It was about 5 years ago when I said to my husband, “I think I want ducks!” As we lived in a 2 bedroom condo at the time and only had experience raising the typical cat, dog and a rabbit, I think he thought I was nuts. In hindsight, he was right! I had no idea that a few short years later we’d be raising a happy flock of ducks (and a goose) in our backyard!
Here are 5 things we’ve learned along the way…
Ducks love water and that means mud
You know the saying “like a duck to water”? It’s true! Ducks love water and that means lots of mud! Ducks need water for a healthy life – for cleaning, for eating and for splashing, of course! It sounds simple but providing fresh water year round in certain climates can be a challenge!
Ducks have unique nutritional needs
Just like chickens have their own needs, waterfowl do as well. One misconception is that ducks can simply eat what chickens eat. This is simply not true. Ducks, like other waterfowl, have unique needs such as higher levels of niacin (vitamin B3) to keep their legs strong and healthy.
Ducks love company
Ducks are very social animals that thrive in the company of other ducks. In the wild, ducks live as part of a flock and need friends to keep them company. Ideally, you’d want to start with at least 5 ducks in your flock and be mindful of your duck to drake (male duck) ratio. Over mating can be a real problem so an ideal ratio is 1 drake to 4-5 ducks. Or you can skip the drakes altogether and just have a flock of females if you aren’t interested in breeding.
Duck eggs are delicious
Hands down, duck eggs taste way better than chicken eggs! Duck eggs have a rich and creamy taste unlike any chicken egg I’ve ever tasted. Duck eggs are excellent for baking due to their higher fat content which makes cakes and other baked goods fluffier. Due to their thicker shell, duck eggs store longer than chicken eggs. But trust me, they won’t be around long enough to go bad!
Ducks make for easy prey
If you aren’t careful ducks can become easy targets for predators. Whether in a wooded or urban environment there is no shortage of animals that would love to eat your ducks – hawks, raccoons, fox, bobcats, neighborhood dogs, skunks, weasels, snakes… the list is long! Providing a safe and secure day-time and night-time enclosure is a must!