I have had chickens for a long time, but had never considered raising ducks. This spring my granddaughters wanted a couple of fuzzy little yellow ducks, and I came home one day to find them and their dad with two little yellow Peking ducks. They had fixed them a nice home complete with a light for warmth, and settled them in the basement. I couldn’t say no, but told them they would have to build them a pen when they became larger.
Two more were added to the first pair, this time 2 Welsh Harlequins, with visions of raising ducks. Their vision, not mine.
It didn’t take long for those little yellow fuzzy ducks to become very large white ducks. The Welsh Harlequins are a smaller breed, and are still not as large as the white ducks. When I’m home during the day, I allow them to free range in my yard. Their pen is big enough that when I work, it’s okay to stay inside, and my husband lets them outside when he gets home.
My herb garden is near the house, and my hydrangeas make a cool, shady place to hang out on a hot, sunny day.
This duck thinks he’s hiding, but I spotted him pretty quick. How about you? He looks like a yard ornament.
My son went to work building a duck “house” and pen using my ever growing collection of junk. Using pieces of tin from an old barn, my garden gate, an awning I had picked up years ago, and various pieces of lumber and spindles, I was quite pleased with the results. Now, you have to like flea market décor to see the beauty in this pen, but the ducks didn’t seem to mind.
The side of the shed was decorated with some of my flea market finds.
An old gate allows me to let the ducks out to free range during the day, and my awning keeps the rain off the front of the pen.
Raising ducks is a little different from chickens, but they do get along well if introduced together slowly. When the ducks were little, we would sit outside with them and let them be seen by the chickens. As the ducks have grown larger, they all mingle together in the yard. Their housing is separate however.
Ducks are MUCH messier than chickens. They require much more water, and prefer an open container that allows them to stick their whole head into the water so that they may clean their beaks, eyes, and nostrils. But this means, lots of dirty water, and lots of loose poop. I have been putting straw down in one half of the pen that is inside the shed, and changing it frequently since their feed and water are in the enclosed part. After reading an article in Hobby Farms magazine, I am going to try a different approach. (July/August 2006)
The article “Super Ducks” by Cherie Langlois, provides a great overview on raising ducks. To combat the water problem in pens, one breeder of ducks suggests spreading a long lasting layer of pea gravel over the floor of their pen, then follow with a layer of sand, and top off with a thin layer of sawdust. I also plan on placing their drinking water outside in the pen attached to the shed.
I purchased a plastic swimming pool for them, and placed it outside the pen. Since they get out of their pen everyday, I didn’t feel the need to put it inside the pen. They get in and out of the pool several times a day, and really enjoy it. I move it occasionally to keep mud and duck poo from building up around it.
As far as feed, I feed my ducks the same balanced feed I do my chicks. (Non GMO). There are specially formulated feeds for ducks, but the chicken feed is fine. Since both they and the hens are out of their pens most of the day, their supplemental feed is low. Since the ducks are out every day, sometimes for most of the day, I don’t provide additional calcium or grit. I believe foraging provides them with what they need.
I have enjoyed the addition of the ducks to our little farmstead. If you have the room, and don’t mind a little mess, ducks will provide you with a lot of entertainment. They are very animated, happy little animals.