The Real Cost of Raising Ducks

When it comes to raising livestock, birds have a lot to recommend them. They don’t take up nearly as much room as larger mammals, they produce a variety of useful products, and they are easy to handle.

ducks in tire dust bath
ducks in tire dust bath

Everyone knows and loves chickens, but there are plenty of other domestic poultry species to raise besides them.

Next to chickens, ducks are the most popular. Like chickens, they can provide meat, eggs, fertilizer and even feathers. Also like chickens, ducks tend to be very inexpensive to purchase.

However, the costs associated with raising ducks tend to multiply almost uncontrollably because every duck needs a flock to call its own.

To keep your bottom line from getting out of control I’m bringing you a guide with a lot of important considerations that you need to know concerning the cost of ducks.

Are Ducks Even Worth Raising?

Yes, absolutely! Ducks are absolutely worth raising for several reasons. First, and not to be discounted, some people just love ducks.

As far as animals go, they’re pretty easy to take care of, they don’t take nearly as much room as larger mammals, and they generally have sweet personalities.

Strictly concerning practicality, though, ducks also have much to recommend them: they can produce delicious and high-quality meat, tasty eggs, useful fertilizer suitable for various purposes and even feathers.

Lots of people farm ducks successfully, including on a large scale, and make money doing it.

But, for anything that’s going to be a business and not a hobby or passion project you’ve got to know how the math breaks down.

If the dollars and cents don’t make sense, then you shouldn’t do it! The rest of this article will help you make that determination.

Carefully Assess Your Market Before You Begin

First things first. You must know your market if you plan on raising ducks as a legitimate income strategy.

Ducks produce useful products, but that doesn’t mean anyone is buying those products in your area. The “Field of Dreams” strategy- build it and they will come- is not a good one when it comes to raising livestock.

Yes, you might be able to convince people of the great benefits of duck meat and duck eggs, but do you really think they’re going to replace chicken in their lives?

No, probably not. Accordingly, you must dig in and find out who the buyers are in your area, if any of them exist.

You might be able to sell duck meat and eggs wholesale, you might find an outlet with certain high-volume buyers like restaurants or you might just have a sprinkling of individual consumers in and around your area.

The next most important thing you can do is figuring out what those products are actually selling for.

Economy of scale is a thing, and if you’re only getting a few ducks to accommodate the needs of a few buyers, there might not be any real way for you to make money with them.

if you’re going to raise ducks as a business, treat it like a business and do your market research before you are standing in front of those precious, cheeping little ducklings with cash or credit card in hand!

How Much Do Ducks Cost?

Ducks don’t cost very much. Your average duckling purchased from a major supplier might only run you a few bucks, typically no more than $10.

If you purchase from a smaller farm, especially if they are local, the cost might be a bit steeper if the ducks are carefully bred, cared for and sired by good lineages.

The breed, as always, makes a difference. One of the most popular ducks kept for meat, the Pekin, is also the most plentiful and you can get fertilized eggs or live, unsexed ducklings for pennies.

Other, rarer ducks like Muscovies, Runners, and other varieties might go for well over $10 per duckling, or somewhat less for viable eggs.

How Much Does it Cost to Keep a Duck Every Year?

Again, not much! Your average duck will run you between $40 and $50 a year to care for assuming they don’t need serious medical care.

That includes food, bedding, housing, supplements, meds and additional expenses like electricity for heat lamps or pool heaters and other supplies.

The consumable stuff, but not the cost of the equipment they will need, or the land to keep them! If you can raise your own food for them then that will reduce the cost even more.

In terms of ongoing expenses, ducks are pretty low maintenance compared to other animals and compare favorably with chickens, though they are more expensive and more involved than their poultry cousins.

How Many Ducks Do You Need For a Working Homestead?

This is totally up to you, with a few caveats. The most important question is: How many ducks do you need for your ducks to stay healthy and thrive?

At the minimum, you should aim to get at least 5 or 6 ducks. Ducks are highly social creatures, and they must have interaction and stimulation from their own kind or else they will become depressed, sickly and even aggressive.

Yes, some ducks might do fine with one other duck for company, or they might view their human keepers as their “flock,” but these are exceptions, not the rule.

After that, how large you grow your flock is up to you. If you want to keep just 5 or 6 ducks you can soon be rolling in eggs, and don’t forget that your ducks can, and will, reproduce and grow the flock naturally if you have males and females.

Larger flocks of 20, 30 or more are totally manageable for seasoned keepers, but all of your consumable costs will go up accordingly, and you’ll also have to be aware of flock hierarchy issues; ducks establish an internal pecking order much like chickens!

How Much Room Do You Need for Ducks?

Ducks don’t need much room, per duck, but they use space in a different way than chickens. On land and in a shelter, ducks need around 4 square feet to themselves.

They sleep on the ground, not on roost bars, typically. Ducks also need access to pools or ponds where they can cool off, groom themselves and preen.

They also need room to roam around and stretch their legs. An enclosed yard or run is ideal, but if you can’t accommodate this then try to provide them with other escape-proof areas they can explore on a regular basis.

