Never thought I'd ask this... Newbie duck questions

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by joebwe25, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. joebwe25

    joebwe25 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 1, 2007
    St. Louis, Mo.
    I never thought I'd ask this. We are thinking about getting ducks.
    What all do we need to raise ducks? Are they just like chickens?
    Will the get along with chickens? How would you mix ducks and chickens together? What do you do with them in the winter? What do you feed them?
    Can you eat duck eggs? Do they taste good?
    Please tell me EVERYTHING about ducks.
  2. tonini3059

    tonini3059 [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG]Luv

    Nov 6, 2008
    Southwestern PA
    They don't really need anything different from chickens in our experience. Ducks can be housed with chickens. Ours never had a problem, they were indifferent to each other. They did mess up the water more and make dirtier.
    Ours free range and go into the creek or pond to play. You could use a kiddie pool for water. We don't do anything different in the winter..if the pond is almost iced over they will swim in the little spot that is open, the cold water doesn't affect them.
    You can eat duck eggs we never did but my husband's boss bought them every week. They taste a bit stronger than a chicken egg and i have heard they are great for baking with.
  3. Omniskies

    Omniskies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2008
    That's like asking someone to tell you everything about chickens. It's impossible in just one post [​IMG]

    Ducks are _not_ like raising chickens. Ducklings play in their water. A lot. They splash it all out and dabble around and make a huge mess. Then they start crying about how they have no water an hour later. When you check on them your jaw drops and - again - you have a mess to clean up.

    I've had a lot of success with keeping ducklings on a plain rabbit water bottle to keep them from driving me up a wall with cleaning. They should still get a dish from time to time to clean out the bill, but nothing that stays in the brooder for more than a few minutes.

    They get along with chickens without a problem. Drakes are...ah...not very selective when it comes to who they charm. Make sure you keep at least two ladies to every male and make sure none of the males decide to get some action from your chickens on the side.

    You mix ducks and chickens together by having a chicken waterer that ducks can't get into or splash/dabble around in. Otherwise you'll be watering your chickens every few hours in a muddy mess that the ducks keep digging holes in with their bills because nature thought it'd be a good idea to make them into miniature bulldozers.

    Female ducks are loud. I'm convinced they are screaming "Hey you! Fox! Hawk! I'm right here! That's right! HERE! What are you waiting for? Scared? Just try to come eat me!"

    They scream that a lot. Some breeds are louder than others. If rooster crowing bothers you a lady duck may get on your nerves, as well. Drakes have a quiet, "Donald Duck" rasp that is nowhere near loud.

    Ducks also tend to be skittish. Most duck breeds remind me of flighty Leghorns. There are exceptions to the rule, and if you work with them a _lot_ then you can keep them mellow. Otherwise their natural instincts kick in and remind them that they are small, defenseless, tasty birds with virtually no stamina when it comes to running away.

    When ducklings are young you need to feed them a NONmedicated feed. Preferably one made for waterfowl or gamebirds with a high protein. When they get older they can eat egg pellets with your chickens. They also appreciate dog or cat food, slugs, and other bugs from the garden.

    Duck eggs are great. They are a little rubbery and do have a somewhat stronger flavor, but there is nothing better to bake with. Duck eggs are one of the great secrets of professional chefs.

    Runners and Khaki Campbells tend to lay a ton of eggs, but are seem to be more skittish than other breeds. Pekins are more laid back, but the ladies are _very_ chatty. Rouens are pretty mellow for a duck and don't seem to make a lot of noise. I kinda like Welsh Harlequins (real ones from a real breeder - not the speckly things you get from hatcheries) and Cayugas. They're dual-purpose breeds and Cayugas have the added benefit of laying dark grey/black eggs at the begginning of the season and tapering off to a light grey egg by the end of the year. Those are just nifty to have around [​IMG]

    My absolute favorite is only a half-duck - or at least isn't related to any of the other domestic ducks out there. Muscovies are quiet, laid back, don't dabble or quack. You just have to get over their sometimes crazy faces.

