Any advice about keeping ducks...

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by katsparrow, Oct 6, 2010.

  1. katsparrow

    katsparrow Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2009
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi,

    I am after some advice about keeping ducks. I would like to keep a pair free ranging in my yard. I am after any advice you can offer about breeds, set up, etc. I live on just under 1/2 an acre in town. So I would like a breed that isn't going to make too much noise. I am not interesting in eating them but to have them for eggs and pest management.

    Any advice would be a great help.

    Thanks.
     
  2. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Messages:
    475
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Muscovies are quiet (they kind of hiss, rather than quack), decent layers, generally not big flyers, crop the grass and don't NEED to swim (but must have plenty of clean water for dunking their heads in).
    Just watch out for their feet, they've got sharp claws for perching.
    Thought I better add, be aware that ducks crap an inordinate amount, so make sure you consider the potential for duck poo to be trodden all over the place. They can't imagine a better idea than hang out on your verandah/deck/porch/front step waiting for a feed, shitting copiously all the while!
    Don't be put off though, ducks rock.
     
  3. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,676
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I've recently become a duck owner too. I've got four ducks and one drake - muscovies. I believe that drakes prefer more than one female. I'd recommend three at least. I"ve also just got some chickens for the first time. There's quite a lot of difference between them.

    For the ducks i buy laying pellets in a large bag that costs about $20 and this lasts about 6 weeks. I let my ducks out to feed around the yard but they seem to need these pellets too. I give it to them in the evening.

    I bought a large plastic bowl from Bunnings for them to bathe in. They love it. Two of them can fit in at the same time. Get the biggest thing you can afford. I am in the process of trying to build them a pond though as they love to swim. As i've just built my first pond, i've seen its not such a big deal so i am keen to give them a place to swim. If you want to build a pond, get a book from teh library its much easier to do than you might think, though there might be a little extra challenge in building a pond for ducks. I'm still learning about that.

    Have a look in your library for books on raising ducks. I learn the odd extra thing about ducks and chickens from the book i found there. Such as how to tell if the eggs are fresh or not and not to wash them before putting them in the fridge because it washes off a coating that keeps them a bit less permeable to air.

    They don't seem to mind being in the rain, though if its cold at night, you might want to build them a pen where they get some shelter. I live in the tropics so they are warm here.

    They do tramp the plants down a bit and can eat things that you value so watch out. They like pumpkin leaves. I don't know the names of the other things they've been chewing on. But because of this, i changed their whole penning arrangements. Its starting to work out now that i've moved the plants as well.

    I don't really mind the duck poo but agree they do seem to like to hang around very close to home. If you keep them penned up for a while, its easy to collect and put on the compost. I put sawdust in their smaller pen and could easily pick it up with my gloves on. I did this every day. Now that they have a bigger pen, too big to lay down sawdust i can't collect it any more. And i notice their pen is getting smellier.

    Recently one of my ducks has started sitting on her eggs. Now i don't know if they are fertilised or not but i'm letting her do it in case i get some babies. I try to get hold of the others but that's a trick too as they like to hide them and i haven't found the new hiding spot of one of them. Its not a bad idea to keep them penned up until late in the morning until they've laid their eggs before letting them out into the yard. My pen is now quite large so its not as if they are kept in some miserable confinement. So make them a pen that has both shelter and a bit of free ranging. If you cut their wing, they won't fly over the top.

    I can't think of anything else right now.
     
  4. geoff

    geoff Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    We've got half a dozen Indian runners, they don't fly at all, but they do make a fair bit of noise, especially around feeding time. They roam over about 1/2 acre, and get a big tin of mixed grains for their evening meal.

    We use a mobile house for them for overnight, to protect them from predators. They are not as habitual as chooks, and would happily stay wherever they happen to be when it gets dark if it weren't for us enticing them into the coop with the food. The house gets moved every few days so the duck manure can dry out which helps keep the smell manageable.

