Ducks, much like chickens, are animals that people are regularly keeping for their eggs or for pets, but there are a few things they sometimes forget when keeping ducks.
The best tips for keeping your ducks include providing plenty of water, being ready for the ducks to make quite a mess, taking into account the fencing, getting the right kind of breeds for what you want them for, making sure the ducks get the supplements they need, keeping them safe from predators, knowing how to identify the difference between male and female ducks, making sure you don’t create an unnecessary perch for the duck, considering how many ducks you might need, providing housing, and considering if you want to keep them with your chickens.
Read on to see if keeping ducks is what you want to do.
Most people you know who keep animals for their eggs are typically keeping chickens.
It can be few and far between finding someone keeping ducks for their eggs.
But it does happen and there are a few reasons why:
- Ducks have bigger eggs
Typically a duck egg is going to be a bigger egg than a chicken egg.
This means they are getting more yoke for their buck with the duck eggs.
- People like the taste
Duck eggs typically have a heartier taste than chicken eggs.
And that can sometimes take a little bit of work to get used to.
But I’ve personally had duck eggs and while it does have a different taste, it wasn’t enough to chase me away from ever having them again.
- People like to use them for recipes
Because there is more of an egg to the duck egg, people like to use them in recipes.
This gives more egg to the recipe and also because of the additional taste, it gives the recipe a different taste as well.
Provide plenty of water
There is a two-fold reason here for providing lots of water to a duck.
First, just like any other animal, they need water to survive.
Especially since ducks aren’t very good at moving food down their throats into their belly.
We’ve seen our duck plenty of times go straight to the water after taking a bite of food so they can make sure that food gets all the way into their belly.
So provide plenty of water to them so they can drink all the water that they need.
Second, ducks not only like to swim, but they need to swim as well.
Ducks don’t have tear ducts, so they depend on dunking their head on water so they can wash off their eyes and face.
They also like to take a swim every once in a while as a form of exercise.
So, provide some extra water to them so they can go for a swim, or they might escape looking for it.
In our animal area, we have a little pool full of water for our duck.
You typically don’t need too much space, though, to give your duck some water.
They will only need enough that they can dunk their head into and maybe swim around a little bit.
But providing them enough water is extremely important to their health.
Be ready for the ducks to make quite a mess
Ducks are not clean creatures.
I’ve already mentioned how ducks like the water.
And this can sometimes lead to big messes with the ducks, especially if you are raising duckings (in that case, change the bedding for the ducklings so the water doesn’t get out of control).
They really have no ill feelings about getting into the water and flapping their wings around, getting everyone and everything around them all wet.
This makes it so your ducks should be outside animals.
When they are young as ducklings, you can keep them inside in a box or brooder, but once they get big enough, they should immediately be put outside so they can swim around to their heart’s content and you not having to worry about cleaning up any messes.
Take into account the fencing
Ducks can be a much gentler animal than a chicken, so keeping them out of certain areas of your yard might not be the biggest concern.
For example, a duck can go through your garden and pick out slugs or other things it wants to eat without ravaging your whole garden as a chicken would.
Ducks can’t jump very high, as it is, so it should be pretty easy to create a fence to keep them in one particular area.
People have reported that they’ve had fences two feet high and their duck has never bothered to jump over it.
The only time our duck has ever gotten out was when it found a hole in the fence and then it would walk through the hole.
So overall, a 2 or 3-foot fence should be enough to keep your duck(s) in for quite some time.
Get the right kind of breeds for what you want them for
What kind of duck breed you want depends on what you want them for.
Ducks are mostly kept for either the eggs, meat, or down.
For eggs, consider getting Campbell, Runner, Buff, Welsh Harlequin, Magpie, or Ancona.
For meat, consider getting Pekin, Moulard, Muscovy, Aylesbury, or Rouen.
For down, consider getting Eider, Pekin, or Moskus.
Make sure the ducks get the supplements they need
You need to make sure that your ducks are getting all the nutrients that they need.
If they are foragers, they can get a lot of nutrients, but not all of them.
You might want to consider allowing them to forage, but to also give them some pellets as well because again it is important that they are getting all the nutrients that they need.
One other nutrient that is pretty vital to ducks is niacin.
