2 year review

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by foothillsco, Oct 14, 2016.

  1. foothillsco

    foothillsco Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 6, 2014
    Hi all,

    It's been a long time since I posted and wanted to give an update on the duck life. So this is my 2 year review on how it's working.

    **The Animals**
    I originally started with 6 khakis. My rationale was that I wasn't fully into this idea and if we were going to do all this **** work, I better get some eggs. The ducks cost me about $25. The coop cost me about $500. One night a raccoon opened the door and chewed the head off a duck, took the body. I put hasps on the doors and a spring clip to lock. Another head, another missing body, I replaced them with mini padlocks with a freaking key handing on a hook next to it. If the raccoons learn to use the key, I give up. Down to 4.

    A coyote grabbed one by the neck and just ran off with it in front of me. A neighbors dog killed another that made an escape. With all the death and mayhem, no wonder she wanted out of my backyard! Down to 2.

    I started to like the ducks and for replacements I bought 4 Welsh Harlequins. Up to 6! Of the four, two turned out to be boys and we cooked them. Back to 4. Then another person on BYC asked me to adopt their ducks which they bought for an Easter gift to their kids. Apparently this is a thing. Buy your kids animals you don't intend to keep and just get rid of them later. So I got 4 more (1 black runner, 2 giant peking, 1 cayuga). Up to 8! Alas, the pekings were boys. Back to 6. Crazy.

    Mostly, I like the ducks. They are copy cats, if one sees a bug and picks it up, the other immediately do the same. If one quacks loudly, the others do the same until it's pretty loud. I hold up the rake, which they rightfully fear, and they calm down to a murmur.

    Ducks and duck house soon morphed to a dog ($200) to protect the ducks. The dog is a Pyrenees and border collie mix and jumped my four foot fence with ease. So I replaced my falling down fence with a modern looking 5' fence made of 4x4s and 3/4 electrical conduit. Fence works great at keeping ducks in, most dogs out. My neighbor redid our joining fence to 6'. My dog still jumped it with ease. So now I'm just used to her taking herself for a walk in the middle of the night. She hears something, whines to be let out and I hear her tear off and come back in a few hours. She has been sprayed about 15 times by skunks. It's her badge of honor and is so happy to get sprayed.

    The dog protects the ducks for real. Like she was hard wired for it. She likes to lay on the grass or snow all day and just watch them. Every now and then she will sprint across the yard, open her jaws and lunge at a duck and then run back to her place and the ducks hate it of course and there is a big quacking commotion.

    The 2nd year, the dog has decided she doesn't want to be an outdoor dog and insists on being inside next to the sliding glass door and keep watch from there. So far, no losses.

    I built a tractor and run that rolled just dandy in my garage when I built it but was impossibly heavy in the grass. Now it sits on my basketball pad. I move it just to clean up stuff that blows against the bottom of it. My plan is to make a permanent place for this on a different pad in the corner of the yard.

    I purchased one of those automatic doors that open and close on a timer. My ducks are smart enough to get out when it opens. In fact, when it does, it's like a jail break. Lots of furious quacking as they all run to the water and then locate their food and back to the water again. But at the evening, they don't even consider going back in. Unless there is a close call. Then they are good obedient ducks and go inside the first sign of dusk. Auto door is a waste of money for my ducks.

    For water swimming, I used my girls old sand box which is more rigid than a kiddy pool. I move this to wherever my yard needs more water. My ducks will suck up some water from the pool, move their head over and spit it back out on the ground. It's their thing. They swim, splash, and drink from it all day. I originally bought a 5 gallon tin waterer and they emptied it every day. I kept buying them up to until I had 4 total. I got sick of refilling them everyday and put them away entirely, The ducks drink the water from the pool which can get pretty foul. I empty it about every 5 days. Do they lack water ever? No. Do they lack good clean water every day of the week? Yes. The pool water is clean for about a day. The tin waterers were a waste of money.

    I bought some rain proof feed containers from Murdoch's. Those are awesome. I have two of them and each holds 100 lbs of feed.