    One thing to watch out for with building ponds is that they will quickly turn it into a sludgy mess, so it's worth considering ways to deal with that issue also. Fish and plants would help, but the ducks will wipe those out. We've got a roughly 5m x 2m x 0.5m pond filled with sludge at the moment, which used to contain plants and fish. The plan for this summer is to fence off the pond and build a smaller one uphill for the ducks, then get some reticulation working so that the lower pond can be managed as aquaculture, with the wastes from the upper pond washing down to fertilise that system.
     
  5. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,676
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    More on ponds Geoff. I am thinking of making it so that i can drain it and refill it from time to time. I suppose with this in mind, perhaps i should make it smaller as its likely that a week would be about as long as it could go maybe before the water needs changing. I was planning to make it 3.5 x 2.5. The depth was going to be about up to 60cm i guess but i was going to slope one edge so they can walk in and out easily. Having a deep basin, i've noticed that its a little tricky for them to get out - though they are pretty good at it. So they can get in easily, i dug a hole in the ground to lower the edge.

    Do the ducks eat the fish? I won't put plants in. I think i will need to put fish in because we have mosquitos here and the fish are needed to eat the mossie larvae. Any other clues how to deal with the mosquito larvae if the ducks eat the fish?

    Re the bottom and sealing it, i am going to get old carpet for first layer, plastic for second layer and then more carpet or some sort of protective layer over the plastic that they can't put their nails through. On my other pond, i haven't put anything on top of the plastic. How deep is the sludge in your pond? Perhaps if i put some thing down around the pond that would prevent them carrying in too much dirt, it might help to keep it clean. given their delicate feet, i'll have to think about something nice and easy for them to walk on.
     
  6. paradisi

    paradisi Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2005
    Messages:
    665
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    muscovies

    only muscovies

    anything else will have the neighbours up in arms

    we had some indian runners for a while - they are known as a placid fairly quiet duck - LOL - - NOT

    muscovies really are a quiet duck and they can be tamed fairly well (at least the females)

    drakes can get big i had one years back that had a wing span of over 2 metres and he killed a fox that got in the yard - the drake didnt have a scratch on him and was standing over the body of the fox when I woke up to the kerfuffle

    the drakes have a large spur on the front edge of their wings - which can hurt a lot if you try to catch him or his duck
     
  7. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,676
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    That reminds me when you want to pick up a duck, you should do it by the part where the wing joins the back. This apparently does not hurt them, though you would probably prefer to see it done. They are quite hard to catch when you first get them. They don't seem to be as tame as the chickens.
     
  8. geoff

    geoff Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    sun burn, we've gone the same way with pond structure. There are two areas that are fairly shallow (originally intended as bog gardens lol!) which the ducks can navigate easily enough.

    Not sure if the ducks eat the fish or just make the water so poor they cannot survive. The mossies are one of the main reasons ours needs an overhaul so that we can put fish back in to combat that problem.

    We went with a layer of sand, which was hard to get to cling to the sides in deeper areas with steeper sides, then the thick plastic pond liner, and didn't bother with anything over the top of that, but that was before we had ducks. They haven't yet broken the liner that I can tell, but there's always a chance of it. Depending on if the ducks have been swimming in there the sludge layer can be anywhere from 10-20cm up to 50cm when they've stirred it up! It's a mix of algae and dirt, which they're depositing when they're feeding as much as anything.
     
  9. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2003
    Messages:
    1,585
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Kharki Campbells are the ducks you want for your place Katsparrow..

    I bred em for a few years,Though they can be a bit scared of humans,unless you get em young or tame em by feeding them directly..

    Cambells are sizxed between iNDIAN RUNNERS and Muscovy indian runners stand up tall as they run around in a panic lol

    Muscovies are quite big,even more the male, muscovies have the Red (lumps) on there heads and neck area.. They only lay eggs to breed,theyll lay till the decide to sit n hatch..

