Make Way for Ducklings
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Hello everyone and happy Tuesday!

A short post, because today? I want to hear from YOU!

I’d like to raise a few ducks at home this year for eggs, and am wondering if any of you who have done so in the past would give me a shout in the comments with your favorite breeds, resources, duck stories? I’d love to hear them!

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Thanks in advance!

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About Brie Aronson

Brie Aronson came to Polyface from southern California. During college, she was diagnosed with food allergies and had to begin asking about the source of every single thing she put in her mouth. This led to an interest in all things food and she sought out a way to learn how it can be produced ethically and sustainably. Her desire is to help people shift their focus from counting calories, being intimidated by their kitchens, and being disconnected from the land to one that experiences the life-giving enjoyment of food. Having completed the internship in summer 2010, she now assists with the buying clubs and sales building, leads school tours of the farm, and will be the summer 2012 farm cook.
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25 Responses to Make Way for Ducklings

  1. Janet Brister says:

    I can’t make specific recommendations, but I can tell you that duck eggs are fabulous to bake with ~ in the UK, it is their preference to use them in lieu of chicken eggs and they say whenever you can find them, snatch them up. I know I have a friend whose ducks started laying and they couldn’t get over the fact that they were duck eggs (???), so they gave them to me. I cooked with them every way I could think of and we thoroughly enjoyed them. Not sure if this helps but be encouraged. They’re also reputedly excellent weeders, for whatever it’s worth. Like you, I’m thinking of getting some this year. Please pass along whatever information you find out!!!

    • Brie says:

      I can’t wait for the eggs…I’ve been dreaming about raising some layers ever since I first tried duck eggs a few years ago. Heaven!

  2. Melissa Lyons says:

    I love reading posts from the Hen House! I have raised Khaki Campbell ducks for eggs in the same fashion one would for chickens, in a portable tractor in our yard. They are great layers! They dont miss a day! Even now in February, In Northern Michigan no less! They require an open water container because they have to submerge their heads to clear out their nasal passages. Also they like to nuzzle in the ground leaving behind sometimes large-ish holes. Other then that, the eggs are delicious and rich, wonderfull for baking and desired by gourmet customers. Thank you for asking and keep up the good work ladies!

  3. cheryl says:

    We are in Texas and have started raising Rouen and Pekin. We also have a Muscove that goes broody al the time and will even sit on goose eggs. The Rouens are flighty, but lay lots of large eggs and the Pekins are big ducks with big personality and lay about the same. Good luck with your ducks.

  4. patspastured says:

    I have been raising Khaki Campbell for the last two years about 150-200 a season and they are amazing layers. They are also fantastic at grazing, I also raise them in movable shelters (not so great with electrojet, they run right throughout it). The one thing that no one tells you is that they are neurotic. At first I thought it was me and that I raised crazy birds but it is their nature. They make the greatest burglar alarm as they will quack wildly at the slightest movement. This farmer in CA http://www.metzerfarms.com is amazing. He is in a duck documentary. Who knew there is a market for a Duckumentary!! They have a laying duck that is as good a layer as a Khaki without their high strung nature, Golden 300 Hybrid Layer Duck (not such a poetic name). I am planning to try them for my next batch. Ducks have the best personality and the eggs are the best to cook with. Also my border collie loves herding them. Good luck Brie! ps it is really hard to get them to lay in a nesting box (which has to be on the ground) so be prepared to have an easter egg hunt on a daily basis.

  5. Cyndi Lewis says:

    I have thought about raising ducks too. I was thinking more for the meat then for the eggs though. Looking forward to hearing how it goes.

  6. H. Houlahan says:

    Ducks.

    My honest advice is don’t.

    They are not like chickens.

    After two flocks of two different breeds (khakis and runners) I just gave up.

    Despite being brooded side-by-side with laying pullets that became very tame, neither flock ever gave up its conviction that I was about to eat them at any moment. Panicky creatures, always piling up in hysteria. Made it a bummer to even walk through the barnyard. Made me want to fulfill their expectations sometimes.

