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Garden Ducks - Page 2

post #11 of 26

My ducks started out on the deck and their house was up there too. They learned stairs quickly and would go up and down and then fly down when they started to get some flight (and often crash land LOL).  Mine much prefer stairs to ramps.


We are about to go out and work on our garden to fix the gate (tree guy dropped a tree on one side of the garden fence) and I wasn't around for 9 months to keep it grass free, so it is a disaster and we are now trying to kill back the grass that took over while I was in NY for work. I'll take pics. Mine is 24x24. With the raised beds I have in there, it doesn't really leave lots of room for roaming for full time duck living.

post #12 of 26

   @jducour    your place is lovely and the ducks and koi and pond just add to it. 

 Western N.C ~ 17 chickens= EE's, Game, variety of bantams,1Light Brahma, 2 Black Australorps . 5 Muscovy ducks, 8 Indian Runners and 2 Buff Orpington Ducks, 1 Embden gander,1 Toulouse goose , 3 mini Dachshunds, 2 mixed breed, pond goldfish,  and a wonderful Husband who makes it all possible..
 Western N.C ~ 17 chickens= EE's, Game, variety of bantams,1Light Brahma, 2 Black Australorps . 5 Muscovy ducks, 8 Indian Runners and 2 Buff Orpington Ducks, 1 Embden gander,1 Toulouse goose , 3 mini Dachshunds, 2 mixed breed, pond goldfish,  and a wonderful Husband who makes it all possible..
post #13 of 26

Here are pics of the garden. Ducks were hanging out in their pen, so Hazel Chicken was happy to walk around the garden for size  LOL






Ducks are kept in small pens all the time, so probably still plenty of space for 3 ducks. My ducks don't really bother the center raised beds. But they root around in the short perimeter beds (from inside and outside the garden). If I have newly sprouted plants, I don't let them in and I keep them planted further from the fence to keep duck bills away. If I do let them in with young plants, I am in there with them to shoo them out of where they shouldn't be.




As far as temperament...

Runners - I have 3 currently. 1 from my original batch and the other 2 are from the 2nd batch.  First batch of ducklets had a really sweet silver runner. She was beautiful and very friendly. She was the leader of the pack. Then she died :(   Then I had 2 runners left. The flightiest one decided she was now the leader (and is the one currently left). The other runner from that batch was reasonably friendly as well.

They would all eat out of my hand with no issues and hang out near me and follow me around.


I then added 3 more ducks (2 runners and a welsh harlequin). The 2 new runners were flighty as all get out. One will only now eat out of my hand (they are 3.5 years old now). The other pooped all over me when I picked her up to bring her inside to look at an issue she had recently. These 2 pretty much always keep their distance from me. 

But I love runners. They are fun to watch.


The Welsh Harlequin

She's funny to watch too, especially when she runs to keep up with the runners  LOL

She's happy to be near me when I have food for her, otherwise, she keeps her distance. She was raised with the 2 crazy runners.


Batch 1 of ducks I was home all the time and spent lots of time with them

Batch 2 I was working, so they didn't have me around all the time and I think that had a lot to do with how friendly they are.


Both breeds will happily forage in the yard, but when they've had enough, they run to their pen for some food and then back out again to root around for more goodies in the ground,

My WH is a good size larger than the runners. I told DH the other day a Pekin would seem like an elephant in comparison to the runners.


My girls are chatty when they want something. Cadbury will run up the deck stairs and knock at the back door to let me know if they are out food. If they are out of food, the neighborhood knows. They all went through a phase where they were really chatty in their first year, but after that, they chatter, but they aren't loud and if they do get loud, it lasts a couple of minutes and then they quite back down.

post #14 of 26

I have a flock of 15 Ancona ducks.  I picked this breed because I want them for meat and eggs as well as the ability to forage a lot of their own food.  They are a bit heavier than runners or harlequin, but tend to be calmer than my smaller ducks and don't roam as far from home.  Our situation is probably different from yours: the ducks free range on our 2 acre rural property, which has a stream running through it, and have access to our unfenced garden area.  I lock them in the Quack Shack at night.

Our garden is built of raised beds, about 200 sq. feet. of growing space.  Our beds are only one board high, so the ducks can climb into them and definitely nibble on the plants along the edges.  I train all my vines up vertical trellises, which minimizes damage because the ducks can only reach so high.  (Geese, on the other hand, are a totally different story.  Too tall, too strong, too voracious.  Keep them out always!!:he)  The ducks spent a lot of time in the potato bed, ate all the bugs, dug for grubs, didn't harm leaves or tubers.  Last year I found that they ate pretty much all of my swiss chard and leafy greens.  This year I planted those crops in the center of the beds and the ducks didn't climb to get them. 

