Why Ducks May Not Be Right For You

My mother raised me to believe that you can know God has a sense of humor because he created ducks.  If you’ve ever seen a duck go butt up, flapping it’s little webbed feet on the surface of the water, you’ll understand what she meant.  Even if you agree, though, there’s still a possibility that ducks may not be right for you. Why Ducks May Not Be Right For You l Honest look at the pros and cons l Homestead Lady (.com)

To learn about more homestead-friendly animals (even the difficult ones), you may want to check this out:

For the Love of Ducks

Perhaps my mom’s love of ducks was born in her youth.  She and her sister raised a few Easter ducklings to maturity.  One of those babies got bonked in the head with a walking sprinkler and sweetly peeped the rest of it’s life.

On another occasion, the ladies of the house thought they heard a prowler.  After a call to the police department, two officers came by to check on their safety.  They walked around the property to make sure all was safe, including in the back yard where the ducks free ranged.  A few minutes  had passed when one officer came to the door.  He asked if someone could come remove a duck from the trousers of his partner.  Apparently, one of the ducks had seen the officer as a threat to his people.  The duck had attacked the only part of the officer it could reach – his rear end.  Ah, ducks.

Ducks – an Impulse Buy

Knowing her love for them, I made Mom an Easter present of a few ducklings last spring, to her great delight.  Actually, we all loved them.  We agreed that there’s nothing cuter than a duckling!  The ducks were raised in our empty chick brooder.  We moved them to an outdoor pen when they were teenagers.  It turned out to be the largest and nicest of any of our animal pens.

Mom read up on how to care for them because it had been awhile since she’d lived with ducks.  We got our tiny pond working, and put a filter in it.  It was a simple matter to use an empty chicken house for a safe home, and to store straw and feed.  We were off an running!

Our ducks were marvelous to watch – waddly, fluffy, silly.  The best part was when the ducks had fresh water in their pond.  Land sakes!!  The pond was really very shallow, but those ducks would dive in.  They would make a circuit around the bottom, before bobbing to the surface of the water.  Then they’d splash and flap and play with each other.  Like I said – ah, ducks.

The Virtues of Backyard Ducks

Eventually, they began to lay eggs and  I think they hardly missed a day (even in the winter), once they came into production. Although, neither breed are really known for their high volume of egg laying.  The breeds we ended up with were a Swedish Blue and some funky Runner variety.  I never, ever do this, but I actually succumbed to the local feed store’s display of ducklings that spring.  So, I had no idea what I was getting.  Yeah, they were labeled, but….

They were well mannered birds, if a little gossipy.  The Blue would even let you pick her up and love on her.  We named the black one Duchess and the Blue, Gladys.

To learn more about the virtues of ducks in the backyard (think mosquito assassins), please visit this post from Mom Prepares.

And, no, your ducks aren’t sick when it looks like a down pillow fight took place in your backyard, they’re just molting!  Let The 104 Homestead explain.

Does your duck have an abnormal wing?  Timber Creek Farm can help with that.

Why Ducks Might Not Be Right For You

Duck Mess

BUT – you knew there was a big but coming, right? – ducks have their drawbacks.

I know a lot of people praise them as great farm birds.  They do have a lot going for them, to be sure.  For one thing, they are great soil aerators and bug catchers.

But they are also unbelievably messy!  I thought turkeys were bad, but you’ve never seen the likes of the mess a pair of ducks will make.  Here are some examples:

  • They will poop, literally, everywhere you want to walk in your yard.
  • They will take whatever water you have provided and fill it with mud.  And yet more poop.  Drinking troughs, kiddie pools, ponds.  All full of gunk.
  • Just when you think you’ve contained the poop, you will find more.
  • They spread their mash everywhere no matter how you try to contain their rations.
  • Then, you will find more poop.  Usually with your bare toes.
    Why Ducks May Not Be Right For You l Backyard Ducks pros and cons l Homestead Lady (.com)

Water Fowl

Remember what I said above about making a water mess?  If you provide a water source for them, be prepared to clean, clean, clean it.

We went through all kinds of filters and methods to try to keep the duck pond clean.  “Pond” is a generous term for our little man-made thing, which is not a naturally fed pond.  A natural pond would probably have been able to handle the muck with the natural filtration systems of plants and silt.

We read on one website that the only way to keep a duck pond clean is to keep ducks out of it.  True, that.

You’ll read that you can keep ducks without a pond.  However, you may find that it’s in your nature to sympathize with the duck and its desire for water.  There’s a reason they’re called water fowl.

My mother’s nature is very, very, very sympathetic towards any animal.  She had to have a pond for those duck babies of hers.  The process of cleaning up after the ducks every week proved to be too much work.  Also, because of our bird killing dog, we never did figure out how to free range them in order benefit from duck poop around the grass.

