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Sigh - I'm in for it now. Benefit of ducks?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by mom2jedi, May 3, 2011.

  1. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Songster

    Aug 12, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Ok, so I've never considered ducks because they are just too messy and aside from the cute factor didn't know what they had going for them. After (admittedly a bit foolishly) looking at a few pond threads and venturing into the 101 reasons why we love ducks thread am now considering the possibility of ducks in the future.

    I already have chickens so plenty of fertilizer for composting once we get that going. Have rabbits already and are starting to harvest droppings for the garden. Our garden is not started this year but will be soon hopefully.

    Before I really start advocating the benefits of adding another animal to our mini farm to my DH I need more info. I need a quiet breed and saw another thread asking about this and they were told Muscovies (mostly) and Cayuga ducks were the quietest. I don't really like the look of Muscovies (no offense to the muscovy lovers out there!) and doubt I want to have something illegal anyway. Cayugas are absolutely stunning and I'm interested in those. How quiet is quiet? Are they louder than the chickens when they do their egg song? And drakes are actually quieter than hens? Also, does anyone process theirs for meat? Not necessarily going to go that route but if it's an option would like to know more details.

    Their swimming water is good for gardens right? I'd love to have fish raising going at some point too, this would not work with ducks right? They'd need a separate pond? Could I have a two level pond with the ducks part at the top and the lower level for fish with fencing between the two? Would the fish filter all the good stuff for the plants too much or would the duck poo be bad for the fish?

    Being in SoCal, water is at a premium so I need to know for those with filters and in ground ponds that use the water for the garden, is there much of a difference in usage versus just watering the garden itself?

    Thanks for the info guys and my DH is just going to love digging a hole for a pond... [​IMG]

    ETA I forgot to ask, are there other breeds that would be suitable for a backyard flock that are quiet, dual purpose (just in case), docile, and don't fly? Oh, is three a good number with 1 drake and 2 hens or 2 and 2 better or 1 drake and 3 hens?
    Last edited: May 3, 2011

  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Cayugas ARE stunning. I had a pair until a predator got Thelma while she was on her nest, broody for the first time. Louie is now a widower. [​IMG]

    But I have 3 Cayuga ducklings in a brooder.....

    Yes, the males are MUCH quieter than the females. In all duck breeds. That's one way to sex them - about six to eight weeks old, pick one up and if it QUACKS in objection, it's a girl. If it peeps still, or its quack is more hoarse and lower, it's a boy. Otherwise you have to wait until the drake feather (the curled feather in their tailfeathers) appears.

    Cayugas are considered meat ducks, as they are heavy ducks. They do not fly - well, they will launch into the air and fly about 20 feet across, about a foot and a half off the ground, if they feel they really MUST do so. The chicken Egg Song is MUCH louder than Cayuga ducks. Now, should something really scare the heck out of a female Cayuga, she may quack two or three times very loudly, but for the most part, they just gabble in soft conversations. Quacking is reserved for extremely important things.

    Duck water is FILTHY. Not just with their poo, but with the mud and dirt they bill into it as a matter of course. You'd have to have a pretty darned good filter for it to be useful for fish farming, I THINK. Ducks will destroy any aquatic plants, too. Unless you had a really large pond and only 3 ducks, it might be too much for fish. Also, ducks like fish. Once fish are more than four inches long, they tend to be ignored as duck food, though.

    Plus, ducks also drill with their bills into the ground in wet spots. Like ... on their way to China drilling.

    1 drake and 3 hens would be perfect. I only had my pair, though, and they were fine. Louie really loved Thelma.
    Last edited: May 3, 2011
  3. Big Dreamer

    Big Dreamer Songster

    Aug 21, 2010
    Central, FL
    I think Cayuga's are wonderful but so are welsh harlequins they are just as stunning, IMO..and they aren't too loud i live in a residential neighborhood and they aren't too bad if you get the food out to them in the morning they quiet down, i haven't heard one peep out of them when laying an egg, matter o' fact i watched my first girl lay her first egg and she didn't even make a sound. You could choose any breed and they could be the quietest or the loudest, really depends on the individual!
    Not mine but still!
  4. TLWR

    TLWR Songster

    Jul 10, 2010
    southern AL
    I have a small kiddie pool sitting right next to my garden. I use that water to water the garden and then refill the pool for the ducks with fresh water for them to poop and muck up for me again.
    I gotta say, my garden is fantastic right now! I picked a bunch of jalapenos yesterday for dinner and tomorrow I'll be picking a bunch of squash and zucchini to make dinner with and a cucumber to give to the ducks. I have okra that's ready to go as well and tons of great looking maters that need to ripen. Everything else is growing great.

