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Hello! Ducks in My Future.

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Sapokanikan, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. Sapokanikan

    Sapokanikan Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 24, 2012
    Greetings,

    I am new to this website and I do not own any ducks. I live in an apartment in the city and owning ducks is currently not a possibility for me. I'm weathering out the economic times with a few part time jobs, and my goal for this year (if all is well) is to save my money and get a modest property of my own on which I can have a garden and keep ducks and such, perhaps a very small farm (I want to be more self-sufficient, I suppose). I've always been a city-dweller, but I've always admired the natural world and I have a dream to carve out of a bit of it for myself one day (I credit my mother for taking me to the city's botanical gardens a lot when I was younger). Why ducks, specifically? I love their personality - that industrious kind of curiosity, productivity, and socialization, but I suppose as well that ducks seem to set a seal on things, like saying "this place is alright", like it's cool, it's relaxed. I guess that's what the duck-on-water phrase alludes to.

    Since I do not know anything about ducks, I decided to register on this forum after reading many different helpful threads (and fun threads). It seems like a really great community.

    I have a few brief questions about raising ducks:

    • The breeds I have been most interested in are Cayuga, Welsh Harlequin, and Rouen (in that order), and this is primarily based on my own subjectivity as their role as ornamentation. I would like, however, a good pet too (as far as ducks go) that has a distinct personality and would be possible to create a relationship with (not treat me like a stranger). I'm not sure if all ducks are more or less the same, but it seems like there would be some ducks that are generally easier to keep as pets than others. Which of the breeds I have mentioned would make the best "pet duck", or, is there a breed of duck that is particularly known for being the prime breed for pets?
    • I probably would not own ducks in volume to consume them as meat, but eggs, certainly. How do duck eggs compare to chicken eggs, and are there duck breeds that produce better quality eggs than others?
    • Is there a big difference between incubating the eggs yourself and purchasing a duckling? Is that a considerable enough time to make a lasting difference on the quality of your relationship with the duck, or do people incubate eggs because they already own the ducks that made the eggs?
    • Is there a definitive book about keeping ducks I should read?
    • I have seen Metzer Farms pop up around the forum a bit, but are there other reputable breeders with healthy lines of ducks that I should look at as well?

    Thanks in advance,
    Sapokanikan
     
  2. Tahai

    Tahai Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi Sapokanikan. [​IMG]

    1. You'll find people referring to Storey's all the time in the duck forum. They are referring to Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks, written by Dave Holderread of Holderread Waterfowl Farm and Preservation Center, which is a good book to have on hand. I've read it through, cover to cover, 4 times, and I still learn new info every time. (My first ducks come in April, and I'm determined to be ready) There are other good books out there, but this is the best to start with, in my limited experience.

    2. There are quite a few smaller reputable breeders right here on BYC, but if you're interested in the big names, Holderread's, Sand Hill, and Metzers are the names most mentioned on this site.
    • The quality of Holderread's stock is superb, and his prices are beyond fair. If you intend to show, or sell to 4-H'ers, or just care about preserving the breed as it is intended to look, this is the way to go. Holderreads only sells straight run ducklings. If you want sexed birds from him, you would have to purchase adults, which is considerably more expensive. http://www.holderreadfarm.com/
    • Metzer's is an excellent choice as well, for different reasons. Dave Metzer's stock quality varies, depending on breed. He is very open and up-front about the quality of birds he is selling, and has a link on his website that tells you what the quality of his various breeds are currently rated at (in the first link below, the second chart, 5th column). Some are show quality, some are production quality, some are backyard flock quality. Metzer's site is loaded with resources for duck owners to learn and utilize. One of the benefits of ordering from Metzers is they will ship small orders for an additional price, and they will sex the ducklings for you, so you get the ratio of ducks/drakes you want. Here are some good links to his website: http://www.metzerfarms.com/DuckBreedComparison.cfm?CustID=670414 and http://www.metzerfarms.com/FAQ.cfm?CustID=670424
    • I've no experience with Sand Hill Preservation Center, but I've only heard good things about their ducks. Here is a link to their site http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/catalog/ducks.html.

    Best wishes on getting that hobby farm!

    Tahai
     
  3. Ilovemyduckies

    Ilovemyduckies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 21, 2012
    I think all ducks CAN be a good pet duck. Although some may be slightly more shy. They are all sweet whether they are used to me or not. I am like you, I do not raise my birds for meat. I raise them as pets and for eggs. If you wanted good egg layer, then a khaki campbell would be good. Although khaki campbells are a little more shy then the rest. They are still really sweet too. My khaki campbell never got very big, and stayed adorable the whole time I had her. Out of the ones you named I would say cayugas are the best. They are very sweet, and are also good egg layers, rouens are not too good egg layers though. IDK about welsh herlequins, I've never raised them. In my experience, I know I get more attached to them when I hatch them myself. Although it is harder to hatch them then to purchase them.You have to consider whether it is worth it or not. You will need to buy an Incubator. Unless you get one of your ducks to hatch them. In that case, both cayugas and rouens will most likely go broody and hatch some for you.
     
  4. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy

    The fewer ducklings in a batch, the more attached they will be to you. If you get 8 ducklings they will most likely imprint on each other more so than you. If you get two or three you will have an easier time at it. Or so has been my experience. Welsh Harlequins are fantastic egg layers. I am not sure about the others.

    I find duck eggs to be a bit richer than chicken eggs... more substantial.

    Storey's Guide is a must have book, but another great title is "The Domestic Duck" by Chris Ashton.

    I totally agree about Metzer. John has been wonderful with sharing all kinds of waterfowl information with the public. I've bought ducks from both Metzer and Holderread. As far as health goes, all have been healthy birds. My love of runners though keeps me going back to Holderread as his birds always look like runners.
     
  5. JulieNKC

    JulieNKC Overrun With Chickens

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    Welcome! Any of the breeds or a combination of them would make good pets. They are fairly calm, laid back ducks. If you want the most eggs, the welsh harlequin would probably be your best bet. Duck eggs are thicker, bigger, richer, and I think have more yolk compared to white than chicken eggs. The eggs will be the same, but some breeds produce more. Incubating or buying ducklings is personal preference primarily. I had a pet rouen I bought at a feed store years ago who was very friendly, so I don't think incubating them yourself makes them much friendlier, although it is fun. Try storey's guide to raising ducks, it's the best duck book out there. Metzer's and Holderreads would be the best hatcheries for ducks, you might want to keep an eye out for a private breeder in your area though.
     
  6. Sapokanikan

    Sapokanikan Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 24, 2012
    Thank you all for the swift replies. I'm definitely going to pick up the Storey Guide.

    The Ancona breed has also piqued my interest.
     
  7. Lute

    Lute Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm also new to raising ducks but have eaten duck eggs in the past (so good). You may need to adjust some of your recipes if you're going to be cooking with duck eggs. I've discovered that I get heavier breads (you have to let them raise more) and moister cakes with duck eggs.

    I currently make pasta from scratch with commercial eggs. I'll be sure to get back to you guys when my ducklings start laying (a long time from now though) on how that turns out.

    -Lute
     
  8. Sapokanikan

    Sapokanikan Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 24, 2012
    I was surprised to find that the Storey Guide is available in the iTunes books store so I can read it on my iPad (only $9 too!). I have read about 60 pages so far and I am enjoying it very much.
     

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