    I definitely recommend getting some ducks. Make sure you hear the good and the bad before doing so. After that it's worth a try. You'll probably end up being smitten with them - even after all the bad things I had to say [​IMG]
  4. FarmerChick

    FarmerChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2008
    North Carolina
    Ducks are ducks, chickens are chickens and each need some specialized requirements for raising.

    After those few differences are met, duck eggs are good to eat if you like the taste and they are exceptional for baking. At our farmer market, our neighbor vendor sells duck eggs---$6 for 1/2 dozen and the baker ladies buy them up fast.

    So there is a market for them possibly in your area. I recently priced a duck to eat from the grocery store. WOW...that sucker was $17. I didn't buy it...LOL..saving roasting one for a special occasion now. Thought about getting a few to process for me personally and then decided I didn't want to take on raising more animals on the farm, I have enough work right now..LOL

    But ducks are an easy to handle critter. If you are interested, go for it cause the set up is minimal. But they are LOUD! Maybe some earplugs??---[​IMG]
  5. Omniskies

    Omniskies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2008
    Duck is _good_. Both Pekin and Muscovy are household favorites. They both have a very different taste. I plan on putting a bunch in the freezer this summer.
  6. ronshoney

    ronshoney Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2007
    Algonac, Michigan
    ducks are easy to take care of they kids rotate animals every week and they all love it when it is their turn on ducks cause all they have to do is feed them. They live in our pond and basically take care of themselves.
    They are loud! My pekin females (I have 4) will quack when you talk to them, when one of our 2 cars pull in the driveway of if they think the chickens are getting something their not.
    Now in the brooder they were the worst ones to take care of and all the kids wanted to do was play with them then as they soaked their brooder and it had to be changed 2 to 3 times a day completely.
  7. jmc

    jmc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2008
    South Central MA

    look at this link which I got going when I was considering switching from chickens to ducks, which I have now done.


    and this one, also

    good luck. [​IMG]

    Muscovies would be the perfect 'starter' duck, IMO (and others' opinions, as well!)

    look at muscovy sites on line. but they're not great egg layers--but they are excellent mothers and will set the eggs of other non-setting ducks.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2009
  8. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    Quote:They aren't just like chickens, but they have their own set of charms.

    I don't keep mine together, but some people do.

    Mine seem to like the cold weather and very rarely go in their shelter. They like to swim even when it's cold.

    You can feed them the same thing as your chickens. It is NOT true that they can't have medicated starter as long as it only has amprolium in it. Amprolium is a coccidiosis preventative. Ducklings can get coccidiosis just like chicks and it will very quickly kill them. They need access to water deep enough to clean their faces off.

    Lots of people like duck eggs for baking. To me they taste pretty much like any other egg.

    I've raised lots of call ducklings over the years with very good success.
  9. greyhorsewoman

    greyhorsewoman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2008
    Endless Mts, NE PA
    I love my ducks, but they are dirty ... if we didn't have a pond and easy freeranging, they'd be a lot more work. They are noisy. We finished up chores yesterday and the sound of them (in the barn due to the weather and disturbed from the moving of horses and feeding everybody was down near deafening!)


    They are quite hardy in all weather. And I LOVE duck eggs. I don't find them rubbery or strong... just BETTER !!

    There is nothing quite as entertaining as watching ducks in the pond .... !
  10. Boggy Bottom Bantams

    Boggy Bottom Bantams Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 9, 2008
    Hahira, GA
    everyone is right. But bare this in mind!
    The nasty , muddy mess they make, is a breeding ground for bacteria , viruses, and parasites.

    They CAN be mixed with just about any kind of poultry without a WAR breaking out, BUT
    They really dont need to be pened up with upland birds!
    Turkeys, chickens, pheasants, quail and the like are not immune to all the mess and nastyness of our waterfowl, and can get sick from the mess.

    I know , I know,
    Alot of you do it and I have too, but it is still a high risk to mix them.(penned, free range is not to bad)
    I have raised just about every kind of feathered critter there is at one time or another, including over 110 breeds of migratory waterfowl.
    I quit mixing, when I lost some nice upland birds due to it.

    Just a little word of advise!

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