Have chickens, want ducks.

iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
513
906
211
Maine
Hey ya ducksters,

I am looking into adding ducks to my homestead. We have a flock of free range laying hens - usually about 100-150 depending on the time of year. We also raise a couple hundred meat birds in mobile pasture pens every season.

I had a chef, that often buys our whole chickens, approach me to see if I would be interested in trialing a few ducks for a menu special they want to run for one weekend of next year - maybe 10 ducks. Potential is if that works out, there could be opportunity for us to raise alot more ducks specifically for this restaurant. The ducks being used for meat, not eggs in this case. I've always wanted ducks around and actually a neighbor adopted a duck a while back that ended up hanging out with my chickens for a couple days after getting into it with it's new coop mates at my neighbors house.
I have a small pond (roughly 80ft diameter) that is about 150- 200 feet away from my chicken coops.

I would like to free range the ducks and get a breed that can mostly live and breed on their own so that I can cull extra drakes to eat, have duck eggs for making custards and have a mosquito and tick eating source. Am I expecting too much or is that a realistic thought.

Any breed sugestions?

How close do they need to be to the pond to want to use it?
The pond is a serious mosquito site so I need them down there.

Can I just have them in with my chickens or should I build a separate coop near the pond?

Should I stick to raising meat ducks in pasture pens rather than getting a more dual purpose self-sustaining variety? Do people do that?

Any and all ideas appreciated. Please share with me your experiences along with your own land/water circumstances and how you use those to your advantage.
Cheers!
 

Everose

Chirping
Jan 16, 2021
61
117
91
Silver appleyards! Haven't had them yet but rlly do want them. They lay lots of eggs (the most prolific egg layer of the heavy weight breeds) they are about a pound less than pekins. Most people that I have met don't like duck meat because it's greasy but apparently that's not the case with SA ducks. More eggs=more ducklings=more meat, so I think they're probably even better than pekins. Also they're VERY pretty and they're considered the best foragers of the heavyweight ducks as well
 

416bigbore

Not A Care In The World !
Premium Feather Member
Jun 11, 2020
3,240
19,908
716
NC
Hello, Maybe try posting in Meat Birds ETC section of the Forum for more responses from other members who already raise ducks for eggs and meat.

If you have no experience with ducks you are in for an education, nothing like raising chickens. Ducks love water and lots of it and are very messy. They will find your pond with no problem and if it isn't big enough to support all your ducks, they will make a huge mess of it and you will be changing the water daily for them.

Your larger breeds like Pekin and Rouen ducks are an excellent choice for eggs and meat, I have no personal experience with other breeds that may be better yet?

I would raise them in their own coop, you don't want your big dominate Drakes to try breeding with your chickens because they can hurt them. You also want to have the correct Drake to Hens ratio so you don't have mating issues, 1:4 or more hens?

Also your larger duck breeds tend to have more foot and leg issues do to their size, so that's another thing to keep in mind.

Lastly be careful, ducks are easy to fall in love with and you won't want to eat them. LOL

Best of luck and please keep us posted. :)
 
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iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
513
906
211
Maine
Silver appleyards! Haven't had them yet but rlly do want them. They lay lots of eggs (the most prolific egg layer of the heavy weight breeds) they are about a pound less than pekins. Most people that I have met don't like duck meat because it's greasy but apparently that's not the case with SA ducks. More eggs=more ducklings=more meat, so I think they're probably even better than pekins. Also they're VERY pretty and they're considered the best foragers of the heavyweight ducks as well

Thanks! Those definitely sound like a good potential.


Hello, Maybe try posting in Meat Birds ETC section of the Forum for more responses from other members who already raise ducks for eggs and meat.

If you have no experience with ducks you are in for an education, nothing like raising chickens. Ducks love water and lots of it and are very messy. They will find your pond with no problem and if it isn't big enough to support all your ducks, they will make a huge mess of it and you will be changing the water daily for them.

Your larger breeds like Pekin and Rouen ducks are an excellent choice for eggs and meat, I have no personal experience with other breeds that may be better yet?

I would raise them in their own coop, you don't want your big dominate Drakes to try breeding with your chickens because they can hurt them. You also want to have the correct Drake to Hens ratio so you don't have mating issues, 1:4 or more hens?

Also your larger duck breeds tend to have more foot and leg issues do to their size, so that's another thing to keep in mind.

Lastly be careful, ducks are easy to fall in love with and you won't want to eat them. LOL

Best of luck and please keep us posted. :)

Thank you! I've had some casual conversation about ducks within some threads on the meat bird forum, but I figured here would be a better place to try since anyone following along might now more about a variety of duck breeds? Maybe I'll repost in meat birds anyway.

