Tag Archive for "backyard farm" - Redding, CA Photographer | Amy McMaster Photography

why ducks? | daily dose of duck | life. right now.

January 15, 2013

i have a few birds. i’m a bit of nerd when it comes to them. i read books. and google. a lot. i know all the breeds i have and carefully selected each one. thinking about getting a few birds? let’s dish!

please note that i am not a vegetarian and we sometimes eat our livestock. i respect that some people are vegetarian and even vegan so if you are sensitive to that- please read no further.

why ducks? this is one of THE most asked questions i get. no one ever asks why we got chickens. eggs right? well that’s why we got ducks. we chose ducks first. and why?

some books i have and find very useful: storeys guide to raising ducks and storeys illustrated guide to poultry breeds

why we said yes to ducks:

1. they are funny. they waddle and quack. it’s really entertaining. they do not bite or attack small children.
2. they are extremely generous layers of large to jumbo eggs.
3. they are easy to care for. extremely hardy in both heat and cold. not prone to diseases or illness.
4. clean up ponds – they love eating the grasses and pond weeds, mosquitos and their eggs, frogs and fish.
5. their soiled bedding makes a wonderfully rich compost fertilizer. unlike chicken poop, it does not need to be composted before use in your garden.
6. we have a small pond. but you do not need one.
7. provide a kiddie pool even if you have a pond. why? the ducks will still stop by and use it sometimes. bathing and pooping in it. as gross as this may seem, it is wonderful fertilizer. pour it directly into the soil of your garden.

a few drawbacks:

1. they need water. lots of water to be truly healthy and happy. you do not need a pond but you will need a kiddie pool at the least and you will need to dump and refill that sucker daily.
2. they can destroy your yard if it is a small one. their webbed feet mash everything down. the kiddie pool will too. you will likely want to move the pool daily to avoid absolute destruction or designate a scenic area that you may want to scoop out for your ducks.
3. you need make sure you have a proper duck hen to drake ratio. 3 boys and 4 girls? not ok. your females will get raped mercilessly and it can kill them. so buy sexed ducks or quickly re-home (or butcher) any excess males to preserve the safety and health of the females in your flock.
4. rearing them (aka brooding them) from ducklings is a lot of work. they are extremely messy. but after a few weeks you can move them outside to their coop and they become pretty darn easy to care. baby chickens are not as wet messy to care for sure!

we started with 18 ducks last year. we ended up with way too many males. we found good homes for them. not yet ready to butcher those silly quacking ducks. that left us with 3 males and 11 females. they all began laying in september and october. the last few kicked in at the start of november. in september we were getting about 4-5 eggs a day. october about 5-7 eggs a day and by november we get 8-11 eggs a day. no lights, no forced molting. we do it all natural here. we respect that when the birds pause for the natural seasons change or for molting. we don’t interfere. what we did do was make sure we get another batch of ducks several months later so that when the first batch pauses laying to molt, the new batch will still be laying- so we should usually not be without eggs. :)

ducks get their own coop. their lay boxes are tupperware tubs stuffed with clean pine shavings. they lay their eggs and we let them all out of the coop for the day around 10am. at nightfall they all head back up to the coop for some supper and to go to bed. ducks have no defense against predators so we protect them with a fully enclosed coop. it’s not fancy but it serves it’s purpose and they are healthy and cared for. and free ranged. that was important to us. before they were old enough to go on the pond we used kiddie pools. we loved to drag the pools over to the orchard trees and dump the water around the base of the trees. liquid gold i tell ya!

we clean the coops out monthly or so give and take. we use horse stall bedding on the floor (pellets) and pine shavings in their lay boxes. we feed them mazuri waterfowl maintenance and oyster shell offered freely. pretty straightforward.

if you want to check out our daily duck and goose life- i have a hashtag on IG: #dailydoseofduck. i dont post every single day but pretty often. i try.

we have several breeds of duck over here on our little farm…or as we call it…as the egg turns ranch. bwahaha!

but these gorgeous ducks are called silver appleyards. big ducks that lay big eggs. over the years we are thinking to eventually only have appleyard ducks. these ducklings are all less than 10 weeks old, so very much big babies. :)

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