We were set on chickens; said we’d get them this spring. My husband, Jeff, and my daughter, B., made an elaborate spreadsheet tracking important (to us) characteristics of all the heritage chicken breeds. We were ready to order.
Then our friend Jami (the gal with the awesome cast iron seasoning post) reminded us that we might want to consider ducks. We were already interested, but we figured we’d wait to add ducks later. We revisited the subject.
Scratch the chickens. Now we’re going with ducks. Here’s why:
- Ducks are more aggressive foragers.
- Ducks need less care overall.
- Ducks quite often lay one egg per day all year (and bigger eggs, too), without taking a break (as chickens do).
- Duck eggs are wonderful for baking.
Now, I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t keep chickens, or that we never will. Just sharing with you that for the time being, we’re going with ducks.
Read more about duck breeds and poultry for small farms.
Muscovies – For Meat
We found a local lady – a friend of Jami’s – who sold us three Muscovy hens and one Muscovy drake. We will raise these for meat. Actually, they’ll raise themselves for our meat. The hens should each raise three to four batches of ducklings each year. One of our little hens, Addy (short for “Adventurous), started setting on a nest last night. She, at least, has been laying an egg a day since she arrived. This morning when I did the morning milking chores, I let the hens and drake out of their coop, but she did not go. Nope. She is sitting on those eggs, and looks too cute doing it.
We got two stock tubs for the ducks, for swimming holes, until we make a pond. They love watering down! (Well, except for Addy, who doesn’t seem to want to bathe.) Pictured is Seedy.
When they’re done washing and dipping in the tub, they look so puffed up! Here’s Guppy shaking it all off…
..and then preening for a long period of time.
Back to Seedy – like all of them, she spreads her feathers out in the breeze, using the air in her preening and drying routine.
Having these ducks has added a whole new dimension to our little place.
And here’s one more video, of a Muscovy hen and The Drake (as we call him) going after C.’s apple core scrap.
Please note that the Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Bird has declared: “The Service now prohibits sale, transfer, or propagation of Muscovy Ducks for hunting and any other purpose other than food production…” Read more: CFR 21.54.
Khaki Campbells – For Eggs
For eggs, we decided to raise Khaki Campbells. We ordered 30 ducklings from Holderread Waterfowl Farm & Preservation Center in Corvallis, Oregon. Perhaps in May we’ll get them? I’m still waiting to hear. We want to end up with 15 hens. So we had to order 30 unsexed ducklings in order that 15 will turn out to be hens, not drakes. As a side note, we saw two Khaki Campbell ducklings at the feed store last week, B. and I. We just about died – they were so cute!
Do you have chickens or ducks? Do you have favorite resources? How about funny stories? Please tell us more about them!