The True Cost of Raising Ducks on The Homestead
Have you ever wondered – how much do baby ducks cost? – or how much does it cost to raise ducks on a homestead? Let me tell you!
Adding ducks to our homestead has been, in my opinion, one of my favorite decisions. However, I had a lot of questions beforehand about the cost of raising ducks, and they all started with – how much do baby ducks cost?
I had a bit of a sticker shock when I saw the cost of baby ducks.
When I visit my local Rural King, baby chicks cost anywhere from $1 to $3 per chick – I really love when I find them discounted for $.50, but my husband doesn’t because it means I’m bring home more babies.
Baby ducks cost quite a bit more – double the cost. When you look at hatcheries, some ducks are the cost of fully grow chickens.
That might lead you to wonder if the overall cost of raising ducks is higher, so let’s break it down and look at the general cost of keeping ducks on a homestead.
Related: Raising Baby Ducks for Beginners
How Much Do Baby Ducks Cost?
The cost of individual ducklings range from $6 at your local farm and fleet store upwards of $25 to $30 per duck at hatcheries. It all depends on the breed of ducks, and while you might not want to, you have to buy more than one duckling.
You’ll even find that farm stores won’t sell a single duckling.
Ducklings are social animals that imprint on their flock. They need buddies to hang out with; they are stuck to each other like glue!
Let’s not forget that, while ducklings tend to be hardier than baby chicks, it’s still possible to lose a few in the early weeks. So, if you only have two ducklings and one dies, you may end up with a lone duckling. Then, that duckling could die from loneliness – seriously – or you’ll need to find more buddies ASAP.
So, when it comes to the question of how much do baby ducks cost, the answer is $6-$30 per duckling. Expect to pay $24 to $120 – or more – for your first duckling flock.
Related: All About Niacin for Ducks: What You Should Know
Costs of Raising Ducks – Getting Supplies
The first thing you have to do before buying ducklings is setting up a brooder box. Young ducklings cannot maintain their body temperature yet, so they need a heat source just like baby chicks!
You have two options:
- Heat Lamp with a Clamp Lamp
- Brooder plate
After using heat lamps for years, I recently switched to brooder plates, and I’ll never go back. It’s important for ducklings to be able to keep warm, and they like to have a warm side an a cool side to their brooder spaces. Brooder plates create the perfect environment for baby ducks.
A brooder plate costs around $50, while a heat lamp with a clamp lamp costs around $25.
However, a brooder plate will last longer because you have to replace heat lamp bulbs regularly, and they don’t have as high of a risk of fire.
Then, you need several other supplies for raising ducks.
- A brooder box – DIY or even a Rubbermaid Tote
- Duckling feeder
- Duckling waterer
- Duckling feed
You don’t have to go all out when it comes to raising ducklings. A brooder box can be as simple as a large plastic tote that you have laying around your house, or you might want to build a box if you plan to raise ducklings multiple times.
Some people use cardboard boxes, but I recommend against that because you’ll eventually give your baby ducks a space to get into water. Cardboard and water don’t mix.
The total cost of getting supplies for ducklings ranges from $40 to $180, depending on what you use for your brooder.
Supplies for Adult Ducks
Ducklings phase out of their brooder space fairly quickly, so you’ll want to get ready for their adult space shortly after they arrive home.
Ducks need a few things, and we’ll discuss each one in detail:
- Feeders & Waterers
- Duck Feed
- Water Access
Shelter is one of the biggest investment when considering the cost of raising ducks. Their duck home doesn’t have to be fancy, but it needs to protect them from the elements and predators.
The cost could range from $20 if you have all sorts of materials laying around your homestead – or if you want to raise your ducks with your chickens – up to $500 (or more). The sky really is the limit as well as your budget.
Ducks need feeders that allow them to scoop the food, so many conventional chicken feeders won’t work. I’ve found that rubber bowls are an inexpensive yet effective feeder for ducks.
Your ducks also need water, and once again, rubber bowls are a favorite for me. However, ducks will swim in anything, so if you want them to solely drink in these waterers, set it up on a stand or a milk crate and make it too small for them to fit into to swim.
Another thing your ducks need is a space to swim, but despite what rumors tell you, you don’t have to build a massive pond for ducks. Instead, grab a few kiddie pools – they cost between $10 and $20 and work great.
Don’t get an inflatable one – you need a hard plastic kiddie pool.
In the winter, make sure you give your ducks water that is unfrozen and deep enough for them to submerge their tea and clear out their nostrils. They don’t necessarily need to swim, but clearing out their nostrils prevents respiratory infections.
Related: Raising Ducks in the Winter: Everything You Need to Know
These one-time supplies for ducks varies widely. The cost could be nothing for your shelter if using an existing shelter or upwards of $500 (or more).
Expect to spend between $50 upwards of $600!
The Yearly Costs of Raising Ducks
After you have all of your supplies, the yearly cost of raising ducks is pretty low. The thing you have to buy the most is duck feed, which ranges in price based on what type – organic or non-organic – and where you get it.
Some feed stores offer duck feed in bulk for a cheaper price, helping you save some money.
One duck eats 2lbs of food per week, totaling 8lbs per month. This could change if you free range your ducks; they forage well and eat less duck feed.
So, if you have six ducks, you need one 50lb bag of food per month. A 50lb bag costs around $20 at my local farm store.
Then, you need bedding and nesting materials. I use pine shavings for our combined duck and chicken coop. A bag costs $4, and I buy two bags per month. However, if you have a smaller duck shelter, you may only need one bag per month.
Nesting is ideal; ducks love straw for a nest. A bale of hay sells for around $10 and will last you several months when you only use it for nesting materials.
Expect your yearly costs to be around $250-300, depending on the cost of your food and how much bedding you use – as well as how may ducks you have!
What About Vet Visits?
Ducks rarely need to visit the vet if you give them a predator proof shelter and a healthy diet, but it could happen. Hopefully not.
However, two problems that may require a vet’s help are bumble foot and diarrhea, but finding a vet qualified to handle ducks isn’t so easy. Call around and ask ahead of time.
Vet exams cost between $50 to $75, and treatments may cost anywhere from $10 to $50.
Keep in mind that this is not common. I’ve raised ducks for three years and never needed a vet visit yet.
Before getting ducks, make sure you know the true cost of raising ducks. A flock of six docks costs upwards of $250 per year with regular costs, plus the supplies to raise ducklings AND to supplies to keep adult ducks.
Don’t be blindsided by the costs of raising ducks.