How Much Does It Cost To Keep, Feed and Raise A Pet Duck(s)

Ducks love water 1 (1)

Ducks are gaining in popularity and why not? They are cute, fun to watch and they have the most adorable waddles. 

How Much Does It Cost To Keep A Pet Duck? Pet duck costs range widely in price. If you have a setup already congruent for ducks, then the annual costs of feeding ducks can be as little as $100 a year. But, if you need duck supplies, ducks could cost you hundreds of dollars in setup and supplies. 

The economics of raising ducks depends greatly on several factors. This article will dive deeper into the setup costs of pet ducks, as well as the annual costs and variables involved. 

Cost of Ducks by Breed

The cost of individual ducklings will vary depending on the hatcheries available to you. Hatcheries vary in price $1.00-$2.00 more or less than the estimates here. 

I priced hatcheries across the United States and found that almost all of the ducks listed in this table could be found both more and less than listed.

You will want to order at least 2-3 ducklings of the same breed when you purchase ducklings. Some hatcheries will require a minimum order of at least 5 ducklings in certain breeds. 

The following prices are more of an average cost for duckling breeds. 

Cost of Ducklings By Breed

$5-6.99 $7-8.99 $9.00 or more 
Buff Ducks

Pekin Duckling

Khaki Campbell

Rouen Duckling

White Layer

Black Swedish Duckling

Blue Runner Duckling

Blue Swedish Duckling

Cayuga Duckling

Chocolate Runner Duckling

Fawn / White Runner

Magpie Duckling

Mallard Duckling

White Pekin Duckling

Cayuga Duckling

White Crested Duckling

Welsh Harlequin Duckling

Silver Appleyard

Saxony

There are other “specialty” modern breeds that you may also find at hatcheries.

Why You Need To Buy More Than 1 Duck (And Should Buy Several) 

If you want to get a duck as an indoor pet, you should get at least 2 ducks. 

Even if you plan on being the main companion for your duck, please consider a companion for your furry friend. 

Ducks need constant companionship. 

Unless you are independently wealthy and don’t work or ever want to go out with friends or on vacation, you cannot provide your duck enough companionship.

Ducks are flock animals. They absolutely need at least one other duck to be happy. They are happiest with at least 3 or 4 friends. 

There is a chance that one of your ducklings may die. If you purchase only 2 ducklings, then your remaining duckling will be sad and lonely. 

But that’s not all! 

When you purchase ducks, they will come straight run. That means that you won’t know if you are getting drakes or female ducks. 

You may get all males or more males than females. With ducks, some drakes can be very aggressive when mating and you may need to give one or two of them away. 

One-Time Duck Expenses 

When you get a pet duck or decide to raise ducks for the first time, there will be some one-time expenses that you will have to get set up for your ducks. 

The extent of those costs will depend on your own resources and the supplies you already have. 

I’ve included a full list of what you will need as bare basics. I’ve broken down the supplies into a simplified DIY and scrap together supplies and the cost of purchasing the supplies.

Brooding Supplies Costs

Ducklings are too small to maintain their own body heat. They need to have a brooder to stay warm until their feathers grow in. 

Brooding Supplies That I Recommend (And Their Costs)

The exact brooding supplies you need will depend on whether you plan to raise many ducklings or only a few. 

Even if you plan to brood your ducklings inside your house, you will still need to provide an additional heat source. Baby ducks don’t have a way to keep warm and will get cold in a house. 

Ducklings need 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit for the first 3-4 days. You can drop the temperature a few degrees every 3-4 days. (Chart below)

Don’t forget! 

It’s important that your brooder has both a warm spot and a cooler spot. Ducklings should be able to go under the heat light or heat plate to warm up and should be able to get away if they are too warm. 

How do I know if my ducklings are warm enough? Your ducklings will tell you if they are cold or hot. If most of the time, the ducklings are crowded under the heat source, then they are still cold and you should not lower the temperature of the brooder. 

But, if the ducklings spend most of their time away from the heat source, then lower the temperature inside the brooder by a few degrees.  