    Indian runners lay eggs and unsuitable to eat,as they skinny birds...Muscovy are meat birds(actually they related to geese,not ducks)

    Cambells if young and healthy will lay allmost as well as a good laying hen with up to 300 eggs per year
    they just lay n lay all year round,(allmost)

    Its not essential to have a pond for ducks,but its nicer to se em swimming,but their much becomes a bit much.they not fussy bout the water,just us humans,But Yes they do need accsess to water,so they can wash their heads/eyes,long neck,and help wash their food down,and seperate food from soil..

    Dont be put off by the work,I loved em,still do,but chooks are my priority at moment..

    I run aquaponics in my garden, and see huge potential for "ducks" in any Aquaponic system..
    just gotta figure out the logistics... and a few bucks might help also 8)8)

    Tezza

    Gee helpme someone,this board wants to keep posting same pics time over again:bow:
     
  10. paradisi

    paradisi Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2005
    Messages:
    665
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    tezza the campbells ares still noisey compared to muscovies - and the block is in the suburbs

    indian runners have a good egg - very rich yolk

    muscovies are an excellent richer duck egg - when I had them excellent in cooking

    a half an acre in town isnt the ideal spot for a duck that quacks - thats from experience with my neighborus
     
  11. katsparrow

    katsparrow Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2009
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks for all the advice but I have thought of a few more questions. In regards to the number of ducks, I was thinking of a pair of ducks. Can you have two females or do you need a male too? With maintaining the pond, do you flush the pond and clean out the 'sludge layer' and then refill the pond each time? I am thinking of setting it up so that it drains onto the garden. Can anyone see a problem with this?
    Also will the 'flushing' regularly be enough to stop mosquitoes breeding in the water?
     
  12. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2003
    Messages:
    1,585
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Cambells arnt that noisy really Paradisi The girl is a duck that quacks yes...i love the sound,not exactly noisy,comapared with other suburban noises,duck dont crow at night either,usually only(if at all) when they happy, or during the day,whilst being scociable...

    Muscovy CAN and Do Fly,but usually only the girl muscovy....... and usually only early in life or early in breeding season

    All duck eggs maybe classed as rich, dont think theres a difference between breeds,tho as an egg connisure there could be a difference.just like wines to wine tasters....

    IN SUBURBIA, large breeds can take a lot more feeding then smaller breeds,and since muscov are bout 4/5 times size of cambells, feed maybe at a premium,also space..

    muscovy prefere grasses to eat over insects,and will chew /eat grass mainly

    Cambells are the INSECTORS of the insect removal buissness.... AS BILL MOLLISON once said(probly thousand times).. You dont have a snail problem.... you have a duck shortage!!!!

    Ducks and chooks have different lives alltogether from chooks....(they different believe it or not)

    Duck eggs are usually promoted as "RICH" by non duck egg eaters normally....

    its an old wives tale... duck eggs arnt "rich" they just taste far better then chook eggs!!!!!!!!!!!

    In my opinion 90% of people who say duck eggs are rich, are people who never tasted one before,.... How do i know 90%??? Cos i research these things.....joe and julie public tell me..

    Egg laying levels for ducks are
    Cambells upto 300 per year.
    muscovy seasons laying a batch of up to a dozen then sitting and hatching..... exceleent mothers,and families.. may lay/hatch 2 or three times per year.normaly 2 times..
    Indian runners between 150 and 200 per year.
    Cambells are great parents also and live in family groups caring for the whole flock.
     
