Garden ducks? geese?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by GoodEgg, May 13, 2008.

  1. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Anyone have ducks loose in the garden to eat slugs? Just curious ... I'm getting ready to put in a garden, and also sectioning off my yard (I think). I was considering making the garden attached to the duck area, and giving them free access (maybe waiting until plants are bigger) so they can have more space and also eat pests.

    Does anyone have experience with this? As long as they don't dabble around too much around the roots, I'm wondering if the plants will be ok. Or unless they just squash them. They don't eat a lot of plant materials except seedheads, that I've noticed lately. So I wondered if anyone has made this work?

    I have baby geese too, but I don't think they'd make good garden weeders? My guess is that they will eat the veggies too, LOL. So far they decimate everything in their pen except one particular type of weed they won't eat.

    Thanks for any input!

  2. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    Quote:It's always dicey.... but, at the same time, it's nature's way (rather than using chemicals). I find if you allow them access for only 1-2 hours at a time, they tend to hunt rather than dig up your vegetables. Of course, you must do it once your garden vegetables are larger as shoots will be too tempting.

    According to Dave Holderread's book, he actually runs the ducks outside his garden fence, but within a second fence. So, he has a double fenced perimeter in which he releases the ducks to intercept anything incoming to the veggies.

    Quote:Ducks ang geese will both ravish your lettuces and other leafy greens. So, you should have those in a separate area which you can duck/goose proof.

    Quote:Geese are actually used to weed in some commercial operations for row crops. The trick is the plants need to be larger enough that the geese don't see them as food, but more as the environment around them. They prefer anything germinating or shooting up over anything larger and stalky. But, with that said, they will destroy lettuce at any age. We call lettuce and all leafy greens here "goose crack" because they go right after it.

    If given enough time to dabble, I've seen geese work as a team and pull over corn stalks and eat the leaves. But, I think they were bored because I know corn is the one crop which people still frequently use to weed between the rows.

    My experience is that it's a little bit of a hastle and there is always risk, but making animals doing weeding for us is simply awesome. Not only do they provide food, but they can also do some of our chores. It just seems like nature's way and I think you should give it a try.
  3. Bisqit&Gravy

    Bisqit&Gravy Songster

    Mar 14, 2008
    I don't have a garden but if I did could easily see my ducks tearing it up. I have parrots and tortoises so I have a large selection of fresh greens/veggies in my fridge that I also feed to Cheese and Quackers.
    They love lettuce of any kind. Kale, Mustard greens, spinach, carrots, corn, celery, sweet peas, cantalope and sweet peppers.
    I've planted a few bushes in their yard and as soon as we water them or it rained they'd go digging up to their eyes in the loose wet dirt. All around the water tub, it's rooted out from them splashing it out and digging. They had a field day in the loose dirt when we built the tortoise pens.
  4. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Thanks for the replies. [​IMG]

    I got the garden tilled out for the first time today. It's rough ground, so it's going to need tilling again. I met a really great couple through an online veggie trading list and they came out with a tiller and did it for me.

    I'm going to give it a try. Thanks for the info, greyfields. I believe I will modify my plan a bit based on that. I will give the ducks a much larger pen than I had first planned, so they don't have to spend TOO much time in the garden. I also left a strip about 5' wide between the garden and fence, so I can run another fence down that way and give them a perimeter area as suggested. It will take buying more fencing, so I hope I can do that. I'm using nylon deer fencing for the ducks though, and it's only about $10 for 100', so that makes it easier to afford.

    I'm not sure if I will give the gooses access, LOL. Maybe when the plants get a lot bigger. I'll see how they do. Right now they get pretty excited and try just about anything. I had them out of their pen and roaming today.

    My ducks aren't too interested in plants, except the seedheads of some grassy weeds. They don't even get that excited over most of the fruits/veggies I feed the chickens. They do dig in the mud, of course, like you said Bisqit. Maybe the trick is not to let them in the garden when the ground is VERY moist ... I'll have to watch that and play it by ear.

