A Duck’s Pack Like Behavior Makes Management Easy
Our duck activities have garnered a lot of requests for a full show on just ducks. So today I will do my best. I have been reluctant to do so for a few reasons. The first is ducks are a new thing to me. I grew up caring at least at times for chickens and geese. I know their requirements well.
While I observed lots of semi wild muscovies in Florida, I was not responsible for their care other than feeding them surplus fishing bait. As of right now my direct experience in duck husbandry is about 8 months long. This spring we purchased our little ducks, we lost some but now we have 25 happy adults. I have had good results but credit the ducks more than myself with that.
Leading me to the second reason, there just isn’t much to it unless you go out of your way to create work for yourself. Rain and cold can kill a chicken, it makes a duck happy. Ducks travel in groups, if you get one headed the right direction, pretty much everyone follows. They forage, they eat, they poop, they quack and they lay eggs. Unless you are breeding show quality birds or something there isn’t a lot to it. At least that is how it feels at times.
Join Me Today to Discuss…
- Why the duck is much easier to care for than a chicken
- Loves cold
- Loves rain
- Easy to fence
- Light on land
- Herding is possible
- Hunts as a pack
- Cool manure
- Creature of habit and routine
- The not so great side of ducks
- Single minded stubborness
- Creature of habit and routine
- Duck breeds I am working with
- Hybrid Layers
- Runners (various)
- Khaki Campbell
- Swedish (may be?)
- Best All Around Breeds (my opinion based on research)
- Meat – Pekins or Grimaud Hybrid Pekin – Jumbo Pekin
- Eggs – Hybrid 300 Layers (gold or white)
- Self Propagating Dual Purpose – Muscovy
- Dual Purpose – Buff (aka Buff Orpington)
- Duck eggs and why they rock
- Ducks are born with 1500 ovum vs. the 1000 of a chicken
- Ducks are good layers for 3-4 seasons
- 6x the Vitamin D, 2x the Vitamin A, of chickens
- 2x the cholesterol in duck eggs vs chicken eggs (good cholesterol)
- Higher fat and energy content (good fat)
- Thick, viscus yolks (beautiful over easy/medium)
- Better for baking if that is your thing
- Less likely to break yolks, or accidentally crack one
- The basics of raising and managing ducks
- “Experts say space the same as chickens
- 4 sf per duck in “coop” 10 sf per duck in “yard”
- Ducks don’t “perch” except for muscovies (sometimes)
- Fencing can be 3 feet high except for muscovies (sometimes)
- I don’t use laying boxes because the ducks don’t seem to care
- Generally most eggs are laid by 730ish am
- Provide water, they shit it up FAST
- A ducks personality tends to be the sum of its flock personality
- Hatching young ducks
- If you can get a mom to do it, let her do it
- Incubation is the same as chickens, it just takes longer
- Store eggs for up to 10 days, then start all of them together
- Day 1-25 99.5 turn 7 times a day, Day 26-28 98.5 no turning
- Day 1-33 99.5 turn 7 times a day, Day 33-35 98.5 no turning (muscovy)
- Brooding young ducks
- Expect to brood for 3-5 weeks depending on season
- Provide heat on one end of brooder
- Spend a lot of time with them if you want them “tame”
- Feed them chick starter
- They can go into a “tractor” in good weather as early as 2 weeks
- Do not introduce them to the main flock until they are at least 60% grown
- Develop a drain system for water
- No “bathing water” until 2 weeks
- They MUST be able to dunk their heads in water
- Some will die, accept it
- Final thoughts
- If you incubate get a good incubator
- Beware of “Tractor Supply Disease”
- eFowl and Metzer are great places to order
- Just do it, it isn’t hard
Resources for today’s show…
Bob Wells Plant of the Week – Fuyu Persimmon – The Fuyu Persimmon tree is highly adaptable from zone 7 to zone 10.
They are medium size, flat shape, still crunchy when ripe, non-astringent. This means “bletting” isn’t required.
Cool or hot climate. Hardy, attractive tree, practically pest free. It ripens in the fall and is Self-fruitful.
Find this plant and more at BobWellsNursery.com Bob Wells Nursery specializes in anything edible: Fruit trees, Berry Plants, Nut Trees, as well as the hard to find Specialty Trees.
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