Ducks – emergency rehome!

We have been asked to rehome 800 Cherry Valley ducks from a commercial farm on 5th September – very short notice!

Ducks are around 2.5 years old and although may still be laying, we rehome them as pets. We ask a minimum donation of £5 per duck, payable in advance and also require photographs of secure and suitable housing to be sent through with your reservation.

Ducks don’t travel as well as hens, so we will not be opening a large number of collection points, although you can reserve to collect from the following:

High Wycombe
St Austell


If you would like advice, to send photos of your duck set up through or to chat with one of our team, please email

By Sally Pike

Ducks are hardy creatures, who need the right balance of nutrients and access to clean water at all times to maximise egg production and keep them healthy.
They are relatively easy to care for, but like any animal they are a commitment; they rely on you to feed and water them, keep them safe from predators, keep them clean and take them to a vet if they are unwell. In return they will provide you with lots of eggs and hours of time wasting watching them.

Chicken layers pellets can be used for domestic laying ducks although specific duck food is preferred. Please do ensure though that the pellets do not contain Coccidiostat, as this is harmful to them. Layers mash is not suitable as it can clog up their nostrils. Grit should be freely available and fed in a strong trough or bowl. Ducks do not have teeth, so they need grit to be able to grind up their food. Mixed poultry grit (including that with oyster shell) is ideal. Ducks also love corn and wheat but this should be given at the end of the day as a treat. They also love grass, dandelions, green vegetables (cucumber, peas, cabbage, lettuce, spinach etc), boiled cold potatoes, boiled egg and fruit (especially blueberries). They will also eat any worms, slugs and frogs in your garden, obviously whilst eating your crops at the same time.

The feeding of bread is contentious, but we would recommend avoiding feeding it to them.

Do not throw feed straight on to the ground, ducks will paddle it into the mud and spoil it and the waste will encourage vermin. Use a strong open feeder or a trough that cannot be overturned.There needs to be sufficient for all ducks to eat at once – the ones higher in the pecking order will be overly greedy leaving little or none for the most timid of the flock.

Ducks need to be able to submerge their heads so that they can clean their eyes and nostrils and have “splashing” water to throw over their feathers. The latter activates a “preen” gland near their tail and by rubbing their head and necks over it the gland releases an oil for preening. This not only helps keep a duck’s plumage in good order but also waterproofs the duck. A stream or pond is perfect for ducks, however not everyone has those in their back garden so a small pond such as a child’s rigid paddling pool, baby bath or trug is an ideal substitute.

They will need help to get into the water, so a ramp will need to be provided and a brick in the pond to help get out. Ducks fowl water very quickly, so they need to be cleaned and refilled daily.

It is also recommend having a separate container for drinking water, although this will get muddy it will not be soiled with their poo. This needs to be near their food although not too close as they will splash it and ruin it.

If they eat pellets and then don’t drink straight away, the food can swell up and cause discomfort and possibly death.

It sounds ridiculous but ducks can drown if they have a too deep pond that they cannot get out of or when ex-commercials are first rehomed as they are not fully waterproofed (lack of oil makes them waterlogged as the water cannot run off them). Please introduce slowly to deep ponds and keep an eye on them when first introduced (not a problem as they are the ultimate time wasters).

Keep safe – children and some pets can drown even in very shallow water.

Ducks are mucky! Their love of splashing water everywhere mixed with dabbling means an area can get muddy very quickly unless it is rotated often.
If runs are kept in a permanent position it is worth putting their pond on slabs or gravel. Even if you free range your birds its useful to still have a pen in case you need to shut them in. The duck house needs to be about 0.4sq m per bird. It needs to be ground level or have a ramp for the ducks to access it, as they cannot fly or climb up ladders. They also do not roost so any perches need to be removed. Line the floor of the house with sawdust or aubiose type bedding, and provide a bed of straw for them to sleep. They are likely to lay their eggs here as well, so the straw will need to be replaced and eggs collected regularly to prevent them becoming soiled.

Ducks do not put themselves to bed at night like chickens. They need to be put to bed – bed time story is optional.

For those with a big pond with an island, you will still need a house to keep them safe at night unless the pond is surrounded by a secure fence – predators can and do swim!

Ideally ducks should be kept separately to chickens, however they can coexist. Perches must not be above where the ducks sleep so they are not pooed on overnight and any water must not be deep enough for a chicken to drown in it. Also keep an eye on the house becoming too damp from wet ducks.

Ducks are less prone to the dreaded red mite but can still be affected. Ensure their house is sprayed using a product that kills red mite each time it is cleaned. If you have a major infection, use red mite powder on your birds. This is best done at night when they have gone to bed so that they are dry and do not remove the powder when bathing.

Fly strike can affect older or unwell birds. In hot weather check your duck’s vent and remove any poo. If you suspect fly strike, please contact your vet immediately as it can be fatal.

Breathing problems can be caused by fungal spores in damp litter and mouldy bedding. Prevented by using clean straw and changing it regularly.

Ducks do moult at certain times throughout the year. Don’t panic if you walk into your garden and find it covered in feathers; this is a perfectly normal process.

Ducks require a regular worming programme.

If your bird appears unwell it is important to isolate and treat it. There are various forums and groups on the internet to provide advice. If home treatment is given and there is no improvement, doing nothing is not an option. The duck’s welfare should be your priority and a vets advice should be sought sooner rather than later.

When collecting your ducks please bear in mind wet ducks and cardboard do not mix. Please bring suitable plastic pet carriers with you, eg cat carriers or dog crates

The whole rehoming will be a traumatic experience for them. Their routine would have changed and they will be in a totally new world. Calmly place them in their new home and allow them to discover water and food for themselves. Watch them from afar and try to resist cuddling them. Gradually they will get used to you (especially if you give them lots and lots of treats) and become tame.


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