at night. This will keep your ducklings safe from foxes, coyotes, and skunks.
Due to their lack of thick feathers, ducklings will also have trouble regulating their body temperature at this stage. Monitor your flock to see if they are huddled around a particular heat source, or if they’re panting and trying to spread out to cooler areas. This will tell you whether or not you need to provide an extra heat source, like a hot water bottle.
3-5 Week Old Ducks
By the time the ducklings are 3 weeks old, they should be more weather-dependent and allowed to play outside. They are still vulnerable to predators at this time, so make sure that they are supervised and protected while playing outside.
Upon hatching, Pekin ducklings will be completely yellow in color. At around the 5-week mark, these ducks will begin to lose their yellow color and start to turn fully white. This is your indicator that your little babies are growing up!
At this point, their feathers have not fully started to develop and they still have their downy, babyfur to cover them. This is best described as the “puberty” period for ducklings. They are beginning to exhibit signs of physical maturity, but they’re in no way fully grown yet.
7-8 Week Old Ducks
At this point, your ducklings will be fully white instead of yellow. They will resemble adult Pekin ducks quite closely, but they will still be lacking their adult feathers. The ducklings will also not be fully developed physically, still a little smaller in size than they would be if fully grown.
If you’re raising ducklings for meat, this is the best time to butcher them. This is because there are no newly-grown feathers, which means there won’t be any pin feathers on your finished product. However, if you want a fully grown, larger duck to butcher, it’s fine to wait a few more weeks before butchering them.
It’s also important to reiterate that Pekin ducks are flightless birds, so while other breeds of duck may be maturing into their wings at this point, the Pekin will remain grounded. For example, Mallard ducks can typically fly by the time they’re around 50 days old.
10-Week Old Ducks
At 10 weeks old, most Pekin ducks are fully grown. They resemble an adult bird and they have all their adult feathers. They are ready to be left outside for long periods at a time, and you don’t have to worry about them getting hurt or drowning while they splash around in the water.
These ducks will be physically wider than ducks of 7-8 weeks of age due to the development of their feathers. Though they won’t necessarily be any heavier in weight than these ducks, the adult ducks will certainly be wider in shape at this point.
The only milestone these birds have left to hit is sexual maturity, upon which they will begin to produce eggs.
17-24 Week Old Ducks
This is the point at which Pekin ducks will begin to lay their eggs! A Pekin hen lays between 200 and 300 eggs during one season, which is considerably more than chickens lay. Each egg weighs roughly three ounces, and they can be used in almost any recipe that requires eggs. They are especially good for baking!
Pekin hens do not need a nesting area, like chickens. Instead, they prefer to drop their eggs periodically from dusk until dawn. They will lay a majority of their eggs during this time, making it easy to retrieve the eggs before they get crushed or dropped by the flock in the daytime.
At this point, obviously, Pekin ducks are also readily available to breed. If you want to prevent your flock from reproducing, all you have to do is separate the males and the females from one another. It can be difficult to sex ducklings, but there are plenty of handy guides on the internet that will teach you how.
If you are interested in producing cute little ducklings, all you have to do is wait. Ducks typically mate in the water, so if you’re trying to encourage mating, make sure that they have open access to clean bathing water at all times. Other than that, just be patient and let nature run its course.
You can check out more of my recent articles about ducks below!
