There’s no question about it: ducks love water. It’s probably why they’re called waterfowl! Unfortunately, they also love muddying their water. Not only do ducks leave waste behind when they go for a swim, but ducks love nothing more than to root in the mud with their bills before cleaning them off in the nearest source of water.
What does this mean? Pristine, clear water quickly becomes a pool of thick sludge! While it won’t hurt ducks to drink from their muddy water bowls, they also need fresh water every day to stay healthy and happy.
It is very important for ducks (and geese!) to have access to water at all times. Though all waterfowl love to swim, it isn’t necessary to provide water containers large enough for swimming as long as they can fully submerge their heads. Ducks need to be able to clear out their nostrils and eyes.
For this reason, I always advise backyard waterfowl keepers to use small pans that can be easily rinsed and refilled. Some people prefer to use large swimming pools for kids, but “kiddie pools” wind up being a huge waste of water and a hassle to keep fresh.
I use a mixture of cement mixing pans, rubber feed bowls, litterboxes, and small livestock buckets for my ducks.
When the water is ready to be changed, it’s best if you can hose it out until there is no mud remaining before refilling. One issue with this, of course, is the mud migrates to the area around the water pans.
One thing you can do to avoid excessive ground mud is to change the location of the water source. Or you can “sacrifice” that ground and put gravel or straw on the mud to aid with traction.
Look at the thick, muddy mess that builds up in a water bowl after only one day! Now imagine how filthy your duck’s drinking water would be if you didn’t change it frequently.
Your ducks will certainly appreciate their water being kept clean and fresh–and they’ll enjoy getting it muddy again, too!