Total Beginner Needs Help!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by JPinVT, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. JPinVT

    JPinVT Songster

    Apr 29, 2010
    Hi there! I've had chickens for about a year now, but my husband and I are moving into our first house in the spring, and it has a pond... so now of course I'd like to get some ducks! However, I have absolutely no idea what they need. Can anyone recommend websites or books that might help me out? A few specific questions I'm pondering are:

    1. What do I do in the winter when the pond is completely frozen over, as it is now? Do I need a heated pool for them?

    2. Do I need to do anything to the pond once the ducks are living in it? aka will they destroy the pond if I don't intervene with annual (or more often) cleaning or other maintenance?

    3. What sort of housing will they need? I'll have my chicken coop, and the property has a small barn on it too, but I've heard ducks are extremely messy, so will I need a separate duck house?

    4. What breeds would be good for a Vermont climate (long, cold & snowy winters and short, warm/hot summers)? Ideally I'd like a heritage breed good for both meat and eggs.

    5. What are the space requirements per duck?

    Ok, I can think of a million more questions, but I won't keep listing them! Thanks in advance for any help!

  2. duckluv

    duckluv Crowing

    Aug 20, 2010
    1. Just give them a kiddie pool and break the ice on the top every morning.

    2. How big is the pond? How many ducks do you plan to get?

    3. How often would you clean it? Really, you just need a run and a dog house.

    4. Pekins are good meat birds, not sure how much they lay. Indian Runners are some of the best layers and I've heard they taste good. Welsh Harlequins are great layers and are said to taste well. All ducks are hardy, but they'll need colder water in the summer.

    5. I think 3 feet, others probably know more.

    A warning: They're very, VERY messy.
  3. KansasKid

    KansasKid Songster

    Feb 7, 2010
    South East Kansas
    Hold on i know i have the space requirements some around here. Khaki's are good layers, don't know about meat. Really i know there not classified as a laying duck but my rouens started and finished laying the same time my other ducks did and there eggs are huge compared to others and they themselves are great for eating.
    Couldn't find where i have it written down but it is 100sqft per pair unless your letting them free range during the day then it can be a lot smaller. my ducks free range around the pond during the day and get put up inside my aviary at night and there part of the aviary is only 16x12
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners 8 Years

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    I found Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks really gave me a good basis.

    Participation in the BYC Duck Forum has helped immensely, also.

    Making enough time to get to learn the ducks themselves - their quirks, body language, etc. is more valuable than many may imagine.

    Ducks need to be kept up with, but mess can be kept to a minimum with a good setup and good routine maintenance.

    They don't need a pond, they need at least enough clean water to wash their heads in daily.

    i have runners as pets and for eggs - you may want to consider a larger breed if you want meat ducks. Runners only get to be three or four pounds. But I have been told some people think they taste great.

    Khaki Campbells are another breed to look at, as might be Swedish or Rouens.

    My instincts, based on your pond questions, are that you might be better off fencing them out of the pond and providing a swimming pool (kiddie pool kind of thing) that you can easily empty and clean out frequently. I use concrete mixing pans and have a little channel that goes over to the grape arbor and fertigates the grapes. In the winter, if it's too cold to keep open water, they make do with a very deep drinking pot where they can was their heads. That sits in a splash catcher, so they can frolic a little without making a mess.

    They really enrich the water, quickly. You need to be able to clean the water somehow.

    Search the BYC Duck Forum - there are tons of information on here. Also, be prepared to see that we don't always agree on everything! In the end, once you have learned basics, and learned your own ducks, you can go with what seems best to you.

  5. pascopol

    pascopol Songster

    Jan 6, 2009
    Tampa Bay
    As far as the best breeds for eggs AND meat nothing can beat Silver Appleyards (very large, fast growing ducks gorgious plumage, lay tons of eggs (210-280 according to Holderread) Also Anconas - not as large but still dual purpose ducks excellent layers, excellent foragers, rare heritage breed.

    Forget Campbells, Runners, Harlequins, there is little meat on them (would you raise leghorn chickens for meat?).

    Forget Rouens, Blue Sweedish, poor layers and Ruens are slow growers.

    Pekins are OK, meaty, fast growing and good layers, but some people consider them more greasy than other ducks.

    Silver Appleyards and Anconas will go broody, Pekins as a rule won,t..

    Also protective plumage is a plus on free range as opposed to pure white bird (Pekins).
  6. ducklady12

    ducklady12 In the Brooder

    May 12, 2013
    I kinda have a two story condo going chickens on top and ducks on bottom. They need at least 3 square feet per duck need a pool of water approximately 8 inchs deep. you can use a baby pool. Yes they love water and like there water changed often the except in winter you do need a heater for there pool and plastic you can't put a heater in metal is better and they need a ramp to reach the water pond. That's all i know for know I am trying to get my ruen hen to hatch her eggs. She lays about 45 a season we have a male to but we are new at it and this is our 2 year. learning allot. Oh yeah ducks don't like the chickens around.
  7. bluejeans

    bluejeans Songster 5 Years

    Jul 25, 2012
    New Mexico
    one more tip and reason why you will like your duckling so very much better than your chickens ---------- because of their calm disposistion they are much easier to dip in hot cholcolate after the hot chioclate cools it easly breaks so clean from off the duckling do to the natural oil in the ducklings feathers , then all you have to do is throw the duckling away and it the chocolate[​IMG]

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