Ducklings are fully grown in about 30 days. They require a long-term commitment from their owner, as they can live 10 years or longer. Once domesticated ducklings become dependent on a person for food and care, you cannot just turn them loose in the wild and expect them to survive.What are the stages of the life cycle of ducks? ›
It follows the ducklings through the embryo stage to hatch and all the way through molting, reproducing, and migrating.How long does it take for ducks to grow feathers? ›
By the time the ducklings are 3-5 weeks old, weather-dependent, they can spend warm, sunny days outside, carefully supervised and protected from predators. Until the ducks are fully feathered around 7-9 weeks old, they have trouble regulating their body temperature and need heat.Do male or female ducks grow faster? ›
Ducks vary in weight depending on the species. They usually range from 20 to 26 inches long and weigh between 1.6 and 3.5 pounds, however Muscovy ducks can grow to be an impressive 15 pounds in weight! Male ducks tend to grow taller and to weigh more than female ducks.How long does it take for a duck to age? ›
Keep the temperature between 35 and 39 degrees. John recommends aging large ducks for 5 to 7 days. Mine aged for the full week.How old are ducklings from Tractor Supply? ›
They're a large, all white farm duck that can be used for both meat and eggs. The white feathers and a quick growth rate make them a popular choice for the table. If you plan to eat them you are only looking at 7-8 weeks before you butcher them.Where do ducks go at night? ›
Ducks mostly sleep floating on water.
They are flexible when it comes to their choice of where to sleep. For example, a species of ducks known as mallards can sleep both on land and water. Another species known as Muscovy ducks can also roost (sleep) on the ground.
Ducklings take 50-60 days to fledge (fly) and become independent. They are able to breed when they are a year old.How long do farm ducks live? ›
Well-cared-for domesticated ducks can long outlive their wild ancestors. For instance, the longest-lived domesticated Mallard-derived duck was over 21 years old. With proper care, domesticated Muscovy ducks can also live to be 20 years old.What age can ducks fly away? ›
It takes 50-70 days for ducklings to attain flight status, and survival during this period is highly variable, ranging from less than 10 percent to as high as 70 percent.
Ducklings and goslings can be introduced to swimming water as early as one week of age but you must be very careful. They must be able to walk in and out of the water very easily. The water should not be too cold and they must be able to find their heat lamp for rewarming without difficulty.Do ducks get attached to humans? ›
Do ducks get attached to humans? Ducks can build bonds with humans like dogs can bond with their owners. And if the very first large moving object it sees after it hatches is you, it will imprint on you, follow you wherever you go, and bond with you more than its own flock.What is the best food to feed wild ducks? ›
DO: Feed ducks cracked corn, oats, rice, birdseed, frozen peas, chopped lettuce, or sliced grapes. These foods are similar to natural foods ducks will forage for on their own. DON'T: Leave uneaten food lying around. Leftover food in the water can rot and cause deadly algae blooms that affect local wildlife.How much water do ducks need? ›
Ducks love water and use about 1 litre of drinking water per duck per day. They need water to keep their eyes, bills, feet and feathers in good condition. The water should be deep enough for them to stick their whole head into and to wash their body.Which duck grow faster? ›
Meat Type Breeds
If you are mainly interested in meat, and able to obtain the necessary feed or feed ingredients required, choose a meat-type breed like the Pekin. Pekin ducks grow rapidly, reaching approximately 90% of their adult weight at 7 weeks of age, when properly fed.
Ducks need the company of friends so never keep one duck on its own. Always keep at least two ducks who will become best friends and wander happily around the backyard together. The natural diet of ducks consists of about 90 percent vegetable matter and 10 percent animal matter such as larvae, snails and slugs.What is the best age for duck meat? ›
Ducks are fast-growing, healthy birds that are a great alternative to chickens for both meat and eggs. Most ducks can be butchered around 8 or 12 weeks and yield a luxury dark meat that can be sold for premium prices.What age do ducks start quacking? ›
since duck voices change as they hit maturity. All ducklings peep at first, and their voices begin to change at about 6-8 weeks of age. As with humans, it's not always a smooth process, and you may hear some hilarious squeaking while their voices begin to mature.Do ducks grow faster than chickens? ›
Ducks and chickens can be kept in the same brooder and in the same chicken coop. Expect your ducks to grow very fast – faster than you chicks.What is a 3 month old duck called? ›
#1: A Baby Duck is Called a Duckling!
“Tractor Supply is adamant about not selling ducks and chicks to children for Easter,” Puttbrese said. Customers must buy two ducks or six chicks at a time “so people are committed to raising a flock. That is key,” he said. “Our commitment is that chicks are not sold as pets but raised for eggs or other reasons.”What age do ducklings eat growers pellets? ›
3 – 20 weeks of age
Ducklings can now be fed a good quality grower food suitable for ducks or for pullets (young chickens). Protein level for this food should be around 15%.
