The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

A conversation about ducks

Black chicksAnna: We had a hatch problem and these guys are supposed to be our replacement layers for next year.  What shall we do to fill in the gap?

Mark: How about we buy a few chicks at the feed store to add to our miniature flock?

Anna: Ooh, that sounds like fun!  What about ducks?

Mark: Who said anything about ducks?

Anna: Ducks!  What a great idea!  The feed store has Pekin, or we could buy Khaki Campbell from a local farmer.  Pekin are really for meat, so the Khaki Campbell would be a better bet....

Mark: Calm down.  Weren't we talking about chicks?  You know, baby chickens that we already know how to raise and have the equipment for.

Anna: Or I could look online and see which varieties are available there.  Hmmm, let me look through my books, too, and find out what types my favorite authors recommend.

Mark: Hello?  Are you listening to me.

Napping chicksAnna: Ancona ducks!  That's a great idea, honey.  We'll order some Ancona ducks from Cackle Hatchery, and throw in 25 Cornish Cross chicks while we're at it to explore that meat variety.  It's too late to raise them with our current chicks, so we'll get the chicks and ducklings near the end of April and skip our usual second homegrown hatch of the year.

Mark: Where will these hypothetical ducks live?

Anna: In the starplate coop with our new layers!  Ducks grow faster than chickens, so we should be able to mix the two relatively young.  We can collect rainwater off the roof to make them a little pond.  Maybe make it drain into the swales above the apple trees for fertigation like in The Resilient Farm and Homestead.

Mark: Isn't that a lot of work?

Anna: Well, the new layers were going to go there anyway.  And Cornish Cross grow so big and fast, buying them will really make our broiler endeavor easier this year.  Did you know ducks lay better than chickens do in the winter?

Mark: Is this what you really want?

Anna: Can I have ducks if I don't beg for pigs or sheep this year?

Mark (rolling his eyes): Okay, ducks it is.

(Stay tuned for the more serious explanation of why we're trying ducks on our chicken blog next week.  Or mark your calendars for more fluff April 25!)

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I was wondering when you would get the itch to mix in ducks! We will be experimenting with ducks as well this year; i have heard several knowledgeable friends of mine claim to let their ducks wander in the (well established) gardens from time to time to help with pest control.

They claim the ducks don't bother the plants, apart from stepping on them occasionally. Fingers crossed for your duck success!!

Comment by nicole Wed Mar 19 12:37:22 2014
Duck eggs are wonderful. They are larger than chicken eggs and have a wonderful bright, almost orange, yolk. I have some friends who raised ducks for a while until the fox kept getting into the enclosure.
Comment by Sheila Wed Mar 19 22:16:09 2014

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