New duck owner - starting with Welsh Harlequins!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by JessiLynn, Mar 11, 2015.

  1. JessiLynn

    JessiLynn Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 11, 2015
    Washington
    Hello everyone, I am brand new here. Although I have been lurking and reading back on posts from years ago... super helpful! A couple years ago, we bought a cabin on 3 acres, and I had planned to eventually keep chickens, but it just was'nt happening. I was a little overwhelmed with building the coop, and several people I follow on instagram seemed to be having problems with their chickens, and I was beginning to worry I wasn't up for the job. 2 months ago, we drastically changed our way of eating to follow the Primal Blueprint. It is pretty much like Paleo but dairy products are allowed. Anyhow, because of this change we have drastically upped our consumption of eggs. We buy 10 dozen eggs every few weeks, and we are a small family of 4! My girls are 10 and 6. :) We couldnt afford the Free range eggs, and decided we really needed to consider getting the chickens. It would be one step towards providing ourselves with healthier eggs. However, for some reason I began to look into duck eggs, and was surprised to find out that they were much healthier than chicken eggs. Then I began seeing so many blog posts comparing keeping ducks to chickens, and I was sold that ducks were for us. :)

    It took a little convincing to get my husband on board, but yesterday he gave his approval. Yay!! Knowing the duck house will not need to be as elaborate as a chicken house was a pretty big motivator for him. Also, every year he proclaims war on the dandelions, and was happy to hear they do enjoy dandelions (I think I read somewhere that ducks eating dandelion will cause a different taste to their eggs, is that true? Or maybe it was goats and their milk I heard that in reference to?) made him pretty happy!

    So I spent the better part of yesterday thoroughly looking over Metzer Farm's website and after hours of research and reading all the positive threads here I decided to go with Welsh Harlequins!! I'm still wondering if I should have ordered more, but I purchased 6 females and 1 male. I was really debating mixing the flock, but decided to just stick with the Harlequins. If I do sell chicks at some point it would be nice to say they were all WH. Does that matter ever? They are scheduled to ship March 23rd!! This gives us time to brainstorm duck house ideas, but I think we have decided to go the cattle panel hoop house enclosure. We do have bald eagles and hawks that fly over head very regularly. We have a german shepherd and she tends to keep other larger animals away from the house. But, I don't want to rely on that, so I need a completely enclosed structure, and the hoop house seems like the most affordable way to go. I've been looking back on posts in regards to materials for the ground floor as I want to avoid smell and mud as much as possible.

    I have a couple of questions I hope you lovely people can answer:

    Metzer farms estimates the WH lays about 150-200 eggs a year. Is this estimate on the low end?

    Do ducks stay close to their home if free ranging? We live fairly close to the river, and it is a pretty big fast moving river, and I don't want to lose any ducks to it. We don't really have any neighbors that live very close, but I don't want my ducks making enemies of those neighbors.

    How do you personally think a duck egg tastes compared to chickens? I've never even tried a duck egg, and I guess I will make myself acquire the taste if I don't like it. hah! But I'm curiou as to others opinions. My mom told me she didnt think she could eat a duck egg! I dont know why? Maybe because they are bigger... but my parents tends to think ducks are messier, stinkier and louder than chickens. I'm hoping to maybe put that to rest. I think when giving thought to their placement and enclosure steps can be taken to fix the messier, stinkier issue, am I correct?

    Any other tips you can offer to someone just starting out with keeping a flock of their own?

    Anyhow on the other end of things, my sister and cousin were planning to get chickens this year, but I think they have both decided to join the duck side. ;) Chickens are still cute in my opinion! I just think ducks might be better suited for me, especially starting out with keeping a flock. I'm really surprised more people are not keeping ducks.

    Nice to meet you all, thank you for getting all the way though that novel of a post! If you didn't it's okay- I won't judge! ;)
     
  2. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 18, 2014
    Missouri
    Welcome to BYC!!
    I love ducks...i keep both, but if i could only keep 1, it would totally be the ducks!! They have so much more personality than chickens, IMO.

