Ducks On The Farm
All About Ducks
There isn't anyone that hasn't been to a park or a zoo where they saw ducks and didn't want to interact with them. Why is that? Why are people so drawn to ducks and find them as cute and cuddly as a puppy or a kitten? Because ducks have unique personalities and, are for the most part very friendly animals.
Did you know that all breeds of duck, except for the South American Muscovy duck, are descendants from the Mallard duck? Yes, this is a fact, the beautiful green headed, colorful Mallard drake and more muted brown penciled colored females started it all. As breeds were created using the Mallard, more and more different amazing ducks were hatched to give us all a variety of fun loving, curious, egg laying ducks. I am very thankful that people took the initiative to bring us such a wonderful variety of waterfowl. I love ducks, and if you speak to anyone that owns any, they will say the same thing. Once you get a duck you fall in love and you are then mesmerized with the personality of such a unique bird.
The life span of a duck can be anywhere from five to ten years and although they love large bodies of water, do not need a pond or lake. Ducks can be happily satisfied with wading pools to splash and swim in each day.
Domesticated ducks generally don't fly. When I say they don't fly, they can fly but they can't fly far because of their heavier weight unlike wild ducks. They are territorial birds and will stay within their territory if they have all their needs met. Some people choose to clip their wings, but in my experience I have not had to do that with any of my ducks. Ducks are social animals and live in flocks. They are not happy birds if they are kept alone with no other ducks to socialize with every day.
Ducks lay eggs that are nutritious and tasty and are larger than chicken eggs. They are a source of meat, eggs and feathers as a multi-purpose farm animal.
Why Should I Get Ducks?
The first thing I would tell someone considering raising ducks is that they are beneficial farm hands. They are wonderful foragers so they don't require a great deal of food. That alone helps them earn their keep. They lay a lot of eggs, some breeds such as the Khaki Campbell ducks can lay up to 300 eggs a year per duck. That is a lot of eggs if you keep a few on the farm.
They are amazing for pest control. They don't go after the small insects like chickens and guinea fowl do, they like the slimy, creepy crawly things that can be a nuisance. They love slugs and snails and will eat the mosquito larvae that you find in containers that hold water. You will find the more ducks you have on your farm the less mosquitoes that show up.
Although, they are little poop machines, their droppings are pure fertilizer for your grass and they do like to peck at grass and help to keep it short.
When considering housing for ducks, they don't require elaborate shelter like chickens do and they are content to get out of the weather and need to be safe from predators.
Ducks are cost efficient hard workers and will help clear your gardens and won't damage the vegetation. They like to go after things deep in the dirt and will eat some of the weeds. They are wonderful companions for chicken flocks are since they are very vocal and alert, they will let chickens know when something isn't right in their territory. You can't go wrong keeping a few ducks on your farm if you want inexpensive farm hands.
What Do You Think?
What is your favorite common breed of domesticated duck?
Did You Know?
Did you know that ducks are disease resistant and parasite resistant and don't require a lot of medical care? Unlike chickens that can catch things easily from other chickens, ducks are resistant to a lot of common bird illnesses. Ducks can be prone to leg issues though, so never pick one up by it's legs.
Did you know that there are more than 40 breeds of domestic ducks? Like I mentioned earlier, all of them descendants of the Mallard, except for the Muscovy.
Did you know that the White Pekin is the most common duck used for meat and eggs?
Did you know that ducks are monogamous during breeding season but don't mate for life?
Did you know ducks are social animals and need to live within a flock and don't do well along? Of course you did, I already mentioned that one! I was just testing you!
Ducks are interesting birds and they are a joy to live around and watch. The personality of ducks will capture your hearts and once you get a couple you will want more and more.
Just a quick check list before you get your ducklings.
- Have a container to keep your baby ducklings
- A brooder lamp and the proper bulb
- A water container they cannot get into
- The proper food for baby ducklings
- Have a safe place to keep your ducklings where they will be warm and unharmed as they grow.
- A camera, you will want to capture all their sweet, funny behaviors.
Wait, Don't Run Out For Your Ducks Yet!
When you rush out and get your ducks today, I want you to know that you have to have a few things first to make sure they are well cared for from the beginning.
When you bring your ducklings home, make sure you don't get medicated chick feed. Ducklings can die if they eat the medicated feed. They don't need the medication like chicks do so you want to get water fowl feed or wild turkey feed.
You will want to keep them in something big enough to move around and that has sides to keep them inside. You will need a brooder light and a brooder bulb to keep them warm.
Take it from me, baby ducklings are messy and stinky if you keep them in the house. You have to change their brooder at least twice a day to keep them clean and healthy. It is best if you have an outdoor brooder in a covered barn or chicken house. Don't line their brooder with newspaper because their little feet can slip and it could damage their legs.
Be careful with what you use for water. Try to use a waterer that allows them to just dip their beak, otherwise they will be swimming in it immediately. Ducklings are covered with down and don't have their natural oil glands working when they hatch and are kept in a brooder. So, they can get cold and stay wet if they swim. When hatched and raised with their mother, she coats their down with her own oil to protect them and can take them within hours of hatching into the water to swim.
Unlike chickens, ducklings don't need their brooder as warm as other birds. After hatching ducklings need their brooder temperature around 86 degrees and can be lowered 5 degrees a week. Ducks should be fully feathered by six weeks of age.
Okay, I think you are ready to get your ducks. Grab your keys, put your shoes on and get those adorable baby ducklings. Remember though, get more than one because they don't like to be alone!
Pros and Cons of Keeping Ducks
Working Pest Control
Messy With Water
Easy To Care For
Messy With Droppings
Requires Minor Shelter
Requires Small Amounts Of Feed
Lays A Lot Of Eggs