Foraging ability and pest control

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by cottagechick, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. cottagechick

    cottagechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I see "foraging ability" listed as some of the Excellent, good, or fair....what exactly is the difference between a good forager and an excellent forager in practical terms for my little place.
     
  2. m.kitchengirl

    m.kitchengirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am no expert, so if I am wrong I hope someone with more years under their belt will weigh in, too.
    I believe foraging ability is measured by how much of a breed's diet can we expect to come from foraging & how much supplemental feed is needed for each breed through out the year.

    I keep Ancona ducks and, honestly, they haven't gone through much more feed each day than they did in the summer. They were ducklings though, and eating constantly. Now we give them 2 quart scoops each day, and there is always PLENTY of feed left in the bowl when I collect it at night. When they are out in the yard & back garden they happily root through the snow & make the little, contented ducks sounds they make when they are happily foraging away in spring. I have no idea what they are finding out there this time of year, but they stay busy, and look just fine, so I think they are getting enough between table scraps, forage & their feed.

    Hope this helps, and if I am wrong, that someone smarter will weigh in.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
  3. hollyk

    hollyk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had Cayuga ducks and once the weather warmed they showed no interest in their feed bowls. I do believe they would have gotten most of their food on their own. So, if you have a small place and are choosing, I would go with a good to excellent rating. I choose ducks to live in my garden to eat pests, so therefore I wanted the best foragers I could get.
     
  4. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    My Muscovies are excellent foragers, when we moved here 17 years ago we were over run with grass hoppers then 8 years ago we got our first scivies going on 9 years now, and they have vertually wiped out all grasshoppers and anyother kind of pest you can think of except caterpillers, they don't like them and even my chickens won't eat them if they are hairy, the hormworm they will eat. They have cleaned out my flower beds of everything including most of my flowers lol, so now I plant flowering shrubs [native] and just ordered a book from Amazon about gardening with free range poultry, so maybe I will again have flowers. But they are great foragers and I agree go with good to excellent when choosing your breed. Ducks are awesome and well worth all the flowers they and the chickens have eaten. lol
     
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    My Runners are great foragers, in my experience. And they love to eat slugs, squash bugs, japanese beetles, chickweed, dandelion, and even some tufts of grass if there's not much else green.

    We go patrolling together around the gardens. Great fun!
     
  6. I wish we'd gotten ducks years ago -- they are marvelous here in the rainy Northwest US for slug and snail control. My ducks were not really out and about till May/June of last year -- I am anxious for spring to come so I can see if they've made a difference in the slug /snail control. Last year we had a bumper crop of snails, but once I moved the ducks into the orchard - lo, there were no more snails to be seen, even in the apple trees . . . I'd second the good foragers are worth it comments, although all my ducks are very, very busy. I have a Rouen, and a white Pekin, as well as Welsh Harlequins and they all were busy busy busy all the time looking for things in the grass and chuckling to each other. The Pekin was probably slightly less active since he was bigger, but we still have the female Rouen and she is just as busy as my Welsh Harlequins. I do supplement with some scraps and chicken food, and they are always willing to munch, but they continue foraging just the same. . .
     
  7. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    I forgot about the slugs yep they took care of them too. but on a sad note they also ate my praying mantis which I loved having around. But maybe a few are still here and in hiding.
     
  8. cottagechick

    cottagechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the replies. I tend to over think things, I am told...[​IMG] I mean really, I know I am talking about two or three ducks on a quarter of an acre. I am not trying to find the one duck that will help me survive alone in the painted desert or anything... But still I wonder, and think. [​IMG] If a Campbell is a great forager and a nervous bird and a Harlequin is very calm but a good forager how much difference will either of those things really make to me? I want as small a bird as possible. I want pest control. I have bantam chickens and love them. I originally wanted a scovie but am nervous about putting them with the bantams and don't know about their claws and size. I was going to go with bantams but a pound and a half wouldn't make that much different right? Then I got to looking at Magpies, Harlequins, Campbells, Runners, and hook bills....Choice overload. Eggs would be a really nice perk. But they will pretty much only lay from March to Junish anyway, right? What would you recommend as a good duck to go with bantam chickens, that is good for pest control and eggs? Where is the off switch on my brain?
     
  9. I think Call Ducks are very small . . . but I don't know about them, except that they look very cute. We live on a larger farm and I wanted something a little bigger to help keep them safe.

    I went with Welsh Harlequin because they were egg layers, good foragers, and you can tell the sexes apart when hatched, but also because I thought they were really beautiful. Out of my six ducks I've gotten about 3 eggs a day, even during our week long snowstorm so depending on the breed you may get eggs longer than you think. Mine started laying in August / September and are still laying now, in January, and show no signs of stopping. i think Geese lay from March to June, but ducks have a longer laying season sometimes. They also will lay very well for 3 years, which is so exciting compared to chickens! I have two bantam silkies, and three cochin bantams and the ducks leave them alone just like they leave the full sized barred rocks, cuckoo marans, and other large chickens alone. They do have a lot of space and they don't share nighttime housing, so that may help.

    I specifically didn't get Muscovys because I didn't want to deal with flying ducks and I've heard they are good fliers. I've also heard that they are remarkably good mothers . . . . but the main reason I didn't get them is that I preferred the traditional duck look (now, I know lots of people like them, they just aren't my cup of tea . . . ).

    If you weren't going to raise babies, then you could even just have the female ducks and skip drakes - which should make things easier with the chickens.
     
  10. cottagechick

    cottagechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Larkfling.

    How long have you had your Welsh Harlequins? When they were at their peak how much were they laying. I am always a little confused by the laying charts. The one I am looking at says without artificial light Welsh Harlequins will lay 150 eggs a year. I am not sure if that means they lay 7 eggs a week for four months or do they lay 3 eggs a week for 12 months? I suspect it means that they lay 5- 6 eggs a week for 4 or 5 months and then decrease to 3 eggs a week for a couple of months and then down until they don't lay for a couple of months?
     

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