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Why Switch From Chickens to Ducks? (Homesteading Basics)

Would you switch from chickens to ducks? Should you?

Here’s my take on it:

Reasons to Switch From Chickens to Ducks

I have found ducks to be much smarter than the chickens and geese I had free-ranging in my yard before.  There’s one spot in my yard where I’m trying to introduce some native grasses, and by repeatedly shooing the ducks away, I have been able to train them to stay away from that area.

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As you may recall from Paul Wheaton’s “6 Ways to Raise Chickens” presentation, free-range chickens tend to make a mess out of everything below their favorite roosts.

paul-wheaton-6-ways-to-keep-chickens

Not so with ducks, who keep all their poop right on the ground. In fact, their poop is a big part of why I’ve started keeping these birds.

Ducks Bring Fertility to the Land

Why Switch From Chickens to Ducks?

Image by LynnB from Pixabay

Ducks make great fertilizer—they are truly prolific poopers. With a moveable paddock system, you could control that poop somewhat and direct it to different areas where you want it.

I used to use geese for this purpose—especially out in my fruit tree orchard. But my family got tired of the noise and nuisance caused by the geese in the yard, so I needed to change things up.

Ducks were just the thing. They fill their water trays with poopy water, and I just dump the trays out near the base of my fruit trees.

Killing Two Birds with One … Other Bird

By using ducks to replace the eggs from my free-range chickens and using the ducks’ droppings to fertilize my orchard, I was able to replace both chickens and geese. That lowers my feed bill, and I’ve still got fresh eggs on the table.

Don’t worry—I’m not done with chickens forever. I’m working on a new portable paddock system, and as soon as that’s up and running, I’m planning to reintroduce a flock of chickens (although they won’t be free range). In the meantime, ducks are a perfect solution.

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This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on May 31, 2016.

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This post was written by Marjory Wildcraft

COMMENTS(16)

  • pegs says:

    Wondering about keeping ducks; I live on a lake, with about 17 other lakes nearby. There are plenty of ducks and geese around. I don’t suppose that I can utilize the lake for them. I’d lose the poopy water. But wouldn’t they fly away?

    1. Sandy says:

      You can clip duck wings just like chicken wings. They can’t fly that way.

      1. Destiny says:

        Young Gun on Wow, I never knew that was the story, probably since I wa;&n#8217st born at the time. I’m going to have to give another listen to What’s Going On, that’s easily one of my favorite albums. Thanks for the story Jeff, and have a great weekend!

    2. Emily Sandstrom says:

      I lived across the street from a river with a hundred or so ducks. You feed ’em, they stick around.

  • We have been doing exactly the same thing, replacing chickens with ducks! The male drakes are not aggressive, as are roosters, and as a population, there is no night-long crowing, as ducks sing and whistle sweetly all day long. Ducks don’t fly away, their rounded bills won’t peck at you, or your other animals’ eyes (thinking it’s a new form of food), they love to be petted, and as Marjory says, they are smart enough to be trained, and will come to you when you call their name (or at least stop in their tracks, so you can pick them up). I love our chickens and our duck (all raised from babies), but the ducks are nicer & a lot more fun! Oh I almost forgot, duck eggs are twice the size of big chicken eggs, and they’ll eat the weeds out of your garden!

    1. Sandy says:

      We have the best ducks in the world. I don’t like “quackers”. They make too much noise. We have mostly muskovy ducks. No quacking. They talk by purring or hissing if the fell threatened. They are prolific layers. They can raise 2 to 3 sets of ducklings. Every year.

  • Steven says:

    Wondering about predators, I live in a woody area with many foxes and big prey birds, I guess you need to make a safe house for them, then can you train them to go in at night and close the door 😉
    That would be great!

    1. karen lendrum says:

      My ducks go in their pen at dark all by themselves.

    2. Emily Sandstrom says:

      Snakes eat the eggs. The worst predators are owls that suck their blood and kill that way. Eagles eat ducks too. Magpies eat the eye of the babies, and it’s illegal to kill magpies where I live. My Great Pyrenees lady Louise fought off these predators. Yes, foxes too, but not if a dog is on guard.

  • Lisa says:

    I have been thinking about getting Muscovies too as I have heard them called the “quiet” duck. We don’t have a pond though and am wondering if that would be a problem. Any thoughts? Can they be let out with the chickens? Thanks

    1. karen lendrum says:

      We use pans of water, in the summer a childs wading pool

    2. Jobeth says:

      1) I like cupcakes too.2) Poor Boots! She has those wide-open scared eyes!3) Nice (kitchen) work, Toy!Oh, and hey! Yo&#93u;re only 5 GFC followers away from 1000! :-)LOVE YOU, LITTLE SIS!

  • Brian says:

    Lisa;
    You don’t need a “pond”, but the ducks do need something deep enough to get their heads underwater and flush out their nostrils. All ducks enjoy swimming when they get the chance. It’s the wrong time of year now (Nov.), but a 3 foot diameter by 8 inch deep kiddie pool works great. Might want to invest in a bilge pump to help drain the water for use as fertilizer. I found a collapsible “pool” used for small dog bathing on amazon.com and it’s working well for my trio of Muskovies.

  • karen lendrum says:

    We live in Montana, and switched from chickens to ducks three years ago, we have found ducks are also much hardier in cold weather than chickens. We have to practically force then to use a shelter in the coldest weather. I also prefer the taste of duck eggs.

  • Owl says:

    Do ducks lay mostly year round like chickens? What do you do to provide for egg laying, do they lay in a coop?

  • Emily Sandstrom says:

    Duck eggs are much stronger-tasting. Great for baking, I did not eat them for breakfast.
    Ducks make the best lawn. In one operation, they water and fertilize, dethatch, and eat weeds. My lawn was phenominal but not good for barefoot walking..

    Male ducks will rape the females until they die, and will then have sex with the dried-out carcass. The worst of these drakes were crossed with mallards, and were huge. I had someone haul them away once a year.

    My chickens and ducks shared the same yard space (with Great Pyrenese and cats).

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