When can my ducklings go outside? Ducklings shouldn’t go outside until they are fully feathered. This usually happens at 8-10 weeks. If you live in an especially warm climate and the temperature gets into the 90s while you are raising ducklings, then you can start to put ducklings outside during the day. 

But, make sure they have a safe place free from predators. 

Otherwise, when you have lowered the brooding temperature down to the temperatures outside, you can move our ducklings outside.

Brooding Temperatures of Ducklings For the FIrst 2 Months 

 

Age of the Ducklings Temperature Needed
Days 1-3 90-95 degrees
Days 4-7 85-90 degrees
Week 2 80-85 degrees
Week 3 73-78 degrees
Week 4 66-73 degrees
Each week after Drop by 5-7 degrees until the temperature matches the outside temperature

DIY Brooder Setup versus Nicer Brooders 

Everyone has different budgets for their ducklings. If your ducklings are intended to be an indoor pet, you are probably planning to spend more on their comfort than if you are raising your duckling for meat. 

Let’s cover the lower cost and higher quality options.

Low-Cost DIY Brooder Setup 

It is possible to scrounge around and spend very little on brooding supplies. At the very least, you will need a heat lamp to keep your ducklings warm. 

Heat lamps don’t have great clamps. I recommend trying the clamp of your heat lamp to rope or a ratchet system so that you can control where the lamp hangs and raise and lower it. The clamps won’t hold very well to the sides of your brooder box and that poses a fire risk. 

Cheap heat lamps usually come without safety guards but will keep your ducklings warm. You can buy a heat lamp, bulb, and a little twine for as little as $20-25. 

The bulbs will last you for more than one batch of ducklings. 

You can use cardboard boxes for the brooder. Change the boxes as your ducklings get them wet and stinky. 

For food and water, use old sour cream containers and cut down so the sides aren’t too tall for the tiny hatchlings. You will need to change the sizes of the containers over the first 8 weeks as your ducklings grow. 

For cheap bedding, you can use shredded paper as a cheaper alternative. Make sure that you change it daily to keep the smell down and the bedding dryer. 

  • Cardboard boxes for the brooder containers 
  • Sour cream and yogurt containers as feeders and waterers
  • Shredded paper as bedding 
  • Heat lamp and bulb $25 

This setup requires more diligence from you to keep your ducks dry and clean and their food and water-filled. 

Middle-Class Chick Brooder 

I recommend spending an additional $10 and getting a heat lamp that has mesh protection that keeps the bulb from touching a surface if it falls. 

In addition, I also recommend using a ratchet to raise and lower your heat lamp above your brooder. This will save you time each day and make it easier to control the temperature. 

Chick and duckling feeders will reduce waste. Ducklings are very messy and spill food everywhere. 

Feeding and watering stations cost under $20. 

Another trick is to use a paint tray to create a place where your ducklings can spill water without it soaking into their bedding. This setup costs about $20, but will save tons on wet bedding and time changing the bedding. 

Simply place a paint tray in the brooder. Set the paint guard over it, but backward so the tray is horizontal and not slanted. 

Use a paint roller to keep ducks drier (1)

Put your water and feed over the guard. Then add your bedding around the tray. This gives your ducklings some space where water can drip into the tray before they get their bedding wet. 

I recommend using a Rubbermaid tote. They are much easier to clean and store. You can also use it as a temporary shelter when your ducklings start to go outside. 

Wood shavings will absorb a lot more water than paper without going rancid. They won’t need to be changed as often. 

But, 

Don’t use cedar shavings. Cedar repels insects, but the fumes from it can also be harmful to ducklings. 

High-Class Brooder Option 

The higher class option works well if you don’t have a lot of time and don’t really want to have to put together a brooder. 

It also works well if you plan to raise many ducks every year. It will save you more time. 

You can purchase a brooder box or kit that basically comes with the feeder stations, a heat source, and an adjustable container for about $300-400 depending on the exact setup you get. 

If you want something that’s safer than a heat lamp and want to put together a great brooder’s box, then I’d recommend a heat plate. 