Ducks don't roost and will be perfectly happy sleeping on soft straw or shavings on the coop floor. They don't necessarily even need nesting boxes, but rather seem to prefer making themselves a nest in one corner of the coop. They also are more cold-hardy and enjoy cooler temperatures, summer and winter.Where do ducks go in the rain? ›
What do ducks do in the rain? Ducks just love rain. They are quite happy to stay out in it, and they often preen their feathers and poke around in puddles. (The British refer to a rainy day as “a lovely day for ducks.”) They don't even seem to mind snow or sleet, but they dislike cold and windy weather.Do ducks prefer land or water? ›
Ducks sleep on the water and dry land, depending on the species. For example, Mallards mostly sleep on the land, but Wood ducks mostly sleep on the water. In addition, many ducks roost communally in large groups, enabling them to stay safe in numbers while occupying the best roosting sites available in their habitat.What age do ducklings not need heat? ›
Ducklings can live outside without supplementary heat by 4 weeks of age however by this age they will be very big and very messy. This is not a task to take on unless you are very committed to cleaning out a very soggy wet messy brooding area at least twice a day.Do baby ducks like being held? ›
Ducks typically tolerate being petted pretty well, but it may take them a while to warm up to being held. Try petting them with both hands or coaxing them into your lap with treats first. If your ducks don't want to be held, let them go. Seizing them by force will only teach them to panic when picked up.Do ducklings know their mother? ›
Ducklings, like many species of birds whose young leave the nest early, are able to identify their own mother and siblings based on sight and won't follow other mothers or siblings. This ability to recognize and follow their family greatly reduces the chance that ducklings will wander off into danger.What kills duck eggs? ›
The main mammalian predators of duck eggs and ducklings in our study area (striped skunk, raccoon, and coyote) are most active at night, whereas gopher snakes and avian predators are most active and visit duck nests during daylight (Croston et al., 2018).Can farm ducks survive winter? ›
Ducks are extremely cold-hardy due to a nice thick layer of body fat and soft down under their waterproof feathers. They actually need very little in order to be comfortable in cold weather, but there are a few simple things you can do to keep your ducks happier and healthier through the winter months.
While there are many different potential causes of sudden death in ducks, some of the more common ones include Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) / Duck Viral Enteritis (DVE), stress, drowning, heat stroke, ascites, water belly, heart failure, blood clot, choking or suffocation.How long are ducks pregnant? ›
About 28 days after beginning incubation the eggs hatch together. This takes about 24 hours. The ducklings stay in the nest for at least 10 hours while they dry and get used to using their legs. Then, usually in the early morning, the female leads them to water.Do ducks mate for life? ›
Geese, swans, and whistling ducks are classic examples of species that form lifelong pair bonds (perennial monogamy), while most species of ducks form pair bonds that last only four to eight months, often with a new mate each year (seasonal monogamy).What temperature is too cold for ducks? ›
Tip Tips for Keeping Ducks in the Winter. Unlike chickens who are generally comfortable at temperatures 45 degrees and above, ducks are just fine down to temperatures around 20 degrees F. Below that however, they can suffer frostbite on their feet which could lead to amputation or lost limbs.What temperature is too hot for ducks? ›
In fact, ducks can thrive in sub-zero temperatures provided that they are given adequate protection from frostbite, which can damage their limbs. When it comes to high temperatures, try to keep them under temperatures of around 90 degrees.How often do ducks need to bathe? ›
If they aren't able to bathe themselves at least every couple days, they can end up with health problems. And ducks are much happier when they have somewhere to splash and bathe in. If you do not have a pond you can use a kiddy pool or water trough designed for large animals.How do you know if a duck is happy? ›
Ducks will not only quack repeatedly in a high pitched tone when they are happy but they will also bob their heads up and down. When they are turned out to get in a pond, receive fresh water in their pool, or are getting a nice yummy snack the head bobbing could go on for as long as 15 minutes.How do you get a duck to trust you? ›
How do I tame a wild duck? The best way to establish trust and tame wild ducks is to show up regularly and feed them by yourself every day if possible. Treats can also help to lure them. But don't attempt to pick up or handle them unless they're injured or sick otherwise; they may bite you.Can ducks recognize you? ›
Yes, ducks are smart such that they can remember humans even by their faces. For example, ducks can recognize someone who has fed them.Can I feed Cheerios to ducks? ›
Can You Feed Ducks Cheerios? Whether you're asking about original, honey nut, cinnamon, or multi grain Cheerios, it's best not to feed them to a duck, goose, or other bird because they include ingredients like sugar, brown sugar syrup, salt, and preservatives.
