Tell me everything I need to know about ducks :)

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Zaxby's2, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. Zaxby's2

    Zaxby's2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2011
    a place
    Okay, so I'm interested in getting ducks, but I know almost nothing about them. [​IMG] Here are a few of my questions:
    1) Can they fly? Can you clip their wings or do you need a roof over your pen?
    2) Are they friendly if handled when young?
    3) What kind of housing do they need? How much room? Do they need water?
    4) Do they have a breeding season where they lay or do they lay year round?
    5) Can male ducks be kept together?
    6) Can you keep chickens and duck together?
    Thanks! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2011
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Well, Zaxby's2,

    those are good questions, and you came to the right place!

    Glad you're asking ahead of time. It will take a little while for you to get up to speed.

    Here are my first, minimalist answers:

    1. Some do; either should work
    2. Mine have been
    3. Secure! Depends on duck size. Absolutely
    4. Depends on breed
    5. Often
    6. Often

    To expand a little - you might try the search option, as we have had many discussions on these topics. One nice feature is that if the topic posts don't cover something you'd like to know, you can post your question and that revives the topic. I have enjoyed seeing these things come up again from time to time.

    Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks has helped many of us - see if you can get one.

    Take a look into different breeds. There are small, medium and large. Calls are small, and often loud. Runners are a bit bigger (that's the breed I know), then there are Welsh Harlequins, Anconas, Pekins, Giant Pekins, Swedish, Cayuga . . . . . . So thinking about what your desires and abilities are will help. Do you want eggs? Pest control? Fertilizer? Pets? Peace and quiet (consider a hamster)?

    Does mud offend you (consider a hamster)?

    Do you want to raise ducklings? Start with adult birds? Are you willing to get extra females if the batch you get has too many drakes? How are you with medicating animals? Do you live near a duck vet (many of us don't, and need to do our own diagnostics and treatment, not to mention there's some expense)?

    Take a look at the stickies - the treats list is fun, but the first aid kit list is educational.

    Do you have a plan B if your situation changes? Dumping ducks is a heartbreaking and usually fatal thing.

    Ducks have been such a wonderful addition to my life, and they have changed it dramatically. There have been some rough adjustments, but it's been worth it.

    Do you like duck eggs? Have you priced feed? Do you already have a coop?

    By the way, one rule of thumb for housing is 3 sf minimum per duck for overnight shelter, 10 sf per duck daytime if they have ready access to pasture, 25 sf if they have limited access to pasture (Storey's Guide, if I recall the numbers correctly).

    Ducks need enough water to wash their heads in to avoid serious infections. They also appreciate enough water to bathe in. I use a concrete mixing pan, which I dump into a small channel that goes to the grape arbor. I have pea gravel around their water area.

    My ducks are amazing sweethearts, I have eggs every day (4 - 9 from 9 runners).

    I'll turn this loose and look forward to seeing others' responses.
  3. mandelyn

    mandelyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 30, 2009
    Goshen, OH
    1) Can they fly? Can you clip their wings or do you need a roof over your pen?

    Depends on the size/breed. Mallard types, call ducks, and wild exotics can fly quite well. The heavier they are, the more land bound they are. Yes, you can clip the flight feathers. You want a roof over their pen to keep predators out... you know the term "Like sitting ducks"... a large enough owl can carry off a surprisingly large duck.

    2) Are they friendly if handled when young?

    They start out friendly, then go through a "I hate humans" phase, can last a week or much longer. They settle back into being pets with treats and talking to them.

    3) What kind of housing do they need? How much room? Do they need water?

    They cannot "hop" into a house, and a steep ramp they can't navigate that well either (as far as typical domestic ducks) so something low to the ground is best with steps or a short ramp. A large type duck should have 4sq ft minimum in the house. Water inside is VERY messy unless you have a way to collect it. You can have a portion of the floor as hardware cloth, so that waste water falls through it and leaves the bedding dry. Or you can elevate it and put a catch pan under it, also covered in wire so that they can't play in it. If they have food, they must also have water. If you can be reliable in letting them out early, they would be fine over night without after they are adults. The babies will need full time access.

    4) Do they have a breeding season where they lay or do they lay year round?

    Depends on type. Some are seasonal layers, some are more production minded and lay 200+ eggs per year.

    5) Can male ducks be kept together?

    Depends... though usually they'll fight during the breeding season if you have them closely confined or with less than 3 females each. Some can get REALLY mean. If you're going to let a female brood on a nest, you need to remove the male. They might kill the babies.. or help out in rearing... but better safe than sorry. They may get along if there are no females around at all. But they might not. Hormones are hormones.

    6) Can you keep chickens and duck together?

    Depends on your set-up. Ducks are messy and go through water like you wouldn't believe, leaving the chickens with dirty water. Chickens don't like the damp, and ducks are very damp. So if you can keep things dry through water management, and the chickens have access to fresh clean water out of reach from the ducks, then yes you can. Having chickens around to stir up the bedding is good too, since ducks flatten it out and make a mess of it. You'll need a poo board under the roosts, so that if the ducks sleep below the roosts, they don't get pooped on.

    Ducks are VERY messy. VERY MESSY. [​IMG] But they're hilarious and it's worth the extra effort. If you have them on dirt it will turn to mud and stink to high heaven. If you're going to pen them up, put down pea gravel. Sand will stink when it's wet. Gravel, they can get it as wet as they want to, and you can hose it off for cleaning. They dig holes in the mud and get filthy. They're poop machines. They mix their food with water and make a yucky mash that they sling everywhere. I have mine on the gravel where I can hose it away, or on a wire covered feeding station where the waste falls into a tote I can remove and dump.

    Did I mention that they're messy? They're very messy.
  4. Zaxby's2

    Zaxby's2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2011
    a place
    Thanks! I just realized that I made it sound like I didn't know if ducks needed water to drink or not. [​IMG] I meant to wade in, thanks for the answers. [​IMG] Also, do they need a roost?
  5. Skitz

    Skitz Skitz15k

    Nov 11, 2008
    do not just get one duck! they will be as noisy as they can be.
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Ducks don't need a roost. (I don't know about muscovies, actually. . . but the mallard types don't)

    One reason they're easy prey is that they rest on the ground, often leaning against the fence. Raccoons have been known to grab them right through the fence. Half inch hardware cloth for at least the bottom 2ft of fence is recommended.

    And I think I understood your question about water. My very brief response needs to be unpacked: My ducks have done well having water available to them all the time. For several weeks, when they were 10 weeks old to the time they moved outdoors, the only time they did not have water to drink was eight hours overnight. Wow, they could splash water around the brooder!!!

    During hot seasons, a large pan of water they can drink from or sit in is provided them at night. Daytime, they have a larger area, with the concrete mixing pan.

    Some people think waterers are sufficient for all their needs, but they do need to wash their heads as well, at a minimum. I feel mine are healthier with bathing water. Mid winter that's tough. But it really helps them stay healthier.
  7. aineheartsyou

    aineheartsyou Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2009
    Dixie, WA
    I am going to suggest you pick up the book "Storey's Guide To Raising Ducks". It is full of great information and is nice to have a round as a reference [​IMG]

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