lots of duck questions, lol

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by kidsnchicks, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. kidsnchicks

    kidsnchicks Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 23, 2010
    Ok, I have had chickens for a little over a year now and had 2 ducks also. We had an intruder problem,now taken care of, and so we are going to be restocking so to speak. I will give ya a brief plan that I am thinking and then my questions, please help meout where you can lol.

    I have 1 duck left, a hen. I would like to get a drake and a few more hens. Im thinking that I will be letting the ducks have thier own pen and the chickens their own this time too. My boyfriend likes duck eggs so I want something that lays well, but I will have plenty of chickens too so the enjoyment of watching them is just as important to me, lol. Im not sure if he is thinking of wanting any for meat purposes(hope not to much [​IMG] ) we have to discuss that a bit more.

    Now my questions are, what is a good hen to drake ratio or does a lot depend on the breed? And what breed/breeds would be good for us? How do you work out how much swim space they need? Also how much nesting space do they need? Will they share nest boxes like the chickensor will I need to give them more options for places? Right now there is a slight ramp that they go in to the coop, the duck does manage it but not gracefully lol, would I be better off just building a "shed" type thing for the ducks leaving the option of the ramp also? Id like them to all use the coop in the winter, then it stays warmer with them all inside and I can centralize the heat light to keep 1 water thawed.

    Right now my lone hen is in with the chickens and is getting along well andI will be putting a screen divider in the coop to give the ducks their own section when the time comes so she will still get to be near her buddies, lol. Hopefully this isnt to much of a confusing mess to read, and I thank everyonefor their input! [​IMG]
  2. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

    Jan 11, 2010
    If you want lots of eggs for your boyfriend- but want to discourage him wanting to sacrifice a few egg layers for the meat they may offer- go for Indian Runners. Great Layers- but being tall and thin- they wouldnt make much of a meal [​IMG] They come in such a great range of colours that you are sure to find one that you find appealing.

    Do you plan on keeping them in a contained pen all the time- or let them put to a larger area for free ranging?

    For the ratio- it can depend on how many you keep- getting a new pair now would give you two females and one male - which can be fine- but not if something gets the only male- then you may be left for a time with unfertile eggs. That may or not be an issue for you. If you look to getting two males then you would need at least 4 females- 6 would be better. For larger scale - you can reduce the number of males in the ratio and still expect good fertility- but from what you describe, it doesnt sound like you are planning 20 or more.

    I just have some kiddie pools for mine. Big enough for them to have a really good wash and space for at least a little dive under the water.
    Mine do use their nesting boxes mostly. Some of the young girls will drop eggs anywhere for the first week or two- but generally after that I can just go to the boxes for collecting eggs.
    As for the ramp- some ducks will learn to use a ramp - but if you can design a safe night quarters for them without one it may save some frustration about them taking themselves to bed at night.

    Hope some of this may help.
  3. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    One male to two females is an adequate ratio. If you have more than one male, you may need a larger proportional number of females, though, because the competition will cause them to want to breed more often (lol). Four or five females per male would be safer if you have two males, six would be even better. However, I have two males and only six total females (three each) and it works fine for me. But mine are very mild-natured drakes and were raised together (they're from Holderread, who does a good job of breeding for temperament as well as egg laying and type), so they have that going for them. Based on your description, however, I'm thinking that a small group of one male and about five females would be a good set-up for you.

    As for breed, Runners are indeed a great breed if you're not planning to eat them. If you want the option of eating (and really, if you're going to breed, eating is a very efficient and, to my way of thinking, humane way to handle excess drakes), then a larger egg-laying breed would be good, such as welsh harlequins, magpies, or anconas. IF you can find a good source for anconas, they are the largest of those breeds and also good layers. Unfortunately, they are no longer kept by Holderread and there is not anyone with expertise and experience continuing the breed on a large scale (as far as I know), so you may have trouble getting good stock. I know who has Holderread's stock, but I won't even bother mentioning them because between a website that shows very little knowledge of ducks (for instance, on their main ancona duck page, they refer to the duck breed as a "species" of duck. [​IMG]), and the TERRIBLE reviews I have heard regarding their service (ducks dead on arrival and refusing to reimburse the purchaser, for instance), I just simply can't imagine that purchasing from them is a good idea. But I digress.

    Do keep in mind that when purchasing stock, the breeder is more important than the breed. Look for a breeder who carefully selects in each generation for laying ability, or you will end up with birds that may look basically like the breed in question but whose abilities leave much to be desired. Holderread, of course, is the top choice but he is sold out for the season I believe and only sells unsexed ducklings. Most of the production breeders have good production stock--Metzer, McMurray, Ideal--all good choices who sell sexed ducklings. You may be able to find someone locally, but if so, make sure to ask them where their original stock came from, how many generations they've bred, and how they maintain good laying ability in their flock. You'll be able to tell from their answer whether they know what they're doing.

    For six or seven ducks, a single kid's wading pool is sufficient swim space. They'll share nest boxes if they nest at all (a lot of the best laying breeds won't go broody much and may just drop their eggs wherever they happen to be), so one nest box for every three or four hens is usually sufficient. Your set-up sounds just fine. The ducks will learn to use the ramp if you train them early on. If they learn their treats or feed is always offered in the coop, they'll learn to want to go in there at meal times.

    Good luck, and have fun!
  4. njduck

    njduck Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 15, 2011
    I have 1 drake for every 7 hens. when I start maintaining 2 or 3 for every 7 females. they end up killing females . yeah not each other females. because 2 or 3 will try to jump on her at the same time.
  5. kidsnchicks

    kidsnchicks Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 23, 2010
    I thank you all for the info so far! Where we live now they have to stay penned, but hopeing to move fairly soon, then we will go with at least partial free range. I will look into the breeds suggested, I dont mind if he plans on a few for eating, just not all of them lol. Im thinking we will probably go with the 4 or 5 hens per drake? That will give him plenty of eggs, if they happen to go broody fine if not thats fine too. We have a small tub for our lone hen and was hoping that a kiddie pool or 2 would be fine for the additions.

    Thank you so much for the info so far, this is very interesting, I like hearing actual information from people that have delt with it before lol.

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