Ducks for Eggs and Meat

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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. :D

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!

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!

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Comments

  1. HeatherG says

    I’ve been thinking for awhile that I want chickens. Unfortunately I live in suburbia in a deed restricted neighborhood where chickens aren’t allowed. For some reason I forgot about ducks. I wonder how much work it would take to make our backyard more duck friendly?

  2. says

    So exciting Wardee!

    Right now we have 5 laying chickens. 4 are red sex links and 1 is a Rhode Island Red. In May we are expecting 10 more chick hens (Buff Orpington), 25 meat birds (the hatchery calls them Frying Pan special), 25 male Buff Orpington (also for meat except one to keep for rooster purposes) and 10 straight run (unsexed) Khaki Campbell ducks.

    I really enjoy my chickens. They come running to me when I go outside. Lately the ladies have been having visitors. Our neighbors also have chickens and some of them come down. Their rooster must keep an eye out for me to let the chickens out because as soon as he sees the ladies he comes running down. It is pretty funny.
    .-= Millie @ Real Food for Less Money´s last blog post… Oh YUM! =-.

  3. Christie says

    I wonder if my husband could eat duck eggs. He has an allergy to chicken eggs.

    Your ducks are really cute.

  4. Nita says

    We got 4 ducks & 6 chickens last year. The ducks matured faster & started laying earlier than the chickens by over a month. They’re also easier to catch than chickens, so you’re not chasing them all over the yard in some bizarre form of keep away for what seems like hours every time you need them rounded up. However, they’re easier for predators to catch too. We lost 2 of our 4 to stray dogs/foxes in the area. The chickens are faster, so no losses to predators yet, but we did lose 2 to Merek’s disease.

    We got another 4 ducklings (khaki Campbells this time) & 6 more chicks (assorted with 2 Ameraucanas in the batch) this year. If it weren’t for the fact that the one Ameraucana we got last year (our only Easter-egg chicken in that batch) has averaged 3 eggs every 2 days, & is currently laying 2 eggs a day – every day – we might have gone all ducks this year.

  5. Kim says

    We raised Pekins for years. The first one was a rescue from city friends who bought him for their grandchild’s Easter basket. Our 40 acres, complete with a large pond was paradise for the duck. We named him Maynard. I suppose he was lonely growing up all by himself though, because he became attached to our chocolate lab and would chase him all over the yard trying to mate with the him. Maynard would even jump on the lab’s back when the dog went for a swim in the pond. (Good thing Labs are gentle, patient and playful!) He would run to greet us whenever we came outside and let the children pick him up and pet him. He was wonderful entertainment.
    From then on, we added about 6 Pekin ducklings every spring. We learned females were not so motherly and would lay their eggs all over the place, (even the pond) and never gave a thought to actually sitting on them. We would use the eggs for baking if we ran across one in the yard and knew it wasn’t too old.
    Several of our flock usually disappeared through the winter, the victim of some predator. One early morning our preschooler screamed “Daddy come quick! A fox is eating Ralph!” Sure enough, a gray fox was burying the remains of one of our drakes about 20 feet from our front door. Ralph was always very protective of the ladies. We figured he gave his life for them that morning.
    We could never eat one of our ducks. We grew too attached to them as members of our family, and the charm they added to our home life was more valuble!
    Love the blog, Wardee. Thanks for sharing and keep it coming.

  6. says

    Heather – Oh, I know two people who could answer this! I’ll ask them to take a peek at your question.

    Christie – I wonder, too! I suppose it is possible. We could hope!

    Nita – That’s a good point. I’m sure my husband saw that, too, during his readings. He’s been very firm that we have to give the ducks secure shelter at night. And also he wanted to pick a non-light colored breed so they’d have the benefit of camouflage from predators. I’m sorry you’ve lost some of your chickens and ducks.

    Kim – So fun to read about Maynard and your lab! We’d like a Lab someday. Your property sounds like a dream – 40 acres and a pond! So sad about Ralph. :( I think my kids are going to have a hard time eating the ducks, too.

  7. says

    Much fun! We just came home with 18 chicks from our local Feed and Seed. This is the second spring we’ve done this, and I don’t find them to be too much work. You do have to feed them daily, and refresh their water weekly. Our chickens pretty much eat any table scraps we have, love cracked corn and any other grain. We have geese and ducks on our pond, but I’ve had trouble locating any eggs. I would love to try some! Maybe I’ll find one eventually.