    Absolutely filthy creatures. Just keeping the water containers marginally unpolluted was impossible. (And they had a natural pond and a wading pool for their needs.) Their little webbed feet pack down any litter into a stinky solid mat. Do NOT house with other poultry on deep litter.

    Then there’s the gang-rapist drakes. Whatever you do, get rid of the drakes. They will KILL your hens via sexual assault. Keep *one* if you want fertile eggs for hatching. (Also, Campbell drakes are too scrawny to make butchering them worthwhile.)

    The eggs are tasty and great for baking, but most of them will be dropped at random in the manure.

    I really tried with ducks. Laying hens, meat birds, heritage turkeys, broad-breasted turkeys, guineas — it has been All Good. But not the ducks.

  7. Sue Eleazer says:

    We will be attempting ducks this year so this is a great post. Our reason is twofold one for the egg quality in baking and two because we have learned that they are amazing at ridding the garden area of cutworms and other garden pests, they have a keen sense of smell and can find these pests deep in the soil and will dig for them as well as tilling the ground as they go. We are looking at Muscovy because of their quiet nature and their love of eating mosquitos and also the Welsh Harlequin because they are very calm and very good at foraging.

  8. I’ve never raised ducks, though like you, we’re thinking about it. I highly recommend Harvey Ussery’s book, “The Small Scale Poultry Flock”, which has a good chapter on the ducks he has raised on pasture. It has a foreword by Joel Salatin as a bonus :).

  9. Evan says:

    Ancona Ducks are the best for the farm and backyard!

  10. mike Cline says:

    We have raise Pekin and they are the best sluggers you have ever seen. There was not a leaf or rock left unturned. We had a sheet of plywood laying in the field and picked it up and the took out there and ate all the slugs and bugs. The boy showed them in 4 H at the county fair and this one duck would hold court and make noise and strut around put on a show. He was at the showing table and the duck would put his head on his shoulder so he could get his neck stroked. They were a welcome addition and yes duck eggs make an outstanding omelet.

  11. Leslie says:

    We got two lovely 6-month-old ducks re-homed to our farm last August because the drake fell in love with one of the hens at his first home and that doesn’t usually go very well for the hen. A few weeks later the female began laying eggs every day and hasn’t stopped (currently mid-February, and we’re north of the 45th parallel, so there is not a lot of daylight hours during winter). The eggs are light green and consistent size weighing about 63 grams, delicious fried, and make the fluffiest pancakes ever.

    These ducks are supposedly Rouen, but as we’re getting an egg every day they must be some kind of production mix, probably with Swedish — they aren’t as massive as the Standard Rouen, and even the females have neck bands and lay every day. It would be very interesting to know what breed/mix Polyface finds most useful.

    Our adult female likes to hide here eggs, so we need to keep them cooped in the morning, which they don’t seem to enjoy. The ducks do a great job with slug patrol, and around here thats a HUGE job (the wet part of the Pacific Northwest), so we let them free-range around our home. They are virtually flightless and not too noisy. They do “plow” the wet areas with their bills, which could be a very useful task if properly harnessed!

    We hatched a clutch of duck eggs under a broody hen and now have two maturing offspring … one is obviously a male, and this is causing some issues with the older drake, more than with chickens, so we need more females ASAP. I am hoping the female duck goes broody soon so we can let her raise her own ducklings (ducklings are messy and dealing with the water, and the introduction to the flock of hand-raised ducks, is less than ideal for us).

    I like this mutt breed very much, and am hoping to expand the duck population and habitat here. Our ducks do like to sleep in their pond, so eventually their secure night home will have a cleanable water bed. The main concern at the moment is keeping the flightier chickens in their pasture so the older drake can’t catch them to mate. I would love to read about how Polyface farms addresses the feeding/watering/housing of ducks as these things are turning out to be quite different than for chickens. In particular, offering constant access to clean water without wasting a lot of water or getting the whole area wet is a challenge.

