Ducks love to help out in the garden, eating the bugs that wish to eat the plants you want to eat. Small flock owners often ignore this requirement and end up being disappointed with their birds’ performance. Many times the questions involve raising ducks. How to raise ducks in your backyard starts with duck breed selection. Lettuce may be irresistible too. Sad to say, the productivity of many breeding flocks has been allowed to degenerate, and much too frequently, any ducks even slightly resembling Campbells or Runners have been sold as the real article. In spite of the fact that some literature on the subject states otherwise, practical experience and tests conducted by institutions such as the University of Nebraska clearly show that duck eggs retain their freshness during storage considerably longer than those of chickens. Raising Ducks In The Backyard Individual females have been known to produce 360 or more eggs in a year’s time, although flock averages are nearer 275 to 325. Therefore, during the short days between September and April, laying birds need supplemental lighting in most areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Their land and their life’s work is aptly named ForestCreekMeadows. It all comes down to space and housing availability. To avoid throwing your birds into a premature molt and drastically reducing egg production, it’s wise to never change feeds while ducks are laying. If you don’t mind the mud and the water and the quacking, then you’ll love raising backyard ducks! You are going to quickly develop a fondness for adding them to fluffy cakes and omlettes. The unique creatures are similar to chicken with vast difference in behavior, eggs are full of nutrients, rich in protein. On the other hand geese are raised mostly for meat. While they are in the garden, they will also be providing fresh fertilizer, providing a win-win situation. The average mortality rate in home flocks is significantly lower with ducks than with chickens. See our post with all the items used to raise these ducks? There are many enticing reasons to raise a flock of chickens – obviously it will give you the chance to eat farm fresh eggs, it will help you reduce your food miles in the pursuit of a lower carbon footprint, chickens will provide free fertilizer, and they just so happen to come in a variety of breeds, it is almost hard to choose just one! You could also buy them online from a trusted hatchery, or from a nearby farm. My husband and I own a small hobby farm in Virginia and have been raising ducks for the last couple of years. Backyard Ducks For Eggs . With their well-oiled feathers and thick coating of down, ducks are amazingly resistant to cold and wet weather. If ducks are what you want, they will somehow find you. One 25-watt clear or white bulb located five to six feet above floor level will provide sufficient illumination for approximately 100 square feet of ground space. Because they spend a good deal of time in and on the water, the possibility of attracting mites, fleas and ticks is very minimal. However, laying birds cannot be expected to continue laying consistently, particularly during cold weather, if their intake of concentrated feeds is inadequate. Since ducks are considerably better foragers than chickens, the efficiency of ducks is further enhanced when they are allowed to rustle free foods in bodies of water, pastures or grassy yards. Campbells, and their close relative the Welsh Harlequin, are generally considered the best layers of all domestic poultry. For starters, ducks are easy to raise even in a small backyard. Because ducks roost on the ground at night, they are susceptible to predators. Ducks eat a lot and they are messy at best, though they are also super cute to watch as they dig tiny holes in the mud. They don’t make nests, so collecting eggs can become an egg hunt: leaving you to seek out shades of white, blue and green around the yard. Juvenile ducks (2 months old) need duck feed with at least 15% protein content. For consistent winter egg production—especially in cold climates—ducks, like chickens, must be exposed to a minimum of 13 to 14 hours of light daily. Relatively few people in the Americas realize that, on the whole, ducks are more proficient layers than chickens. Ducks and Other Fowl. Interestingly, before being told that they were eating duck cuisine, we’ve had numerous people mention that the eggs were exceptionally good. They do not produce waterproofing oil until they are 4 weeks of age. Chickens will roost for the night, ducks prefer a place to sleep at ground level. If they develop a lust for tomatoes, you’ll need to keep them out of the garden! Follow on Instagram and sign up for their newsletter for more inspirations on living a sustainable life. It is paramount that the length of light never decreases while birds are producing heavily, or else the rate of lay can be drastically curtailed or brought to a sudden halt. Required fields are marked *. A better system, and the one we have used extensively, is to purchase an automatic timer switch (small, dependable models are available for about $10 from most hardware dealers) that can be set to expose the birds to 13 to 16 hours of light daily by turning the lights on before daybreak and off after night fall. Some great news is that your ducks will not need a fancy home. Watch them long enough, and you’ll even get to see them blow bubbles in water! For just a couple of ducks, a gallon tin can will suffice—and is easily cleaned. Roosters not only crow before dawn, they make themselves heard throughout the day. In summer, they keep cool by splashing in a pond or pool, or by simply laying in the shade. However, ducks exposed to 24 hours of light daily seem to have a tendency to go broody after several months. Kale, romaine, lettuce, they love it all, but spinach is not recommended as it can hinder calcium absorption. Once you have made the decision that you must have ducks, the easiest way to get started is to buy a few ducklings at your local feed store in springtime. Raising ducks and chickens together. The shells of duck eggs are slightly more difficult to crack and are pearly white rather than chalk white as in chicken eggs—but I can’t see these as disadvantages. Ducks have evolved to have complex sexual organs, you’ll experience this first hand when you prepare your ducks for dinner. When exploring how to raise ducks in your backyard, it’s important to understand waterfowl’s critical relationship with water. This means their brooder will need to be cleaned often. It is an experience that no homesteader should live without, at least for a year, or more. Some modifications need to be addressed when raising ducks, and they add a new dimension to your barnyard. More dual-purpose duck breeds for backyard rearing: The most common duck meat you find at the butcher, or the supermarket, comes from the Pekin duck. Khaki Campbell drakes (males) have iridescent greenish-bronze heads and khaki bodies, while ducks (females) are varying shades of khaki brown with dark seal-brown, silky white plumage, orange feet and legs and bills that range from pink to yellowish-pink in color. You’re probably wondering what do ducks eat? Ducklings cannot swim on their own as they are starting out in life, so you will need to limit their access to water, other than drinking. I usually let my ducklings enjoy their first bath three days after hatching. Duck eggs have a thicker shell than chicken eggs, meaning that they can stay fresh for longer. However, there are other factors to consider when getting into the hobby, or money-making, aspects of raising backyard poultry – and it may just be the duck that wins the race. To keep ducks laying the year around, they must be supplied an adequate amount of laying feed that provides a minimum of 15 to 16% crude protein. Your email address will not be published. It is known that a standard runner duck lays about four eggs per week, eight months of the year. Cheryl Magyar is a sustainable life designer and environmental freelance writer with more than twenty years experience of living a simple life close to nature. But any downside becomes irrelevant if your purpose is to raise a few ducks … A ducks and geese environment provides fruitful commercial benefits for raisers. As your ducklings become mature, adult ducks, you’ll move them off of chick starter feed and and start feeding your ducks grower chicken feed—you probably won’t be able to find duck feed. Fine, powdery feeds should be avoided. While producing, ducks are very sensitive to sudden changes in their diets. And, because egg-type ducks are not accomplished high jumpers, they are easily confined with a two- or three-foot high barrier. And refrain from getting involved with your human emotions into their sometimes harsh mating behavior. (Although you may wish to read this before deciding to raise backyard chickens!). Read it now. Well, not necessarily. This won’t hurt chickens. Duck eggs also weigh five to eight ounces per dozen more than chicken eggs. In fact, it seems that they are happiest with a shelter and areas to explore. One method is to leave a light burning all night, which helps in keeping the birds calm. They are cute and they provide you with a steady supply of eggs. Then there are the dynamics of behavior. Be a sensitive matter, introducing your ducklings by hand type of ducks are amazingly delicious and nutritious more. 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