Before adding ducks to your homestead, make sure you understand how long do ducks live as homestead livestock.
Adding ducks to your homestead is a great idea; they are a happy animal that get along with chickens. Before doing so, make sure you know how long do ducks live because they often have a longer life span than chickens.
Ducks are beautiful. I love to watch our little mafia – that’s what I call them – wander around your backyard, looking for goodies to eat.
If you’ve spent time around ducks, you know how pleasant they are, so it’s natural that we want these creatures to live as long as possible.
Here is what you need to know about how long do ducks live and the factors that increase or decrease their lifespan.
How Long Do Ducks Live?
In general, a domestic duck lives 10 years or less. Larger breeds have a shorter life span, typically five to seven years. Their lifespan depends on their breed and their general care.
That doesn’t mean you cannot encourage a longer lifespan – you can!
Giving your ducks proper nutrients during their lifespan, ensuring they have access to healthy greens, giving them fresh water daily, and ensuring they have adequate and safe housing are all essential factors that determine how long do ducks live.
Duck Life Spans By Breed
These little ducks have a life span of 7-10 years. While some say they live longer, this tends to be the average. Call ducks are a bantam-sized breed that is typically kept for companionship. They’re small, weighing around three pounds, so they won’t provide much meat.
Many duck owners say their bantam breeds generally live around 12 years. Their longer lifespan is due to their slow growth period. They don’t carry a lot of weight, and since they grow slower, their bodies last longer.
Indian Runner Ducks
Indian Runners live 8-12 years as pets, but if they live in the wild, their life span is much lower. They only live one to two years in the wild, so backyard living is best for them.
A Khaki Campbell duck will generally live 8-10 years as a pet duck, but some say they live upward of 15 years.
When kept as domestic ducks, mallard ducks live 8-10 years, but they only live 3-5 years in the wild. Currently, a Mallard duck (a male) holds the record for the oldest duck in the world – 26 years and 4 months – so it’s evident that these ducks can live quite a long and healthy life.
Medium-Sized Ducks: Cayuga & Swedish Ducks
These are two examples of medium to light ducks, and they have a longer lifespan than large ducks. Expect these ducks to live 10-13 years. However, they typically won’t lay eggs that entire time frame.
Muscovy ducks are one of the most popular breeds for homesteaders to raise. They adapt well to most climates and have a long lifespan, typically between 8-12 years long. However, some duck owners say their muscovy ducks live over 12 years.
Pekin ducks tend to have an average lifespan between 5-10 years. However, these white ducks may live as long as 20 years, according to many duck owners.
In general, their lifespan is closer to the five year mark because they have excessively fast growth rate. They often have leg problems within a few years, and death follows after. However, once their leg problems begin, their useful life span has ended, and they tend to not lay eggs anymore.
Rouen ducks look like Mallard ducks, but they’re larger in size. We know they originated in France in the 19th century, and they’re primarily raised for meat not eggs.
The typical lifespan of a Rouen duck is 5-9 years.
Factors That Determine How Long a Duck Lives
Bringing a duck onto your homestead is an investment, and you want the duck to live as long as possible. Several factors affect the lifespan of a homestead duck.
It’s impossible to control all factors, but here are the most common things that will increase or decrease a duck’s lifespan.
Proper Feeding and Nutrition
Giving your ducks the longest life span possible starts with feeding them the proper feed all throughout their lives, and that starts as ducklings.
Ducklings need to be fed a duck starter feed that includes niacin and all the nutrients needed for their rapidly growing bodies. After several weeks, it’s safe to transfer the ducklings off of the starter feed and onto an appropriate duck grower feed.
Related: Raising Baby Ducks for Beginners
Duck grower feed gives them plenty of nutrients to encourage and fuel their fast growth. Ducks grow much faster than chickens; you’ll notice this if you have a mixed flock. Gradually, you’ll move them onto a lower protein feed to make sure they don’t end up overweight.
Adult ducks, especially laying hens, need a 16% protein layer feed with calcium. If it doesn’t have enough calcium, you can offer oyster shells as calcium supplements, but this is best done as free choice rather than mixed into their feed.
Then, you want your ducks to have plenty of greens. Let them roam your yard and eat up the weeds and bugs, and if they can’t roam that day, make sure they have vegetable peels and other scraps throughout the week.
Ducks also need grit to help digest food that they eat when roaming your homestead. Plus, don’t forget, they need access to clean water every day all day. Not only do ducks want to splash and play in water, but it’s also needed for them to eat and properly digest their food.
Having Access to Adequate Duck Housing
If you want to make sure your ducks live a long life, give them adequate duck housing. They need a safe shelter to protect them from the elements, especially when it gets too cold outside.
Ducks need space to huddle together and sleep; they’re true cuddlers with each other. They need to have housing that is predator proof and will ensure they live a long life without being eaten, which is a seriously unfortunate way to go.
Let’s not forget the housing also means keeping their housing clean. You have to clean it up and make sure they have all the bedding they need to keep pests and diseases away.
Most backyard ducks will live a long life without veterinary care, but if you own ducks, make sure you research ahead of time farm vets that will see your ducks in your area. Not all vets see ducks or chickens.
Ducks face a range of issues that may require veterinary care, such as:
- Upper Respiratory Problems
Living a Happy Life
Ducks have other needs besides water, food, and shelter; they want to live a happy life. That means they need to have friends; socialization is essential for your ducks. They like to roam free, if possible, and they want to eat bugs, weeds, and swim around like happy ducks.
When it comes to how long do ducks live, the answer is they may live anywhere from 5 to 12 years, depending on their breed and their lives. Smaller duck breeds will live longer than larger breeds, and remember to take special care with their feed, water, and housing.