We have grown to love having ducks on our farm the past few years. It all started when our then four-year-old daughter begged for baby ducks. We took her to pick out two ducklings from our local Tractor Supply store. It didn't take long until we fell in love with these feathered, water-loving birds. We now keep a hatching rotation going and have began selling them as pets to other homesteaders.
Ducks are similar to chickens as they are both in the poultry family and both lay eggs. However, their eating, drinking and housing are relatively different. With experience, we've learned a lot about these fun, quacking animals. Everyone needs a duck or two waddling around their yard!
Ducks require around the same amount of space as chickens do. They will need a coop (house) to lay their eggs and a run to forage, eat and drink throughout the day.
Unlike chickens, ducks prefer to be close to the ground. Therefore, their house needs to be at ground level or a few inches off the ground. Since ducks don't hop or jump, you'll need to provide a ramp for them to waddle in their house. Place hay or bedding in their house for them to lay eggs.
Ducks are great foragers. They love to eat grass, bugs and slugs. However, it is still important their diet consist of a quality duck feed to provide them with the protein and vitamins they need to grow. They also love floating food too! We like to throw in dried mealworms and frozen peas in their water.
Ducks are water-fowl...meaning water is a MUST! You don't have to own a pond to keep your ducks - a small make shift pond or kiddie pool would make them just as happy. Ducks use water to clean their bills, nostrils and eyes. Also, ducks do not have teeth, so they swallow their food which is why water is a necessity to have nearby while they are eating.
Ducks are great layers! They lay their first eggs at 16-24 weeks old and will produce for 2-3 years. Duck eggs are higher in calories than chicken eggs and have a richer and flavorful taste. They are delicious!