Heat plates are made for ducklings and chicks and will stay at a constant temperature. The babies can go under them when chilled and out when warm. They adjust in height so it’s easy to use as your chicks grow. 

Duckling Brooder Setup Costs (Lower, Medium, High)

Lower Cost Equipment Cost 
Heat Lamp and Bulb $21
Various Sizes of Cardboard boxes Free
Rope or Twine $4-5
Upcycled plastic containers Free
Shredded Newspaper or paper Free
Total Cost  $26
Better Quality Equipment Cost
Safety Heat Lamp and Bulb $40
Rubbermaid Tub 30 gallon $25
Ratchet Set To Lower And Raise The Heat Lamp $15-20
Feeding and Watering Station $17
DIY Drip System To Keep Bedding Dryer (new article? Or video) $20
Wood Shavings $32
Total Cost $134
Highest Quality Equipment Cost
Heating Plate $76
Or Ceramic Heating Lamp and Bulb $32
Rubbermaid Tub 30 gallon $25
Brooder’s Box (If you want to buy a kit) $399
Feeding and Watering Station $17
Wood Shavings $32
Total Cost  $106-$399

As you can see, there are a lot of options for brooders. For a beginner, go with wood shavings, a Rubbermaid tub, and the cheaper heating lamp tied with a rope.
You can always upgrade as you go along. 

Can I Brood Chicken and Ducks Together? Chicks and ducklings should never brood together. Ducklings make a very wet mess that’s likely to kill of several of the chicks, who can’t handle the wet. 

Also, ducklings grow a lot faster than chickens. Chicks are much smaller, as much as half the size within the first 1-2 weeks. Both chicks and ducklings are unaware of struggling mates and will trample over them. 

Duck House Expenses

Duck houses vary widely. Ducks don’t need an airtight house to be happy. They actually like their houses a little airy. 

Old dog houses and rickety duck houses often are ideal. 

If you have something you can use already, definitely use it. 

A new duck house will cost you between $20-$300 depending on what’s available. 

I built a duck house out of pallets that I got for free. It cost me about $15 in screws and $10 in tin for the roof. 

We built our duck house out of pellets (1)

You can also build one out of new materials, which will cost you more. 

Or you can purchase one. There are several for sale on Amazon that cost between $100-$200 and will house 3-4 ducks

Food Equipment And The Costs

Once your ducks are grown, you will need larger watering and feed containers. Whether you plan to free-range them or give them duck feed will determine the food supplies you need. 

If you free range your ducks, then you won’t need a food container during the summer months. 

You can still give them extra scraps from your garden and produce that you don’t eat. And, they can eat crushed eggshells, produce peelings and other waste. 

But, even in the summer, I still scatter feed for them in the evenings. 

In the winter, you will need to feed your ducks daily. 

There are different types of duck feeders out there. Here is my take on them. 

Bucket Chicken and Duck Feeder is a great option. You can make these yourself or purchase them. I went to make one last year and found that the cost of the elbow pipes actually made the DIY ones more expensive than the ones available on Amazon. They are about $60. 

These bucket feeders do a great job of reducing food waste. Ducks are very messy and they spill food everywhere.

Train your ducks use a specific feeder by adding greens. After that, your ducks will know where to go for food. 

Hanging Poultry Feeder costs under $20. This feeder wastes food more. If you have rats or mice in your area, they will get into the food. But, it’s a low-cost option and makes a great feeder for the price.

There is a metal option for this style of feeder, but it has issues and I don’t recommend it. 

The feeder is made for use inside a shelter, which I’m not a fan of. I prefer to keep their living environment more dry and clean. 

Rubber Feed Pans are the option I used first. I put out the feed for a part of the day for the ducks and put it away at night. 

Ducks don’t need to eat at night. At $10-13, these feed pans are a cheap and easy way to go.
They also allow you to feed other produce to your ducks as well as to mix calcium into their feed if their eggs seem a little soft. 

Water Equipment For Ducks

If you live in a moderate climate, you won’t need any extra winter equipment. 

During warmer and above-freezing weather, you can turn on a hose in your duck run. 

