This kind of happened on a whim to be honest. My husband was the mastermind behind this. We had previously done some research on what kind of ducks we would want at the acreage… Is that what we got? Nope!
We went and got Bill & Louie from a man about 45 minutes away from us. We aren’t even truly sure what breed of ducks they are (farm mix seems to be a common way to name them without giving them a definite breed!). The male almost looks like a mallard and the female is a blonde/brown mix. Head to my Instagram and you can check out the “Acreage Ducks” highlight reel, I will be posting and saving everything there! Then the next night someone my husband worked with asked if we would take two of his female ducks and of course now we are started, we couldn’t say no (name TBD). Also, we learned it was helpful to have one male to a couple of females (apparently the good ratio is 6-1)!
Ok, so slight disclaimer.. I am obviously like less than a week into this but here is what I have learned so far!
The first is that ducks lay eggs just like chickens, and actually I have learned duck eggs contain more protein, Fun fact. We will see how all the girls do shortly here. If you want ducks mainly for eggs, they say the best breed is Khaki Campbell (most that I have read share they lay an egg almost daily, so that would be amazing). We will be looking for that breed in the future so we know we have good egg layers!
Second.. Water. So much water! Ducks drink and bathe and go through a LOT of water. They need water to digest food and they NEED water to dunk their head (and clean their nose out). The first day we had them home I didn’t get them water until later in the afternoon, once I filled up the first bin it seemed like they were excited/desperate for water. The second I left them they were drinking and cleaning themselves! So anyways, they should get fresh water daily. They get the water really dirty cleaning themselves and splashing around during the day! The second day I went into town and got a big pool to add to the pen for more water since we got more ducks (and brought some roosters over for a sleepover lol). As a note, something I learned was that grown ducks (6+ weeks should get a pool of water like this but younger ducklings you should hold off since they don’t have the same oil glands as wild ducks! And should only go into like a warmer-ish bathtub with supervision), do some more research for ducklings! All the ones we brought home are well into their life!
Something else we have to work on is emptying their water our daily in a better way. Currently I just dump it, but the coop here awfully muddy in some of the low spots so we are thinking of some sort of way to siphon water out into the grass behind the coop!
Third.. Food! Ducks will scavenge for greens and bugs in the ground. We also added a trough of food for them. If you can free range your ducks I have learned that is great for the scavenging and for them, however be wary of predators. Our coop is quite secure and so they just stay inside but we have been told they have more than enough space that between scavenging and the food we are feeding they should be healthy. They eat lots of greens which for some reason was a suprise to me. So they nip at the grass and weeds growing in/around the pen!
The gentlemen we grabbed the first two ducks from said he gave them bread sometimes, I’ve since learned that can be hard for them to digest so we have not continued that, just a note to share 🙂
Fourth – shelter! Its important to have a some sort of pen/coop (dependent on age) that is big enough for them and keeps them safe. Luckily, we inherited a pretty dang nice coop from the previous owners. Devin gave it a really deep clean, added new straw and once the ducks were here I just looked to make sure there was not huge gaps in the wire (one spot I found coming loose i just stapled quickly).
Ducks, unlike chickens, don’t necessarily need a heat/sun light lamp during winter! That was a big bonus for us! Apparently if they have good bedding and a secure house they can do ok. This is one point I am still trying to learn about more. I know we are far from cold weather, but I don’t want to wait and all of a sudden be worrying about ducks during our first snow fall!
Overall – Food, water & shelter. Those are what you need to have set up at the very minimum to keep these bad boys alive! They are awesome to check on each day, its been fun learning about them so far and I am sure as we continue to raise them we will have much more information to share! These are just the very basic necessities we learned as we decided to grab them. We are continuing our research and the best way to care for them as the days go! Stay tuned for a fall update on these guys!