    I am also interested in Khaki Campbells, a cross between Rouen and Runner which lays great eggs and I’ve read this breed is the best with slugs. Raising meat ducks is also a goal — duck eggs and meat are so underutilized here in the USA.

    • Brie Aronson says:

      Thanks for the info Leslie, it’s very helpful! Polyface is not raising ducks at this point, I am just hoping to raise a few for myself at my home off the farm.

      • Leslie says:

        I think you’ll really like having them around, and you’ll love the eggs. Please let us know how your duck project goes!

  12. We’ve been getting ready for some ducks too — Our friends have Indian Runners and they seem to lay quite a few eggs, they aren’t in need of a large pond, and they are great sluggers!

  13. The Khaki Campbells are amazing egg layers, and are also really feed efficient. They lay the most out of all the other breeds. Their small size is also nice. I personally love the Magpies, just for their color! 🙂 Duck eggs are amazing to cook with; makes a huge difference in cakes and other such desserts.

  14. I had Indian Runners and enjoyed them very much. They lay almost every day of the year (NC), but they are skiddish. If they’re in a coop or pen, it must be taller than chicken heights because Indian Runners (and most other ducks) are taller than chickens and need more “extension room.” They are fun to see swimming, but DON’T leave them on a pond. They won’t come off of it because they love it so much! They aren’t very broody mothers but they will do it. I’ve seen excellent things about Khaki Campbells too, and they’re much more friendly than Indian Runners, which is most likely better unless you don’t intend to “socialize” with them a lot. In general, the bigger the duck, the fewer eggs it lays throughout the year. But Pekins make GREAT meat! It’s astounding at all you can get off a duck! Oh, and don’t have more than one male in the same space!

  15. Cheryl Jones says:

    Hello! I am from Western Australia and have just found your page and blog via Facebook. Gotta love Facebook! I am a poultry lover and have nearly 200 birds- guinea fowl, chooks, geese and ducks. Duck eggs are excellent for cooking and make scrambled eggs sublime (two chook eggs to one duck egg- perfection in a pan!). I have Muscovy ducks, Rouen Clairs, Welsh Harlequins, Pekins and Cayugas. All of them lay a heck of a lot of eggs but the Muscovy ducks are the best brooders and make a heck of a lot of babies! Best thing is they will sit on anyone’s eggs and have raised Guinea Fowl keets and chickens as well as other ducklings from other species. If you are just wanting eggs for your family any breed will do, although Indian Runners and Khaki Campbells are reputably the best layers. Remember, all ducks go off the lay when they moult and some breeds also don’t lay for a few months over winter when they would naturally not be breeding so you will not get eggs all year. My favourite ducks are my Welsh Harlequins because they are real characters and very talkative. They have some very entertaining habits and are beautiful birds to boot. Good luck with your duck endeavours!

  16. Alex Whitney says:

    Cayuga and Khaki Campbell are easy keepers and good egg layers, Rouen males are especially rough and very hard on chickens as well as female ducks. Ducks take a lot more work, are crazy with water up-keep and males can kill chickens so watch out! But the eggs are so good. They make the best baked goods and quiche. I had to give up my favorite eggs for peace on the farm.

  17. Hello Brie! I’m a mom from Minnesota and we raise ducks on our small farm. We specialize in Khaki Campbell ducks. Why? Because they are known to be the best egg layers, laying almost everyday year round! They look like a monochromatic mallard and are a little bit bigger than a mallard. They are the perfect duck in my eyes since they lay well and make nice meat birds too. They are very friendly if handled right away at birth and they don’t seem to wander or fly away. They are also hardy in the winter and easy to maintain. We just love them.

    Maybe they will win you over too! I have pictures of them at my blog: http://www.arealhousewifeofcarvercounty.blogspot.com if you want to see what they look like.

    Good luck!

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