Duck tractoring, anyone?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Bokbok, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. Bokbok

    Bokbok Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 27, 2007
    When I chicken tractored, I went ahead and tried the method of planting pretty much right away on top of chicken tractored ground (with maybe 10 days of wait time). Unless I threw hydrated lime over the chicken's "work" prior to throwing half a bag of soil on top, nothing really grew. But using the hydrated lime for adjustment, I could grow anything wonderfully. Then the raccoons killed all four of my birds, dug up several plants till they wouldn't replant, winter set in hard, I got a little depressed about the whole thing (seriously), and the garden is now grown over. Enter my new ducklings. Things will be different this time. I have an electric zapper around the top and bottom of fence, I'm not going to use the moveable tractor cages like I did before, since the ducks won't be able to fly out of the 6 foot fence, and I am going to section the garden off so that they can spend a month in each section (100 sq ft), giving me a six month rotation of planting (this came from some serious math efforts, finding approx. how much droppings my duck species voids a day, and how much nitrogen 100 sq ft of dirt will need). When some crops have grown to sufficient height, I plan to let the ducks in for a day at a time here and there for bug and slug control. I need it! The dang moth caterpillers were one of the bigger reason for my previously mentioned depression. Viscous, those things! As you can see, I'm pretty into it, but I haven't had any luck finding other enthusiasts. Gardening forums typically focus on just gardening, and duck enthusiasts on ducks. I would be overjoyed to hear from anyone with experience in this. Anybody?
     
  2. Smartie_Pants

    Smartie_Pants Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 5, 2008
    Madisonville, KY
    I'm not sure it will work. Ducks, by nature, make mud and holes in the ground. They can kill out plants and grass within a few weeks too. I've never tried it, so maybe someone who has can chime in and really give you some info, but with the kiddie pool you'll need to put in it might kill out what they are on.

    I had 6-7 ducks in my pen and they killed out EVERYTHING! There is not even a blade of grass in there anymore, AND they get let out and sunup and put up a sundown so they aren't on it but like 8 hours a day.
     
  3. shelleyd2008

    shelleyd2008 the bird is the word

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    Sep 14, 2008
    Adair Co., KY
    I think terrielacy has said something about ducks as pest control. I know this past fall, there were a lot of people that were talking about the ducks taking care of slugs and whatnot. Maybe you should edit your title to say that you are wondering about ducks and gardening, you may get a better response. Mine all free range all the time, so I don't have any experience with tractoring ducks.
     
  4. That sounds like a great system, for your ducks and your garden. Please post how that works out for you.
    That's what first drew my attention to ducks, a chapter in a gardening book called Four Season Harvest if I'm remembering the name correctly. The author called them garden helpers or shmoos. My ducks have been a help in keeping down the grasshoppers and probably other pests. I used to see a lot more slugs but not anymore. I don't let them wander in the garden, I put up fences around it and they poke their bills in a little and also eat bugs that wander out. When an area is harvested I let them in to clean up. They do love any kind of curcubit leaves so your fence has to be way out from where those are planted.
    I use straw for bedding in their house and then it makes great mulch and compost. When I empty their pool I drain it on the lawn, it never looked so good. I am motivated to pull the weeds so I can feed them to my ducks. And I just enjoy being out in the garden so much more with my happy duck companions.
    A lady at the feed store said years ago she had a whole system of planting her garden in such a way that she could let her ducks in certain sections when the plants were at the right maturity so they wouldn't be eating her harvest. Of course she can't remember now how she did it, but at least it's encouraging to know it can be done.
     
  5. Bokbok

    Bokbok Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you again, Smartiepants. Mudholes should be okay, and pulling up every blade of grass is good news. I was a little disappointed that the chickens grew apathetic to the weeds very quickly. The last chicken tractor stayed in place (with only one chicken left) for many weeks, and she left behind so much grass, it was frustrating. I want the weeds and whatever remaining plant-life to be extinguished for new things to be planted, the dirt to be filled with you-know-what, so that I can cover it with a little unrestrained raised garden bed material, and then plant the seeds of my next round of vegetables. Dances With Ducks! That is the best name. I'm thinking of re-naming myself Quack Quack instead of Bokbok, hopefully no one steals it after reading this riveting post! Anyhoo, I also own the Four Season Harvest Book, I don't remember it mentioning ducks, but it could have registered subliminally, and thats why I post this right now. Yes, fences! I figure I'll border the little wack-wacks in, a fenced area within a fenced area, using a stretch of four foot chicken wire, kept in place by a few stakes at the corners, and when I am finished with section one, pull up stakes, and re-fence around section two with the same chicken wire. Oh this is going to be so much fun. I distantly had a fantasy of the pool water being beneficial to some area, and now I see that I could have been right. "When an area is harvested I let them in to clean up." My sentiments exactly. Six months after conveniently doing most of my work for me, when they have gone through all sections in a clockwise circle, the first should be ready to mow down with their cute little bills. See, in reality I am the lazy gardener, and I want to do as little as possible; no hauling duck muck from A to B then a while later from B to C, (let alone buying fertilizer and driving it home with the stink in the car and the heavy bags) leaving the duck yard bare after a month. Right? Dances with Ducks, thank you for your input. I've heard hints of letting ducks into areas where the plants are tall enough for them to ignore, while plucking bad bugs from beneath. Did you really ask the feed lady? For me? That is so nice. Do I need to worry about any certain vegetables that might be toxic to them? Is it true they won't "fly" over the four foot fence? Hard to imagine after watching my baby chickens fly out of the brooder the second day of their lives. Never had it occurred to me that they would fly around! But my ducklings are three days old now, and their wings are so puny, it must be true. There is so much conflicting information out there, it's nice to hear real from real life experience. They are Buff Orpington ducks, so I wasn't expecting them to fly.
     
