Raising ducks on your farm is such a wonderful addition with many benefits. At Merry Meadows Farm, raising our ducks has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences. We introduced ducks on our farm this last year with the expectation to add duck eggs to our list of food offered to the community.
At Merry Meadows Farm, ducks were added this last year unexpectedly on a trip to the feed store. We couldn’t help ourselves being overcome by the sight of cute little ducklings. Hastily, we bought four Rouen ducklings and headed home. We were already raising chickens and guineas, so we had all the necessary equipment on hand to care for the ducklings: a deep tub, water feeder, a foil pan for bathing, cedar chips, and a heat lamp. We kept the ducklings in our work shop until they were big enough for their own coop, between 4 and 6 weeks old.
Building the Duck Coop
We built a fenced in area outside our garden, had a dog house for them to nest in, and a
pool of water where they could clean themselves. We put bird netting on top to deter any
birds of prey, and other predators. We quickly learned that we needed a stronger coop. Raccoons came in at night and killed two of our Rouen ducks. Feeling defeated, we sheltered our remaining ducks in our work shop at night and built a solid coop. Since doing so we have had no predator issues.
You Lose Some, You Win Some
After suffering the loss of our two ducks, we bought 10 more. Since there were no Rouen ducks available, we ended up getting Peking ducks. Peking ducks are primarily used for their meat. So, we thought we would try our hand at raising these meat ducks. And we kept the the females for laying farm fresh duck eggs. Since then, we have adopted 4 more Rouen ducks, 2
more Peking ducks. And a runner duck named Moose from our neighbors, who could no longer take care of him. It’s amazing how fast the farm grows once you get started. I’ll share with you
some tips and tricks we’ve learned through our first year raising ducks.
Baby Duck Care
When raising ducks from ducklings there are a few things to keep in mind. It is important
to feed your ducklings non-medicated poultry feed. Ducks don’t need the extra medication added to most chicken feed and it could even be harmful to them. More importantly, you must add niacin to the ducklings diet during the growing phase of their lives. Some ducklings grow so quickly that their little bodies can’t keep up. They can develop issues where they can’t walk such as club foot or bowed legs, making it difficult for them to live a happy and healthy life. You can find niacin in brewer’s yeast or peas.
Water, Water, Water
Ducks need some source of water not only for drinking, but for bathing as well. Ducklings
need a shallow pool of water. They don’t produce their nature oils needed to float until
they start growing their feathers. Ducklings need a shallow pool of water, just enough to get their bodies wet. If it’s too deep they could even drown, so a kiddie a pool will work just fine.
Ducks Are Messy!
Ducks are messy! But that “mess” equals gold for your garden. Make sure you spread straw or leaves in the duck coop and run area. That way you can collect all that nitrogen rich poop to add to your compost. Nitrogen is one of the nutrients plants need to grow large and healthy. Composting duck poop is one main reason we decided to raise ducks on Merry Meadows Farm. You may even consider selling the composted manure to local gardeners as well.
Ducks And Gardens
Keep ducks away from your garden. Ducks love nibbling on any and all plants, including your garden. In my experience, ducks will eat any plants they can and they will trample the garden. However, letting your ducks wander around your garden yet to be planted is a great idea. They will eat bugs and weeds and give nutrients to the soil. Once planting begins, the garden is a duck-free zone.
Raising ducks is so much fun! Every morning you wake up to quacks and feet slapping the ground. They splash and have fun. They stay together and know when it’s time to go to sleep. They’re not agressive. Raising ducks has been such a joy and so beneficial to our farm. I hope you find the same joy on your farm.