According to ThomasLabs.com:
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is an essential vitamin that helps the digestive system and nervous system function properly. It also helps the body turn protein, fat, and carbs into energy. This essential nutrient plays a vital role in the development of ducks and chickens.
Niacin is essential for the health, growth, and proper bone development of young ducklings and chicks. Without enough Niacin, ducks and chickens can develop a deficiency, which can lead to leg deformities and other health issues.https://www.thomaslabs.com/product/importance-of-niacin-for-ducks-and-chickens/articles
Niacin is present in chicken feed, but it isn’t enough for your ducks, so even if you get them some chicken pellets to supplement the foraging, you are going to need something else as well.
You can purchase this supplement pretty easily from Amazon here and follow the directions on how much to give.
Keep the ducks safe from predators
We’ve already established that ducks cannot jump very high and for the most part, they can’t fly very far either.
So that becomes a problem when you want to keep them safe from predators.
That 2 or 3-foot fence we mentioned earlier might need to be a little bit higher if you are afraid of predators.
Not only do you need to make the fence higher, but you are also going to wait to bury the fence into the ground so no animals can dig under it and get inside your duck area.
Also, you will want to make sure to put your ducks away at night.
They should be pretty easy to corral into the chicken coop before you go to bed.
Just go outside, get down low and keep your arms out wide and simply walk behind the ducks, moving them in the way toward the coop.
They should just walk toward the coop and go inside.
Once inside, close and lock the door so nothing can get in during the night.
Know how to identify the difference between male and female ducks
There are a few subtle differences between male (drake) and female (mallard).
The male duck is going to be quieter than the female duck.
The female duck will walk around and most of the time will be quacking, and loudly, while the male duck might quack every once in a while, but it will be a much quieter quack.
Second, male ducks will typically have a little curl at the end of their tales, while the female will not.
Knowing the difference between your males and females is important so you can know which will be laying eggs.
Make sure you don’t create an unnecessary perch for the duck
If you’ve had chickens before, it might be natural to assume that your ducks will want a perch just like the chickens.
But this is not true.
Ducks don’t care for perching much, they would actually rather be swimming in the water (which they might want to do in the cold of the winter as well).
So don’t waste the time building a perch for your ducks because they simply will not use it.
You can try to build a nesting box for your ducks as well, but they might just find their own place to lay their eggs.
So you might not want to waste your time doing these things.
Consider how many ducks you might need
If you are going to have male and female ducks, think about it before you decide.
Having a male means that you need to have 3 to 4 female ducks to keep the male occupied.
Otherwise, the male duck will get bored and start going after your chickens.
So if you are going to get ducks, you might find yourself starting off with 4 or 5 in total just to start.
If that is something you feel like you can deal with, great.
But if not, consider what you might need to do to get ready.
Ducks are going to need shade and a place to sleep.
Just like any other animal, they don’t like to be out in the hot weather, if they can help it.
This can be supplemented by providing them with water they can swim in, but they are still going to want to have shade.
You will also want to keep them safe at night.
So build them some housing.
It doesn’t have to be a big project, they just need a little bit of space, but give them something they can get away to at night.
Consider if you want to keep them with your chickens.
I’ve already mentioned a few things in this article to consider with your ducks.
This includes if you want to keep them with your chickens or in another area.
As I just mentioned, if you have a male duck and not enough female ducks to keep him occupied, he might start going after your chickens.
We’ve found our duck a few times mounting our chickens.
This might be pretty alarming at first.
But it also is something that happens pretty naturally.
Keep an eye on your male duck, though, because he can actually hurt your chickens if he is mounting them too often or he is being pretty rough.
There have been a few times I’ve taken my male duck off of my chickens.
They may also be selfish with the water and the food, so if it seems like your chickens aren’t getting enough food and water, it might be because the ducks are keeping them away.
So if you find that the ducks are essentially bullying the chickens, then separate them into their own areas.
But overall, you might be fine to have them in the same area.
In that case, just play it by ear.
Ducks aren’t very complicated animals.
If you provide them with food and water for them to drink and play in, they are going to be pretty happy creatures.
Make sure to keep them safe from predators and that they have all the supplements that they might need.