The Duck Chronicles Episode Twenty Nine – Everyone is Doing Fine — 14 Comments

  1. So funny to see texas with ice…

    I wonder if you have any comments or opinions as to geese breeds. Looks like you have all Toulouse? Have you had any experience with the African geese and how they compare? Am ordering a pair of goslings soon, just not sure which breed to get.
    ps. Why is Buddy named so? (Since she is a girl)

  2. Jack, how many ducks do you have and how much feed do they go through? Getting ready to put order in for ducks from Metzger Farms but having a hard time deciding between 30 and 60 ducks. With 60 you get free males. We have have many acres to free range them but a lot of predators.

    • It is complicated because we don’t track the feed to just the ducks, we have chickens rapidly declining in number, geese, etc.

      The babies are now 31 days old and have eaten about 175 pounds of feed and there are 50 of them. That is about all we absolutely know.

      I actually feel the adults use pound for pound a little less as they are not fueling ridiculous growth. And they are better foragers.

      I will just say this babies are a LOT of responsibility. They take a lot of work for about 2 months.

      Also this breed is a laying breed not a meat breed, they are only about 4.5 pounds as adults. Which is great for layers. Sure you get the boys free but you’ll have to feed them. If you want meat, it would likely cost less to buy pekins for that purpose, feed them 11-12 weeks and end up with 7 pound birds vs. ending up with 4.5 pounders at say 20-22 weeks.

      Now if you plan to let them run ape shit and reproduce, well may be getting drakes makes sense but my gut is these girls won’t be the broody type.

      I just think you are looking at a egg bird and need to realize that. Even metzer says, “most producers can’t raise the drakes profitably”. I am sure you could get a good meat yield for personal use though.

      Here is what I can see, I can see why people would do it, especially people with a ton of land, a lake or multiple ponds, etc. Screw it then, get them up to size, set them free and harvest at will, feed minimally and make them work for food.

      In a managed system though I want just enough drakes (eaters that don’t produce) to insure sustainable reproduction and I want them in larger breeds so culling for meat makes sense.

      Honestly this is why we have muscovies, the drakes are huge and they need very little feed. They are our main meat yields. The girls have a job to do. Make eggs.

  3. I guess The Duck Chronicles has moved away from its daily schedule and gone to a more intermittent one. Can’t blame Jack, now that they are half grown how much can change from day to day. I was looking forward to seeing them in the swale.

    I only have one other question in my head. How much feed, that you supply, do you think the 50 ducks will eat when at laying age, what is the price of the feed, how many eggs a day do you expect and what are you selling the eggs for ? I think you said earlier that they were $7 / Dozen.


    • There was a two part episode yesterday, check the youtube channel I didn’t post it on the blog though, too busy.

      Once they are grown about 5 dollars in food produces about 14 dollars in eggs. They incur quite a “debt” in the first 22 weeks though!

      A lot of people claim they can’t make money on eggs. There are three reasons this ends up being true.

      1. To many males (once you have enough to be watchers/reproducers) the rest are pets unless you sell/eat them.

      2. They sell too cheap. People that will drive 30 minutes or more to buy eggs will pay a fair price, don’t price them too cheap.

      3. Too much feed, when they are growing we feed them all they will eat. When they are grown they get a ration. Once they eat that, they are on their own. 1/4 pound per duck per day, maximum. That is 11 cents, per duck, per day.

      Most ducks lay an egg a day, but call it 250 a year. That means it costs you 40 bucks and change to feed her for a year, 11 cents times 365 days.

      An egg sells for 58 cents at 7 dollars a dozen. .58 x 250= 145 dollars in product per duck per year.

      Those are conservative numbers. If you can’t make money on an animal that gives you 145 dollars in product for 40 bucks in feed, it ain’t the animals fault you can’t make money.

      Truth told when we get into mid spring all the way to early fall they eat even less. Once the hoppers come they prefer them to about anything. I don’t think we will have a hopper problem this year.

      Also flies! Muscovies are fly destroyers. Better than the others. So in summer when their bedding area attracts flies, they eat the flies. That alone is a reason to add a few scovs to a flock. They are also murder on mosquitoes. We have to feed everyone more in winter, that is why late fall is culling time for surplus males.

      On the flies though there have even been studies and scovs are better fly killers than anything else natural you can get,

      All you hear is snap, snap, snap, bobs head, hisses, snap, snap.

    • Jack… I think those feed and egg dollar numbers are so important that you should talk about that in The Duck Chronicles. It might really get some people off the fence post and realize how much of a premium these can go for. $145 dollars gross per year per bird, and that’s for 250 eggs, not 300, then 50 ducks will gross $7250 per year. AND you don’t have to mow the grass AND you don’t have to spray for any pests in the garden or yard that are at beak level and below AND you get free fertilizer AND you get aeration of your grass and corps.

      Do you get crickets down in Texas… .do the ducks eat the crickets as well. Lord I hate crickets…


      • They eat just about anything that moves that they can kill and eat. The only thing they and chickens won’t eat are squash and stink bugs, nothing in the world apparently eats them. Weird thing is they love slugs and snails but seem to ignore earth worms, which is really cool honestly, I need all the worms I can get working for me in the soil.

        I tricked a chicken into eating a squash bug one time, they must burn and taste like hell. I swear to god in her squawking as she ran away she was saying, “oh no, oh god no!, no, no, ……no, no, no, never again, my god no”. I wish I had filmed it because even if I could trick a young chicken into doing it again I would not. Poor girl, I felt like an asshole after that. It was fricken funny though.

        • Steve you are really starting to get it, Engineers make great Permaculturists by the way once you convert them.

