Ducks go quackers for this aquatic "weed" Homesteading Basics: Do Ducks Like Duckweed?

Domesticated ducks

Duckweed is Great… But Do Ducks Like Duckweed?

In the last episode of Homesteading Basics, we took a look at the popular permaculture plant called Duckweed. If you missed it, you can watch that video here: Growing Duckweed.

Duckweed is great for the homestead – it shades still water in ponds and tanks, it grows fast so it’s a good nitrogen source for compost, and it provides a food source for snails and other wildlife.

But the big question for today is… do ducks actually like duckweeed?

Read more: Overheated Ducks – No Problem!

Ducks Love Duckweed

If Marjory’s ducks are any indication, then the answer is a resounding Yes! Ducks do indeed like to eat duckweed.

Marjory keeps a small flock of ducks all year round, and she’s worried that the ducks might actually eat up all the duckweed before it has a chance to grow back.

Her solution for these hungry ducks is to start the duckweed in a series of ponds that are separated by fencing, so that she can rotate the ducks and give the duckweed a chance to grow back while the ducks are off in another pond.

Here’s Marjory, and her ducks, to tell you all about it:

Simple and Effective Watering Systems for Small Livestock

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Michael Ford


Contributor

Michael has been the resident editor at The [Grow] Network since January 2015. Michael grew up in St. Louis, where he became a lover of nature - hiking and fishing his way through the Ozark hills in Missouri. He attended Baylor University in Waco, TX, and he currently lives in Austin. Michael has background experience in small-scale farming, commercial growing, vegetable gardening, landscaping, marketing, and software development. He received his Permaculture Design Certification from the Austin Permaculture Guild in 2013.


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10 Comments
  • CATRYNA WHITE

    Ducks love duckweed and so do chickens and turkeys.

  • But they do not like water meal? Some wild birds apparently brought it in on our half acre pond. It has spread over the whole pond in just a matter of months even though we have grass carp in there that supposedly eat it. But the ducks do not like it and won’t get in the pond with it there. They sip around the edges, but I presume they don’t like that cornmeal like plant in their feathers. That stuff is awful. We might end up having to drain most of the pond to get rid of it. Any suggestions would be great. We applied Clipper purchased from The Pond Guy, but the directions said to only do half the pond at a time. I’m afraid the stuff will recover before it is time to spray the rest of it.

  • Jay

    Our nick-name for duckweed is “Quack-cocaine”. It is the one thing that will entice nervous ducks to come close to us. Personally, I haven’t found it to be popular with chickens, and I’m suspicious that the reason it didn’t do well as a mulch is that the land biology didn’t have the right decomposers – it seemed to mat on the top and decrease water infiltration. That’s OK though, I have plenty of ducks to pre-treat my duckweed before using it to fertilize the ground. I will have to think about how to make a series of ponds for the ducks and see how long it takes the duckweed to grow sufficiently in our ecosystem.

  • Marjory WIldcraft

    Love that – quack cocaine! Jay, how many ducks do you have?

  • Jay

    Too many! We divide our ducks into “noisy ducks” (any breed domesticated from mallards) and Muscovys. We have 5 older noisy ducks who aren’t laying well any longer, so this spring my husband bought 11 Golden 300X day-olds and I’m finding them far more skittish than I’d like – hence my attempts to bribe them into sociability with duckweed! Actually, from what I’ve read, it’s very nutritious for them.

    We started the year with about 15 Muscovys, but they live to breed and have done so. They are excellent foragers, calm, and good moms. However, when I realized how many we were going to end up with, I started substituting Khaki Campbell eggs when the moms went broody. So far I’m *very* pleased with how calm the ducklings are compared to incubator/brooder raised noisy ducks are. The hatch-ability hasn’t been as good as the usual Muscovy eggs, but the KC eggs I was using were from very young mothers and on the small size, but if people are interested, I will post updates.

    Muscovy are a meat duck. They only lay in clutches and then want to sit on and hatch those eggs, so I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone unwilling to consider them as a source of meat. If you take all their eggs, they will try to hide their nests, and since they take 5 weeks to hatch, around here raccoon will get them if we don’t find them and protect them. Muscovy meat is much more lean than Pekin duck meat. There are some areas of the Southern States, where Muscovy are banned due to how quickly they reproduce and become an invasive species of concern. It is so important that people do their research before acquiring plants and animals. I appreciate networks, such as the GrowNetwork and Backyard Chickens for just that reason. Thanks!

  • Bob Jordan

    Does duck weed cause any digestive issues for the ducks, like diarrhea?
    Can they eat a lot of it in place of a commercial duck feed?

  • Wendel Adams

    I don’t have ducks, but I have a pond that is covered with this every year. Pond size is currently approx. 100′ dia. How many ducks would be necessary to keep this under control and still be a good feed source for them? do they need supplemental feed also then or would this be their primary source of food during the summer?

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