Last time I talked about ducks and duck eggs, but mostly duck eggs. This time I’m expanding on the keeping of ducks.
I first got ducks 2 years ago, in the summer of 2010. I answered an online classified that was giving away ducklings for free. I know what you’re thinking but I had carefully considered adding ducks to the farm, free or not, I didn’t jump at the chance for free animals. First I considered if they would fit our farm and whether I wanted the added work. I learned that much over the years even with extra nudgings from other people.
What I have now are not the same ducks I started with, though they are the same breed. They are Rouens and I have been very pleased with the breed. They are a good size for butchering and they lay large blue/green or white eggs regularly.
I raised them separately but once they were the same size as my chickens, I mixed the two of them. They had been able to see each other through the fence, if this was a factor or not, the mixing was uneventful.
Feeding and watering
The chickens and ducks are fed the same thing (a simple grain mix) and do eat side by side. They all have access to the outdoors and can come and go as they please. The waterer is an automatic set-up but because ducks are so messy with water, I need to dump the pan and refresh often. Not a big deal, because I have running water in the barn. The waterer needs to be large enough to allow the ducks to completely submerge their beaks to wash any feed from their nostrils. The clabbered milk (seen in photo above) is eaten only by the chickens, the ducks won’t touch it, which is just as well as they would dirty it up very quickly.
As for a pond for the ducks, I bought a small kiddy pool for them. Rouens don’t need water to breed (some do) but ducks do need water to get into and splash. This one is a little small but it’s easy to dump it and refresh it. As soon as I fill the pool with fresh water they are in there almost immediately! You may be able to tell in the picture that it is sunken in the ground slightly. This is to make it easier for the ducks to get in and out of.
Ducks can’t lay in chicken nesting boxes because they are too high for them. They need a box on the floor that is dark and easy to access, otherwise you will find them laying their eggs outside and most likely in places you won’t know about. A box 1′x 1′ is a good size. I put a ‘roof’ on mine to make it dark and private. The chickens happen to lay in the same box but the ducks don’t seem to have a problem with sharing. The blanket hanging (also seen in the other picture above) is to shield the light from the chickens’ nesting boxes and to allow more privacy.
I have been keeping chickens for years. Adding ducks has been very easy. They’re needs are not far from a chickens yet they add some diversity and interest to the farm and table.