This could be the garden, or orchard, or other feature on your property. At a bare minimum, aim for no less than 12 square feet of open space per duck.

More, much more, is better: Most duck breeds are significantly larger than chickens, and have correspondingly wider wingspans. 25+ square feet per duck is optimal.

Be Sure to Factor Equipment and Supplies Costs

A major contributor to costs, if you need it, is the equipment required to help your ducks be happy and stay healthy.

There are various types of equipment required for successful duck farming. Here are some of the essential tools you’ll need to get started:

two ducks drinking water
two ducks drinking water

Waterers and Feeders

One of the most important pieces of equipment to have is a good waterer and feeder. As ducks need water to digest their food properly, you must keep their water clean and fresh.

You can choose from different sizes based on your ducks’ number and age, but a standard waterer with a capacity of 1 to 2 gallons is suitable for small flocks.

Similarly, you should choose a feeder that is durable and easy to fill. A 12 to 15-pound metal tube feeder is a good option for feeding ducks.

These items will set you back around $50. Of course, the sky is the limit on cost depending on size and feature set!

Pekin ducks in kiddie pool
Pekin ducks in kiddie pool


Having a body of water nearby is another essential part of duck farming. Ducks love to swim, and it is important for their overall health and well-being since they need it to keep their nostrils clear, among other things.

The type of pool that you choose depends on the number of ducks you have, but it must be very low to or level with the surface so ducks can access it.

If you have a small flock of ducks and no nearby water feature, you can use a kiddie pool or a small tub with a depth of at least a foot.

For larger flocks, you can build a small custom pond, but it is advisable to consult an expert for that. Additionally, in colder climates you may need a heater to keep the water from freezing during colder months.

A kiddie pool or equivalent is around $25 to $50, and a good pool heater can cost anywhere from $75 to $500.

For custom pond installations, expect to spend thousands, maybe tens of thousands depending on the size and complexity!


If you want to expand the size of your flock naturally and you don’t want to leave it to the hens, you will need an incubator. Incubators are essential for hatching duck eggs.

While there are various types of incubators available on the market, you must choose an incubator that is reliable and keeps eggs at a constant temperature.

Ancona ducklings in brooder
Ancona ducklings in brooder

Even the slightest fluctuation of heat or humidity can spell disaster for the developing ducklings!

You can purchase a small incubator for home use at a cost of around $100 to $300. However, if you have a large farm, you may need to invest in a commercial-grade incubator that can cost thousands of dollars.

You might also explore some cost-saving DIY alternatives in the form of homemade incubators. A good box or tub, a temperature-controlled heat lamb and some towels might be adequate, though it is far more perilous than just using a 

When choosing equipment for duck farming, you must consider various factors such as size, durability, availability, cost, and the number of ducks you have.

The total investment required for duck farming equipment may range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the flock size and other factors.

Recurring Expenses

Ducks are easy and cheap to care for, but they have ongoing expenses associated with them beyond just food and water.

For one thing, preventive health care measures must also be taken such as deworming. You can administer meds or homeopathic remedies yourself, but you’ll need to buy the meds.

Supplements in the form of vitamins and minerals, and also grit are vital for a duck’s health. Additionally, you may need to invest in replacement equipment like replacement waterers or feeders, and bedding and nesting materials.

Ducks are very, very messy, and hard on their surroundings! You’ll be spending a bit of time and money both on continual cleanup efforts.

Also, the usual farmyard treatments and preventatives to keep lice, mites, fleas and ticks at bay in and around their shelter are needed.

This can be something like diatomaceous earth or special sprays, which can be bought from a local pet store or farm supply store, but any must be safe for use around waterfowl!

Don’t Forget About Healthcare

Some new “duckers” get the notion that their ducks can generally just take care of themselves, and while this is true to a degree, it is important to provide them with healthcare in order to keep them healthy and free from diseases.

You should vaccinate your ducks as needed for various infectious diseases since some of the most severe, and most common, can blow through your flock in less than a day.

Additionally, you may have to pay for vet bills if any of your birds become sick or injured.

The choice of whether or not you should put down a duck that is in a bad way versus trying to aid it and nurse it back to health is something you must decide for yourself and also be discussed with an avian veterinarian.

Regardless, you’ll want to have a plan in place for these types of situations as veterinary care is not cheaper for ducks just because the bird itself was cheap!

two Pekin ducks drinking water
two Pekin ducks drinking water

Raising Ducks Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive, But Know the Costs!

In conclusion, getting your own small flock of ducks or setting up a true duck farm can be a rewarding, enjoyable and profitable experience with the right plan, equipment and knowledge.

While there is definitely some initial investment involved in planning your setup, the rewards can be worth it.

You might spend as little as $300 on ducks, supplies and a few necessary supplies to get started, and it is possible to spend less than that if you are frugal!

If your ducks stay healthy, they might cost as little as $4 apiece per month to keep them. Now take what you’ve learned and start planning your first flock today.

costs of raising ducks pinterest

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