Now, there's a lot of talk about how "ducks are the new chickens," but I don't agree. First of all, I don't believe ducks are generally as easy to keep as chickens (especially if you don't have natural sources of water). But it's also important to note that ducks are not either/or situation. Many homesteads have both chickens and ducks - although they have different feeding and housing requirements and should be raised separately.
Why Would You Want Ducks? The Pros.
1. Ducks are excellent slug and snail eaters. They also eat mosquito pupae, potato beetles, Japanese beetle larvae, grasshoppers, and other bugs.
2. Ducks are generally better foragers than chickens, requiring little in the way of supplemental feed. Assuming you have enough foraging area for them, that is.
3. Those who are allergic to chicken eggs can often eat duck eggs.
4. Even when they free range, ducks are good about laying in their nest. They lay eggs first thing in the morning, whereas chickens gradually change their laying time and may lay someplace other than a nesting box if they are free ranging.
5. Most ducks breeds lay well even in winter, whereas chickens lay less in winter.
6. Ducks are supposedly easier to herd than chickens.
7. Ducks are hardier than chickens; they are less susceptible to disease and have "sturdier" babies.
8. Ducks are pretty easy keepers. Just give them a shelter for protection at night, water, and feed (which only needs to be supplemental if they have plenty of foraging space).
9. Ducks generally lay larger eggs - and their eggs are richer than chicken eggs (which could be a good or bad thing, depending upon your preferences).
|Duck eggs. (Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)|
Why Would You Not Want Ducks? The Cons.
1. Chickens may not be Einsteins, but ducks are even more dense than chickens, generally speaking.
2. Despite the fact that some people say they let their ducks free range in their vegetable garden, ducks will eat the greens there.
3. When confined, ducks need more room than chickens.
4. Ducks will muck up all the water on your homestead. They dig with their beaks, but when those beaks get muddy or dirty, they wash them off. They will use whatever water is handy, including water dishes set out for other animals. .
|Duck house. (Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons and Richard Croft.)|
5. If you don't have a natural pond, river, or creek on your homestead, you'll need to create a water source for them. (It's true that ducks can live without water to swim and splash in, but it's unkind to raise them this way.) Many people use a plastic kiddie pool. But, as mentioned above, expect to clean small ponds or kiddie pools often. Even with a filter, the water will get very dirty, very often