My pond is about 1/10 of an acre maybe a little more. You could have a hockey match on it. Pretty big. About 200,000 gallons. Do you think 10 ducks could be too much for that size? What about 40 or 50?

Good to know about the leg issues.

I appreciate the warning about loving them too much. I raise several hundred chickens a year that I butcher myself. Any meat that I eat is from an animal that I've meet in life so I'm very used to that. Maybe I have a hard heart, but I love being able to feed my family that way. :)
 

3xhhheather

Songster
May 8, 2020
165
460
136
Central NC / 7B
I would like to free range the ducks and get a breed that can mostly live and breed on their own so that I can cull extra drakes to eat, have duck eggs for making custards and have a mosquito and tick eating source. Am I expecting too much or is that a realistic thought.
I don't think you're expecting too much, but if collecting eggs is one of the goals, a separate pen with a coop would be good so you're not hunting down eggs all over your property. Ducks tend to lay first thing in the morning, so it'd be an easy thing to control.

Any breed sugestions?
I've been looking into this too (currently own ducks) and I've been gearing towards Rouens (a bit more wild) or Silver Appleyards. I get can get overly attached to animals, so for myself, something that doesn't really want to hang out with me is a better solution lol. Rouens are larger than most, but wouldn't have the same foot or leg issues like a Pekin. Muscovys are also an option, they're quiet, make great mamas, and the males get huge.

How close do they need to be to the pond to want to use it?
The pond is a serious mosquito site so I need them down there.
Show them the pond once and they'll always find it.

Can I just have them in with my chickens or should I build a separate coop near the pond?
I know some people do it, but I'm keeping them separate when my chickens arrive in a couple of months.

Should I stick to raising meat ducks in pasture pens rather than getting a more dual purpose self-sustaining variety? Do people do that?
I think it goes back to personal preference, like with dual-purpose chickens or broilers. I love the idea of dual-purpose--eggs, ducklings, and meat in under a year - yes, please. There are people who just raise ducks for meat, I think Pekins can hit full size in 2 months vs. the normal 3-4? So the turn around for meat production is better.
 

SolarDuck

Crowing
Jan 31, 2020
1,109
2,480
311
My pond is about 1/10 of an acre maybe a little more. You could have a hockey match on it. Pretty big. About 200,000 gallons. Do you think 10 ducks could be too much for that size? What about 40 or 50?
You should have no problems with 40 or 50 ducks on a pond that size, but you will definitely have to train them to go into their coop at sunset, as lots of duck owners with ponds have problems collecting the ducks. If it's just for meat, probably Pekin is the best bet, if you want meat and eggs maybe Silver Appleyard or Saxony or Muscovy.
 

JCaseyHammond

Crowing
Sep 6, 2020
711
2,166
296
California Delta
Hi I’m an accidental duck farmer now :gig
I rent space on a ranch to keep chickens and horses, because there isn’t enough room at home. Anyway, someone moved from the ranch but their Muscovies flew back to live in my area. After several failed attempts to keep the Muscovies in their new home next door, we gave up trying to convince them and I bought the Muscovies and they thrived. I sell the extras at the local livestock auction which is more than an hour away. There are people in my area who need ducks. It would be nice to connect with a chef like you have.
***Edited to add photo of drakes going to auction
016C80A4-FA6D-418B-9536-74871BAD9F37.jpeg
 
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Trisseh

Duck-duck-chicken!
Jun 21, 2019
1,344
4,092
316
NW Ontario, Canada
I also would be leaning towards Muscovy or even Muscovy mules. You get benefits from both species then, and Muscovy are supposed to be excellent foragers. I don’t have ‘scovies but that’s what I’ve seen when reading. I currently have a mule, and I can see the appeal for sure. He’s got the Muscovy size and general body shape, but is beefy like a pekin. I’m sure he would be juicy and succulent without being too fatty or greasy. They’re a good terminal cross for the purposes of meat, and the female mules will still lay eggs, although they’ll be infertile. If you want them hatching their own eggs, Muscovy are also a good option there.
 

iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
513
906
211
Maine
Loving all this great info from everyone. I have been leaning towards muscovies. The hatchery that I work with for my meat birds and layers has muscovies as their only duck option. I would ideally like to buy chicks through them since I have a relationship with them and they always have high quality chicks. Havent committed to them yet though so I'm still looking around.

In terms of brooding, I'm assuming its alot like brooding chickens in terms of time frame and temperature? ie. brooding 4-8 weeks depending on time of year? And starting heat at 90f with decreasing heat by 5 degrees per week.
 

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