How different is raising chickens compared to duck?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by trulyblessed, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. trulyblessed

    trulyblessed Out Of The Brooder

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    We have 8 chickens right now (started last spring) and we love them. They have a nice coop and run, but free range during the day. We also have a 1/2 acre pond and thought about getting a few (2) ducks for pets. Do they need a "coop" too or do they just act like wild ducks and sleep where ever?
     
  2. mandelyn

    mandelyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The ducks will do better with a coop to go in at night. If you start with babies, they'll be easier to raise in the "duck hut" and more likely to return to it every night. If you buy older birds, you'll need to coop them up in it for a couple of weeks, otherwise they'll swim out into the pond at evening round up and will look at you while you beg and plead for their return. Owls and other night creatures can get them easy enough if they're left out. Depends on what you have in your area.

    While they're cooped up, teach them that you're the almighty food giver. They're far more suspicious than a chicken. They also thrive on routine. Mine are now trained to return home as soon as they hear the treat pan shake. They march in like good little ducks.

    They can see better than chickens. Full moon? Duck party down at the pond. Big barn light setting the scene? They're up still.

    I want to say they're smarter than chickens, then other times I'm not so sure. [​IMG]

    My neighbors have a giant garage light that stays on all night. My ducks prefer to sleep outside in the run (secure) because they can see better than inside the coop. I thought about giving them a night light to entice them inside, just so that they lay their eggs in the nest boxes instead of in the run.

    Ducklings are messy, if you brood them like chickens you'll be cleaning all the time. For a small number I use towels as bedding, for a larger number I use wire. Working on building a new brooder with a wire corner for the waterer, and having a 5 gallon bucket below the wire to catch the mess. The rest of the floor will be solid, with pine bedding since I like the smell. Or some such arrangement. All I know is that setting the water on the bedding leads to soaked bedding 3 times a day.

    Something like this...


    [​IMG]

    Will be your best friend when providing indoor water/food. There is a plastic tote inside I can dump as needed to keep the bedding dry. I bought the tote first, about 8 inches high, and built around it for a snug fit.
     
  3. trulyblessed

    trulyblessed Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks so much for your reply. It gives me a lot to think about. Do they lay eggs once a day like chickens? I'm not sure hubby will want to donate more time this year building a duck hut considering he still has to finish a few things on the coop lol. I think next spring might be better for us, but the brooding/messy part has me thinking cause I think the chickens are messy enough!
     
  4. trulyblessed

    trulyblessed Out Of The Brooder

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    One more question- regarding predators....Won't they fly away if predators are trying to come after them? Wild ducks are very aware it seems and fly at first warning something is wrong.
     
  5. Tahai

    Tahai Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi, Blessed,

    Many (the majority of) domestic duck breeds do not fly, or do not fly effectively, as that ability has been bred out of them for various reasons. If you want a breed that can handle itself best in a free-range environment,take a look at Muscovies, Domestic Mallards, or Dutch Hookbills for starters.

    In regards to eggs, it depends on the breed. Some ducks lay as few as 30 very large eggs a year, others as many as 300 large chicken egg size. In addition to breed, egg production is affected by other factors such as diet and day length. With birds that primarily free-range, you will very likely lose a good portion of your eggs to the wild, as many duck owners report their ducks do not use the nest box, but lay in ponds, pools, or in hidden nests in the yard.

    Your best bet in selecting a breed is to list the qualities you want in your ducks, in order of priority, then do your research. http://www.metzerfarms.com/DuckBreedComparison.cfm?CustID=711766 this is a good site to start with. Also, if you will be waiting till the spring of 2013, you might consider taking the time to read Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks by Dave Holderread, which is an excellent resource for duck owners, and will answer many of your questions.

    Best wishes.

    Tahai

    edited for grammatical issues resulting from lack of coffee [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2012
  6. Mum

    Mum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    After a good number of years of keeping chickens, I sneaked out one Sunday a few weeks ago and bought myself a trio of ducks. I bought Khaki Campbells because a) they are the better layers and b) because they will not fly away.

    In comparison to keeping chickens, this is my experience so far:-

    ~ they have their own house with a run attached (this is for when we are not around to free range them); within that they have an underbed storage box with some water in it. It's not huge, but it's adequate for when we are not around and they do not seem to be stressed by it.
    ~ like chickens, when I first got them, they were confined to their run for the first week.
    ~ they are taking some time to realise I am the Queen of Food; but, very slowly but surely, they are getting there (still early days - it was faster with chickens)
    ~ I lock them up each and every night; I have urban foxes visit my garden pond for a drink during the night.
    ~ ducks are easier to "herd" than chickens.
    ~ ducks lay their eggs by 7am; today, my chickens have been laying aaaalllll day between them.
    ~ ducks do not sing an "egg song" when they lay.
    ~ mine are "domestic" ducks and they do not fly. They can flap their wings and get about 2-3 feet off the ground, but that is it. They do stare in wonderment when the wild mallards visit and when they then genuinely "fly" away. A sort of "how do you *do* that!?" kind of look. But, you are right, they are very "aware" and always on the look out for danger ... if you have plenty of shrubs around your land, they will run for the nearest cover. Not fool-proof or guaranteed protection though.
    ~ the town I live in was historically marshland; so, when we get heavy rain, we get large areas of the lawn with inches of water sat on top. This happened last week [​IMG] Duck paradise!!! They have nuzzled their beaks into the waterlogged grass and now I have MUD! But, that's ok, the grass is very forgiving and will grow back.
    ~ rain or shine their straw bedding must be changed at least once per week. I lay straw on top of wood shavings. To minimise costs, I turn the straw over so I can stretch to changing it every other week.
    ~ my ornamental garden pond is currently housing fish and the frogs are breeding madly. The delightful "clear" water I had pre-ducks is now a brown soup. This is because my trio adore having a morning and afternoon "bath" and "nuptuals" in my pond. I'm not bothered, I still see my fish and the plants so, that's fine by me. It does mean I will need to bucket out the water in the Autumn and completely refill it with fresh - no filter and the pond was here before we moved in. But I'm fine with that too, because the water will nourish my fruit trees and vegetable beds.
    ~ the breed of ducks I have are not reknown for setting on their eggs; my plan is, to put their eggs under the next one of my hens which goes broody and then hatch some mini-quackers [​IMG]
    ~ ducks are less noisey than chickens!!!

    Phew! I think that's it? Any more questions I will try and answer, but as I said in the beginning, my experience is limited and recent.
     
  7. tweetysvoice

    tweetysvoice Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    That is brilliant! We are definitely going to have to build one of these since I plan on keeping our ducks and chickens housed together in the same run! That will really help with the need to clean. Already, I've replaced the brooder shavings twice and we've only had them a week. They splash the water so much it's crazy!
     
  8. mandelyn

    mandelyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens LOVE damp food. As soon as I open the coop doors, they dart next door to the duck side and clean it up.

    Mum, what type of grass do you have that will grow back? In my experience, once the grass is gone, you might get a couple of weeds, but the ducks pluck the rest out root and all.
     
  9. rivermedic

    rivermedic Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 2 rouens, 2 pekins, and 2 embden geese that are almost 5 weeks old. They spend the night in a stall in the barn. In the morning I herd them out to the pond, and in the evening, I herd them back. They do just fine with this arrangement.
     
  10. Mum

    Mum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Green grass??? [​IMG] No idea of "type".
     

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