Ducks are adorable pets to have. Their ducklings are cute and irresistible, especially if you look at their webbed feet and fluffiness. However, ducks’ feathers are less likely to ruffle, unlike chickens’. They are generally calm, alert, and sometimes funny animals.
Compared to chickens, ducks have quite high standards because they are much healthier, produce more nutritious meat and eggs, and are great backyard companions.
Another reason to raise pet ducks is that they are not aggressive, able to adapt to any weather, and are great for your lawn. However, before raising ducks, you must consider some factors, such as their food, water source, housing, protection, and mating.
In this article, we will discuss the reason why ducks make great backyard pets. We will also give you some ideas and aspects to consider before raising such animals.
10 Reasons Ducks Make Great Backyard Pets
Over the years, lots of families have been keeping chickens in their yards, but lately, they turned to ducks because of their numerous advantages, including their eggs, meat, and function as backyard companions. Here are some reasons why ducks are amazing backyard pets.
1. Ducks are healthier than chickens
Compared to chickens, ducks are less susceptible to mites and other parasites because they spend most of their time in the water. Thus, if parasites are tempted to hitch and latch, they will probably drown. Ducks also have a strong immune systems and stay healthier, and are thus less likely to get infected by diseases than chickens.
Besides, ducks raised in backyards are much healthier than commercial cramped operations. If ducks are well cared for and raised properly, they also produce healthier eggs and meat.
If you raise your own ducks, you can control the food they eat and feed them naturally and organically. Indeed, ducks and other animals raised on antibiotics and chemicals are less desirable to put in our bodies.
2. Ducks are cold-hardy
Ducks have an added layer of fat compared to chickens. Their feathers are waterproof, shielding them from the natural elements, and feature a thick undercoat designed to keep them dry and warm in the water.
This makes ducks more capable of handling cold weather than chickens. Indeed, in some places, ducks prefer to sleep outside, even if it is raining and snowing.
3. Ducks are quiet
Ducks make less noise than chickens. The latter cackle when they are laying eggs, and most of the time, for no apparent reason. On the other hand, female ducks only quack when they are excited and agitated.
Roosters, contrary to what many believe, don’t crow in the morning. They only crow when they are compelled by other roosters or to assert their dominance on them. Meanwhile, drakes (male ducks) don’t quack at all. They only make soft raspy wheezes and don’t have dominance issues, contrary to roosters.
4. Duck eggs and meat production
Eggs and meat are some of the reasons why people started raising ducks. Ducks’ eggs are larger and richer in flavor than hens’ eggs and make an excellent ingredient for baking because of their high fat and low water content. Ducks’ eggs are also more nutritious than chickens’.
Also, ducks’ eggs have thicker shells and membranes, which extends the shelf life and makes them less likely to break. Ducks’ eggs are also high in protein, making them most pastry chefs’ great friends.
Besides, duck meat tastes good and features higher fat content than chicken meat.
5. Ducks lay more regularly than chickens
On average, female ducks can lay 3-4 eggs from four ducks daily, as opposed to chickens, who lay 8-10 eggs from 20 hens. They can even lay eggs during winter, without the support of supplemental lights in their house. Most duck breeds are unlikely to go broody. This makes them essential to your egg production.
6. Ducks are more welcoming and less aggressive than chickens
Ducks are more welcoming to newcomers than chickens. They are unbothered animals when it comes to new additions to their flock, whether it is a new chicken or duck. Meanwhile, chickens aren’t very welcoming, which results in squabbling and fights that can get serious until the new order is established and peace returns.
7. Ducks are great for your lawn
Ducks eat anything green within their reach. However, make sure you plant bushes and trees that are tall enough so that they can’t reach the topsoil. Even if you let your ducks inhabit your backyard, they make a good landscaper and backyard companion.
Unlike chickens who, when you introduce them to your lawn, will scratch it until it leaves brown and bald patches, ducks may compact your lawn a little, but don’t create barren ground in your backyard.
8. Duck waste is a great fertilizer
Manure is beneficial for your garden. Most duck raisers use deep litter installed in their duck run to collect their manure and use it as fertilizer. You can even add their waste to your compost pile if you have one in your backyard.
When your ducks are free-range, they will most likely leave their waste on the ground. Their waste will feed on the plants around, and ducks can’t control their bowel movements since they don’t have sphincter muscles.
Overall, ducks’ waste is a good thing that you shouldn’t be worried about. With it, you can improve the quality of your soil.
9. Ducks are great pest control
Ducks love pecking and have an insatiable appetite for the slugs, worms, spiders, cricket, flies, grasshoppers, and grubs they can find on your lawn. Thus, ducks make great natural pest control, unlike chickens, who are selective to the kind of bugs they eat. They can also eat small snakes, mice, and toads.
10. Ducks are better with kids than chickens
Ducks are not aggressive or likely to hurt your other animals. They don’t scratch, bite, nor use their talons, contrary to other farm animals. Ducks are friendly and welcoming to other animals, making them easy to get along with.
All in all, ducks are social animals, making them good and fun friends to your kids. They will follow you around, nibble on you, and even ask for a back scratch from time to time.
Ducks love water, whether it’s for leisure or hygiene and nutrition purposes. If you are planning to raise ducks in your backyard, you will need to set up a water source for them, such as ponds or other water features. But, do backyard ducks really need a pond? Read our article to find out.
7 Things to Consider Before Raising Ducks
Raising ducks is a fun experience. They are cute and bring a lot of joy and entertainment to your backyard. Ducks are much easier to raise than chickens thanks to their adaptability and other assets
But, before raising ducks, you must understand their needs. To help you with this, here are 7 things you need to consider before raising ducks.
