Raising Pet Call Ducks
Call Ducks are small ornamental ducks often once used by hunters to lure ducks for shooting. Learn more about their care and requirements when kept as pets.
- General Information
- Selecting and Buying Call Ducks
- Housing Your Call Ducks
- Feeding and Care
- Breeding Call Ducks
Call ducks often look a lot like Mallard Ducks although they are smaller. Through specialized breeding they also come in other colors, such as white. The color pattern that is the same as the Mallard is called "grey".
Call Ducks are slightly smaller than Mallards, and use to be used by hunters to attract Mallards (currently laws in most areas prevent use of live decoys). Call ducks weigh roughly 2 pounds with the female birds being slightly smaller. They are considered to be an Ornamental Duck, kept generally for pure entertainment of their owners, but will also eat bugs and insects.
Selecting and Buying Call Ducks
The best place to purchase any type of pet is always from a breeder. Breeders can be found by contacting local waterfowl bird clubs. If you are unfamiliar of any in your area talk to the people at your local livestock feed store and keep an eye on their bulletin boards for signs of bird shows and sales.
Some areas have auctions for birds and waterfowl. Again the people at your local feed store might know more or you can contact the livestock auction markets and ask if they have bird auctions. In my area there are three auction markets that run such auctions, each having two auctions a year. Caution should be used when purchasing from an auction, always walk around earlier and look in the boxes to check the birds for signs of health, and age (some sellers will write the age on the box).
Cost will vary depending on the supply and demand in your area, with certain color birds being more expensive. You should try to get a mated pair if possible as ducks do mate for life this will get you off to a better start if breeding is your goal. Get no more than two females per male.
Housing Your Call Ducks
Due to their small size Call Ducks may be safer from predators (foxes and hawks) if kept in a contained space. Stucco wire with 2 inch squares works well, but chicken wire can also be used. If you are going to be hatching ducklings, be sure the lower portion of the area is fenced well so the little ones cannot walk through. Within the duck's enclosure they need an area for swimming, a kids swimming pool, or livestock feed tub, work well.
The duck's environment should be interesting, with grass, logs, a shrub or two, and rocks. Keeping them in an enclosed area will mean they cannot fly off, if you are going to let your ducks roam, be sure to contain them for at least two weeks so they know where their home (and food) is. Some people clip their wings, but I do not suggest this if they are loose and you have predators such as foxes.
Their enclosed space should be at least 10 ft x 10 ft which will house 1 pair of ducks and their young ducklings (larger is always better). If it is sloping to allow water to run away that is even better.
Your pet ducks should also have a proper shelter of some sort, even a dog house will work, this should be bedded with straw, and facing away from the winds. I find they usually only use the shelter when laying and nesting, and in the winter. They like to be out in the rain. They will need shade on hot days.
Feeding and Care
Your local livestock feed store should sell a feed mix for ducks, and another for ducklings. It is important to note that under no circumstances should ducks be fed chick starter. This food has penicillin in it which will kill ducks. They need access to their food at all time. You can also offer washed romaine lettuce, but not other kinds of lettuce. You will note your ducks eating grass, dandelions, and insects, as such you never want to use chemical herbicides or pesticides.
Pet ducks should also have access to grit for aiding digestion. Even though ducks can drink from their swimming this water will soon be muddy so a proper waterer should be provided. You will want to dump and change the pool water regularly.
You should discuss vaccination and health care needs with a veterinarian in your area. If you are going to clip their wings have somebody show you how to do this as you can hurt your birds if you cut the feathers wrong.
Breeding Call Ducks
Call Duck males are called Drakes, the females are called Ducks. For breeding, and to keep the eggs and ducklings safe, I strongly suggest an enclosure.
If you have a mated pair, the female will typically lay a clutch of 10-18 eggs and will start sitting on them, usually not all eggs will hatch, but those that do will hatch out 27 - 28 days later. The mother will come off the eggs for only brief times each day so it is important she have food at easy access. When the ducklings hatch they will follow their mother who will protectively hide them away from viewing. The drake also acts as a guard and lookout for the ducklings.
Care should be taken when you have new hatchlings. They want to swim but their feathers are not water proof and they can drown. This happened to one of my own ducks ducklings at a few days of age. I suggest filling a low rimmed container, such as shallow cat litter box (that has not been used for cat litter), with a bit of water, and placing in a few rocks for them to climb up on (not enough to swim in). Be sure your regular water is unaccessible to them or fill it with large rocks that can be removed after a 10 days. I like to leave a rock or two in there regularly anyhow as the ducks do enjoy standing on the rocks.
I also want to note that in the late summer the males will moult and will look almost like the females. When their colors are the same, you can tell the male duck from the female duck, because females quack louder!