  13. Ricko

    Ricko New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yeah iv'e had ducks though most of my 49 years and as you said "clean drinking water" it is important that they can suck water and blow their nostrils clean. I have also placed hollow logs on my property and we have wood ducks come in during the year. The duck will fly straight into the hollow (about 10m up) and the drake flies on and swims in a creek below and he knows exactly when to pick her up...Beautiful
     
  14. Stingray

    Stingray Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    very nice info .. we have muscovies (2nd time around - 1st time was appleyards and boy were they noisy!!.. LOL)
    we started with a pair (altho when we got them they were young and we didnt know we have a boy and girls) ..
    they have since had one cluctch of eggs (laid 19 - 18 of which hatched) and she is sitting on her 2nd ..
    with size .. there are 2 sorts of muscovies .. normal (dunno any spec name .. lol) and the mammoths (and yes..that means they get large) - which ours are :)
    havent eaten thier eggs yet (but we have at previous house and they were very delish).. as were are letting them clutch and hatch for meat :)
    sunburn and I have been posting our experiences here
     
  15. Mudman

    Mudman Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2003
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    We just used a couple of the kids shell shaped swimming pools for ponds for the ducks and located them in the orchard.
    When they got a bit dirty we tipped them over to empty them and every now and then moved them into a new location. Instant fertilizer for the orchard and very simple.
    We had muscovies and it is true they are very quiet but used to love sitting on the back verandah and crapped all day long.
    They ended up being taken by a fox and we have never replaced them.
    All the best with the ducks
    Kurt
     
  16. Stingray

    Stingray Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    rofl kurt :)
    yeah .. one ponds now close to the vegie patch so runnoff from it will fertisie that :)
    (i revmaped the yard (again..lol) .. so the other 2 ponds arent near a veg bed now )
    and yeah . LOL @ back door .. on of the main reasons (apart from them being destructive) is that 10 ducks sittin at back door = alot of crap to hose off each day .. LOL

    sorry to hear abotu the fox tho :(
     
  17. Glenn18

    Glenn18 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2011
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Wow ducks don't seem to hard at all to keep.We were thinking of geese but ducks would be cool.
    A few Q's...
    We have a small dam,would that be suitable for either.We have sections on our block that grow copious amounts of grass(especially around the dam) and would like a breed that would eat the grass as a main food,is that an adequate food source.We love animal noise,can't wait to get the breeding chickens up and runing with a few roosters,so are cambels loud.We could have a fox problem but,we have been experimenting with a radio being on thru the day(AM talk back) while the chickens free range and no probs yet.Sorry but e want to breed to eat and sell live as a source of income.

    Glenn.
     
  18. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,676
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ducks are not hard but they do have their quirks. Here's a few things to bear in mind. One drake needs several females. YOu need to buy them proper food. Usually food for chickens will be fine such as laying pellets. I recommend buying crumbles for the baby ducklings though. And buy them brewers yeast to add to their water. They seem to like being locked in at night. They are quite nervous creatures. They don't seem to like handling much unless you are able to hatch the ducklings and rear them with you as mum. They eat a lot. About 170g - 200g per day for bird if they are foraging. I supplement this with their own eggs if i can find them. I boil them and mash them. All the birds love this. And its good for them. They love their water i must say and i think its a shame not to provide them with a good size bath. They like to take at least one bath a day. If they don't have this they may end up looking a bit dirty.

    Yeah a dam would be great for them.

    Geese, I saw some today and met a woman who had a pet geese which she'd taken out with her as if it were a dog. We were at the waste transfer station when we met. Geese honk. So they make more noise than ducks. Apparently if you've got grass you don't need to provide extra feed for them so they are easier in that regard. They are not easy to breed. They only lay once a year. I learnt this today. She also said they are not great parents. They often abandon the eggs so be prepared to be the incubator. When people say that geese are good guide dogs, I think they only mean that the will raise the alarm. They may not attack an intruder cause the geese i saw today seemed unaggressive. I really want some but they seem a bit hard to find.

    I love my ducks and now that the rooster has gone, I like my chickens more too. Killing ducks is not an easy business. I still haven't got to it as yet. I really wish I didn't have to do it but i do because I can't afford to feed them all. So i need to cull the males since they don't lay.

