First time duck owner. Teach me the basics.

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by irf1983, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. irf1983

    irf1983 Songster

    May 7, 2009
    Brooksville, FL
    I want to start a small flock of ducks for meat and eggs. I was thinking of getting pekins and muscovy for meat, and khaki cambells for eggs. What are the basic essentials for duck housing? Sq Ft? Water? Nests? Coop or shelter? Feeders? I need a duck starter kit. Thanks!

  2. crj

    crj Songster

    Dec 17, 2009
    Rocky Point, NC
    Well, they are different then having chickens that's for sure. Just as entertaining if not more so. With ducks you need a place for water and the mess they make in it. Ducks are VERY messy. Need housing for them to go into for safety, clean drinking water and food. That's if they are adults and that to me is the basics.

    You will have to ask yourself:

    How many ducks
    Will you separate meat and egg ducks.
    Where will you set up there home.
    Will they free range or not.
    How much time do you have for them.

    Those are just a few things to think of. Also, who will do the culling. You will need a set up for that as well somewhere on your property unless you have someone else do it.

    I have ducks as pets. They have a pen, pool, housing and they free range most of the day. No eggs yet since they are not old enough yet. Good luck.
  3. irf1983

    irf1983 Songster

    May 7, 2009
    Brooksville, FL
    Quote:Do I need housing similar to a coop? Or just a small shelter? Do they go into the house at night to sleep? Any more detail on housing?

    I'm thinking a max of 10-20 ducks, fluctuating depending on how many meat birds I am raising to process.
    I have a small creek that I intend to use to fill a duck pond in the run.
    Do i have to separate meat and egg ducks?
    They will most likely free range part of the day, unless the foxes make a return appearance.
    I have time to dedicate to making a good run, after that, I don't have lots of free time.
    I'm doing the culling. I have an abattoir in the works.
  4. TrystInn

    TrystInn Songster

    Sep 16, 2009
    Southern Arizona
    Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Storey's Guide to Ducks. It is filled with absolutely wonderful information.

    You don't need a coop, per se, but you do need some kind of shed or shelter for them - they'll need a dry place to eat, brood, sleep and the protection offered. Ours as adults prefer to nest under low-hanging trees and bushes, but a few gals used our brooder shed for nesting this year. Think 4 square feet or so per duck in housing. They are incredibly messy, so whatever you use in the shelter, make sure it's cheap and plentiful - we use orchard hay since it's really cheap here.

    Ducks do well in cold weather, but they do need a way to get dry. You'll have to make sure you have a way to keep their water from freezing, in winter we use several livestock watering bins with the attendant water heater coils. They work great and are fairly cheap. Some folks like to use metal waterers set atop homemade heaters, those seem to work great, too!

    Waterers need to be at least 4 inches deep, as they need to cover their entire beak, almost their entire head to clear their nostrils when they drink. This will dirty the water and waterers, so they need daily clean outs. Chicken waterers do not work well for this reason, but a few cat litter bins bought cheaply work very well and are cheaper than livestock watering bins.

    You'll need a secure pen and get them trained to go into it, most folks tend to feed only within the pen which works great to train them. The shelter should be either inside the pen or accessible via the pen. Mine is set next to it with a door in between.

    The layer ducks should be fed around 18% protein feed, which is a big high for meat ducks though it won't do them any harm. You don't need to separate the meat vs egg ducks until you're getting close to processing. At that point, you should remove the meat ducks and put them on finisher feed for the last 3 - 6 weeks.

    Anything else I can help with? [​IMG]
  5. irf1983

    irf1983 Songster

    May 7, 2009
    Brooksville, FL
    Quote:Sure I've got tons of questions. Thanks for the help.

    When you say messy, do you mean poopy? Do I need to have some kind of ground cover down, will they make a mess of a bare ground run? Can they drink the water in their pond, or do I need to provide extra waterers. In your opinion, do duck eggs taste much different than chicken eggs? If I am strictly raising them for meat, do they need a pond in the run? Do you feed yours a feed specific to duck, or would a 15% chicken feed also work? Can I raise ducks with chickens if that is the case?

    Thanks for your help, I know a lot of these are dumb questions.

  6. midget_farms

    midget_farms Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    Let me jump in here - I'm also new to ducks so most of this is from reading a couple of books I have, my ducks are only about 5 days old so consider the source.

    Duck eggs are much more porous than hen eggs & therefore don't keep as long. They can also absorb more contaminants so they need to be collected asap.

    A duck will lay on a 24 hr cycle where a chicken will lay on a 25 hr cycle - so a duck will lay the same time every day.

    The protien inside a duck egg is different (tougher) than that of a chicken. The eggs are excellent for baking (cakes etc) but frying or hard boiling is I've been told an aquired taste. I've never had one to try so who knows.

    Messy means they play in the water & splash it everywhere. Then they find things they can put in the water & play with them, then they find more stuff to put in the water & play with etc. I've been told eventually they will pretty much mess up everything they can find. They also like to pull weeds (or expensive plants). But on the other side they will eat every slug, snail, bug & mouse they find.

    I wish I could train mine to dig up moles!

    Hope this helps. My stories guide shows up this week, but the rest of this info came from general homesteading & poultry books I own.
  7. Sebrightmom

    Sebrightmom Songster

    Jun 26, 2008
    Greencastle, IN
    I have cayugas, runners, and three different groups of calls. I LOVE my ducks. THey are great. I have to say cayugas are my favorite. My cayugas and runners are free rangers every day of the year. They sleep in a pallet houses that my husband and I made. They go in them when it is dark and I lock them up every night. I have never lost one by doing this. They don't mind the snow at all. The calls are in pens because they fly. I don't want to take the chance of them flying off because they are show ducks. I give mine flock layer with my chickens. Cayugas are known to be a dual propose breed. They are big enough to eat (I can't bring myself to eat them) and they lay over 180 eggs a year. The runners are great layers. They lay pretty much every day. I use the eggs for baking. Both breeds are great sitters. I have cayugas and a runner hatching out eggs right now. They have already hatched ducklings this summer.
  8. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    Do you plan on having the various breeds in individual pens or will they all be together? It they are together then you have a problem. The muscovy will breed with the other birds and their offspring will be infertile. Ok for eating, not so good for egg production. Perhaps you should consider an all purpose duck breed instead. One that produces plenty of meat and is good at laying eggs. I personally have chosen Saxony ducks because of that, but there are other breeds that are just as good.
    For housing you need 3 sqft per duck for the sleeping quarters, for the outdoor run it should be much more.
    Water, you need an area for swimming and and area for food and water only. Otherwise you end up with all the food in the pool full of food and poo in the bottom of it. So play and feed areas need to be apart. 5 feet distance between them is a good idea. I'm using a 2.75 gallon dog waterer, which is deep enough for them to stick their face into it, but not big enough for them to take a bath. That one is good for 12 hours with 10-15 ducks. A medium to large size kiddie pool is also a good idea. Add a ball valve and emptying will be easy. You don't need a starter kit per say, but you should get electroytes/vitamins for them to avoid any deficiencies.
  9. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2010

  10. irf1983

    irf1983 Songster

    May 7, 2009
    Brooksville, FL
    Quote:Well based on what I've heard here, I'm ruling out laying ducks. I can't even come close to keeping up with my chicken eggs so I dont really need more. So now my question is between muscovy and pekin. which breed is better for meat? Right now i think i'll just buy them to process. Breeding can come later. How long will each take to reach processing weight, and do they need all the accoutrement if I am only raising them short term? Thanks!

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