1. Recommended Breeds
Raising ducks in your backyard isn’t just about their food and shelter. You must also know the most recommended breeds since ducks come in many different breeds. Pekin and Khaki Campbells are the most recommended duck breeds.
- Pekin ducks weigh 10 lbs. on average and are considered big and heavy. They will not worry you, even if you allow them to free-range since they are too heavy to fly. Pekin ducks are very friendly and great foragers, making them easy to manage.They have a great source of meat and produce large eggs. A Pekin duck can lay 150 to 200 eggs per year.
- Khaki Campbells are another recommended duck breed. Although they are smaller and weigh 3 lbs. on average, Khaki ducks have limited flying capabilities.A Khaki Campbell can lay 280 to 300 eggs yearly, which is much more than a Pekin duck. Khaki Campbells are also excellent foragers and friendly but are more energetic, so you might need a bigger space for them.
If you prefer more egg production, you can keep Khaki Campbells in your backyard, whereas if you want more meat, you can raise Pekin ducks. If the mentioned breeds aren’t available in your area, some other breeds provide just as good or better meat and egg production.
2. Housing for ducks
As ducks are not fancy creatures, they don’t need fancy houses. They are happier if their house is more run down. Besides, ducks love being wet. To keep your duck happy, provide it with a house where it can keep not too much moisture and have lots of airflows.
Straws and pine shavings make comfortable beddings in your duck coop. Nesting boxes aren’t necessary since ducks are likely to make their nests inside or outside the coop.
3. Water source
Ducks love to get wet, so they need a water source that allows them to submerge their heads. Ducks dunk their heads in the water to keep their eyes and nose clean. However, avoid having a deep water source.
For ducklings, plastic take-out or Tupperware containers make great water sources. Adult ducks can have access to smaller ponds without supervision. However, be careful if snapping turtles live in the pond for they are likely to harm your ducks. Domestic ducks can’t fly, so they are vulnerable to other predators living in the water.
Ducks only swim in clean water. Thus, if the water gets colored, they won’t swim in it. It is best to change the water every 4-7 days if you have a large kiddie pool.
4. Food for ducks
Ducklings need waterfowl starters with 18-22% protein content. Two-month-old or juvenile ducks need duck feed containing 15% protein content. Meanwhile, adult laying ducks need duck feed with 16-17% protein content, and broiler ducks need 20% protein content of duck feed.
Ducklings aren’t susceptible to any diseases, contrary to chickens. They can be started on chick feed for the first two weeks, but only with non-medicated formula, and switch to a grower feed with lower protein content.
Too much protein can fasten ducks’ growth and cause them to suffer from leg issues. Feeding ducks isn’t a complicated task, however, you must know how to provide them with food. Also, make sure you separate their food and water.
A full-feeding method is one of the best ways to feed ducks. All you need to do is fill the feeder and make it available for the whole day, and they will only eat when they need to. Ducks forage, so they are less likely to eat the food on their feeders, and instead feed on weeds, plants, and bugs.
5. Swimming time must be supervised and short
Ducklings don’t have waterproof feathers until they are about 1 month old. However, this doesn’t stop them from getting into the water. But as ducklings are most likely to drown and get cold, swimming sessions must be short and supervised.
Swimming is good for ducks’ leg muscles and teaches them to clean their feathers using their beaks. It also helps their oil glands work. You can give your duckling a shallow dish for their swimming and cleaning activity. Deeper tubs are only advisable if the ducks are four weeks old and older.
6. Proper protection
It is ideal to protect your ducks against their predators by putting a fence around their area. If you have cats, you must be extremely careful since it’s hard to train a cat not to hunt birds. If you have dogs, you might want to keep your ducks away from them unless they are trained not to chase ducks.
Like chickens, ducks are highly preyed on. Here are some of their most common predators:
You can build a taller fence if you have problems with any large birds, like hawks. Those will have a hard time snatching your ducks since they can’t fly vertically, like a helicopter. If your problem is with animals who dig their way in, use hard materials for the flooring.
Before raising a duck in your backyard, you must know about their mating activity. Male ducks, also known as drakes, are aggressive when it comes to this matter, so it is important to keep a ratio of five females for one drake. Indeed, they have a high sex drive and usually require more than one female. They can breed a female duck to death and can also mate up to 12 female ducks.
If the ducks are mating in the pool, you may see a male duck trying to drown a female duck. Don’t panic, this is a normal thing for ducks. Although, when a female duck is honking very loudly during mating, it means she needs help and doesn’t appreciate the activity.
If female ducks are being overrated, you may notice they have broken or missing feathers on their backs, heads, or wings, are limping, or have bubbling eyes. Ducks traditionally mate in the water to wash the stress off female ducks.
If you are planning to keep ducks in your backyard, one of the main concerns that you may have is them flying away from your property. Not all ducks can fly, but as a safety precaution, you should learn how to keep your backyard ducks from flying away.
Ducks are great farm animals to raise and are some of the easiest animals to herd. They don’t get sick as easily as chickens and they also provide more eggs and better meat. Although they can be tough creatures depending on their breeds, ducks generally easily adapt to different weathers. Also, ducks don’t eat their eggs, unlike chickens.
If you’re a beginner, ducks are awesome and fun animals to raise because of their hardiness. Plus, you now have a better understanding of how to raise ducks with the tips and reasons we have discussed in this article. As long as you remember and apply the information that we shared, you should be successful in raising ducks in your backyard.