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Owners Guide to Duck and Geese Care


January 14, 2022

Group of baby ducks

Raising waterfowl like ducks and geese for meat, eggs, or just for fun is an easy and rewarding experience for new and seasoned homesteaders alike. If you are thinking of raising ducks or geese on your property, refer to our handy guide for care instructions on how to let these water birds waddle into your heart.

Raising Geese and Ducks: What to Expect

Waterfowl thrive in large grassy areas, especially if there is an area where they can bathe and swim in. Geese and ducks can be raised in separate areas or with your other poultry like chickens and turkeys in a big, happy family.

Not only can these waterfowl add personality to your backyard, but they also can provide insect and weed control through their foraging. With the proper care, ducks can live between 7 to 10 years, and geese can live between 10 to 15 years.

Ducks require between four to six square feet of room indoors and 15 square feet outdoors. Geese need about six to eight square feet of indoor space. If you are raising ducks for duck eggs, they will need at least 16 hours of daylight. Unlike chickens, ducks tend to sleep on the ground and lay most of their eggs down low, especially early in the laying cycle.

Geese are known to be territorial and can protect your flock. You should still maintain a shelter and outdoor space protected from predators. Domestic ducks and geese do not fly as well as their wild counterparts, but they can fly for short distances. You can clip feathers from one wing to prevent flying.

What You Need to Raise Ducks and Geese

  • Waterer

    Little Giant Complete Plastic Poultry Fount 1 gal.

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  • Feeder

    Little Giant Reel-Top Poultry Range Feeder 36 in.

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  • Brooder with heat bulb

    10" Aluminum Heat Lamp Brooder

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    Durvet Supreme Lighting Heat Lamp Bulb 250W

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  • Grit

    Manna Pro Chick Grit with Probiotics, 5 lb.

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  • Starter-grower and complete feed

    Purina Duck Pellet

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  • Draft-free coop
  • Pine shavings/straw for bedding

    Nature's Bedding Pine Shavings 10 Cu. Ft.

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Goose and Duck Breeds

Domestic ducks are divided between Muscovy and mallard-derived breeds. Most mallards tend to stay in monogamous pairs, unlike Muscovy ducks. Geese tend to roam in pairs or trios. Consider the breed’s behavior and meat and egg production when choosing your breed.

Khaki duck breeds are great for laying eggs, and Pekin, Rouen, and Aylesbury are suitable for meat. If you want your ducks for meat and eggs, choose dual-purpose duck breeds like Orpingtons, Blue Swedish, Muscovy, Cayugas, Saxonys, and Crested ducks.

Many waterfowl owners choose Embden goose, Chinese goose, or African goose breeds for lean meat production. They can reach up to 20 to 26 pounds when fully mature. Looking for bright and striking feathering, consider Toulouse, Pomeranian, and Sebastopol breeds.

Brooding Ducklings and Goslings

Your baby ducks will need extra love and care until they are fully feathered. At the 7 or 9 week mark, they can transition to the coop or a larger brooder. Just make sure it is draft-free to keep them at a comfortable temperature. A cardboard box or a plastic storage container can make an excellent brooder.

Give your ducklings about half a square foot of space in the first week and increase by half a square foot every week after that until they move to the coop. We recommend about three inches of pine shavings for the bedding. Change the bedding frequently to keep it clean and dry.

One heat lamp or plate can provide a good heat source for ducklings and goslings. Maintain a temperature of about 90º F during the first week and lower the temperature by 5 degrees every week after. A standard heat lamp can provide warmth for about 35 ducklings or 20 goslings. Use a thermometer to maintain an optimal temperature.

Little Giant Chick Brooder Kit

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Food

Geese and chickens in pen

Waterfowl require a complete feed featuring 38 essential nutrients throughout their life. For ducklings, avoid feeding a medicated starter-grower feed, since these can contain amprolium, a coccidiostat not needed or approved for ducks and geese.

