Maybe you’re drawn to the majesty of a flock of ducks flying together in a perfect V formation. Maybe it’s the utter cuteness factor of baby ducks that makes them irresistible for you. Maybe you just think they’d make great pets. Whatever the case, you’re looking to adopt some ducks of your own, which prompts the inevitable question – how much do they cost?
Of course, given so many different varieties, your answer here can likewise be various. As great as owning a duck may seem, you don’t want to go “Daffy” trying to afford one. Besides, buying a duck isn’t the end of the expenditures, it’s the beginning. Think of all the things you have to buy for your duck – food, shelter, vet visits, duck diapers (yes, really!), and so much more.
So just how much does it cost in total to purchase and raise a duck, and what can you do to keep from “quacking” under the pressure of having to pay for it all?
Duck Purchase Costs
How much a duck costs will naturally depend on what kind of duck you’re purchasing in the first place. As with dog and cat breeds, different breeds and species of ducks can cost wildly different amounts. That said, if you have a couple dollars in your pockets, chances are you already have enough to buy a duckling! That may sound absurd, but it’s true!
Of course, how long that duck lasts is another matter. A duckling that only costs a couple dollars may not be of the best breeding. That said, you still shouldn’t have to pay much more than that.
Among the duck breeds with ducklings available for less than $10 include:
- Black and Blue Swedish Ducklings
- Blue Runner Ducklings
- Cayuga Duckling
- Chocolate Runner Duckling
- Khaki Campbell Ducklings
- Pekin Ducklings
- Magpie Duckling
- Mallard Duckling
- Rouen Duckling
- Saxony Ducklings
- Welsh Harlequin Ducklings
- White Crested Ducklings
- White Pekin Ducklings
However, while ducklings are inexpensive, that’s all the more reason to buy more than one of them. Not only do you get more adorable balls of fluff to love and take care of, but having more duckling friends is better for the ducklings themselves. After all, ducks are used to traveling in flocks and following their mother while they’re young. By contrast, having only a single duckling can leave them lonely and sad.
What’s more, it can be incredibly difficult to tell what sex ducklings are when they’re very young, so getting a few can increase your chances of getting both male and female ducks. Even if you don’t plan on breeding them, having all male or all female ducks can lead to them becoming aggressive as they grow older.
Obviously, you can expect a full-grown duck to cost a bit more than that, but they still shouldn’t top triple figures unless they’re especially well-bred or from a rare breed.
Mary Poppins sings that we should “Feed the Birds, Tuppence a Bag,” but surely feeding your ducks must cost more than “a bagful of crumbs?”
Well, not necessarily. In fact, food costs – at least initially – have the potential to be one of the biggest cost savers in the entire process. Chicken and duck feed is typically very inexpensive, costing as little as $2.50 to $4.50 per duckling. For that reason, you might just want to buy feed in bulk, with 50-pound bags costing around $18. That should be more than enough to feed a few ducklings for a while.
Of course, you don’t want your little ducklings wandering around your yard unprotected. While that may be fine for a few minutes, ducklings require safety and shelter from predators and the elements.
Whether it’s for larger ducks or ducklings, you’ll want to make sure that your pen includes a feeder and a water dispenser, neither of which should be too expensive. Ducks are obviously used to having a lot of water available to them, so make sure that your dispenser can hold at least a gallon.
Next, you’ll want to think about the things you need to put in the pen, including:
- A heat source so your little ducklings don’t shiver their feathers off! These should not cost more than $20 or so.
- A bedding of straw for them to lay on.
- A second layer of flooring beneath the straw. This can be tiling, a tarp, or any number of different materials so long as it is firm. Options such as tiling can get cold, especially in winter, which is why the heat source above is so important.
- Enough fencing to comfortably keep your ducks penned in. How much you need will naturally depend on how much space you have available to you and how many ducklings you are housing. That said, you should air on the side of a larger rather than smaller pen so your ducks or ducklings don’t feel imprisoned.
- A wide coop door for ducks to walk through. Ducks and especially ducklings don’t exactly bow out of the way and let someone else pass through the door first, but rather tend to rush an opening all at once, so your coop should be at least as wide as a couple ducklings.
- Straw, heat, and waste can be a nastily noxious combination, and not one your ducks or ducklings will want to be trapped with, so proper ventilation is essential.
- A lock for the coop is essential for making sure racoons, foxes, and other predators don’t simply open the door and waltz right through. You also want to make sure the pen is sturdy enough to keep out predators.
Duck Vet Costs
Throughout their life, ducks need to be inspected to ensure that they are in good health.
On the one hand, treating poultry in the ducks is something of a vet specialty in the United States. You cannot count on every vet to do so, and you need to call ahead of time to make sure that they can and will do it. Given that it’s a specialty service, it can sometimes be a bit on the expensive side, costing between $100 and $200 per visit.
On the other hand, ducks don’t need immunizations, so you’ll be able to save money that way.
DIY Versus Professional Costs
One final question lays before us – is it better to try and pay for and build all these things yourself, or turn to professional brooders, pens, and other products?
There is no correct answer here, since everyone has different budgets for raising ducks and ducklings.
The cost of doing everything described above with professional products should cost a couple hundred dollars. Doing it DIY can be less expensive for very small pens, but the costs can climb higher for larger pens and, of course, if you make a mistake.
What’s more, you’ll need to factor in replacement materials as well.
The DIY path forward can work well for a few ducklings kept indoors, therefore, while larger pens with more ducks might be better left to professional products.
By keeping all of these different costs in mind and making sure to budget properly, you can ensure that your birds of a feather and fine fowl friends indeed and are treated to a lovely life of domestic happiness.