100% forage duck breeds

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by tokies, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. tokies

    tokies Out Of The Brooder

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    I was looking into getting ducks, turkey's, or geese to go with my Navajo sheep / Ive got a flock of about 50 which can become large very fast which is a little scary. i started out with about 20 . that became 50 really fast. scary. I looked into getting chicken's to help the pasture but I would need to feed chickens grain and that's expensive depending on many different factors. feed prices in my area ... arent good and change a lot. So I turn to ducks after my next door neighbor was looking into getting some for his 150 acres to go after his cow's. he said he was looking at ducks, geese or turkeys. not chickens due to feed. But he also grows things on his land besides grass.

    I have a mix of tree's ive planted over the last 3 to 5 years.

    tree mixes are in tree groves though out the property. about 55 acres I have 15 groves currently each grove is between 1 to 1.5 acres. pretty much a bunch of different trees and things that work well together without me having to do to much.

    different trees

    - nut trees
    - honey loctus
    - pigeon pea tree
    - apple, pear, orange, cherry, plum, kumquat
    - lots of fruit trees and random trees edibles
    - too much black berry, raspberry, bushes, hazelnuts (random berry action)

    native grasses for the northern califorina area

    i think we can put together a shallow pool of some sorta and put it on wheels? not sure yet. but id hate to think about wasted water.

    we also have 17 ponds/ dams. due to water issues in our area and water management. we flood about every 15 -10 years. it's crazy we have droughts for 3 or 5 years all the time then it dumps tons of water one year. so we have a lot of ponds and dams

    anyway i think i have the makings of pulling off 100% forage or near 100% forage. i dont care about the egg's that much or as meat birds. im mostly looking for cheap fly control/ pasture clean up

    oh we also have Choctaw Hogs. about 4 breeding sows and two males. they live in the groves moving around
     
  2. learycow

    learycow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not sure what your asking here. Are you asking if there's a breed of duck that doesn't need grain?

    Here are my thoughts, but you can take it/leave it. I have raised ducks and geese for close to 7 years now and had chickens for over 14 years.

    Do you get snow where you are located? Because if you do, and it's not green year round, then you will have to supplement their diets with grain or grow your own grass/rye/etc to feed them (thee are indoor grow kits you can buy). If you want eggs, then you will definitely need to give them grain as their bodies won't be able to get enough nutrients just from that in order to stay healthy and produce.

    If you do not get snow, and they can forage year round, then you may be able to get away with little to no grain (again, granted you don't HAVE to have eggs. They can usually forage enough to sustain their body weight but it takes a lot for them to consistently lay eggs on just grass and bugs).

    From my experience, the best foraging breeds are Muscovy, Ancona, Cayuga, and welsh harlequins (I've also had rouens, pekins, swedish, Runners, Buff, and a few others but have found they don't forage as well and depend more on grain). But if I were you, I would see if there is a breeder near you who breeds specifically for foraging ability. I do that with all breeds and the ones I listed are the ones I've been able to breed foraging skills into and they do very well.

    I have cows and a horse and the ducks and geese have free range of the whole farm (40 acres, about 15 are pasture). They are very efficient with other livestock as they will pick through the poop and eat anything and everything that is not digested. They also pick through my dogs poop (I have 2 german shepards that are fed raw diet). Because of this, I have never had to clean up a single dog poop in my yard! They eat whats there, spread the rest around, and poof, the dog poop is spread into the grass and gone.

    I have American Buff and Sebastopols right now for geese. There are 8 geese total. They get 2-3 quarts of grain a day and forage from 6 am to about 6 pm. They are fat fat fat and very happy! The grain is not needed, but I feed it as I like to have some meat on my birds and my sebs are still growing.

    As for the water, you will definitely need something for them to drink that's fresh daily, and they will want something to swim in if you can. Just keep in mind that ducks will make a mess of any water you give them. So even if you have a kiddie pool on wheels, they will poop and soil in it and it will need to be cleaned daily. That's not really something you can prevent unless you make it so they can't climb into it.
    And just a thought, muscovy ducks aren't typically swimmers. So their water tends to stay a little cleaner.

    Hope this helps!
     
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  3. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree, I keep Muscovy here for pest control... i also have two buffs in their flock for giggles and honestly, good sound the alarm ducks lol I do supplement with feed, but honestly given how many are in this big flock(19 including the buffs) they don't use much feed... it's not like i need a 55lb bag a week or anything, they forage daily, locked up nightly.

    Of coarse we have winter so my feed rises in those times, i do think being domestic ducks supplements are needed to a certain degree, otherwise you could have health issues but how much and what would likely vary on their access to pasture and other forms of forage foods.

