Raising ducks can be a love-hate relationship, but definitely very rewarding. The pros and cons of raising ducks all make it one heck of an adventure.
Ducks need a large space and are always messy and loud. Yet are also hardworking, sociable, and friendly creatures. Their feathers can make your pillows, their meat makes special dishes, and their bigger eggs turn your baked goods tastier and richer.
Just like with other animals, raising ducks has its share of advantages and disadvantages.
And your success would still depend on a host of factors, too. Thus, it is imperative that you first evaluate your own capacity and capability and see if they can fulfill what these fluffy and noisy creatures need. The same goes with knowing if the cost, time, and effort are all worth it in the end.Learn how to raise your own quail and have an unlimited supply of eggs and meat.
Let’s start off by seeing ducks from the perspective of their pros. Ducks are not popular as backyard animals, farmhouse staples, or even pets without a reason. Actually, there are tons of them!
It might be your first time raising animals for something other than companionship. Or, you are a seasoned animal raiser looking to add more to your backyard or homestead. Surely, you will find delight in raising ducks for this long list of good reasons:
Ducks are excellent egg layers
Perhaps the most popular reason why ducks are being favorites to raise is that they are excellent egg layers.
Depending on the breed, a duck, in its peak reproductive season, can produce about an egg per day. And there are also some rare cases in that a duck can produce two per day.
If you are looking for the best breeds for egg production, consider the Pekin, Campbell, Runner, and Buff.
The Campbell can yield up to 340 eggs per year and can also be hardy when it comes to temperature variations.
Runners can provide you with up to 300 eggs annually in their prime years, and Chinese history tells us that they are used previously to scrummage through gardens for pests like snails, slugs, and insects.
Meanwhile, the Buffs and Pekins are bigger species, therefore, can reward you with more – eggs and meat. As egg producers, they can yield up to 200 eggs per year.
Longer productive seasons and lifespan than chickens
Ducks have a longer prime reproductive season for egg-laying than chickens. It starts on its 4th to 7th month of life and consistently produces up to its 7th to 9th year.
Though the production rate weans a bit at about 3rd to 5th year, you can still get a decent number of eggs up until the last years of its lifetime, or up to about 9 or 10 years.
Ducks mature easily
Ducks reach their productive age between 4 to 7 months, with the smaller ones earlier. This allows raisers to start recuperating their investment early and longer, too.
Ducks are inexpensive to raise
It is important that you supplement your ducks with the right nutrition, a thriving environment, and extra attention as soon as they reach their maturity age to maximize their optimum years. And the good news is, that ducks are one of the least expensive livestock to raise.
Ducks are active foragers. They can stuff their bellies with tadpoles, insects, snails, and slugs that may already be abundant in the environment. Ducks are naturally free-rangers but you can supplement them with feeds if you want to increase egg production or ensure a healthy diet.
Ducks can find food easily in their environment
One of the reasons ducks are inexpensive to raise is because their natural food sources are abundant in most raising environments. Being active foragers reward both of you – they can eat as much as they want and you get a pest-free garden in no time.
You can now allot your cost savings on their food by setting up a lighting system in their sheds. Ducks’ reproductive abilities halt a bit during shorter days like when it is nearing winter. A lighting system provides more light and encourages egg production.
Some breeds have tasty meat
Aside from egg production, ducks are raised for their meat. Some raisers opt for dual-purpose breeds to maximize their investment.
The bigger breeds usually fall on these criteria, which include the Pekin, Muscovy, and Buffer. The Muscovy also produces the largest eggs among the different duck breeds in the world.
Duck meat tastes a bit gamey and has red meat. Asian cuisine cooks Pekin duck on special occasions, similar to how a whole turkey or chicken is prepared during feasts.
In terms of nutritional content, duck meat is a generous source of protein, iron, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Meanwhile, duck eggs have a richer and more prominent taste than chickens’.
Ducks make great natural pest control
As mentioned, ducks are active foragers that can feed on bugs, snails, and even tadpoles in their environment.
They love being in the water and foraging in it more, too. This natural behavior makes them great pest controls in your garden without you being flagged for illegal animal labor practices.