In our situation, ducks in the garden has worked out very well.  Because they can come and go freely, they tend to eat all the bugs and move on before they start eating all the greens.  There are some crop losses, but not enough to outweigh the benefits of poop and bug eating.  Also, I keep the Quack Shack in deep litter, which makes awesome fertilizer come spring.

post #15 of 26
My coop is 3 ft off the ground and my ducks use a ramp to get in. I designed it this way to give them more run space during the day. They prefer to stay on the ground but will go in the coop if I heard them in. They are still young and learning so I am hoping they will go in on their own eventually but I don't mind if I have to keep hearding them every night. They have a much easier time using the ramp since I painted it and added sand to the paint. It feels like course sandpaper now.
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 

what kind of litter do you use? I'm looking for some that can go in a compost pile. To be honest I never thought of ducks as a food option. I mean I have had it once in Gumbo, but that was with 3-4 other meats. What does it taste like? I always figured I would get ducks for bug catchers, and pets. I would really like a calm breed.

"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." - Audrey Hepburn
"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." - Audrey Hepburn
post #17 of 26

Although I don't have "garden" ducks, our garden abuts the coop. The chickens weren't a problem hopping in and out of it during the summer- they really would only try and eat ripe tomatoes  or the occasional cucumber. My ducks occasionally got through my little barricade and would get in- and mine ate whatever they could… they LOVE the garden. They devoured tomato leaves (googling like crazy about toxicity- my conclusion is no). At this time of year since everything has gone by here (MA), they are allowed in to root around and eat what's left (they currently have stripped the jalapeño plants down to nothing). 


Little buggers trying in vain to eat the green beans.

Next year we are going to fence in our garden better while things get established since many veggies got demolished by the birds since I did not plan very well.


So my experience is that ducks eat everything…but that might just be my 2 fat ones. 

post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 

Your ducks are so adorable LOL I'm wondering if they terrorize garden because of the breed, or just personality. I'm thinking about runners, harlequins and the Ancona's.

"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." - Audrey Hepburn
"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." - Audrey Hepburn
post #19 of 26

I have four Cayuga hens. They're friendly


We have raised beds and grow veggies in greenhouse containers. My ducks didn't have access to my container grown plants but I did feed them the harvestables we didn't want to eat.


They have consumed slugs and caterpillars and grasshoppers and beetle grubs in the raised beds and from around the fruit trees.  If hadn't been for the ducks I think we would have lost some trees due to the heavy caterpillar burden  late spring/early summer.


They also single handedly eliminated the dandelion population ,the thistle population and made a dent in the wild chicory population in the yard. They've almost completely  removed the hostas that we don't want, too.


Duck poo/pond water is awesome for watering plants.  I use a self priming hand pump to drain 70 gallons every two weeks or when i think its too stinky.


They will drill holes but mine only do it in moist/saturated areas.  They will fluff the top layer of soil/ leaf litter/mulch.


In some areas of the yard, I used duck trampling to knock down the taller native grasses instead of mowing.  One "trampling" would keep the grass down for weeks.


I use about a 3 foot high dog play kennel to confine my girls when i need them to be in one place while i do chores.  That's tall enough fort hem to stretch neck and wings under a bird netting.  I don't leave them in this if I'm not out there though. One of our neighbors forgets to put their invisible dog fence collar on their dogs occasionally and they come into our yard.  


I think the ducks are more efficient composters than any mechanical compost system.  They get all of our produce leftovers. I do steam anything that isn't a leafy green.  In fact, one of the reasons i wanted ducks is for their soil improvement capabilities.  Due to some insanely stupid decisions the previous homeowners made we have virtually no topsoil in any of the spots we'd like to use as gardens.


My ducks learned to use a dog ramp ( its designed purpose was to help  big dogs get inside trucks and cars)  to go up to their pond in about 15 minutes one day.  It's one of their favorite places in their permanent pen.  It fits all four of them. They sun on it and on warm (above 40 degree nights) they'll sleep on it  (and leave behind massive amounts of poop).

post #20 of 26

Duck is one of my favorite poultry meats.   We eat it a few times a month slow roasted  with veggies , braised over cabbage & veggies or seared duck breasts.   Duck breasts make a fabulous quick  work night supper. We prefer it to chicken because the local free range duck tastes less gamey than the local free range chicken.


Duck fat makes awesome!!! fried potatoes, steak fries, french fries.


My ducks are for pets/eggs only though. I would not be capable of processing them for meat.

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