          “Come to the light side Steve, discard the light saber you must, weapons you will not need”

          Anyway the flock is to reach a ratio of about 90 hens to 10 drakes. You stick with 250 because 15 are muscovies and they don’t lay as much and because we will brood some for meat.

          The basics of the egg business are pretty simple math. 90 Girls make me about


          Food for them will cost me about 4K a year

          Profit is about 9 grand. If it stopped there it might not really be worth doing.

          But the ducks are my employees not my pets and with paddock shift they do the following.

          Fertilize my gardens/orchards

          Control my pests

          Eliminate any need really for a tractor the bits they don’t get can be taken down with a scythe in a few moments work ever other month or so

          Clean up all fallen fruit so that actually breaks pest cycles and controls disease

          They also produce a product that is unique in my market, so they are my marketing team. In stead of advertising for money I advertise eggs for free on Craigs List and people come here and buy other stuff. We are looking at add on products now, micro greens for one, plants as well, Dorothy is learning to make candles. One duck egg customer can turn into a few hundred a year in additional higher margin products.

          If I need an area cleared, I put a duck tractor on it, hit it with water for a while, get it muddy and put them in, they will take it to mostly bare earth in a day. They go back to being happy go lucking clowns and I plant what ever I want to establish.

          They are over all soft on the land, they are self sufficient beyond belief. It is snowing like mad today, all the water is frozen and even the babies simply went to the swales, broke up the ice and dove in. I had to haul fricken water to the chickens today. Fing GFIC went wacky and won’t reset on that circuit so now power to the coop.

          So I have a self sufficient hard worker that takes direction perfectly. It fertilizes, controls pests, fights disease, builds healthy soil organisms, clears land when needed, mows the grass while improving the pasture and brings in customers for me to sell other things to.

          They never bitch about working, in fact they love it. As a unit of 100 they work for 11 dollars a day. They absolutely love their jobs and do it tirelessly. If I broke even I would be ahead! Who the hell else will do all that for me for 4K a year, not demand benefits, sick days, Obamacare, insurance and vacation along with it?

          And it keeps going, those worms I mentioned. When we moved in there was not a single worm on the property. Now based on my surveys I have about 10,000 per acre, that is really low, 30,000 worms on three acres. But the population is rising and humus is being made by the ducks. In a few years we will likely have 250,000 worms to the acre, or 3/4ths of a million worms, working 24/7/365 in return for fallen leaves and duck shit. They are employees too.

          As we start to develop fungi they become the most valuable and low cost workers we have. A cubic meter of truly good soil like we are slowly building has about 500KM of fungal hype. Let that sink in!

          There are about 60,000 bees in each of 3 hives, they work for nothing but they get some pollen and a bit of sugar water to help them in sparse times. They make me honey, they pollinate my trees, etc. All they ask in return is access to water and a small plywood box.

          The lizard population last year was 5 times what we saw in year one. We are now building lizards and toads little homes to hide in. Broken flower pots, piles of rocks, little wood piles. I have identified 9 species of lizard and skinks, 3 different toads and 2 different frogs. They all have jobs to do.

          By spring the place is teaming with insect eating birds. Some take a berry or three, who cares, they earn what they take.

          The dogs kill rats, scare away predators, etc. I’d also advise that no one sneak around the gate at night, security is a done deal.

          It is all about function stacking, element interaction, etc. Knowing the inherent behaviors, needs, out puts and interactions of all life in a system. Then you connect them and provide the discipline. Like the paddocks.

          Man once the last chickens are gone and the ducks move to the “hub” the only work each day will be opening a gate.

  4. Wow Jack… did not mean to make you write a book, put everything you just told me into an episode of The Duck Chronicles, I’m not sure if you realize how big of a hit that is going to be on youtube in the years to come. Its an incredible instructional and probably the best lesson on permaculture a person is going to get outside of a PDC or a really good book.


    • Part of my evil plot for world domination along with my buddy Paul. If I can’t get you to want to learn about permaculture I will sucker you in with cute baby ducks and trick you into it. LOL

    • Chris… Jack wants to go with what works. He wants to sell eggs. The ducks out perform the chickens, they take the weather better, the ducks don’t destroy the garden, the chickens do, the geese dont lay eggs but for a short season so what’s wrong with this monoculture when the other cultures are destructive or non performing in their own behavior ??

      There are so many different things in permaculture I think the best permaculture is what is right and works for YOU.


  5. I can vouch for stink bugs burning and tasting like hell. Unbeknownst to me, one crawled into a glass that I was drinking from. I took it in will a big gulp and couldn’t spit it out fast enough! It left such a nasty taste and burning sensation in my mouth and tongue for well over an hour! Nastiest thing I ever tasted!

  6. Aren’t you concerned about “monoculture” risk? If you’re all ducks all the time, something could happen that would wipe you out completely? I thought one primary premise of permaculture was polyculture?

    Thanks for all you do
    Imperial, MO

    • The question clearly demonstrates your lack of understanding of the word monoculture. Let me make it this simple, if you own a dog and don’t own a cat, does that mean you have a monoculture? Ducks are an ELEMENT, in a SYSTEM, get it? Element in a system, not the system.

      Duck monoculture = ducks packed to capacity in an enclosure, fed only grain.

      My system equals a system teaming with over 1,000 different plant species, more than I can even catalog and name with ducks in a ROTATIONAL paddock based system.

      This question tells me I have a lot of educating to do.

      A garden with a 25 foot long bed of all tomatoes is NOT a monoculture if it is surrounded with diversity.

      A 40 acre field of corn, stripped of all other life is a monoculture.