How to Feed a Pekin Duck

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The American Pekin is one of the most popular pet duck breeds. Pekin duck feed requirements can vary depending on the age of your duck and your expectations for the duck. If you expect your duck to lay eggs, for example, you may need to provide different feed than for a duck you keep as a pet.

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The American Pekin is one of the most popular pet duck breeds.
Image Credit: Nigel Harris /iStock/GettyImages

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About Pekin ducks

The Pekin duck bird originated in China and was used for meat production and eventually made its way to the United States. Pekin ducks are considered excellent layers and can produce 200 or more eggs each year, but they are also incredibly friendly, which makes them popular as pets. Their typical life span is eight to 12 years.

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The breed was bred to be white in color with a yellow beak, and ducklings are yellow. Adult Pekin ducks typically weigh 8 to 9 pounds. While some lighter birds can fly, some consider them to be one of the flightless duck breeds, as many adult ducks are too heavy to achieve flight.

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Feeding Pekin ducklings

Ducklings should be fed a chick starter feed. The protein content in these feeds is typically around 18 to 20 percent, and it has all of the nutrients your growing duckling needs. Avoid medicated feed or chicken scratch at this stage of life, as both can weaken your duckling.

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Once your duckling reaches 3 weeks of age, you can transition to a grower food with about a 15 percent protein level. Once the ducks reach 20 weeks of age, you can transition them to an adult diet.

Pekin duck feed considerations

A quality chicken feed will work for feeding adult ducks. Chickens have a pointed beak that allows them to easily eat scratch, but Pekin ducks have a rounded beak and will find it easier to eat a crumble or pellet if possible. If you aren't allowing your Pekin ducks free range, consider feeding them a game bird feed that has a higher protein content.

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If you allow your Pekin duck free range, the ducks will dine on both animals and plants. They enjoy tadpoles and small frogs and fish. On land, they will eat worms, crickets, and mosquitoes. They also like plant foods, such as algae, nuts, and berries. They may need corn and a higher protein feed during the winter when these foods aren't available.

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The best Pekin duck feed for getting high-quality eggs is a layer feed. These feeds are higher in calcium and other vitamins to produce better eggs.

Other care tips and considerations

Make sure your ducks have access to plenty of clean drinking water at all times. While your ducks may enjoy some fruits and vegetable snacks, there are some foods to avoid. Some of these include popcorn, avocados, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, and chocolate. Small amounts of bread are OK as a treat, but too much bread is not healthy for your ducks.

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While this breed prefers to be free range and will enjoy time outdoors even in the winter months, they do need a safe coop where they can spend the night. Make sure the coop is dry with clean bedding.

Ducks are usually quite healthy. They generally need to be wormed twice per year. Ducks are prone to injury and may develop ulcers on their feet if they live on rough surfaces, such as rocks. Consult a veterinarian if you see swelling, wounds, or limping.

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