Ducklings, in particular, require niacin early in their life, since they cannot produce this nutrient on their own. Consider Purina Duck Feed and Purina Flock Raiser as an excellent source of niacin. You can start with these options and switch to a complete layer feed when they are 24 to 26 weeks old or start to lay eggs.

If your ducks begin laying eggs, consider feeding them Purina Layena, Purina Layena Plus Omega-3, and Purina Game Bird Layena. When egg production stops, you can transition to Purina Flock Raiser, Duck Feed, or Game Bird Maintenance Chow in the meantime.

Geese have similar food requirements as ducks. For instance, Purina Flock Raiser can provide the necessary nutrients and 20% protein throughout its life. This high-protein feed is helpful for geese that need to grow muscle.

If you have geese for eggs, you can start feeding them a complete layer feed when they begin laying eggs, which can happen around the 24 to 26-week mark. Consider Purina Layena, Purina Game Bird Layena, or Purina Layena Plus Omega-3. When they stop laying eggs, transition to Flock Raiser.

Purina Flock Raiser Non-Medicated Crumbles

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Purina Flock Raiser Non-Medicated Pellets, 50 lb.

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Purina Game Bird Maintenance Crumble 50 lb.

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If you do not have access to waterfowl starter feed, you can use chicken starter crumble (with 22% protein) up to about week four and change to a pellet or crumble with 17% to 19% protein. Add brewer’s yeast to the feed or add niacin capsules to prevent niacin deficiency.

Ducks can feed on weeds, insects, and veggies, so keep your vegetable and fruit garden fenced. Geese also love weeds. In addition to their weed control, you get manure rich in phosphorus, a great addition to your compost.

Drinking Water

Ducks drinking out of water bowl

Ducks and geese need proper access to clean drinking water. For ducklings and geese, use a shallow container to prevent drowning. In addition, keep the water away from their food to avoid creating a mud puddle. Ducks and geese drink a lot of water, so check their waterers frequently.

Meat

If you want to raise geese and ducks for meat, consider the breed, feed requirements, and expected size. While some water birds can put on meat easier than others, they do not produce as many eggs as smaller breeds. You will most likely find Pekin duck breed or Embden goose breed at butcher shops. Meat from a Muscovy duck has a strong flavor and mild gaminess. Ducks can be raised for meat in two to four months, while geese can take about six months.

Water Access

Ducks swimming in pool

Ducks and geese love to splash around in swimming water. When you get your ducklings or goslings from a hatchery, they do not get a chance to have any oil on their feathers since they are not near their brooding mothers. Without oil, they can become waterlogged and will not handle the cool temperature of the water when they are young.

Ducklings can wade in shallow and warm water with close supervision. Ensure they can go in and out without your help with an appropriately-sized water area. Getting your ducklings acquainted with water early can help promote oil gland production, so they are ready to handle the water by week 5 or 6.

Eggs

Group of duck eggs

Duck and chicken eggs are very similar, but duck eggs can be up to 100% bigger than standard chicken eggs. Egg color varies by breed, feed, and environment. Most have white shells but can also come in pale blue, green, gray, or black colors.

Duck egg yolks have a richer and creamier flavor and golden orange color than chicken eggs. Some duck breeds can lay more eggs than chickens. Welsh Harlequin ducks can lay over 300 eggs per year. Smaller breeds like Runners and Campbells produce more eggs than bigger breeds.

Geese are not usually raised for eggs but can be, although they will not produce as many eggs as ducks. While ducks produce larger eggs than chickens, goose eggs can be double the size of a duck’s. They usually lay their first egg around February or March and keep laying eggs until early summer. They can lay between 20 to 50 eggs during the season.

Get Your Waterfowl Supplies at Wilco Farm Stores

Start your waterfowl family on the right foot with all the essential supplies and equipment you need from Wilco farm stores. We carry high-quality waterfowl feed, waterers, feeders, and other supplies to maintain a thriving homestead.

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