    God’s Peace,
    Melissa

  8. says

    You really have to scour your city law to see if ducks and chickens are allowed within residential (R-1, RS) zones. Sometimes even if they are allowed there has to be a huge setback from human habitations (I have read from 50 to upwards of 300 feet). Even if you think its legal, I would suggest calling your city’s code enforcement department and get their approval in writing so you don’t end up investing money, energy and emotions into birds that you will be asked to move later. This is exactly what happened to us. Luckily we had a place we could take the ducks to and still care for them while we sort things out with the city, but it is better to avoid that kind of situation if you can. If you find that they are not legal within your city but you would like them to be, consider contacting your City Council to have it put on their agenda for a vote to change the ordinance. This process can take up to 3 years and may be turned down, but it’s worth a try.

    If you find that it is legal to have ducks in the city, you might consider going with Cayugas because they are a really quiet breed although they don’t tend to lay as frequently, or Khaki Campbells or Indian Runners who generally produce a lot of eggs, don’t fly, are quiet, and have minimal need for water. I would avoid Muscovies, as they tend to like to perch on fences and fly and definitely avoid Pekins. They are SOOOOOO noisy in a city setting. Your neighbors will not be happy. :)

    I hope that helps answer your questions! We have 2 Khaki Campbell hens (Meiling and Bacon), one fawn & white Indian Runner hen (Sassafras), and one blue Indian Runner drake (Cheetah).
    .-= Kimbrah´s last blog post… This whole Beck affair =-.

  9. beau10 says

    I was raised on a ranch where we had chickens (up to 24 eggs a day), ducks, turkeys (they were really good watch “dogs”), hogs, cattle, and two milk cows ( a Guernsey named Pet and a Jersey named Bossy – they exemplified their names). I had to milk the cows AM and PM, collect the eggs, etc. My younger sister and I decided to give a treat to the hogs and added sugar and water to a barrell of oats and threw in a few spices & other stuff and let it set for a while. The stuff actually fermented in the shed’s heat and we got the pigs really drunk – they couldn’t navigate in & out of the shed. We thought we had killed the entire herd – but they kept hitting us up for more after they recovered fron their hangovers.
    The duck eggs taste different from chicken eggs and usually will be slightly darker – after eating the duck eggs, you develop a taste for them. I do suggest that you do not name those that hatch: you cannot eat something you have named.

    • says

      beau10 – Oh, my! :) We’ve had purchased duck eggs before and liked them very much. Thanks for the tip not to name the ducklings!

      Melissa – I hope you find one of those eggs someday! So far, our hens have been cooperatively laying an egg in their coop sometime by the morning. We do wonder if that will last. And it might only be the one hen who is laying – which begs the question, might there be other eggs around the property? I’m sure you’re right that chickens are not alot of work anyway. I’m glad you enjoy yours!

      Kimbrah – Thank you so much for sharing your city knowledge of ducks. This will be so helpful, I’m sure!

  10. says

    I would be very interested to know what kind of housing and other accommodations ducks require. We have been thinking about getting chickens, and have had them before, but if ducks is a viable option?? We have the room, but no housing yet. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

  11. says

    I always wanted ducks, especially Magpie ducks, but I think we are going to go with chickens for now, since we like eating chicken more than we like eating duck. Maybe we will get ducks someday. It’s so cool that you have yours!
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog post… Soaked Spelt Irish Soda Bread =-.

    • says

      Marg – I’ll have to ask my husband. I think though that ducks are good for pests, so it might balance out. Does anyone else know this?

  12. Linda says

    We raise muscovy ducks for meat. Our plan is to have a flock of 300. They have been very easy to keep and the housing is very minimal. We are currently building a duck barn 30 x 60 so that we can provide the optimal environment for production. We also have 60 chickens and I would highly recommend having some with the ducks. The duck poop is very wet and can leave the ground very wet. The chickens help keep the ground tilled up and the bedding does not have to be changed so often and this helps prevent bad odors. When I clean out the barn I spread it out under the trees and the chickens scratch it up and it makes great soil. In fact that is where my winter garden is planted. The two compliment each other very nicely. I have enjoyed following your blog and e-course. Thanks for caring enough to share with others.

  13. Linda says

    Muscovies eat mosquitoes, flies, spiders, Japanese beetles, earth worms, horn worms, slugs, sundry larvae, frogs, salamanders, moles, voles, mice, and more. You will not have a mosquitoe problem even with pools of water around. In fact, it may serve the muscovies with luring some mosquitoes in for them to eat.

  14. Twinky says

    it is better to us that we have to take care a duck. It is very helpful to our surroundings. Its minimize insects, They are too noisy but it is very helpful to us. It brings us not harm into insect bites. I have 3 ducks at home and I surely love them. I treat them as my family too.

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