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Considering some ducks

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Chickety Charcoal, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. I am contemplating the world of ducks. I have been raising chickens for 2 years now and wanted to expand the flock. Then I thought, instead of more chickens, why not ducks! I am seeking advice from the experienced and have some questions. (I have combed through the forums here, the stickies and the breed explanations)

    I have a small yard that there would provide some grazing space but not a lot. I have a space that I picked out for their house and 'run'. The chickens would have a separate coop and run. I would let all the birds out into the yard and lawn when I am home. Would these birds have a problem mixing it up?

    My goals would be to have good egg-layers, beautiful plumage, birds on the smaller side and relatively quiet. I already have 5 chicken hens that cackle when they lay, as chickens do, but make little noise other than that. As I have no experience with ducks, I don't know how much overall noise they tend to make. Their pen would be very close to a neighbors house so that would be a concern (albeit not a big one).

    Bottom Line: What breeds would you recommend? I am thinking of incubating some eggs in the Spring and keeping about 3-4 ducks; ideally one drake and hens. Is this too few for sociability? On a side note I also considered geese, but I think there is not enough lawn for them and they only lay seasonally (?) I should say that I also have young children, so temperament comes into play a little. (Another reason I hesitate on the geese). So what say you experienced ones?

    Chickety Charcoal

  2. nanaluvsgps

    nanaluvsgps Songster

    Apr 5, 2012
    Hi, you will never regret getting ducks, but you have to choose the breed that best suits you! I have 2 muscovy girls and they are the most beautiful ducks. Muscovys make no noise (well the girls don't), they don't quack at all but when they come up to say hello that open their bill and kinda push air out, but you wouln't be able to hear it from more than a metre away. They have no problems with my chooks, (bantams, silkies, wyandottes) and don't pick on the little ones. Their really friendly, and lay the most beautiful eggs! people say they are visious with their claws but it is how they are raised. If they are raised in a kind and loving environment (which I know you will do) they will be the best pets. I had some Blue sweedish ducks two boys two girl (boys make no noice except a hiss) but had to rehome because our neighbours where getting fed up with their quacking at 5am in the morning. They weren't friendly but saying that we got them from an old lady who let them just interbreed ith random ducks so who knows what was in them! I don't clip my girls wings, and the fence is half a metre high but they never try to fly over it because their food water and shelter. You need to have some kind of bath/pond. I just have a bath that gets changed every 3-4 days. It does get a little costy with the water bill, but with out the water they would be depressed, I don't know how people think that they are the only breed that doesnt need swimming water. They tend to fowl up the chickens drinking water so i have seperated them. their poo is a little messy so just remember to wear shoes out the back ;). But i found that with the other four before and my girls that the bath was just a mess after one day, so I'm glad were only down to two (plus a drake that is still growing up). I'm not sure about other breeds but muscovys are quiet friendly interactive good egg layers! sorry it was an essay I just wanted to tell you the good things about muscovys :) haha
    and about the geese you would have to rehome them because of their honking, I once had a beautiful sebastopol :( but they aren't aggressive to family just a little caustios on visitors. oh and the muscovys are great with little kids. :)
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012
  3. LeJeune1

    LeJeune1 Chirping

    Jul 25, 2011
    Allen Parish, LA
    I too am considering adding Ducks to our growing mini farm. thanks for the info :eek:)
  4. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

    Sep 7, 2009
    Florida - Space Coast
    Ducks (females) QUACK and some breeds are much louder than males (call ducks and other bantams) Drakes (males) mutter a whack sound sounding raspy.

    Drakes should be kept separate from chickens if there is not a lot of space for everyone to free range. Drakes will try and mate with the chickens and kill them doing so. You do NOT need a drake to have eggs from your ducks. Ducks will get along with chickens free ranging in the yard.

    MOST domestic breeds dont fly well (exception is bantam breeds and muscovy) however some can get get some lift and fly a short distance. For some this happens while they are young and as they mature they stop being able to get off the ground.

    I suggest using the comparison chart on Metzers web site to look at multiple breeds for egg production.

    We keep Khaki Campbells for eggs as they are one of the best layers (often out laying chickens)
  5. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Ducks can be noisy, but most people don't find them objectionable like they do a crowing rooster. Still, if the run will be near the neighbors check two things: Ask the neighbors if they mind (most won't, but better to find out now than later--and if you ask ahead, they're even less likely to mind), and make sure your city ordinance doesn't have a rule about how far from the property line they must be housed (ours does).

    Second, read this for a an outline of the differences (from chickens) and basic considerations when considering ducks.

    I certainly agree that geese are not a good choice for your situation. They are LOUD LOUD LOOO-uuuUD (HOOO-OOO-OOONNNKKK!!!), and can be super aggressive with children. For a while, my children wouldn't even use our yard because the geese terrorized them so much. And they don't lay much. And they're big, so for a small lawn, they're just not a good choice. They're also major grass eaters, which is cool because they'll keep the lawn trimmed, but they won't be happy eating just grain after they destroy your lawn.

