Ducks are very hardy and need almost the same things to get started as chickens with a few modifications.
Ducks can be housed with other poultry however they are messy and will play in any water source they come in contact with. We prefer to house ours separately although they all free range together with no problems.
The same brooder used for chickens can be used for ducks however we use straw instead of shavings for our ducklings and they will need their bedding changed more often.
Wet spots should be removed and bedding replaced every day. If using shavings, avoid adding large amounts while the ducklings are in the brooder as shavings are very dusty. Cedar shavings should be avoided as they can give off fumes due to the heat lamp.
Ducklings need a brooder that is about 90° for the first week and then the temperature should be lowered by 5° each week afterwards. Once the temperature in the brooder is the same as the environment (inside or outside) the heat source can be removed. A thermometer is a great investment for someone new to brooding. The heat lamp should be placed so that the ducklings can get away from the heat if needed. Overheating is just as dangerous as chilling for ducklings.
Feeders and waterers should be placed at the perimeter of the heat source. Ducklings may not go to eat and drink if the area is too hot or too cold.
Ducklings need to have constant access to water whenever feed is available. They need to be able to wash their eyes and nares (nostrils) to remove dust or debris. A chick waterer can be used for the first week or so but they will quickly outgrow it. Adding large marbles to the base of the waterer will help to keep the babies out of the water. A non-spill waterer can be easily and cheaply made. A gallon milk jug or shallow food storage container can be used. Simply cut a hole at the height of the ducklings back that is large enough for them to fit just their entire head in. These will need to be replaced on a weekly basis as the ducklings outgrow them.
A platform can be fashioned out of a container covered in hardware cloth so the splashing of the waterer is contained there.
Place the waterer in the brooder in advance so that the water is room temperature. When the ducklings arrive, dip each of their beaks in the water and ensure that they swallow.
It is recommended that ducklings have feed available 24/7 for the first 6 weeks under certain conditions (Holderread, Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks) . Ducklings should be fed starter feed with 18-20% protein for the first two weeks. This can be in a crumble form or a mash. Mash should be wet to make it easier to eat. If mash is used, it must be replaced several times a day to prevent spoilage. They can be given chick starter, duck/waterfowl starter, broiler starter, or turkey starter. Care should be taken when feeding a higher protein level feed as physical damage can result.
For many people, duck specific feed is not available. Many people have good results feeding starter or a feed developed for all ages/species. Layer feed should NEVER be given to growing ducklings as the calcium level is too high and can result in damage or death.
Feeders should be shallow for the first few days. Jar lids, egg carton flats or anything that will not tip but is very low will work. Once eating well, they can be switched to troughs.
Whole grains should not be given until ducklings are several weeks old.
If ducklings are fed chick starter a niacin supplement should be given for the first 10 weeks. Brewer’s yeast can be added to feed (2-3 cups per 10 lbs of feed) or niacin tablets can be added to water (100-150mg per gallon).
Ducklings do not need grit if they are fed only commercial feed. If grains or greens are fed, they need appropriate size grit.