How much water does the average duck drink every day?
It can vary depending on the breed and age of your ducks (as well as the time of year), but on average, each mature duck in your flock will consume roughly 0.25 gallons (1 liter) of water each day.
Water isn’t only necessary for hydration, though. Ducks also need plenty of water to keep their feet, bills, feathers, and even their eyes healthy and in good condition. The ducks need to be able to soak them in water.
Typically, a duck can go no more than 8 hours without water, and remain in good health. The level of dehydration a duck could develop going without it this long could cause lasting harm or… worse, especially during the hot summer months.
Ducklings will likely not be able to withstand being without water for this long. They are avid drinkers, especially during their first few weeks of life because they are not yet swimming in water to help remain hydrated.
Going more than three hours without access to water may be deadly for ducklings. So while you can get by with stretching out the time between watering sessions with older ducks, never, ever risk it with ducklings.
A duckling that is only 7 days old is capable of drinking roughly one half of a gallon of water per week. Once the baby ducks are seven weeks old, they go through that much water in a single day.
How to Give Ducks the Water They Need
Many people choose to use kiddie pools to give their ducks enough water. A tub will also work just fine. The idea here is that the container should have a shallow edge so that they can stick their whole heads inside, and wash their body while also being able to get out easily when they climb in.
Keep an eye on young ducks when you first start to provide them with access to swimming water. In most cases, they’ll do just fine, but sometimes little guys might struggle.
You also need to be careful with using things like old tubs with slippery interiors, as your ducks might have a hard time getting enough traction to get in and out of the tub. Ducks are known for being excellent swimmers, but they can still occasionally get waterlogged, and unfortunately drown as a result.
Domestic duck breeds aren’t exactly the same as their wild counterparts. In The wild, a duckling’s mama will add some oil to its down to make it waterproof. When a duckling is hatched in an incubator, that doesn’t happen.
This can lead to issues with drowning, and susceptibility to cold. Of course, you can still let your ducklings play in the water – again, just make sure they can still get out of it.
Once your ducklings are around two to three weeks old, they should start to develop the natural oils they need to be able to be on their own in the water.
Even if the ducks have multiple clean waterers, they will still drink water from their in the run baby pool or livestock tub. This can drain a small decorative garden style pond or a baby pool rather quickly, causing more time spent on upkeep over time.
I prefer to use a waterer of the type that is placed on the outside of the run with a pair of fountain ends that poke through the fencing for the ducks to reach on the inside.
This keeps the water clean and sanitary to drink – it’s actually the only set up that I found that does. As long as the ducks have constant access to a water source inside of the run, not being able to duck their heads into the water bowl is not a problem.
Of course, some other kinds of waterers you can use include modified cup drinkers, bell drinkers, troughs, baths, and more.
When you are watering your ducks, it’s important that you separate drinking water and playing water whenever possible. This might help keep the water a bit cleaner.
Another way you can help give your ducks the water they need and reduce mess is to give ducks access to water only over slatted flooring (rather than bedding). This will help reduce some of the slop in your housing.
Some people swear by only putting out water for a set period each day and supervising their ducks as they drink and splash, but I don’t recommend this. It’s time-consuming, and can be dangerous if your ducks aren’t drinking the right amount of water that they need to stay healthy.
What Happens if Ducks Don’t Have Enough Water?
Of course, all kinds of health issues can arise if your ducks don’t have access to all the water they need. At the very least, too little water can cause your ducks to become mildly dehydrated and cranky – at the worst, it could kill them.
Ducks who aren’t given enough water can be susceptible to all kinds of issues, including diseases and infestations from mites or lice. You may also find that your ducks become infinitely more destructive when they aren’t given the water they need.
For example, if you let your ducks forage in the garden, they’ll try to find their own water if enough is not provided to them. They’ll help keep the weeds down there, which is one of the most common reasons why people choose to allow them in the garden.
However, without enough water, they’ll dig deep into the soil to find their own, uprooting everything in their paths.
When it comes to how much water a duck drinks each day, as you can see, it’s less about how much water a duck actually drinks and more about how much he needs for all of his other activities, such as eating and preening. Make sure each adult duck gets 1 liter a day of water, and that it has access to it at night.
Water Issues When Raising Ducks With Chickens
Ducks aren’t chickens – you already know that. However, many people attempt to raise ducks with chickens and while this can be done, it can be quite challenging to navigate the tricky water issues.
As I already mentioned, ducks can’t use traditional chicken watering fonts because their bills can’t fit inside and they also can’t (or shouldn’t) use nipple drinkers since they need water for cleaning and eating.
The problem arises when you realize, too, that ducks make a huge mess with their waterers. They splash, try to swim in their water, and add all kinds of dirt and feed into the mix. This can be problematic if you keep the watering system in the coop, as it will wet the bedding and can cause hypothermia for your chickens.
To prevent this, provide separate watering systems for both species and make sure all water is kept outside. Otherwise, you can house your animals together, just make sure your ducks have a place to roost on the ground.
Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day, raising chickens, goats, horses, and tons of vegetables. She’s an expert in all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping, and many more.