Before getting ducks, you need to know whether ducks need a pond. While ducks love swimming, a large pond isn’t a necessity to raise ducks!
Everyone knows that ducks love water; you find them at lakes, splashing and swimming. So, when you decide to raise ducks, it’s natural to wonder – do ducks need a pond? It’s one of the most commonly asked questions for new duck keepers, especially if you want to raise ducks on a small homestead.
The quick answer is that ducks don’t require a large pond. You don’t need to rent a backhoe and start digging a pond in the middle of your backyard. Ducks require a place to bathe so that they can clean their bills and feathers.
Anything that holds water deep enough for them to do so is appropriate.
One difference between raising chickens and duck breeds is that ducks need access to water at all times. They can go without water for several hours, but it’s not ideal for them to do so for their overall health and well-being.
While some people may want to dig a big pond, most lack the funds and equipment – not to mention the space – but still keep ducks without needing huge construction. A bit of creativity and a plastic baby pool is all that you need to create the perfect space for your ducks.
Do Ducks Need a Pond?
No, backyard ducks don’t require a pond. However, ducks need to have access to water deep enough to submerge their entire head. It’s a requirement for duck owners to give this access to their ducks.
Domestic ducks need to be able to submerge their head to keep their mucous membranes moist and clean. You need fresh water available, which is harder than you may think because ducks quickly make the water dirty.
When ducks eat anything from the dirt, they need to be able to rinse the dirt out or wash the food down. Eating without access to water may cause your duck to choke. A nipple waterer is not an acceptable option for ducks.
The season of the year doesn’t matter!
You may spot wild ducks in ponds and lakes throughout the winter. Unlike chickens, which are susceptible to frostbite, ducks dry fast, and their oil glands protect their bodies from cold temperatures.
So, even if it’s cold outside, they need access to unfrozen water.
A few Christmases ago, we had freezing temperatures, and as we walked home from my in-laws (who live in my backyard), we watched my ducks float around happily, despite the temps almost reaching the single digits!
Why Do Ducks Need Water?
Ducks love water; it’s part of what they are. When it rains, my ducks are outside like the world is their pond and psyched.
However, ducks need water access for a variety of reasons aside from drinking, which is something all living animals require. Here are a few reasons that ducks need water.
The first reason why ducks need water is hydration. All animals need to stay hydrated, so providing your ducks with water is necessary for their survival.
Ducks have a special gland near their tail that produces oil, which they spread over their feathers to keep them waterproof and insulated. Without water, ducks cannot properly maintain these oil glands, and their feathers can become damaged, leading to health problems. The oil also helps them swim and protects their body from the rain and cold.
Ducks are pretty cold-hardy, despite what you may think, and most of this is due to their oils.
Another reason that ducks need a pond is to keep their feathers healthy. Feather health is essential for the overall health of your ducks, and you may notice your ducks love spending time preening their feathers after bathing. The preening is part of their process to clean and condition their feathers.
Feathers really are quite important for your duck’s health. It protects their body from the weather and allows their body to regulate hot and cold temperatures. Ducks only molt and get new feathers once a year, so they need to keep their feathers in proper working order.
Parasites & Mites
Ducks, like chickens, are subject to a variety of mites and parasites. Chickens use a dust bath to get rid of these pests, but ducks don’t fluff in the dirt. Instead, they need to have water to take a bath.
Ducks may dirty up their water, but they keep themselves clean and free of pests, as long as they have clean water available for daily bathing.
Ducks mate regularly, but hatching duck eggs is difficult, and part of that is due to fertility ratios. Fertility is said to increase when mating happens while swimming.
Ducks can mate out of the water but prefer to mate in the water. Don’t worry; even if it looks like the drake is drowning the hen, they are fine!
As a duck owner, I know that exercise is crucial for the health of my ducks. A pond provides a perfect opportunity for ducks to swim, dive, and play.
Swimming in a pond can help ducks develop their muscles, improve their circulation, and maintain a healthy weight. In addition, swimming can provide mental stimulation for ducks, helping them to stay active and engaged.
