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Questions about ducks from a complete newbie. Thinking about Anconas.

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by PatS, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. PatS

    PatS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Northern Califonia
    Ever since reading The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe, I have been thinking about ducks. I purchased and read the Storey duck guide, and have been following this forum. While Storey has very good information, my other Storey Guides (Chickens, Turkeys, Rabbits) have not always been as helpful or specific as the information I've gotten here and in other forums online.

    Deppe makes a wonderful case for Anconas. And they certainly are cute! So, those of you who have, have had, or know well someone who has Anconas, can you please share your experiences? (I have never had ducks.)

    We have two acres. The back acre can be covered with puddles during the year as we have very high groundwater and it rains quite a bit. We have a seep for several months. Story says to keep ducks away from stagnant water. The water in the seep is stagnant, especially in the spring, when it is slowly drying up. There is a pair of wild mallards who occasionally visit it to swim and play. Our chickens and turkeys dig around the edge, wade in, and often can be seen drinking from the seep. If I am careful to provide clean water as well for drinking and swimming, do you see the seep as dangerous for the ducks?

    We will be eating our friends the turkeys over the next few months. While we adore their engaging personalities, the females do gang up on and bully the chickens.

    Do you think Anconas will peacefully free range with the chickens? (We have Buff Orpingtons.)

    I plan on putting up separate housing for the ducks to sleep in. Would a shelter inside a 10x10' covered kennel be sufficient for 6 ducks? (Or could I have even more than 6 in a kennel that size?) They would only be confined to the kennel at night or on the rare occasions we are out of town for a night or two. The rest of the time they would have the run of the property. We're zone 8, so I don't think our climate will be a challenge.

    Will Anconas climb several steps to come up to the door and peek in the window like chickens and especially (mostly) turkeys? Washing the deck constantly is a chore I will not miss after we enjoy our final turkey dinner this spring. [​IMG]

    How noisy are Anconas? Although I suppose if our neighbors haven't complained about the turkeys and our rooster, we're fine...

    Will a four foot tall "deer and rabbit" fence (very, very small holes at the bottom) keep ducks out of the garden?

    Oh, for those of you with mixed flocks and experience: would I be able to start with eggs and have a broody chicken hen hatch them and raise them, or would I be better off with day-olds and brood them myself? I always wonder what a chicken mom would do with those "funny looking chicks." Would she be a devoted mommy like she would be for chicken babies, or would she abandon them because they don't look right? (The BOs we had go broody last year were wonderful mothers, but that was to real chicks.)

    Would one drake to four or five Ancona females be a good ration? In your experience will one or two of the females probably go broody the following year?

    Anything else you can share for a duck newbie?

    Thank you!
     
  2. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Welcome and congrats!

    Anconas are a wonderful choice, I understand. Last year, I debated and debated--literally walked back and forth to the mailbox several times to change my order form--between adding magpies or anconas to my flock. Decided on magpies, but there's hardly a day I don't still debate with myself about it, lol!

    Some answers to your questions:

    * One drake to four or five females is perfect.
    * Yes, you can have a broody hen hatch ducks and it works just fine--many many people have done it. Personally, I'd start my first flock with ducklings just because it's a little more predictable in terms of how many you'll end up with and when and so forth, especially as hens can be fickle about deciding not to be broody right when your expensive shipped eggs arrived. But it's up to you.
    * Ducks are easy to keep *out* of things. You can probably keep them out with a two-foot garden fence that you can easily step over yourself. Not so with chickens & geese though, so your plan will probably work. The only down side is that if it's difficult to see the fence it may be difficult to notice if something has torn a gap, and the ducks might go through a hole if they find it first.
    * If the neighbors are not complaining about turkeys and roosters, they are unlikely to complain about ducks. However, the more you add, the more nervous some neighbors can get, so it's a good idea to stay on good terms with them and just let them know what you're up to. And maybe bring them a dozen eggs from time to time to keep the peace. [​IMG]
    * Yes, the ducks will poop anywhere they can get to, which includes up a few steps. I'm fairly sure ducks will even poop in places they *can't* get to, but I can't prove this.
    * Your set-up will easily accommodate six ducks since they will only be in the kennel at night. You could probably house many more than that--I kept about twenty in a 10x10 kennel at night only this past summer (it's covered with a tarp for rain protection, not that they care about being wet). Some will tell you that's too many, but I really don't see a problem as long as they all get along and as long as it's just while they're sleeping and it's kept clean.
    * Yes, the anconas will almost certainly free range peacefully with the chickens. Ducks are peaceful creatures and unlikely to cause problems. However, make sure the chickens have access to water that the ducks do not. Chickens like clean water and no water that ducks have access to is ever clean. Drakes raised by and with chickens can get confused and try to breed the chickens, and that can be a problem--so it is one thing to consider if you decide to let a hen raise your first flock. Drakes have an external organ that impregnates the female, while chickens do not, and his attempts to mate a chicken hen can cause injury.
    * I'm not sure about the seep, but my experience has been that as long as they have access to clean water they tend to make reasonable choices about water consumption. But someone with actual experience in this will have to fill you in with more detail and possibly correct me.


    I love having ducks, and think they're a wonderful, productive, beautiful addition to any backyard farm. Good luck, and keep us posted!
     
  3. pascopol

    pascopol Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 6, 2009
    Tampa Bay
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    Quote:I am thinking of Anconas myself.

    I see you are meat eater which is good, and Anconas will provide you will meat and tons of eggs + their surerior freeranging ability would take adventage of your 2 acres.

    Go for it! Anconas are most likely the best duck breed bet for you.

    I had Pekins, Muscovies, now I raise Campbells and Silver Appleyards, however I do not have much area to forage, that's why I am putting Anconas on the back burner.
     
  4. PatS

    PatS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 28, 2009
    Northern Califonia
    Thank you so much for all your helpful answers. I really think they'd be a WONDERFUL addition to our "homestead."
     
  5. toadbriar

    toadbriar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Anconas are so much fun. I have had at least 2 eggs a day, and mostly 3 a day, since all my 3 adult girls started laying in October. My understanding is that's pretty good for this time of year! They were busy little foragers in the summer, making a respectable dent in the pest population around here and clearing the algae slime out of our pond. I especially love the markings and color varieties - hatches are even more exciting because you don't always know what you'll get. Wasn't I surprised to find out my drakes carry chocolate! Yay! They're of a good size where I don't worry they're going to grow fast/heavy enough to get leg problems, and they'll make a reasonable size to make eating worthwhile if that's an option. Curiositycat, I had the same decision but was tipped the other way by the random patterning and extra colors, and slightly bigger size. Magpies only come in black & blue right? But they do look so dapper [​IMG]

    Here is my small winter hatch who will be 6 weeks old on Monday. They are from a lavender mother, and blue and black drakes.
    [​IMG]
    sadly only the chocolate in front is a hen, leaving me to decide which drakes to keep between these and their fathers.
     
  6. gofasterstripe

    gofasterstripe Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dont you just love it when they are growing their big girl and boy feathers and sometimes you look it looks yellow, then it looks white. I love that stage
     

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