    Interesting you said tortoises. I met a lady yesterday who rescues tortoises, and she showed us many of hers and told us a lot about them. Hehe, you couldn't let THOSE guys loose in a garden, I'm sure of that! I used to have parrots too, and kept all sorts of fruits and veggies for them. I used to joke that they would LOVE to visit the produce aisle at the grocery store.

    Thanks again for the replies. I was watching my ducks go after all the bugs today, both in the grass stirred up by the mower and in the dirt after tilling, and encouraged. They really do go for bugs in a big way.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes, and hoping it will work out well!

  5. SueNH

    SueNH Songster

    Feb 24, 2007
    Most of your seedlings will be eaten. Good luck!

    I fence my birds out once I plant. Sprouting seeds are a special treat. Corn plants are yummy and so is lettuce. Young tomato and potato plants get tasted to death.

    Geese will pull a mature corn stalk down. They really like them.
  6. swampducks

    swampducks Overrun With Guineas

    Feb 29, 2008
    Barton City, MI
    Last spring I had a bunch of started plants in plastic containers sitting on the ground. The ducklings found them and ate them down to nothing. I've heard guineas will eat bugs and leave the plants alone, but you'll need a guinea expert to confirm that.
  7. LazyGirl

    LazyGirl In the Brooder

    Dec 29, 2007
    Guineas don't touch most plants, and they don't scratch either, or give themselves dust baths in the middle of your rows. I've read that they don't touch anything, BUT my guineas peck my tomatoes and something was eating my broccoli leaves on the seedlings...the guineas are at the top of the suspect list, but i haven't actually seeen them do it. Otherwise, they are great garden patrollers. I will see this year if they go for the tomatoes, or if the chickens framed them:lol:
  8. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Couldn't resist ...


    I wish I could add some guineas ...

    Seriously though, I am planning to try letting the ducks in the garden, but I won't do it until the plants are larger. Even if they don't eat seedlings (and mine don't seem to be that interested in plants) they might squash them. They do like to LIE on them, LOL.

    I plan to keep in mind to take the goslings into the garden, one at a time at first, SUPERVISED, once the plants are larger. MUCH larger, hehe. If nothing else, they will follow me around and eat what I point out to them. If they still do that later, I can always point to the weeds. They choose small plants now, so I might be able to get it to work under these circumstances. I don't think I'd ever be willing to leave them in a veggie garden unsupervised. They can decimate an area too quickly, and they are only about 5 weeks old right now!

    I would love to see geese tearing down a corn plant, just for the sake of seeing it. But I don't plan to tempt them with mine, LOL. No sense getting bad habits started on purpose!

    Thanks again for all the advice and info! [​IMG]

  9. Frosty

    Frosty Songster

    Mar 30, 2008
    Guineas really loved pulling up the onions that DH planted... Then they ran around with them hanging out of their beaks like little stogies.

    I use geese to weed in my berry patch. I do keep them out of the strawberries (though that is one crop that they are supposed to be good for). They loved sleeping on the straw around the berries and kept squishing the plants. I tried to feed them some beet tops, they didn't want them. My geese seem to prefer things like grass over broad leafed plants. You can train them to go after certain weeds by offering the leaves starting when they are young. Later in the year if the grass is drying up (especially in areas like I live that get maybe 14" of moisture per year if we are lucky) they will need removed from the garden before they decide that the plants look better than the grass/weeds.
  10. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Cool, thank you.

    They will take what I offer them, and they definitely have favorites. If I point to something and call them, though, they will eat that. (The geese, not the ducks.)

    I don't think I have to worry much about things drying out here. I live in NW Florida, and we usually get enough rain. Though the weather has been weird lately, and sometimes the grass DOES die off from heat stress.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes, but I'm still going to watch them. This garden is going to be too much of an investment (in time especially) and too important to us to risk it on gooses gone bad.


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