Ducks will not wreak havoc on your garden
This is actually one of the advantages that ducks have over chickens. Aside from cleaning your garden from pests, they also do not feast on your plants.
Though you can expect an occasional bite or two on your plants (lettuce cabbage, spinach, lettuce, green beans, tomatoes, cucumber, and broccoli are some of their favorites, so it is best to fence off those plants) they will definitely leave them alone as soon as possible to continue foraging on snails, bugs, and other moving creatures.
In addition, ducks can make great soil aerators. While chickens peck and scratch, ducks use their rounded bills on the soil, which does not harm your garden and plants, too.
Ducks have tons of breeds to choose from
Ducks come in large, extended families – they come in different breeds and cross-breeds. You have lots of choices when it comes to choosing the right breed for your preference.
Are you raising ducks for eggs or meat? Do you want to adorn your pond with those ethereal white ducks? Are you looking to add color to your farm?
Ducks are friendlier to humans
Ducks will not attack or fly around (spare for a few breeds) your farm or backyard. Unlike roosters, drakes (male ducks) rather keep their heads cool and are not aggressive since they are not as protective of the flock.
Ducks though become noisy when sensing predation or stress as a means of coping with it. But overall, they are friendlier to humans and you will not worry about them attacking your children or your neighbors.
In fact, ducks make great pets – unusual but the companionship is something unique and rewarding as well.
Their flocks are welcoming to new ducks
Especially the females, ducks are cool-headed creatures that aren’t as territorial as chickens. New ducks can easily fit in an existing flock and would be actually happier to have more company.
Just remember not to overcrowd their space leaving a small area to forage and move around. This can stress your ducks and can affect their egg-laying and health in general.
Ducks are sociable creatures
Ducks are babble heads and would love to converse with each other. You will just get used to different varieties of quacks and squabbles every now and then. They love to mingle, and drakes are notorious mates, too!
Ducks can also be herded so it is easier for you to send them off to their sheds. Ducks are hospitable to new ducks in the flock.
Drakes are also pretty chill and quite secure with their ladies if the right male-to-female ratios are kept. For a drake, you should have at least from 4 to 7 ducks.
Meanwhile, this could also be a con since socializing with ducks means a lot of noise!
Ducks’ feathers make good pillow fillers
So, you got meat and eggs. And you can also get feathers.
Ducks undergo a season called molting wherein it sheds their old feathers to make way for new ones. The feathers make great pillow fillers, adding another usefulness for your livestock.
Duck poop makes great fertilizers
Being active foragers and having a healthy appetite, you can expect your ducks to be passing constantly and wherever. They can even have a go in the pond or their water containers.
Yet again, in the perspective of pros, this “mess” allows you to have a natural fertilizer readily available for your garden or crops. As you clean up their water containers, you can just pour the dirty water out directly on the soil or your plants.
Ducks can easily multiply
Drakes are always in the mood for some socializing and mating. And for this reason, ducks easily multiply on your homestead. Add this to their fast maturity rate, then you have more ducks to love and get eggs and meat from before the year ends.
But as a responsible raiser, you have to strike a good balance between genders to avoid overcrowding their space.
Ducks as security alarm systems
Ducks make loud noises when in distress, and this behavior may come in handy when they sense an intruder. Being creatures of habit, ducks can easily be distracted and get stressed when their routines, or even living spaces, encounter changes.
If an intruder suddenly appears in the dead of the night and has chosen to walk through the backyard, your ducks will startle and send stress signals in the form of loud quacks and squabbles.
Ducks are fluffy, cute, and irresistible!
Oh, the charm of rubber duckies! But the real deal seems to be cuter!
Ducks are irresistible animals that do a lot of crazy antics, which may amuse the majority of us. They love the water, and seeing them wade and forage on it is fun to watch.
They also got fluffy feathers that may come in different colors, too. Add to that their sweetness with their humans and that cute hips swaying from left to right as they walk is way too cute to handle!
No wonder some people raise ducks as pets. And gladly, they are easily likable by most dogs or cats at home. And if you are allergic to pet dander, then getting a duck instead makes a great alternative for a companion.