Your ducks will love it. The water will turn into a little unofficial pond that the ducks can swim and splash in while providing constant fresh water. 

Or you can provide a small swimming pool. 

Kiddie pools can usually be purchased at local stores from between $10-20 in the spring. I prefer the hard-shelled plastic ones. 

If you have a deeper pool, you will need to partially bury it in the ground or provide a ramp-up to the sides of the pool. Ducks don’t fly or jump well. 

If you live in a colder climate, then you are going to need to get a heated waterer. 

This is critical! 

Ducks absolutely must have constant access to water during the day. 

This is important in both summer and winter.

Water helps them to regulate their body temperature and is critical to good health.

Ducks must be able to submerge their heads in the water to clean out their nostrils when they eat. 

If they can’t, they will get clogged food in their noses and it will get infected. Or, it will cause them to choke. 

Here are my recommended options for waterers from best to cheapest.

6.5 Poultry Drinker fills from the top. It costs about $45, but pairs well with a water heater. The drinker needs to be placed on a cinder block or wood so it’s raised off the ground.

That will help it to stay cleaner with your ducks. 

The 6.5 gallons will last 4 ducks for 3-4 days. This will give you a little more time and freedom to be gone for a few days. 

Heater Base or the Metal Version are great options. They are both around $45 on Amazon. Both heaters will keep the water in your drinker from freezing. It doesn’t keep it warm, but it keeps the water from freezing on super cold days. 

We can get -15 Fahrenheit with the wind chill during January. But, the base water heater still keeps the water available for my ducks! I actually have three.

Water Pan is a lower-cost solution. It will cost you between $10-12 for a 3-gallon pan. You won’t want a pan that’s bigger than that unless you partially bury it. 

Submersible De-Icer works with the watering pan. The deicer sits inside the water and keeps it from freezing. Deicers range on Amazon for between $40 and $60, depending on the time of the year you purchase it. 

This Submersible De-Icer is built for larger tanks or ponds. If you build a pond for your duck, then it’s a great option and only costs about $40. 

5 Gallon Nipple Waterer works fairly well, especially for $40. I recommend the 5 gallons over the 2 gallons because ducks go through a lot of water and it will save you time. You can also make one.

It provides a nipple watering system that allows ducks to dip their beak in to get water. The water doesn’t spill as much or make as big of a mess. 

This is a fairly good option for inside a duck house or shed. But, ducks can be too strong for the nipple waterers and break them. Have extra nipple cups on hand to replace them if they break. 

Additionally, you will want to raise up the waterer off the ground. 

One con of this product is that it isn’t heated and there isn’t a great way to heat the water. It doesn’t work well in freezing temperatures.

1.5 Liter Waterer and Feeder Kit is my least preferred option. Once your ducks grow up, even if you only have 2 of them, they will go through a lot of water. 

This waterer is simply too small to be helpful. You will find yourself refilling it constantly all day long. And if you are busy or go grocery shopping- your ducks will go without water, which causes its own health problems. 

Water or Feeder Options Costs Pros/Cons
6.5 Poultry Drinker $45 Saves time, Pairs well with a heater
Heater Base $45 Adjusts to the drinkers, efficient
Best = $90
Water Pan $12 Must be filled daily, sometimes multiple times a day
Submersible De-Icer $40-60 Works with any open waterer
Ok option = $82
1.5 Liter Waterer and Feeder Kit $17  Pair it with the Submersible De-Icer Will need to be filled many times a day, as much as once an hour or more. Totally inefficient for grown ducks
Poor Option =$87

Duck Run Costs 

Ducks need a safe place to run. They are at risk against predators. Predators include anything from local dogs to foxes, raccoons, bears, weasels, and other animals. 

At night, lock your ducks in their house for extra protection. 

During the day, they still need safety. Neighborhood dogs can kill or harm your ducks. 

Fencing options range widely in costs, depending on what you already have in your yard. 