  6. I was enjoying your name Bokbok, Quack Quack would be great too! But I really laughed when you called your ducks wack-wacks, nails it on the head! [​IMG]

    Actually I asked the feed store lady a while back. I am interested in utilizing my ducks in my garden too, so when her son mentioned his mom had this system I was trying to pin her down about it the next time I saw her. Boy if she could remember she could write a small book that a lot of us would enjoy! So whatever you get figured out be sure to tell please! [​IMG]

    Duck poop and pool water will have high nitrogen, just like the chickens poop, thanks for the tip about hydrated lime. (It might be a problem for me tho as my soil is high alkaline.) My understanding is the nitrogen is great for encouraging foliage growth, but too much inhibits the formation of flowers and fruiting vegetables. That's why my pool water goes on the lawn. I don't have enough garden area to experiment the way your are planning, but I wonder if planting alfalfa as a green mulch and using the water there might give you accelerated growth, which would ultimately become duckie heaven for the point in time you let those wack-wacks in. [​IMG]

    I don't know of any toxic vegetables, hope someone pipes up if there are any. My assumption is they won't eat whats not good for them, except sometimes yummies like nails or other interesting human made objects. [​IMG]

    Buffs should be held in by a four foot fence easy. [​IMG]

    One thing I am experimenting with this year is establishing a no dig garden by just dumping a thick pile of used straw bedding on the new area, actually I dumped about four inche's of my friend's horse manure down first. I'm hoping by planting time I can just push away whats left of that top layer of straw and start planting. Right now the ducks are loving that straw to hang out on when it's snowy. And I like it as a place to put their water bucket and wading pool because then I don't have the usual digging in the grass where the water spills. Simple stuff. [​IMG]
     
  7. Bokbok

    Bokbok Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes, I don't have any sort of wood or anything holding my garden beds in, they have always just been rectangular piles of droppings, hay, straw, lime, and dirt on the ground. I've been happy with it, because anything permanent detracts from my laziness and spontenaity. I can change things anytime I want. Scratching back the layer of straw when you're ready for planting sounds like a fine idea. That probably prevents the nutrients of the soil from disappearing up into the air with the sun and the wind. Something I should start doing. The nitrogen from chicken poop never seemed to prevent any fruits or vegetables from forming that I ever saw. I believe ducks have a teensy bit more nitrogen in their droppings, but I've planned accordingly by having less ducks than I did chickens, and more room for them to run around. Plus the neighborhood dog walkers constantly commented that I was being cruel somehow by keeping my chickens in cages. They didn't quite understand that there was only a couple birds in each cage, and I had payed close attention to their space requirements, and they probably didn't consider the unbelievably close living quarters that the producers of their own store bought eggs had to live in! Once the animal control even got called on me, and when I showed him my flock, he laughed, got back in his car and drove away. Not that I'm doing any of this to please others, but less flack would be nice. A good thing about poultry dropping as opposed to horse manure is, (so I've read, and life often shows me that what I read could be totally wrong) that horse manure can have a lot of salts, overwhelming the soil after a while, and bird droppings are supposed to be richer in useful nutrients too. But I'm sure in a little home garden with low demand (as opposed to fields farmed to their maximum output), the salts wouldn't really be a problem. Maybe with very alkaline soil you might not need the lime, who knows. You could just plant one bed that has lime, then another bed that had none. I always threw lots of alfalfa on the ground of the chicken tractor, a layer every few days, and that gave them something to peck at, push around, and also it absorbed the excesses of nitrogen and what-not and things weren't stinky. So by the time I moved the tractor to it's new location, half the garden bed was already there waiting for me, shaped up tight by the tractors perimeter. With ducks I won't have that really, I think I'll just make a path straight into each duck-prepped section with a cirlcle shaped "keyhole", I guess they call it, at the end of the path, and plant all around the path and the keyhole. My sections are going to be oblong anyway. I'll put stepping stones here and there so I can reach far away things, so I don't squish down my beautiful soil walking here and there. The green manure idea I like too, and I kind of wondered about planting some kind of crop like flax or I don't know, haven't researched that one yet, that they could enjoy munching on by the time they got there, or that I could harvest on occasion to give them food and save myself some money on feed and driving to get the feed (currently a 40 minute drive). If that crop were leguminous, yeah, it would also make a nice green growth. Yay! I'll probably be posting my adventures. As you can see, I'm a little, uh, obsessed?
     
  8. Bokbok

    Bokbok Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh! And the circle shaped "keyhole" will conveniently be the location of the duck pool when the ducks are in that area. Yeah, I thought of that one myself! I was considering putting paver stones down in the circle, to keep mud at bay when the ducks splash in their pool, and then it would be nice to walk on when planting and watering.
     
  9. Smartie_Pants

    Smartie_Pants Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 5, 2008
    Madisonville, KY
    Quote:Most ducks, with the except of a few breeds that are too heavy to fly (Pekins, Rouens, and Muskovies are the main ones, but some of those can fly too.) and runner ducks aren't supposed to fly, but I'm sure some do. The lighter breeds can easily clear that fence.

    There are a lot of toxic things they aren't supposed to get acces to, however they will know most of the ones that are bad for them and stay away. You should look up the list as its probably to long to post here.
     

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