So, there are always two sides to a coin. As with other animals, raising ducks also has its own share of downsides. And if you love all the good sides, then you also have to embrace the bad that comes with them. Gladly, the bad sides are tolerable and are outweighed by the good ones.
Ducks are messy
These playful and active creatures also take their mess around. Ducks have this habit of getting all the water sources they bathe in, play with, and even drink dirty. They like to take dirt through their ever-busy bills and webbed feet. They may also poop on their water containers!
It needs extra effort on your end to constantly change the water frequently during the day. Though duck tummies are tolerant of dirty water, you may want to keep everything as clean as possible to avoid them getting sick or affecting the quality of their meat and egg production.
Using semi-closed water containers may lessen the work and adding hay around they may also help you dispose of poop and mud easily.
Ducks need more space
Ducks thrive in wide-open spaces with plenty of puddles to swim in, as well as grass, plants, and soil to forage. Ducks technically need more space than chickens, but, being amicable creatures, they can also share space with them without you worrying about fights every now and then.
Ducks also prefer sleeping on the ground, unlike chickens who fly on their nests or coop to rest. This is another reason for you to provide them with a larger space, unlike building multi-level coops where more chickens can fit at once.
Ducks make loud noises
Aside from being messy, ducks tend to be noisy.
While for a passionate duck raiser the quacks are fun to hear, this may not be the case for your next-door neighbor.
Thus, if you are looking at raising ducks in your backyard, make sure you will not have problems with your neighbors.
Ducks are voracious eaters
Their bills are made to produce noise and also to forage for food. Ducks pretty much have big appetites and gathering food will take up a lot of hours in their busy schedule on your homestead.
Thus, if you want to cut costs over buying them feeds, make sure their raising environment is rich with their favorites like bugs, slugs, small reptiles, as well as grass and edible plants.
Meanwhile, ducks can also be supplemented with feeds to encourage egg production. Duck feeds are specially formulated to contain protein and niacin. Different breeds may also require dissimilar feed formulations.
Ducks lay eggs anywhere
Ducks are highly mobile creatures, even expecting lady ducks. Ducks have the tendency to lay their eggs in different places, which puts you in the game of egg hunt even if it is not yet Easter.
Chickens are more disciplined in this area, but, ducks lay their eggs almost always on schedule. Thus, regardless of where the lady duck is, she will lay as soon as the clock says she needs to.
Duck ponds freeze in winter
Ducks love water and the winter season can be extra challenging because of freezing ponds and water sources.
Raisers recommend preparing plastic water bottles filled with 2 parts salt and 1 part water and are made to float in the pond or their pool area. These should help keep the water from freezing.
Ducks will eat your fish in the pond
Ducks can eat fish up to 8 inches long in a gulp. With that, do not be surprised to have a dirty and empty pond in no time.
It is not a great idea to keep fish and ducks in one pond unless you are raising the fish to be your ducks’ dinner. And even though you put bigger fish species, you are still risking their eggs and young to your ducks.
Ducks are lazy egg sitters
Ducks are given to be outstanding egg layers. However, they also have this reputation of being lousy egg sitters. With that, ducks are less likely to hatch their own offspring.
Thus, you have to purchase incubators to increase the hatching rate if you are raising for meat.
Ducklings are more vulnerable to predators
Sadly, their cool and chill parents who love to walk, forage, and socialize may have little time left to spend with their ducklings. Because of that, ducklings are more vulnerable to predators since mommy ducks are not broody and daddy ducks are not territorial and protective creatures.
Most homestead raisers keep guard dogs to help ward off predators on and off-ground like larger birds, weasels, coyotes, and bobcats.
Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em?
Should you raise ducks? If you have the space, have tons of patience and strength, and are someone who would love to watch and hear chatty, active, and adorable creatures every day, then it is a resounding “Yes!”.
Raising ducks involve a lot of work and can be overwhelming, but is also absolutely rewarding. You have a steady stash of eggs, access to tasty meat, and even have some feathers and down fillers for new pillows a few times a year.
If you are a beginner raiser, you can try a handful first in your backyard. If you own a homestead, then putting ducks on it will raise no major concern unless you keep wolves or other major predators, too.