Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
The day my husband and I went to pick out our very first group of baby chickens together, he added a stipulation. My husband grew up around his grandfather's huge flock of chickens and ducks, and so he told me, "I get to have ducks, too." I agreed hesitantly, having no experience with ducks other than seeing my best friend raising them while we were in high school.
A short time later, we were bringing home two little brown ducklings from a local auction. They weren't old enough to have feathers developed, but were already a few weeks old. We were both new to owning them ourselves, so we had no idea what they were or even what gender they may be! Thanks to the help of a great poultry forum called BackYard Chickens, we soon were able to tell what breed and gender they both were. Our journey with two female Khaki Campbell ducks began here.
When the ducks got a little bit older, we gave them a kiddie pool to swim in. Even though it gets messy very fast, the day we change their water out is full of laughter. Both the ducks climb into the pool calmly and get a little to drink, then suddenly begin swimming around very fast and flapping their wings like crazy in the water. It seems like half the kiddie pool is emptied by the time they get done, because they have so much fun splashing it all out.
I let all the water out of the pool out one day and did not fill it back up instantly, so they went to their drinking water and got a drink before running around their pen and pretending to be swimming. I cannot even describe the chuckles it brought watching it, let alone telling someone about it!
The time came where both of our ducks were laying eggs, and we have really enjoyed cooking and baking with them. These large, white eggs have a thick shell and are very rich — having more protein than a chicken egg does. What we do not keep of our duck eggs, we have even been able to sell for $5/dozen locally. They've provided us with a tasty and profitable benefit to raising them.
The temperament of these ducks is beyond belief, being very docile and easy to catch. We have no trouble handling them during the day, and they have not tried to fly much. Every time they see you coming, they let out a welcoming quack, however they do get pretty noisy when it comes time to feed them! With the ducklings and the chicks being little, they were raised together with minimal fuss. (They do not go in the roost with the chickens at night, though, and instead have their own separate housing.)
Needless to say, we have grown very attached to our ducks, and are so happy that we made the decision to begin raising them. In a few months, we will be building two permanent pens near our cabin, so that the chickens and ducks can be separated. At this point, we will be looking to get a male duck and maybe a few more females so that we can hopefully start breeding and raising all the more of these wonderful birds.
Resources to Get Started Raising Ducks
If you have ever considered raising ducks, there are many articles you can refer to in order to help you select the best breed for the intended purpose (whether that may be a hardy egg layer or a larger duck for meat). I have listed below some great places to get started when it comes to selecting and raising ducks, and hope that it will help anyone who may be looking to start a flock of their own!
BackYard Chickens: We rely on this site a lot for helpful articles, and forums full of knowledgeable poultry owners. They helped us identify the gender and breed of our ducks.
Metzer Farms: Metzer Farms offers lots of information on the purposes and temperaments of different duck breeds. Not only do they offer the opportunity to order poultry from them, but they also have links on their website to different waterfowl rescues in the United States.
For The Birds: This page has basic care and feeding information regarding ducks, written by an actual avian veterinarian.
Fala Burnette and her husband are learning to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle on their farm, Wolf Branch Homestead in Alabama. They are currently building a small cabin using lumber they have milled themselves, along with raising chickens, rabbits, & ducks. In Spring 2016, they will start growing a large crop of heirloom dent corn and watermelons that they will save to sell for seed. Read all of Fala's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.