To learn how to safely free range your ducks, please visit this post from Timber Creek Farm.

Duck Eggs

Then there was the matter of the eggs.  Very few of us enjoyed eating them.

They have a strong flavor which some people covet, but I just couldn’t palette.  I tried finding ways to cook with them, but they’re so much more dense than chicken eggs.  They make a difference in recipes and you need to be prepared to compensate for that.  Many people consider this a benefit, though.

For more information on duck eggs vs. chicken eggs, please visit this post by Free Range Life.

Creating Your Off-Grid Homestead, by Teri Page of Homestead-Honey.com

Don’t Listen to Me About Ducks, Though

I don’t want to discourage you from trying ducks if you have your heart set on them.

We just decided that until we have a little more land and a natural water source, we’re putting ducks on hold for now.  I’m sure you duck lovers out there will have a thing to say about that!  But, there it is.

I still consider myself a duck lover.  I’m just not a duck keeper on this land, at this phase of life.  I’m good with that.

If you disagree and want to set me straight, just comment below and share your wisdom!


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86 thoughts on “Why Ducks May Not Be Right For You

  1. I have to agree with you about them being messy, messy, messy! We got one duck for Easter (from my ex-husband for our daughter) and it turned out to be a goose. While it was still a baby and so cute, we thought, Oh, there are so many of them left at the feed store, we have to take them too. So we ended up with about 15 of them, plus the goose. We felt bad for them so we built a pond out of an old bathtub sunk in the ground. The pump never worked because it got clogged with duck poop and other icky’s in the water. The water was always dark color and smelly so I had to flush it out at least weekly. The ducks pooped big icky piles of poop everywhere, and unlike our chickens who scratch the ground and turn over their poop, the ducks just made a mess. We didn’t like the taste of their eggs either so we didn’t even get the benefit of eggs for all the trouble.

    We were about to re-home them when a dog jumped the fence one day when we were gone and killed them all in our yard. It was an awful massacre. We did not replace them and I vowed to never own ducks again. I am the Backyard CHICKEN Lady, not the Duck Lady! So I totally understand where you are coming from.

    1. Ack, what a horror story; I’m so sorry about the massacre!

      If only the eggs were more to our liking or if only they did till their poop back into the ground.

      We’ll stick to chickens, you and I.

      Now, turkeys, on the other hand…

      1. My daughter bought me two blue crested duck’s, I fell in love at first sight
        One died the next day Duckie how ever hung in there for 6 months, she had seizures I googled the duck’s and talk to everyone I could on how to help her but, that last seizure she just couldn’t get over
        In the meantime my daughter brings me two really cute yellow balls lol
        They grew up to be beautiful white duck’s a pair at that how lucky
        To know nothing about ducks but, pick out a pair. Paddles and Waddles are totally spoiled
        This past weekend I got two little Cotton puffs (Cayuga’s) the weekend before that I got 3 Rouen’s one died
        All are happy duck’s the babies are still in the house
        Paddles he is my escort every time I walk out the door lol but, he has gotten to be snappy if I even act like I’m going to pet him
        I have to lock him out of the duck room to clean their bowl’s (every day chore)
        I do have a small back yard pond so my husband and I can sit in the sunroom drink our morning coffee and watch the two duck’s act like it’s the first time they’ve seen a pond of water lol
        Yes they are messy and beyond but, #ILOVEMYDUCKS

        1. I love the visual of you two sitting on the porch and watching your duck TV – so cute! They are so fun to watch and love on, I agree. Yes, they’re messy, but you know that about them and still love them, so it’s all good.

  2. I do have ducks and a pair of geese, and I love them. But: we live on 20 acres, surrounded by thousands more of pasture, and we have a very large stock dam. The ducks free range, so I get to enjoy all their positive qualities (once the messy, stinky little boogers are out of the brooder), without suffering from their negative qualities. I mix their eggs with chicken eggs 50/50 when scrambling, and I bake with them, and can’t taste a difference. Straight duck eggs are not for me, however.

    1. Duck eggs are. A little different, but I still like them. My husband will eat them every once in a while, but most mornings he will say chicken egg please lol

      1. They’re good for so many things, especially if you like to bake! I think we’re just more used to chicken eggs for something like scrambled eggs in the morning.

  3. Oh, so glad to see someone giving an honest opinion! I would have never known ducks were so messy! Now I know I definitely do not want to raise ducks because, quite honestly, I just don’t have the time for such messes – especially if there is no benefit! Thanks for sharing this information!

    1. Well, there are lots of benefits to ducks it’s just that in situations like ours (no natural water source, only an acre) they were just too much work for non-yummy eggs.

  4. I have a pair of rare & endangered Rouens. I do understand the mess they can make – but I’m willing to do the work (and actually make it/them work for me. I bought a prefab pond for them & I’m planning to move my garden just down the hill from it. Then, when the water is good & “fowl” as you call it – I’m going to pump it into my garden. Then refill it with fresh water & watch them have fun (that’s the best part). I’ve heard it called duckponics (I don’t remember where).