Bread, chips, crackers, donuts, cereal, popcorn and similar bread-type products and scraps are never best to feed birds. Feeding ducks bread is bad because the food has little nutritional value and can harm ducklings' growth, pollute waterways and attract rodents and other pests.What do you feed ducks everyday? ›
- Sweetcorn. It turns out that ducks are quite partial to sweetcorn. ...
- Lettuce. As a nation we're guilty of throwing away a vast amount of lettuce, especially the bagged variety. ...
- Frozen peas. ...
- Oats. ...
- Seeds. ...
Ducks prefer clean water to dirty water, and place a high value on water into which they can submerge their heads.Can ducks go all night without water? ›
The absolute longest a duck should go without water is eight hours – but even such a short time without water access could adversely affect the health of the poultry bird.Do ducks need clean water every day? ›
While ducks and geese DO need fresh, clean drinking water, and ideally have ready access to a shallow area with "dipping" water (enough for them to dip their heads in to clean their beak, nostrils, and eyes)...they DO NOT require water deep enough for swimming.Do ducks like to be petted? ›
Like other pets, such as dogs and cats, ducks enjoy being caressed and petted by humans. Since male ducks are often more docile and kind than female ducks, they usually want petting more often.How tall is a full grown duck? ›
Height - Height of Ducks varies according to Species and Gender. On an Average their height is about 5 inches or 4 inches. A Domestic Ducks length stands from up to 60 cm.What is the fastest growing meat duck? ›
Pekins are the fastest growing breed and dress very well after processing because of their white feathers. These birds are successfully used by some of our customers for pasture grown ducks.Are ducks easy to farm? ›
They are easy to care for and do not require elaborate housing. Ducks are good foragers and can obtain a large portion of their food from forage. Ducks can also benefit the family garden.Do ducks grow overnight? ›
Ducklings also grow incredibly fast. They'll be itty bitty when you get them and then wham… they're half-grown a week later.
But generally, humans are known to be the most intelligent beings, and no animals or birds can compete with them; therefore, ducks can never be more intelligent than humans. However, these birds are intelligent and can easily recognize their human friends' faces and differentiate some of their voices.How do ducks see humans? ›
Binocular Vision. With eyes set on the sides of their head, most waterfowl view the world with monocular vision (each eye is used separately) rather than binocular vision (both eyes view the same object at once). With the notable exception of owls, binocular vision is rare in birds.What is the best age to harvest ducks? ›
Ducks are fast-growing, healthy birds that are a great alternative to chickens for both meat and eggs. Most ducks can be butchered around 8 or 12 weeks and yield a luxury dark meat that can be sold for premium prices.What is the best duck size? ›
4, 3, 2, 1, BB, BBB and T shot. Naturally, smaller shot sizes are best suited for ducks, while the larger shot is better for geese and swans.What duck is easy to raise? ›
Welsh Harlequin, Buff, Silver Appleyards, Saxonies, Anconas, and Magpies are all good choices. Runners and the smaller duck breeds don't have much meat on them, but are still perfectly tasty.What is a good size for a duck? ›
#3's and 4's are the best shot sizes for ducks.