If you have fencing, but it doesn’t keep out animals, one of the lowest-cost options to fence in your ducks is to use green construction fencing

On Amazon, you can purchase 4-foot high fencing that’s 100 feet long for under $30. That makes it easy and economical to fence in a large area. Plus it’s easily moved if you need to move your duck run. 

For a long-term investment, I like 4 ft tall Hog or Cattle Panels. I prefer the ones that are only 2 inches square because it keeps out smaller animals better. 

They aren’t raccoon, skunk, or weasel proof though. 

Ducks need other ducks (1)

Amazon doesn’t sell them, but a local farm supply store should sell 16-20 foot long panels for between $25-35 each. 

You can also go with an electric fence to keep out predators. But, the voltage may need to be too high for a duck. You will need to have a smaller internal fence to keep the ducks away from the fence so they don’t get shocked. 

Welded Wire Fencing is another great option. You will need stakes to put up this fencing, but it lasts a long time and has small enough gauge to keep ducks in and most predators out. 

Pet Duck Additional Expenses

If your pet duck is an indoor pet or an especially beloved pet, there are a few additional expenses you should plan on. 

Diapers for Your Indoor Duck

Duck diapers are necessary for any indoor duck. Ducks do not potty train. 

I haven’t used a duck diaper, so I checked out many diapers and their reviews. Duck diapers are still fairly new to the market, but the best ones I found were these diapers on Amazon. 

They cost about $30, including shipping, but users are happy with them. You will need to accurately measure your ducks to make sure you get the right sizes. These duckling diapers are also available in a set of 4 sizes for growing ducklings. They cost about $40 for the set of 4. 

A Babysitter 

If you have indoor ducks, you’ll need a duck sitter. 

The cost of a duck sitter will vary widely from city to city. 

Price out the cost of a duck sitter. You may not be able to find a commercial location that watches ducks and may need to advertise for an individual that loves animals and is willing to watch your ducks for you while you are gone. 

Vet Bills 

Only a small percentage of vets in the United States will treat poultry. If you can find a vet that’s willing and experience in treating ducks, then plan on spending between $150-$200 on a vet visit. 

Ducks generally don’t need immunizations unless they are exposed to specific risks. 

Reoccuring Duck Expenses

Once you have ducks, you will have some annual and monthly expenses. Ducks need hay to build their nests and they need water. 

A small hay bale usually costs between $3 and $10 depending on the quality of the hay and the season of the year. 

Ducks can also use straw to build their nests, which can often be found for free during the spring. 

Ducks love running water (1)

The cost of the water for your ducks will depend on your location. Where I live, I have well water. But, before this, I lived in a city and my water was metered. 

According to a government study of 40 cities across the USA, the average price for water is $3.38 per thousand gallons as of 2016. If you provide a 10-gallon swimming pool for your ducks and you empty it every day, it would cost you approximately $1,079 a year in a water bill. 

But, keep in mind that the study I mentioned tracked only major cities where water rates were higher. If you live in the suburbs or country, your water bill will be much lower. 

Cost To Feed A Duck

Your ducks will need regular sources of food. In addition to duck food, you will want to provide oyster shell and grit. 

Ducks eat on average about 170-200 grams of food a day. That’s about ¾ of a cup of food. During the summer, they can live on less if they are able to forage for bugs and worms. 

How Much Does It Cost To Feed A Duck? The kind of feed will make a huge difference in this estimate. If you purchase your feed from Amazon, the lowest cost available is 40 lbs of duck feed for $61.50. That’s about $1.50 a pound. 

If you have a local feed store or farm supply store, you can probably get it a little cheaper. At my local C-A-L Ranch Store, I can purchase 50 lbs of feed for $16. That’s only $0.32 a pound. 

Each duck will eat about 3 bags of food a year. So 2 ducks will cost you between $96 at C-A-L Ranch and $369 off Amazon. 

You can also purchase a bag of grit for your ducks. Ducks need grit. But, if your ducks are free-ranging, they won’t really need additional grit. They can get the grit from the dirt in the ground. 

A 5 lb bag of Grit is about $14 on Amazon. You can also buy all-purpose or builders sand at your local hardware store, which is probably going to be a lot less per pound. 

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