The Trouble With Ducks: 10 Things to Consider Before Adopting Ducks
When someone utters the phrase, “we’re just adopting a few chickens,” don’t believe them.
Three hens turns into four hens and two ducks. Which of course, includes the enticing offer of just a few more hens but also some more ducks to keep the numbers even. Then there comes that pretty rooster your someone wants to give you because now they don’t want him.
The next thing you know you’ve got 14 rabbits hopping around, a chicken sitting on your kitchen sink, and your daydreaming of a barn full of rescue animals while your husband casually asks how you feel about rescuing swans.
I guess I’m one of those lucky few that’s more likely to have an extra animal just turn up than ever have time to find a Pokemon.
Notice the “just turn up?” It’s for real folks. Spend some time out here. I’m just thankful the forest animals don’t wander into the house more often.
Where was I? The ducks. Those water loving, absolutely adorable, noisy, personable, messy, feathered friends that call this sanctuary home.
They’re super and everyone should should adopt some.
- First of all they are like the garden crew I can’t afford to hire. They eat weeds and pests like slugs and turn kitchen scraps and garden waste into rich manure that we can use as fertilizer in the garden. I mean seriously I could pay someone $10/hour to pull slugs off our broccoli or I can let the ducks run around in the garden.
- Another great thing is that they don’t dig dust baths in the garden like our lovely little hens! Actually when we turn them loose they really seem to cause less destruction than the chickens which are following me around, ruining gardens, and pooping all over my porch.
- They’re also quite friendly and a blast to watch. No one can resist the cuteness that is ducks in a little pond. As an added bonus since we
plan to open*opened* our farm stand this summer and our customers and their kids love to come watch and enjoy them as we do.
- They help with mosquitoes. Our old property had a lot of standing water on it that we included into the ducks’ area and they totally wreaked havoc on the mosquito population.
- They seem to go through slightly less food than the chickens. Though it’s pretty close.
It’s never all sunshine and daisies in farming or animal rescue though is it? The ducks, much like the chickens brought a chaos all their own.
Mixed in with regular duck shennanigans, there’s been escapees, respiratory infections, duck fights, and penis prolapses. Yeah you may have to re-read that last one but that story is a post all it’s own.
- Ducks are much louder than you’d imagine. Our ducks, especially Fili and Kili, have a tendency to burst out in loud quacks whenever they get excited or scared. It doesn’t bother us and
thankfully our neighbors haven’t minded*we don’t really have neighbors* but if you live right next to someone it’s definitely a consideration.
- They’re messy. Their coop needs to be cleaned much more often than the chicken coop and if you don’t have the ability to free range them like we do they will quickly muddy their yard.
One of our solutions to their messy tendencies was to create a two level floor in their coop with their food and water dishes on a smaller bottom level.
- They may be great foragers but they also eat a lot.
Since we get a lot of snow here in the winter this means that the grain bill goes up.*While it still goes up some, moving from NH to WV has made a huge difference. That’s also true for the chickens of course.
All year round we supplement with kitchen scraps and are experimenting with growing some of their feed here on the farm.
- Just like most animals they can have their fair share of health problems. As I sort of mentioned above our ducks have sort of put us through the ringer health wise.If you want to adopt ducks I recommend finding a local duck savvy vetrinarian before you need one.
- You need water and a lot of it. We’e found that automatic waterers just don’t work for the ducks. We have to constantly change their water since they muddy them up so quickly. We use rubber bowls like these. Also They really, truly need at least a kitty pool to swim in. I’ve heard of people that don’t have one for their muscovy ducks but ours take a bath everyday whether they need it or not.
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