Ducks are good guys that you won’t mind to have them around. Keeping them as pets or raising them for their eggs and meat, requires you to know something about them as it will make your raising journey easy and smooth. I have some tips for raising ducks that will answer some of the questions you have.
Raising ducks however can be a challenge to beginners and those who have never had a chance to live with them in their backyard. These birds have unique feeding, living and even mating habits.
These birds can be raised even by those with small spaces, those with large tracts of land and also the ones living in an urban setting. They are not noisy and will only quack when making a call or when raising alarm signaling danger.
Are ducks easy to raise?
Yes they are. Ducks are resistant to most diseases unlike chicken and they are hardy too. They eat a variety of leafy greens, grass, and insects and can be supplemented with concentrates and kitchen scrap.
Even though shelter is important, my ducks ignore their coop and spent most of the nights outside. This is somehow insecure due to predators but if your compound is well fenced it is okay.
What do you need to raise ducks?
If you have the basic requirements for your ducks you van raise them easily. Adequate food, housing, water, health check and love are all that your ducks require.
To those who have a big compound ducks love it outdoors as they can freely roam and have enough time to sun bask and take a deep bath. Out there they can eat plenty of insects, forage and have time to play with one another.
Which is easier raising ducks or chickens?
Personally I have ducks and chicken plus other poultry of course. Ducks are very easy to raise as they require little maintenance. They hardly get sick and can eat a wide variety of food than chicken.
In a case where I have to chop leafy vegetables for my chickens, ducks prefer them whole. They tear large pieces up and swallow some whole without hesitation.
Can I let my ducks roam free?
Yes allow your ducks to roam free as long as it is secure for them to go out. Predators take an advantage and can easily take this as an opportunity to steal from your flock.
You can have someone look after your ducks as they roam outdoors as he will notice when predators are around and about to strike. Ducks are social birds and they will use this opportunity to break monotony, eat new things and have fun with each other.
Tips on raising ducks
There are things you should be sure of when raising your backyard ducks. These tips will make it easier for you to improve or start as a beginner. Keep reading to know these important duck raising tips.
Let’s get started:
Ducks need plenty of food
Unlike chickens, ducks eat a variety of foods and more of it. How you feed your ducks will determine their production. When choosing feed for them especially ducklings, it is good to know that ducks are very sensitive to aflotoxin and can easily kill them.
Feed them the right amount and supplement them with green matter. Mostly much of the food that ducks eat is made of 90% forage and the rest should be other supplements.
Allowing them out to range will be good since they will eat snails, slugs and other insects they get in the backyard. Some people feed their ducks with anything they find edible. Watch out!
Some kinds of foods like bread and junk foods are not good for these birds as they offer very little or no nutrients at all. Bread is known to cause a condition known as angel’s wings syndrome. This makes them prone to predation as they are not able to flap their wings when fleeing.
For wild ducks they are not able to fly at all making them an easy meal. Junk food makes them became overweight hence being unable to fly and have back and leg issues. (Check my article What do ducks eat).
Provide enough water
Ducks are naturally water loving birds. These birds drink a lot and take a bath to clean their plumage and also for fun. They love anything wet including mud.
Your ducks will sit in muddy water and look messy. For the ducklings it is advisable you keep them dry as they lack protective oils that make them waterproof. You can also minimize the amount of time they spend in water not to get cold and chill.
Clean drinking water for ducks is very important. It helps in digestion, excretion and also keeps their bodies hydrated. Consider where you put water for these birds because they are good at spilling and splashing it all over making the beddings wet.
Use good and no mess waterers as they will minimize wastage, spillage and prevent them from contaminating it with dirt and poop. (Check my review article The 5 best duck waterers).
There are predators in and around your pond
In the pond there are turtles and around the pond there are coyotes, hawks watching from above and wild dogs in the woods. When your ducks go for a swim, have someone to watch them as you can easily lose your birds.
Unlike chicken that come home to roost at sunset, ducks will even spend the night out leaving them exposed. Sometimes am forced to herd my ducks late in the night and bring them back to their coop especially when I am away and come home late.
Ducks don’t roost they don’t need nesting boxes too
Ducks don’t require perches because they prefer sleeping on the straw beddings at the floor of their coop. When it comes to laying, ducks will lay anywhere on the floor and do not care about nesting boxes unlike chicken.
Be careful when walking in the pen especially at night as you can easily step on the eggs and break them easily.
Consider where you feed your ducks
Place duck feeding troughs away from waterers as they can turn it messy within minutes. They will dip their watery bills in the feeding troughs and turn the contents inside marshy.
I advise you put their drinking water away from the feeding trough to minimize the chances of contaminating their feed with water.
Provide good housing for your ducks
Although ducks can spend the night outside, it is important you build them a coop to ensure they are well secured. Any structure can be a coop for your ducks as long as it is safe, secure, well ventilated and your birds can enter and spend the night.
What is important is you provide beddings of either straw, pine shavings or sand as beddings for your ducks as they require no perches unlike chicken. Building a coop to shield your ducks against harsh weather like the winter cold is necessary. (Check my article duck pen and duck pen ideas).
Ducks can lay eggs without a male
Without a drake, hens can continue laying eggs. However, these kinds of eggs are infertile and are only good for consumption since they cannot hatch. For ducks to lay fertile eggs, they have to mate so that the male can fertilize the female.
Ducks lay a bit earlier than chicken and will probably lay before sunrise or after. You can delay letting your ducks go out a little bit if you have not seen eggs in the coop to stop them from laying outside.
Duck poop is disgusting
The last thing that i am sure you want to see on your clothing is duck poop. It is watery and smells bad especially for the beginners will not like it at all.
This poop quickly turns the coop into a marsh especially to those birds that are reared in permanent confinement. Regular changing of bedding materials or adding some fresh bedding on top will help keep your coop dry.
8 Facts about ducks
- A male duck is called a drake, a female a hen or a duck and a baby a duckling.
- There is a pecking order among ducks and rival males fight for dominance over females.
- Ducks have webbed feet that makes them excellent swimmers.
- These birds have three eyelids.
- They are known to be social birds and are better kept more than one or a flock of several birds.
- Ducks preen a lot to keep their plumage clean.
- They can sometimes become very aggressive and can peck you especially if they consider you a threat to their young.
- Female ducks can continue laying eggs even without a male. However, those eggs are not fertile and cannot be used for hatching.
Among all kinds of poultry, ducks are the easy to raise and maintain. The only thing they require in abundance is water. They are not choosy on what they eat and almost anything edible to them is food.
Their hardiness is on another level. They are very tolerant and resistance to diseases unlike chicken that are swept even by minor bird flu. Looking for less noisy birds that can be raised in an urban setting? Ducks win the contest.