    Clean water to bathe and drink is important, plus at least Muscovy are heavy broody ducks with clutches happening often if left to their own devices, especially in a dual sexed flock, basically they could breed out of control, if not monitored.

    Preds are a concern too as with any duck, some breeds don't even fly, my scovie girls do most drakes however reach a stage of such size they don't so definitely something to keep in mind in choosing breeds.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  4. tokies

    tokies Out Of The Brooder

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    ok good to know

    i got the sheep because it was easier then mowing all the time . all that freakin grass was out of control. but now i have the sheep and now i have a fly problem. it kinda just spirals out of control at certain times of year.

    i think i like the Muscovy ducks i look them up online.THanks for your help. im not sure about grain. the thing is id have to cart all that dang grain once or twice a month. and cart that grain out to them where ever they are. i plan on building them a little duck house and putting it on wheels. maybe giving them food in there to get them to come in at night. so i guess i could get some grain or something i just want to stay away from grain. the problem is this a lot of food doesnt get harvested. we planted a lot of different food trees 10 years back.. fruit, nut, all kinda things.. ima bit of a tree nut.. i like plum tree when they bloom.. plus if you have the time it's not hard to grow and plant. so we started planting


    i live near Sacramento it's pretty much sun shine and drought. on and off. we have decent grass all year around because of the sheep. we do let it grow long and put up grass for winter. we dont hay. we have food all year long at some places on property to eat. and we get rain but it's mostly all at once.

    we got a major fly problem that's going to head into epic soon.
     
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I started getting concerned about flies a couple of years ago and a friend told me about fly predators. So I subscribed to them. They are tiny little flying insects that lay their eggs in fly larvae.

    The packets are hung under the edge of the duck house roof where they don't get wet, and where the ducks won't eat the egg cases.

    There are also four hanging fly traps in the yard.

    And now there is no fly problem.

    I am told that after a couple of years, the fly predators start getting established on their own and then maintain control of the flies. In the doorway of the night pen I hang a Lil Tree Vanilla air freshener. That is supposed to keep flies from coming in. I hardly ever see a fly in the night pen. There is a screen door, but it is not always closed.
     
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  6. learycow

    learycow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you get them when they are young, it's easy to train them to go in at night, especially if you use food to lure them.
    I have gotten full grown muscovy ducks from sellers that are much harder (and sometimes there's an impossible one) to train to go in at night if they aren't used to it from the start. So I would definitely suggest that if you have predators and need them to go in at night to stay safe.

    As for the plums and fruit and nut trees, they can and will eat that stuff but it won't be enough to sustain them. And I'm not sure with ducks as mine all get such a large variety of grain, grass, and foragable plants, but I know with some animals it can cause digestive issues (too much acidic food such as apples, plums, etc)
     
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  7. tokies

    tokies Out Of The Brooder

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    we got them young but didnt get as many as we liked which was about 10.. and 2 drakes.. i wanted around 30 but i wasnt sure i could handle the grain cost if we had another spike which was a good choice cos were in drought still.

    because of the ponds and sheep were pretty much one of the few green places. we are green almost all year long. ive been looking into pasture cropping sorghum , oats, and indian corn.

    the main issue is putting it on wheels and having the ducks go inside was asking way to much from them..the breed i choose flies. which is a problem.. but .. i found a solution to get them that i plan on trying this year..which im calling duck crack. when i plant strawberries this year im gonna take the whole plant and chop it up, get some bamboo chop it up.. then free it in bags. then i plan on defrosting it though out the year add some black solider flies and snails.. and calling the ducks home.. hopefully this works out. i also plan on restarting with another flock of docks in a different area and training them right this time. they do come back to the feed area but the ducks really really love the ponds on property. and not there pool as much.. but i need them to stay on task this year and clean up after the sheep... maybe i should have went with gooses cos at least they dont fly
     
  8. learycow

    learycow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What breed of ducks did you get?

    Most domestic breeds do not fly. The lighter ones, such as runner, khakis, welsh, etc are not able to fly (like a mallard), but can flap enough to get off the ground and over a 4 foot high fence if they want to. But usually they have no need to if there is plenty of food and water available to them.

    What is you main goal with them?

    If you want meat ducks, go with jumbo pekins or rouens. They are larger breeds and MUCH too heavy to fly.

    If you want eggs, go with khakis or welsh. Or one of the hybrid layers.

    If you want dual purpose, go with a more medium weight bird, less likely to fly, lots of eggs, and males are big enough for meat. Anconas, cayugas (though they have dark pin feathers), buff, light pekins, swedish
     
  9. tokies

    tokies Out Of The Brooder

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    Muscovy ducks ..... but they were to moblie

    main goal was to clean up after the grass eaters
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014

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