    It seems that geese poo is nice and tidy. Whereas duck poo is definitely pooey ie like a muddy splat where as a goose poo is like a sausage i think the woman told me.

    But on the whole if you can get teh houseing set up right for the ducks, it seems to me that all these birds are easier to care for than dogs.

    I must say it is lovely having all these birds free ranging around the property.

    The senior male duck is a bit aggressive with the young ones. YOu have to watch them. I am keeping mine out of the pen at the moment at nights because i am afraid he will step on the ducklings which i've put back with them all. The mother seems to be happy to be there. Also the older male terrorises the younger ones even though they are nearly as big as him so that's also why i am keeping him outside. Perhaps if the chicken house were much bigger it wouldn't matter so much but i don't like seeing them pushed about like this.

    The chooks and ducks go in well together cause the chooks are up on the roost and the ducks are on the ground.

    Give your birds fresh clean water every day.

    I don't know if you have to provide houseing for geese. I tend to think it may not be necessary though they might like a bit of shelter in unpleasant weather conditions.


    If you are going to breed to eat, then i'd say that geese aren't suitable since they only lay eggs once a year. Ducks lay lots of eggs.
     
  19. Glenn18

    Glenn18 Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2011
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It's so good to finally see my posts and replies on the same night now Ha.
    It's all good 'eh,I've been reading stingray and your posts about ducks,good read.I guess the geese thought was just about having an early warning system around the block as I've seen them in action on several differen't place's.We had a muscovey in the burbs that was given to us and yes,it 's crap was very noticable.
    I'm not to worried about having to feed them with pellets,just wanted to keep costs down if it was possible,as long as I can use the ducks for a viable income/asthetic adventure I'm all up for it.It's gonna be a great experience/challenge.

    Would you have any thoughts on having two seperate "Duck" operations..IE..One for breeding meat,one for egg production.I think that seperating the two flocks might be a problem,not that I can't overcome it as we have the space.Books I find linear(Authors tend to stick to one mind set),and I like to thrash out thoughts with differen't ppl from differen't angle's to get an overall on these matters.Hope that makes sense,thanks.

    Glenn.
     
  20. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,676
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    To me the only sensible thing is to keep the females for eggs and the males for meat. Why do you need to keep them separate?

    With regard to egg production, are you going to into business? Have you checked out all the rules on this business of selling eggs and meat or you are going to do it on the sly? Though I probably shouldn't ask that on a public forum. Still if you are thinking of selling eggs and meat, the fees and things are very expensive. So to be viable in that case, you'd want to have a fairly large operation.

    If you want to do it privately, its still difficult to make money. Regarding meat, i've had my ducklings about two-three months now. They are huge and well ready to be eaten if one is so inclined but that's several months of feed. If you can work out how much you've spent on feed over the time and then consider that you will probably wont' get much more than $10 for a dead bird you've got to ask yourself if its a viable idea.

    I keep the birds for love, poo for the garden. I don't even care that much about the eggs since I don't eat them that often. The cost is killing me at the moment and so i need to get the males killed. Its costing me $40 a month at least. I've got 1 adult male, 3 male ducklings which are as big as the adult male.4 adult females, 1 juvenile female who's already bigger than her mum. And now two little ones. True they don't eat so much in the first month but they grow fast. I'm also feeding 6 female chickens and two teenagers. And given half a chance, they'd all eat more than i am giving them. Don't forget I am also feeding them scraps and boiled eggs. And they are free ranging which means in my case they have a large area to roam and chew at green things, insects and find worms. I would prefer to spend not more than $20 per month. I think part of the trick is to kill the males when they are still young.

    Yesterday i visited a poultry breeding garden. The ducks were filthy. It looked a fairly unhygienic operation though in some respects. The ducks obviously do not have anywhere to wash properly. The welfare of animals should be the top priority in any situation. Many of the birds were in small cages set out on the grass to browse and scratch but it looked fairly constricting to me. I hate seeing things like that.
     

Share This Page

-->