Keeping Ducks on the Homestead

      10 Comments on Keeping Ducks on the Homestead
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The chickens and ducks get along quite well in my flock.

Homestead Ducks

Ducks are a great addition to the small homestead. They provide eggs and meat, and pest control too! Their meat is delicious and the eggs are great for baking and fresh eating. Ducks are less prone to disease than chickens and they lay eggs well during the winter. The hatchlings grow quickly to provide meat for your table at about 2 to 3 months of age. The hens begin to lay at around 5 months and the eggs are large and full of protein. Some people don’t care for the flavor of duck eggs, but they are excellent for making moist and fluffy baked goods.

Will raising your own poultry protect you from rising egg prices?

Duck eggs are very nutritious.

What Breed of Duck is Best?

Homesteaders who wish to raise ducks for meat tend to favor the White Pekin, a fast growing bird with plenty of breast meat. Muscovies are another good breed for meat production. If you prefer to raise ducks for eggs, the Khaki Campbell is reputed to lay the most eggs. If you’d like both, the Pekin is a good choice.

I ordered Khaki Campbell ducklings this spring to try them out for egg production, but instead the hatchery sent me Black Cayugas. You can read more about them in my post The Case of The Mystery Ducks.

Khaki Campbell Duckling

Black Cayuga Duckling

 

Once you find yourself with a nice basket of their eggs, check out my post How to Use Duck Eggs for some extra information about these tasty treasures.

Keeping Ducks

Ducks do best if they are allowed to forage for bugs and greens in a nice sized pasture. Ducklings need good nutrition to prevent deficiencies. Vitamin E can be a problem because it breaks down in storage and feed that is more than a month old may not have enough of this nutrient. Ducklings deficient in vitamin E will start rolling over on their backs and paddling the air. If this happens, add fresh brewers yeast to their feed immediately, or break open a vitamin E capsul in their beaks and get fresh feed for them. Bring freshly clipped grass or other greens if they can’t go out to forage for greens.

Ducks don’t need a pond, but they will definitely be happier if they have one. Make sure that they have a pan of water large enough for them to dunk their heads under water to clean their eyes and nostrils out regularly. If they don’t have clean water to wash in, they are likely to suffer from eye infections.

Ducks for Meat

Not all homesteaders will choose to raise their own poultry for meat, but if you do, ducks make a great eating bird. Pekins grow so quickly that they rival Cornish X meat chickens for fast meat production. For more information, check out my post Raising Ducks for Sustainable Meat Production.

Do you raise ducks? Are they for meat or eggs, or both? What is your favorite breed of duck?


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10 comments on “Keeping Ducks on the Homestead

  1. Mark

    We have a nice, small pond, but get raccoons come in the summer. Is there a breed of duck that can survive by hiding in cattails without using a hen house at night? Are ducks like chickens and go inside at night? Is there a way to raise ducks without housing?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Hi Mark,
      I’m afraid that any breed of duck most likely would fall prey to racoons. If you do not give them a protected place to stay at night I don’t thing they would not last long. I kept my ducks in the same coop with my chickens and they got a long quite well. The only possible breeds that might do better would be the domesticated Mallards or Muscovies. They are a bit wilder and tend to fly off. Don’t clip their wings if you want them to be able to escape predators. I think I would still keep them inside at night to be safe.

      Most breeds of duck are pretty cold hardy and could be raised without housing in milder climates. Wild ducks migrate to warmer areas for the winter, but domesticated ducks don’t do that. So you would need to provide protection in the winter, if you live in a northern areas.

      If you have a shed or barn where they could stay at night, that would work fine. Make sure that predators, such as weasels can’t get in through cracks. Raise them up as ducklings in the shed and they will see it as their safe home and will normally come in at night without too much hassle. The only problem I ever had was when I wanted to put them away early and it was still light out. They didn’t want to come in until it started to get dark!

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Reply
  2. Terrie

    We have Ancona ducks, they are great for slugs. They get free range each day walking the parameter of our yard and thru the garden (around 5 hours). At our BBQ my next door neighbor was asking me what I do for the slugs, they have eaten up her garden. I had to smile ducks are great for slug control. We have butchered a duck the meat was good. They are mainly for slug control and their eggs for baking.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Terrie,
      I’m glad I’m not having a problem with slugs in my garden! But that is a great, all natural, way to control them. 🙂 Ducks do like to eat lettuce and cucumbers, so keep an eye on them! Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

      Reply
  3. LuckyRobin

    We have 5 Welsh Harlequins, 1 blue Swedish, and 1 Khaki Campbell. They are excellent layers. When we do meat ducks we usually do Pekins, but we have done WH males when we have too many. They don’t have much meat, though, maybe a pound when deboned, but the Pekins have a lot of meat.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Lucky Robin,
      I really like my Pekins for meat production too. I haven’t tried processing any other breeds of duck for meat. But pretty soon I will need to butcher at least one male Cayuga…I think I have two. Thanks for the input!

      Reply
  4. Cottontail Farm

    I have a small flock of chickens, and also a pair of runner ducks for eggs ( a drake and hen). The duck eggs are just amazing for baking or making pasta. She is currently sitting on a clutch of 13 eggs due to hatch around July 4th. We also love eating duck and I have 6 pekins to go to the butcher on Tuesday. I think I’m going to hold back one of the females to hopefully have runner/peking crosses this spring for meat but can’t find anything on-line as to what the offspring might be like. Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Cottontail Farm,
      I love my duck eggs too! I haven’t tried cross breeding ducks, so I don’t have any first hand experience. If you try this, please let us know how it goes! I would expect that you’d have off spring that are meatier than the runner duck, but not as meaty as a Pekin…and maybe they’d lay a smaller egg than the Pekin. Best wishes!

      Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Nancy,
      I will have to check for a way to do that…thanks for asking 🙂 If you ever want to share something to facebook and there isn’t a share button, you can copy the url and paste it into your facebook status update field. I will see if I can find a plug in for sharing.

      Reply

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