Additionally, water provides ducks with a source of exercise and entertainment, which can help reduce stress and aggression. So while a pond may not be necessary for survival, it can greatly improve the quality of life for your feathered friends.
Think about it!
Water helps your ducks stay healthy and clean and allows them the proper space to mate and swim. It’s a no-brainer that a pond or access to clean water creates happier ducks.
4 Options to Give Your Duck Water
You need to give your ducks some sort of body of water that is deep enough to submerge their heads. Here are some ideas to give your flock enough water.
Also, remember, your ducks need water all year round, including the winter months.
What about a Puddle?
Try telling my ducks that a puddle isn’t the best thing since sliced bread. They won’t believe you.
However, a puddle isn’t sufficient for all your ducks’ needs. They will jump and splash in a puddle, but since you cannot fix their size and ensure they stay there, these only make your ducks happy occasionally.
Rubber Livestock Tubs
An easy option to give ducks water is rubber livestock tubs, available at most feed stores.
Heavy-duty rubber tubs are deep enough for ducks to submerge their heads, and will most definitely get into the tub. They’re affordable, and you can place several around your coop or run to give your ducks multiple spaces to get water and duck their heads.
Small Pools for Duck Baths
My favorite option for providing water for ducks is baby pools. A small, movable structure that you can flip and drain easily works great.
Kiddie pools are less than $15 at most stores, or you can grab some turtle sandboxes from friends who are getting rid of them.
These fit in most duck runs and provide enough depth for your ducks to get a drink and bath. We fill our pools up with water from the hose every other day. We have several available for our ducks, then we spray them out and do a vinegar wash once a week.
However, never use inflatable baby pools!
Ducks have small toenails, despite having webbed feet. The inflatable plastic isn’t strong and durable, so their toenails will pop the sides. Also, the soft sides make it harder for the ducks to get in and out of the pool.
However, I might consider these collapsible dog pools. If it can withstand dog nails, it should work for ducks as well.
Creating Duck Ponds
Even though ducks don’t need a pond, many owners prefer to create something for their flock, but you have some considerations.
Unless you have a large lake, pond water runs the risk of becoming stagnant. Ours connects to a creek that runs our property, and my husband created drainage out of the pond. You will need some sort of drainage or filtering system because ducks poop in the water. They also dive and play, stirring up slit and potentially damaging the microorganisms living in this ecosystem.
Making a true duck pond takes time and some money. Having some sort of fish living in there is a good idea to help filter out the water and some aquatic plants. Ponds plants will be available at a feed store or garden center.
Creating a Duck-Friendly Environment
As a duck owner, I understand the importance of creating a safe and healthy environment for my feathered friends. Here are some tips on how to create a duck-friendly environment:
Ducks are vulnerable to predators, so taking precautions is important to keep them safe. Here are some safety measures to consider:
- Fencing: Ducks can be kept in a fenced area to keep them safe from predators. The fence should be at least 4 feet high to prevent predators from jumping over it.
- Coop: Ducks should have a secure coop to sleep in at night. The coop should be elevated off the ground to prevent predators from digging under it. The duck house should also have a door that can be closed at night to keep predators out.
- Cover: Ducks should have access to cover during the day to protect them from predators. Shrubs, bushes, and trees can provide cover and shade for ducks.
Ducks are messy and produce a lot of waste, so maintaining cleanliness is important to keep them healthy. Here are some tips on how to maintain cleanliness:
- Water: Ducks need access to clean water to drink and swim in. A pond is not necessary, but a small kiddie pool or water trough can provide a suitable alternative. The water should be changed daily to prevent the buildup of bacteria.
- Bedding: Ducks should have clean bedding to sleep on. Straw, hay, or wood shavings can be used as bedding. The bedding should be changed weekly to prevent the buildup of waste.
- Coop: The coop should be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of waste and bacteria. The coop should be cleaned at least once a week, and the bedding should be changed at the same time.
How often should I clean a duck pond?
It is recommended to clean a duck pond at least once a week. However, the frequency of cleaning may depend on the number of ducks, the size of the pond, and the amount of waste produced. Regular cleaning is essential to maintain good water quality and prevent the spread of diseases.