    On the egg production, they giv about 150 for a year, and the 200 per year is if you provide lighting in the winter, which will cause them to keep laying when they normally stop. It is a personal opinion on whether you want to do that or not, but i don't do it because it is unnatural for them, and i think they need a break ;)

    I would be worried about them going to the river, and if it is too close i would put a fence up or they might go down the river and never be seen again. I currently have mine in pens which i rotate. 4 pens and they are moved once a week which gives the pastures time to rest and regrow grass in between.

    I love duck eggs!! they are richer, and the yolks are deeper yellow than chicken eggs. I rarely eat chickens eggs...those are for the rest of the family, lol :) They are messier and stinkier than chickens, and i clean out the dirtiest parts of the coop every morning. While the chickens have a "poop board" under the roosts which make cleaning really easy and i only clean the chick coop once a month. Ducks poop everywhere, and their water is a mess. They throw it every where, though my welsh harlequins are actually cleaner than the others.

    If they have an outdoor area, i would water and feed them outside, then withhold it at night while they are in the coop. It will keep their bedding a whole lot cleaner.

    Good luck!! I love ducks, and hope you do too!
     
  3. JessiLynn

    JessiLynn Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 11, 2015
    Washington
    Thank you so much for your reply!! :) Quite a few good tips. Makes sense why the chickens would be easier to clean up after. I guess if I am going into this whole duck business knowing that ducks are going to be messier, I should be okay. :) Also the supplemental lighting is also a good point. I will have to weigh that out. Since the eggs keep for so long it might be nice to have enough ducks laying during the summer that they would provide a little stock pile to get me through most of their non laying period. :)
     
  4. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 18, 2014
    Missouri
    your welcome :) yes, though they are messy, they are worth it! That's a pretty good idea...i have some chickens that lay during the winter, so i don't mind them stopping. Welsh Harlequins are a really friendly breed too...one of the friendliest of my flock. Post pictures when they arrive!! Metzer Farms is also a really cool place, i have some new duckling coming from them any day now!! I'm so excited!!!
     
  5. JessiLynn

    JessiLynn Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 11, 2015
    Washington
    Oh- goodness! I'm afraid I will take so many pictures I will have to refrain from posting them all. I am a photographer and full time artist, so I am hoping they will be a big inspiration to me creatively. :)
     
  6. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 18, 2014
    Missouri
    Thats awesome! you and my sister would get along, lol :) she is an artist and a writer...really good at both. Ducklings are so cute...my mom always takes a lot of pictures :)
     
  7. WVduckchick

    WVduckchick For The Birds! Premium Member

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    Feb 9, 2015
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    Ducks, ducks, Yeah!

    Congrats on your decision, and your order for ducks! Duck eggs are the absolute best to bake with! You will never eat as fluffy a cake as one made with duck eggs. YUM!

    I have duck eggs incubating right now and have another week before they hatch. Chickens do get alot more attention than ducks, but I'm partial to the ducks too.

    Here's a thread you might enjoy with some great feeding info... https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/242460/the-ultimate-list-of-duck-treats-and-supplements

    Best of luck to you. And everyone loves pics here, so post away!! ;)
     
  8. JessiLynn

    JessiLynn Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 11, 2015
    Washington
    Thank you so much for that link WVduckchick! I'm going to thoroughly read over it, because I feel that is an area I still owe a great amount of research to! :)
     
  9. WVduckchick

    WVduckchick For The Birds! Premium Member

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    I refer back to it often. The main list is on the first page and its is a fairly long thread now, but some good suggestions have been made throughout. And definitely check out the Hazardous section. So many things seem harmless, when they are in fact harmful to our duckies.

    I'm anxious to get home this evening to candle, weigh and mark air cells on my duck eggs. Day 21 !! [​IMG]
     

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