Can Ducklings Eat Chick Starter?

Chick starter feed is fine for ducklings. However, it would help if you switched from chick starters to regular duck feed as your ducklings get older.

While non-medicated chick starter feed is suitable for ducklings, your ducklings shouldn’t rely entirely on the chick starter as a long-term nutritional solution.

It’s best to give your ducklings high-quality duck starter feed instead of using chick starters on your birds.

Nutritional Requirements of Ducklings

Like baby chicks, ducklings have nutritional requirements their owners must meet to raise a healthy duck flock.

Here is an outline of the dietary requirements of ducklings.


Protein is vital for ducklings for optimal poultry nutrition. So, protein is a critical constituent of a duckling’s biologically active compounds. Because protein has multiple amino acid constituents, it plays an integral role in a duckling’s growth, immunity, and adaptation to its environment.

Protein also helps in regulating biological functions. Increasing protein in your ducklings’ diet helps the birds prepare for the feather growth process. Protein can also keep your ducklings warm during the wintertime and improve their overall health.

The amino acids in protein are the vital building blocks your ducklings need for growth and good long-term health. Ducklings that eat a low-protein diet suffer from poor growth and development. Ducklings need a diet with 22% protein in their first few weeks.


Carbohydrates are essential for ducklings because they are a reliable energy source. Carbs should make up the most significant part of your ducklings’ diet.

Carbs should make up over 50% of your ducklings’ diet. However, your ducklings need healthy and natural carbs from wheat, barley, corn, and sorghum.


Ducks and their ducklings need a diet with a significant amount of healthy fats. A fat-rich diet can be vital for ducklings because they use their fat reserves to survive when food isn’t available due to poor habitat and weather conditions.

Some healthy oils to add to your ducklings’ diet include palm oil and soybean oil. However, animal oil can be unhealthy for ducklings because it can make them put on too much weight.


Trace minerals are essential for ducklings to survive under any conditions. They play a vital role in poultry growth and development. Trace minerals are also crucial for physiological functions in ducklings, such as immunity, bone development, and feathering.

Calcium is the most vital trace mineral for ducklings. Calcium not only helps ducklings develop strong bones, but it also supports their circulatory system, cardiac system, and nervous system.

Furthermore, a diet with a decent amount of calcium can help improve your ducklings’ digestive system. While your ducklings need calcium to develop strong bones, too much calcium can be detrimental to ducklings, especially when they are below 18 weeks old. Furthermore, ducklings shouldn’t eat supplemental calcium, unlike adult ducks.

feeding ducklings

Zinc is another essential trace mineral for ducklings from their early life stages. Zinc is crucial for the development and growth of ducklings.

This mineral contributes to ducklings’ enzyme function and structure. Furthermore, zinc helps play a role in vital stages of a duckling’s growth, such as feathering and bone development.

Ducklings also need a diet with substantive amounts of potassium, another crucial trace mineral for poultry. Potassium helps enhance body functioning in ducklings. It gives ducklings the ability to fight off duck diseases.

Your ducklings will overcome the effects of heat stress to high environmental temperatures when they eat a potassium-rich diet in the summer.


Ducklings need a diet with a rich combination of vitamins. For instance, your ducklings’ diet should have vitamin C, which can significantly strengthen their immune system.

Ducklings with a vitamin C deficiency suffer from a poor response to poultry diseases and other health challenges. Increasing vitamin C in your ducklings’ diet can help your little birds gain weight in their early life stages.

An excellent feed for your ducklings should also have adequate levels of vitamin K, which can help ducklings develop strong bones and improve their overall health.

Niacin is another crucial vitamin for ducklings, which should never lack in their diet. Most starter duck feeds have this mineral, which helps ducklings grow healthy and strong bones.

A niacin deficiency in ducklings, particularly in their early stages of development, can lead to bone deformities. Ducklings that miss out on this crucial trace mineral in their diets can also suffer from rickets.

Furthermore, their leg muscles can become too weak to an extent where the ducklings will have walking problems.

Ducklings need both supplemental and dietary vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for ducklings because it boosts their growth and enhances the absorption of crucial trace minerals in their bodies. Furthermore, vitamin D can help ducklings grow and maintain healthy bones.


Your ducklings should have water every time they consume the feed. Water is crucial for ducklings because of several reasons. For instance, the ducklings need to drink water while feeding because dry feed can choke these birds.

Although newly hatched ducklings don’t consume much water, these little birds need water to digest food. Furthermore, ducklings need water to beat the adverse effects of high environmental temperatures during the summer months.

Ducklings that don’t get water stare at the risk of dehydration, which can make your ducklings suffer from serious health effects and also experience emotional distress.

Ducklings can also exhibit nervousness and destructive behavior due to a lack of water.

Is Chick Starter Good for Ducklings?

A chick starter may seem fine for your ducklings. For instance, chick starter has some rich minerals and nutrients that will benefit your ducklings.

However, your ducklings should consume a starter duck feed because there are drawbacks to feeding chick starter to ducklings. Chick starter has exceptionally high protein content, which can harm your ducklings’ health.

Chick starter feed can also be hard on your ducklings’ digestive tracts, causing digestive problems over time. Nutrient deficiencies can also arise if you feed chick starters to your ducklings.

Chick starter is low in niacin, meaning your ducklings will suffer from a niacin deficiency if they rely on chick starter. A niacin deficiency can cause bone disorders and bowed legs in ducklings.

Alternatives to Chick Starter for Ducklings

Chick starters can’t help your ducklings meet their nutritional requirements. A perfect alternative to a chick starter for ducklings is a concoction of nutritious staple ingredients such as oatmeal, vegetables, fishmeal, and hard-boiled eggs.

You can also introduce whole grains to your ducklings if you run out of chick starters. You can introduce any foods to your ducklings, provided these foods will help meet their nutritional needs.


Ducklings can eat chick starters in the short term when you don’t have duck starter feed. However, chick starters don’t have a rich nutritional profile, so they can’t meet your ducklings’ dietary needs.

You can try other highly nutritious alternatives like oatmeal, whole grains, and vegetables.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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