    I have no idea how much of that is due to the duck poop water or just being in the south where I can plant in March instead of waiting until May/June (first garden in the south!) - but I attribute the success so far to the duck poop water so DH continues being happy with the buggers [​IMG]
  5. fowlmood

    fowlmood Songster

    Jan 28, 2009
    northern Michigan
    Have you eaten duck eggs? I prefer them to chicken eggs personally. I converted to keeping chickens for meat and ducks for eggs.
  6. 70%cocoa

    70%cocoa Songster

    Feb 24, 2011
    Canberra, Australia
    I use my duck pond water on the garden. I have two pens, one with a 150litre tub and the other with a 60litre trough. To fill them I use half rainwater (from a 12 000 litre tank) and half normal 'town' water. Every day I drain them via a pipe using gravity to a sump that's dug into the ground and from there it gets pumped through a filter to a drip irrigation system that waters my vegetable garden and younger fruit trees. This is plenty of water to keep about 25sq metres of veg and herb garden and 13 fruit trees happy and I use less water on them than I used to by watering with a hose. Plus the water is fertilized and the garden loves it. I could drain and refill the ponds every second day rather than every day but the ducks do love clean water [​IMG]

    You need a heavy duty sump pump, a quality filter and good self-flushing drip irrigation hose (netafim is a good brand for filters and drip line). I have a $100 filter and I still have to clean it every day - duck water is that mucky. But cleaning it is easy and only takes a minute. Watering the garden now is a breeze because it's effectively automated.

    With ducks you do need an easy way to manage poo and water but it is possible to set up an easy to maintain system. In return you get great fertilized water for the garden, happy and entertaining pets, eggs and the pleasure of watching your ducks.

    Ducks can be loud at times and so I shut mine in an insulated duck house at night (I live in suburbia and don't want to annoy my neighbours). This keeps them plenty quiet enough at night. During they day they are no louder than the other sounds you hear - revving cars, barking dogs, neighbours' music, planes etc.
  7. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Songster

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    I don't know if I have some weird ducks or what, but my Mallards are freakishly quiet and nice. We have a drake and a hen, but you never hear the hen at all except for a couple quacks in the morning when we let them out. Just our chickens talking to each other are louder than these two. Mallards are also good meat birds, but our's are just pets. We are going to have to clip their wings though. They both are skittish when you come right up to them, but I think the chickens helped them. I go out to the run each morning and the chickens come hopping up on me to get their treats. I guess the ducks figured out they have to be nice to me to get the good stuff so now they will pretty much walk right up and stand about 6 inches from me.

  8. mandelyn

    mandelyn Crowing

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    Ducks are great! I'm kicking around the idea of getting out of chickens totally and only having ducks. They're so funny! Though mine use like 3x's as much water as my chickens, not including their pool.

    Right now I only have babies, 1 Saxony (known to be quiet, dual purpose) with 6 more GIANT eggs in the incubator, 2 Pekin x Mallard, 1 Mallard, 3 Pekin, 1 Swedish, and 1 "brown thing" I'm not sure about. My goal is a breeding group of Saxony and keeping only hens from the rest.

    We've been getting a ton of rain, and several weeks ago, I told my husband while watching the chickens hop around on "islands" of dry land in their run... I was like... "We need ducks if this weather keeps up". So I found some eggs, and it kept on raining, so I bought some more eggs, and took in 5 Easter "dumpling" ducks from someone. And it's STILL raining.

    The oldest 3 are great foragers. I've managed to cut food and water waste by putting the containers into plastic pans to contain the spills from them throwing everything around. Switched to towels in the brooder, that I rinse off in the utility sink before putting them into the washer. I was going through pine shavings way too fast between them, the rabbits, and the outside birds.

    The Cayugas are great from the sounds of them, and they're really pretty. Welsh too. And Appleyards. I wanted something I had never seen for sale in my area, so I bought Saxony eggs to hatch. The rest that I have just fell in my lap. The coloring is just really really pretty on the Saxony. The boys get a gray/silver head instead of green.

    They're just FUN. When I go out to feed and clean, I get a group of chickens in their corner bawking to be let out. The ducks keep up a way better conversation and continue to talk to me after I let them out. Don't even get me started on the cuteness of the babies in the basement. I talk to them on the walk to the brooder, and they start talking, and when I take the water out to change it, they keep on talking, my two favorites switching to the "I'm lost, come back" noises as if they miss me (or the water container?) until I say "I'm coming, relax" and they switch back to duckling chatter.

    Most of the baby chickens I raised ran to the far side of the brooder and hid. These ducklings run towards me en masse and talk their little heads off. They get so excited they start zooming around the brooder high speed.

    It's hilarious when you give them water deeper than they are tall, they zoom through it in a dive and pop back up again. So cute! Like little penguins! And then they straighten up and flap those little stick wings... Haha.

    If you can get past the extra care and mess, ducks are just great little creatures.

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