How Much Water Do Ducklings Need?

flock of domestic ducks, mixed breeds

Ducklings seem to guzzle water, they are water using experts! How much of that water do they need in order to digest their food and grow their best?

Ducklings need .5 gallons of water per week per duckling when they are 1 week old. Water needs increase as the ducklings grow, going up to 2.75 gallons per week per duckling by the time the ducklings are 7 weeks old.

Ducklings seem to be able to cruise through huge amounts of water, even when they are just a few weeks old!

How much of this water is really needed? Once you know this you can see how well your water is being used versus being played in (wasted) by those cute little ducklings.

Age of ducklingWater per week per ducklingWater per day per duckling
1 week .5 gallons.07 gallons / 1.12 cups
2 weeks 1 gallon.14 gallons / 2.24 cups
3 weeks1.25 gallons.18 gallons / 2.88 cups
4 weeks1.25 gallons.18 gallons / 2.88 cups
5 weeks1.5 gallons.21 gallons / 3.36 cups
6 weeks2.5 gallons.36 gallons / 5.76 cups
7 weeks2.75 gallons.39 gallons / 6.24 cups
The original water per week per duckling figures are found at Metzer Farms, Feed and Water consumption for ducklings. My numbers are slightly different, since I rounded to the nearest quarter gallon to simplify the numbers.

How Much Feed Do Ducklings Need? will show you the amount of feed that you should plan to have available for your ducklings. There is a chart of feed needs per week as well as thoughts on which feeders to use and why.

ducklings in a brooder trough at a farm store
Here are some ducklings at a local farm store. There are too many ducklings in this trough. It needs to be much bigger for the amount of ducklings it is currently being used for or there needs to be an additional trough set up and the ducklings split between the two brooders.

Figure out how many waterers your ducklings need

Now that you know how much your ducklings need to have available to drink, the next step is to figure out how many waterers do you need to take care of them.

Water volume needed increases as ducklings grow

Once you get your ducklings, you’ll figure out pretty quickly how fast they grow and along with that, how fast their water needs increase as they get bigger.

I’m sure none of this comes as a surprise. But what to do about it? How many waterers do you need to have for your ducklings to make sure they have plenty to drink as they grow?

That’s where we are headed next. Here’s an example of raising 5 ducklings to give you an idea of what their water needs are likely to be as they grow.

Start with a one gallon waterer for your ducklings

If you have 5 ducklings and you want to fill the waterer once per day (but do not want to refill the waterer during the day), a one gallon waterer will work for you until the ducklings are 3-4 weeks old.

To be clear: you’ll still need to check the ducklings at least twice a day, more often is better.

As long as the ducklings have water left to drink, the waterer size is fine. When they are out of water at any of your check ins, you need to up your waterers or reduce time between check ins.

Add extra waterers by 4 weeks of age

Once your ducklings are over 4 weeks, they’ll start needing more water per day than the one gallon waterer provides.

The easy answer here is to refill the waterer during the day or get an additional waterer to provide the extra water needed.

That second waterer should work for you until the ducks reach 7 weeks old. Keep an eye on them to make sure they are getting the water they need through out the day, or use a third waterer to make sure they have plenty.

Do Ducklings Need Food And Water At Night? gives you guidelines to follow to keep your ducklings happy and well fed.

Consider getting a higher capacity waterer for your ducks

I have to admit, it will be easier to get a larger capacity waterer at this point. Something like a 5 gallon waterer will work great and keep up with your ducks from here out.

Using a higher capacity waterer is my answer to handling the increasing water needs of ducklings.

As soon as the ducklings are tall enough to comfortably reach the water in a higher capacity waterer, I start using the bigger waterer.

Starting out, the ducklings are too short to reach over the edge of the “big kid” waterer, but when they grow a bit, it works great.

At first, put the bigger waterer in with the smaller ones, don’t remove the smaller waterers

Sometimes ducklings get odd ideas about what is going on in their pen, specifically if you switch waterers and the new waterer scares them. Eventually they will give it a try, but at first they will be wary of it.

An easy solution here is to put the big waterer in with the ducklings and keep the smaller ones in as well for the first few days.

When you notice the ducklings use the big waterer without hesitation, then you know you can stop filling the small waterers and just use the higher capacity waterer. Or you can keep using both, which ever suits you.

How I handle watering my ducklings:

I don’t worry about how much water my ducklings are supposed to be drinking, I just make sure they have plenty and if they don’t, I give them more.

I also don’t worry much about limiting water to limit the mess, since they are ducklings I know it’s coming and accept that it will happen.

Since they grow so fast they will be out of the brooder in no time, meaning soon they can go outside and be messy and I don’t need to worry about cleaning up after them.

I’m not a picky person, so I realize this “don’t worry too much about the mess since it won’t last long” approach will not work for everyone.

For me, I just give the ducklings what they need, when they need it. No need to overcomplicate it. All you need to do is observe then act on what you see.

If the ducklings have food, they need to have water

Keep water available to your ducklings any time you have feed available to them. In addition to wanting water when eating dry food, like we do, ducklings need the water to clear out their nostrils.

If you feel that your ducklings will run out of water overnight, gather up the feeders in the evening and put them back down for the ducklings in the morning.

Really, it’s probably easier just to get another waterer and not worry so much about the feed.

Use a platform for the duck waterer

If you use a platform for the duck waterer, you will reduce the mess that the ducks make with the water.

This will also reduce the amount of water you need to keep with the ducks since more of that water you are bucketing in will be used for drinking and less used for mess making.

An open pan for water is an option for adult ducks

The most obvious alternative here for providing your ducks with more water is a pan, which will work for adult ducks.

There is a catch, they’ll surely swim in it. That’s not a huge deal, but with swimming comes pooping in it and that part isn’t so great for their water source.

If you decide to use a pan, make sure to dump it out several times a day and give them fresh water for drinking or give them a waterer in addition to the pan so they can have clean drinking water any time they want it.

Please note: the water pan option is for adult ducks only, not ducklings. Believe it or not, ducklings are not the best swimmers, especially if the water is hard to get in and out of.

Ducklings have more enthusiasm than sense when it comes to water and will end up stuck in the water pan. This will chill them, at best, and eventually kill them. Don’t give them open water sources until they are adults.


Metzer Farms Feed and Water Consumption for ducklings, I rounded their numbers to an even gallons per duckling per week then based the rest of the table off of these initial numbers. If you want the specifics on the table at Metzer Farm, click the link to see the original table that I took my information from.

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