    As for the ducks, 3 hens and a drake is a good mix. Chickens and ducks can do great together on a free range basis (not living together, just ranging), but do keep an eye out to make sure your drake doesn't get aggressive with the chicken hens. If you've got hens who fly, and places for them to fly to, that can be a great escape for them. My drakes have never tried to mate with chickens, but I have always kept my hen ratio high (four to six hens per drake), and they have over an acre so they're never crowded up with the chickens, who live in a separate coop. And they weren't raised together, either, so there's no confusion.

    Breed choice can be so much fun. Consider mixing it up and purchasing several breeds to see what you like. I like runners best--I've had several breeds, and just find runners to be amusing, fun, sweet, productive, beautiful, and super hardy (other breeds just seem to die easier... and get injured more often). But there are many wonderful breeds, and it's such a personal choice. Have fun!

    P.S. The ducks will destroy your lawn too. They'll turn it into mudhole central. But they're worth it. Sweeeeeet birds and so cute! :)
  6. redsoxs

    redsoxs Crowing

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    I agree with iamcuriositycat. I love my ducks but they can be messy and frankly, are more work. Whereas chickens can be fed, watered, and pretty much left to their own devices, ducks, unless you have a pond, are forever boring holes and making mud. That being said, I am glad for the experience and will get more in the spring. They love their baby pool and I enjoy watching them frolic. A great duck hatchery is Metzer's. Super informational on lots of breeds. Check them out and best of luck to you!
  7. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

    Sep 7, 2009
    Florida - Space Coast
    sorry but I will disagree on the geese being mean and loud. We have 3 breeds of geese (American, Dewlap Toulouse, Sebastopol) and not a one is loud loud loud. They are noisy when let out and when we carry treats out to them. Otherwise they are quiet most of the day. Not a one of the breeds we have is aggressive either, we have a toddler (about to turn two in Jan) and he helps with chores and we never have issues. We also did not raise any of the geese being hand fed or allowing them to challenge us or our kids.

  8. aaajjss1

    aaajjss1 Songster

    Nov 28, 2011
    San Diego Ca
    Ducks are adorable and WET! they get their bed wet wet and spit water every where. they follow us around and beg for treats I have 2 drakes and 3 hens, They free range with the chickens and geese during the day every one has separate houses at night. Bird are ornery and they all will pick at each other a little, but they seem to work out a pecking order and pretty much work it out. the only ones I keep separated are the silkies because they are so tiny. The ducks are definitely cute cute cute and my females lay about 6 eggs a week each
    Here is one of our drakes with a dirty face after playing in the mud

  9. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Crowing

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    Well ducks are great, quite personable, good foragers and relatively hardy in comparison to chickens all that said, they are much more messy and require more space, more feed and access to not only water deep enough to dunk their heads but to bathe as well.

    I do have chickens so i am able to give real life experience on having both. I think it truly depends on what you think you want from ducks. The caution of mixing drakes(male ducks) with hens(female chickens) is true, yes, some do it successfully but it is a concern. I own two drakes and they have no physical access to my pullets, i will not risk it, sadly, death can occur and that is not a risk i am willing to take.

    As for breeds, depends there are many great ducks, i would probably look about on the forum for general info, a good book is Storey's guide to ducks. Now i own only Muscovy, they are one of the most quiet of breeds BUT they are not mute, the ducks(females) most definitely quack and make noise, i own enough of them to confirm that, i can hear them some days from quite a distance when they all get going but they are not on the level with full quacking ducks, the drakes only hiss which is still able to be heard when they want to be.

    I chose this particular breed due to hardiness, foraging skills and size, my ducks are for pest control and eggs.. i free range them for the most part so they needed to be of substance and i wanted a breed well documented for the control of pests(which they are)

    While the ducks(females) are not that big, they do require space and are excellent flyers... i am rural though, so have plenty of room. My flock sits at 10 now 2 drakes, 8 ducks. It was higher as we hatched some this year(duck raised) and was up to 17 in early fall, this breed has worked well for me but again there are many other excellent ones out there just my duck experience is limited to only this one so far, GL in deciding!
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  10. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    CelticOaks, I LOVE your profile picture--that's the best candling pic I've seen. Nice!

    I agree that geese are not loud all the time, nor are they always aggressive (which is not the same thing as mean, but that's a topic for another thread. :p). But when they ARE loud... they will knock your socks off. In terms of being objectionable to neighbors, I would think that loud honking sound would be as annoying as a rooster crow, or moreso.

    And they can be managed effectively, but it's not easy or automatic, in terms of the aggression. I had to repeatedly re-train my toulouse not to attack my children, and the white crested chinese never learned not to attack the toddler. So it depends on the bird and it depends on circumstances, and you have to be willing to work at it. My older two children learned to manage the geese themselves, but my then-three-year-old wouldn't play in the yard for a while because unless he was right beside me, the chinese goose would seek him out to attack. On a funny note, he ended up for a while being afraid of all small white animals... which means that he would FREAK OUT at the martial arts center where one of the instructors brings his teeny tiny itty-bitty white maltese pup (who weighs all of three pounds). We managed to train him out of that, but for a while it was pretty funny to see how upset he would be by that tiny dog when he's fine with our 55-pound (brown) dog and pretty much any dog that isn't white.

    Anyway, I also second Storey's Guide (which was written by the same gentleman who runs Holderread Farm--Dave Holderread) as a terrific resource.

    Good luck, and enjoy!

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