You may be asking yourself, should I buy chickens or ducks? And honestly, I can’t make that decision for you, but I can tell you why I bought ducks and have never regretted Raising Ducks on the Homestead!
- Because they’re hardy, low-maintenance creatures.
- Eggs. Large, delicious duck eggs that are laid all spring and summer long. (my ducks started laying around Feb -Nov with a break during only the coldest months)
- Meat. Ducks when allowed to forage will fatten quickly and provide a delicious and healthy form of free-range meat. Feeding them corn will speed up this process.
- Pest Control. They eat all sorts of nasty bugs, including slugs, grubs and ticks. They rarely touch garden plants, though they are known for loving lettuce and strawberries! But I let them forage in my garden all the time and they rarely touch well-established plants.
- Manure. After cleaning out their pen, you can deposit all that mucky straw onto your compost pile and let it sit for awhile before putting it on your garden. It’s always important to let poultry (chickens & ducks) poop age and break down with straw as it’s often too “hot” or high in nitrogen and will give the plants a nutritional burn. I’ve learned this hard lesson in the past before!
4 Things to Know About Raising Ducks on the Homestead
- What breed of ducks should you get? I raised Khaki Campbells when we lived on our off-grid homestead, and I loved them for their white eggs, docile personality and hardiness. The breed I currently have is Ancona, and they’re such lovely ducks! Quiet, and low maintenance, they give the loveliest pearl colored eggs.
- Housing. Ducks don’t need particularly deluxe housing. A small pallet house or anything that keeps the more extreme elements out will work just fine, and as long as they can easily access it via a low ramp, they will be happy. Add some straw for them to nest in and lay eggs in, and that’s it.
- Feeding. Ducks will happily eat the weeds, and bugs in your garden (they will also eat your lettuce and strawberries, so keep those protected! But besides that, they will leave your plants alone). Ducks are foragers and in the summer I let them forage all day long and only pen them up at night to keep them safe from predators.
- Water. A container of water will do, make sure it’s low enough for them to reach it and keep it fresh by replacing it each day. Ducks love water, and while it’s not necessary to have a pond or water source for them to play in they will love it. I use a small kiddie pool and replace or refresh the water every few days.
This is one form of housing we’ve used while Raising Ducks on the Homestead. At the time we were having issues with wild animals coming in and trying to eat our ducks so we generally kept them contained by building these large panels of wattle fencing and making a corral of sorts. If you’re interested in making your own woven wattle fencing for your farm, go to this tutorial on DIY Wattle Fencing.
I LOVE cooking with duck eggs, especially in baked goods. I feel that the richness of the eggs adds that little something extra to my baking. There’s just something about making a loaf of Challah Bread with duck eggs, brushing it with egg yolk, baking it and pulling that golden loaf of the oven, that if it doesn’t activate some homesteading genes in you, I don’t know what will!
I raise Ancona Ducks on my homestead right now, although in the past I’ve had Khaki Campbells. I love Ancona Ducks for their relaxed personality, wonderful foraging skills, consistent egg production and resilient nature. They’re an excellent dual-purpose breed, with beautiful, large eggs and delicious meat that is lower in fat than some breeds. They average 6-7 pounds, and have large, sturdy legs that make them perfect for foraging in heavily wooded, forest areas.
My Ancona ducks are mild-tempered, and easily herded back to their pen each night after a day of foraging in the woods, garden and lawn. Plus, they’re adorable! I mean, nothing beats looking out the window and seeing a line of ducks waddling after each other, picking through the grass and foraging to their hearts’ delight.
Are you thinking of Raising Ducks on the Homestead? And do you think ducks are a wise addition to your homestead? Let me know what you think!