    I have a predator guard which is a flashing light which might work, might not. Who really knows. My dog knows if a predator is nearby even if she is sleeping in the basement. If she says she wants out, there is a good reason.

    My neighbors are pretty great. They know what I got and are kind about it. I'm extremely helpful to all of them. While the fence was being constructed, they herded the ducks back into my back yard during one of their escape missions. I tried giving them eggs but they are mostly seniors and they don't try new things. Dogs come to my fence and go bananas. They can see through it but not enter it. One duck turned his head sideways and stuck it out to get a closer look and the dog owner had to jerk the dog away from grabbing the head. Again, not the smartest animals.

    The lone khaki and black runner are clocks. I get an egg every day of the year from them. The khaki layed blue eggs the first year and now we get white while the runner is still blue. The harlequins are half the layers of the first two. One white egg each every other day. They love to hid their eggs in the yard unlike the first two which lay in the duck house. The cayuga lays 4-5 eggs per week and they are white and huge. Twice per year, she lays a solid black egg. It's super cool. The eggs are delicious and we get so many we give away about a dozen per week.

    I buy Purina egg layer pellets. If you do a cost breakdown, this is the best deal where I live and it's the highest rated food according to Murdoch's. They will eat other foods but there is a trade off with eggs and other food. They can eat uncooked rice and nothing else but the egg production drops off about 25%. Rice is super cheap and is cheaper than regular feed. I have switched to uncooked rice during the winter when I'm just done eating eggs.

    They will eat anything a chicken can eat except it needs to be in smaller pieces. I have found a duck with it's neck crooked because it has something too big stuck in it and I have slowly forced it down into their gullet.

    When I pour the bags into the storage containers, I mix about 5 lbs of cayenne pepper in with the two bags. This prevents other animals (like my dog) from eating the food. Birds can't taste the pepper but mammals can such as mice, squirrels, raccoons.

    **Kitchen Stuff**
    I can't recommend more the Cuisinart egg steamer. We like our eggs soft boiled, and we have a special egg shell cracker, cups and spoons. My girl loves making an egg party breakfast on the patio. Super easy to make soft or hard boiled eggs. We also bake quite a bit and there is a noticeable positive difference from the eggs in baking goods.

    **Time Allotment**
    After making the duck house, the ducks take about 30 minutes per week to change water and bedding. The egg gathering is done by my girl and she grumps at doing it sometimes and other times loves it.

    I have two large trash cans with holes drilled in them. I spread out a black tarp on my basketball pad, throw my grass clippings on it for a few hours to dry out. Then I scoop the clippings up with a flat snow shovel and store them into the trash cans. This easily lasts me the entire winter. I have scooped up leaves and used this also but the ducks compact it pretty quickly and it just becomes a mat of duck poop and tiny leaf parts. It really does come out like a thick rug. Interestingly enough, I experimented with some cornish rocks and put the mat of poop in the pen and they took it apart eating some of it.

    Overall, I've enjoyed the ducks. My yard is amazingly green from the constant fertilizer and moving the duck pond/sandbox. My girl loves the pets even though they don't like being picked up very much. The downside is the noise. Mostly quiet but every now and then, when a dog or hawk comes by, they go bananas and it's like a dog barking in volume and lasts for 5-10 minutes.

    I'm going to combine coop and duck house this winter. I've tried the combination and they just keep to themselves, the ducks and chickens. Speaking of keeping to themselves, my ducks are like prisoners in terms of who they hang out with. My two black ducks stick together and the four white ducks stick together.

    If you just want eggs, get chickens and keepin good coop. If you want pets and eggs, go for the free range ducks. I can't fathom how awful ducks in a pen would turn out. They are pooping machines. Not the good kind of poop either. You don't want that stuff any in any concentrate.

    I've found tons of great advice on BYC and met some wonderful people. Thank you to everyone that kindly helped me with this endeavor.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
    3 people like this.
  2. amynrichie

    amynrichie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 29, 2013
    Nebraska Panhandle
    Excellent write up, I love it!

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