The nitty-gritty of ducks

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by clucknpeck, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. clucknpeck

    clucknpeck Songster

    Mar 15, 2012
    I was not planning on getting ducks. No way, too messy. Then I kept reading things like "add ducks to your flock!" in poultry magazines....
    I find out I actually don't have to have a pond or kiddy pool year round.... Hmmm
    I find out they co-mingle which chickens quite well.... Hmmmm
    I read all the benefits of duck eggs.... Hmmmmmmmmmmmm
    Crap. I think I want ducks. But before I do this, I want all you duck owners to tell me the real nitty gritty of ducks. I need to know more than just the glorified magazine articles. So feel free to vent!
  2. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Crowing Premium Member

    Dec 22, 2009
    The main thing they don't tell you? MESS. Ducks are MESSY. No way around it. Especially when any water is involved. Also Drakes may try to mate chickens which can kill them.
  3. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Having had chickens for many years, I, too, am taking the plunge (HA!) with ducks this year. Mine are just 10 days old right now, and YES, they are messy to be sure!

    I've found a few ways to minimize the mess, but as kevin565 points out, when there is water involved, there is mess involved. Period.

    Also, though you don't "have to" have water for them, unless you have Runners (which apparently aren't nearly as fond of water as other breeds), they will not be their happiest unless you do have water for them, but if you get just a few, like me (I have 4) that makes it a whole lot easier, as you don't have to have anything fancy or elaborate for them to swim in. For the winter, I'm planning on using a heated flat-back bucket like the type folks use for horses. This way, it'll be deep enough for them to stick their heads all the way under so they can clear their nares, but not large enough that they can jump in!
  4. nickie

    nickie Songster

    Jun 25, 2011
    north central KY
    Ducks are great! They poop, a lot, with fantastic distance and sound effects. They eat buds off of flower plants and I haven't had a garden fresh strawberry in 3 years. They can be loud, very. for those few negatives I have a million positives. Most of all they make me laugh out loud daily.
  5. clucknpeck

    clucknpeck Songster

    Mar 15, 2012
    Our yard is an acre and we have it split so half an acre is fenced off with the chicken coop and run inside it, and soon to be goats. We were thinking we could convert our dog house to home three ducks and have a door on it to close them in at night and let them wander around the fenced half acre during the day. I dont know enough about ducks yet to know how well this would work...
    Kevin, I did not know the drakes would mate with the chickens! So I probably shouldnt put the duck house in the chicken run then?
    If they had all that room to roam would the mess still be just awful?
  6. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy

    Where did you hear that about runner ducks?
  7. mandelyn

    mandelyn Crowing

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    Runners like water too!

    They need a baby pool, without full body washing their oil gland can have issues and get clogged, and they'll start to look ragged. You can also use a concrete mixing pan, a large plastic tote, something just big enough for them to jump in and wash themselves. Preferably over a bed of pea gravel or deep bedding to avoid mud.

    Drakes can go after hens, they can do some serious damage or even kill them. Having just girls would avoid that besides some bickering. Usually they hang separate and don't mingle as best friends.

    Ducks are hilarious though. So suspicious! Always giving you that one eyed look. The faster you talk, the faster they quack back. If you saw how they play in fresh baby pool water, you wouldn't deprive them of it. Way more entertaining than chickens.

    If you control the water, you control the mess. The poop doesn't smell as bad as chicken poop. Once dry it's easy to pickup the "pancakes" from the top layer of bedding, it doesn't get mixed in with scratching like chickens do. Everything gets flattened and walked on by ducks, with holes from them rooting around with their bills.

    We had pea gravel in the duck run last year, that worked well until it got bogged down with composting poo. So we washed it, reset it, covered it with landscape fabric, then covered that with pine shavings. Major improvement! All stink is gone. Still smells nice after a week of only scraping up the top layer where the poo was, fluffing it, and scattering some fresh. Using less than I was with the pine straw over just the gravel... that was a pain to clean.

    They'll make a mess of the chicken drinking water, quickly too. One of the reasons I keep mine separate. I have 2 drakes, one will go after the chickens out of meanness. Plus the chickens hate the splash from the pool. They walk gingerly through the wet areas... almost like they're wearing skirts they need to pull up or something. So funny!

    One chicken I have was raised with ducks, she'll actually scratch around in water puddles after a rain, sun bathe by the pool, and beat the snot out of the mean drake and her about 1/3 his size.

    It's easier to add to a duck flock than a chicken flock... introductions aren't so terrible with ducks.
  8. TLWR

    TLWR Songster

    Jul 10, 2010
    southern AL
    I have 2 runners. Had 3, but one died last May.
    They free range during the day on about half an acre of our fenced back 4 acres. They don't often venture further than the cleared area of the yard and the close wooded/bushy area. But they avoid the far back yard which is cleared, but full of large pine trees.

    Mess - they are messy when little and you have to clean up after them all the time. Water management is key.
    I built mine a raise pond. They spend much of the day in or near that. Their food and water are separated a bit to keep that mess to a min and it isn't bad at all.
    I hose out their duck house a few times a week, sometimes more, sometimes less - just depends on how much they've pooped all over in there.

    My yard looks like it did before they arrived, though they do trample over some plants and try to eat others. New plants that go where they can get to them get tested first before planting them.

    I don't have chickens, but I don't consider the ducks too messy - but that could be the free ranging helps with that and their water isn't a kiddie pool sitting in the same spot in the yard (it was before their pond was built, but it was on pea stone, so still no mess issue with that).
  9. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Crowing

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    Just watch how big that heated bucket is! we first tried a spare from our horses.. The hens hopped right in. We downgraded to a small bucket that is heated for say dogs or goats...
  10. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Crowing

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    Since i don't have any chickens(yet they come mid June [​IMG]) I can't properly compare... I don't find the ducks that messy. All my birds free range and have multiple pools to splash in. We're in the country though, so they have many acres to roam and I haven't had any issues with them ruining anything ...

    I think the largest complaint would be droppings bigger than chickens and the water... I only have Muscovy so noise level is at the lowest of the duck breeds.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012

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