    1. For sure. Try duckponics where the dirty duck water is filtered by plants then cleaner water returns to the pond. I use kiddie pools you can just dump out too. Keep moving them and you feed your lawn. Don’t know what the egg talk is about they don’t taste much different but make baking rise far better. I get $8 per dozen mainly from chefs. So sell them.

      1. I just saw a video on duckponics – what a fantastic idea! Taste is relative – to some people, they really do taste different. Selling them is a wonderful idea, especially for urban homesteaders who have ready markets.

        Thanks for stopping by, John!

    2. My husband just bought me 2 Rouen’s 2 weekend ago and this past week he bought me 2 Cayuga’s I already have a pair of pekins I think lol they are big white duck’s lol
      My ducks are awesome
      Hoping to find a couple of Saxony’s at the flea market this spring

  5. Personally, I love the taste of duck eggs and there’s nothing better for baking. As for the “duck pond” I use a splash pool. No big deal to dump it, move it and refill it every day and the icky duck water nourishes the fruit trees and the flower beds as it migrates through the yard. Ducks are more personable than chickens but don’t follow you everywhere and provide non-stop commentary as turkeys are prone to do. They don’t scratch up my blueberries but they do eat my daisies. And, yeah, ducks are messy from start to finish and they never grow out of it.

    dropping by from The Backyard Farming Connection Hop

    1. It is nice that they don’t scratch – sooooo unlike chickens. When we aren’t in the city anymore I want to try guinea fowl for bug control. Ah, poultry – so many options, so little time!

      1. I know it’s a bit late but never, ever get a guinea Fowl. Ever. They are haters of other species and make a large amount of noise, and if they lay their eggs are small and don’t taste great. I know I sound like a hater but I speak from experience.

          1. If you want a pet don’t buy guineas. I bought 2 guineas as an impulse buy knowing they were probably never going to stay on the 7 acres I gave them-ugh, but I had to try. They went on to hatch 10 little keets. They have been roaming the neighborhood ever since. I believe we are down to 7 neighborhood birds after 3 years but everyone is loving the snake & it ck control! They scream if they see a strange dog but that’s about it. They are really pretty fun and neat to watch.

          2. Ha! Guineas are so funny – just looking at them makes me laugh. Thank you for sharing your experiences. We still haven’t run them but I could use the snake and tick control! Tell me, did they eat your veggie garden? Several people I’ve talked to about guineas swear they don’t bother gardens the way chickens scratch and eat up stuff. What are your thoughts on that?

        1. If you raise the guineas with your Chickens they will actually protect them like there own. They also make good watch dogs.They will let you know when something is wrong with the birds they protect. They kill snakes eat bugs kill mice. They have a lot of benefits they also make a lot of noise trying to make sure everything is safe. I live in the city and never had any complaints from neighbors. It’s usually the noise they make that annoys owners . Mine is louder than my peacocks. Also uglier but cute in her own way.

    2. Messy, but oh how I love ducks!! I have 9 plus a drake now. I have refined my duck housing over the years… They sleep safely overnight in a 4’x8′ (by about 24″ high) mobile coop that is open to the ground. I move it daily, so that it doesn’t destroy the pasture grass. They get to go out all day in a mobile electric fence, so they are safe from predators (bobcats). I use (2) concrete mixing pans from the hardware store for their ‘pools’ and change the water twice daily. These are about 28″ x36″ and have sloped ends, so they are very easy to empty, and big enough for 2-3 ducks at a time.

      I have stopped keeping chickens entirely, I just find the ducks more pleasant. They are noticeably more intelligent than chickens, so they are quick to learn to go home/ heard to new pastures etc.

      They are particularly messy as ducklings, I agree. I dread getting new ones when these stop laying! I have gotten a few geese in hopes that the geese would sit the duck eggs… we shall see.

      Oh, and I don’t find that duck eggs taste any different than chicken eggs, except that they are richer (and more nutritious!). They are great for dishes that really need good egg structure, like mousse, souffle, merengue.

      But chickens are certainly easier 😉

  6. Yep, they are messy and keeping their duck ponds clean isn’t fun, (We use children’s wading pools that we empty and refill daily.) but their antics are hilarious! Our eclectic flock of 23 ducks keeps us entertained daily with their social behavior and ongoing antics. They are friendly and sweet to each other and are even welcomed in our garden to weed, de-bug and hang out with us when we are working. Besides duck eggs are alkaline, more nutritious than chicken eggs and our local organic bakery buys our extras. We think they are totally worth the effort. We love our ducks!

  7. Thank you for sharing your insights. I have been researching a bit about Muscovy’s since our pond pretty much dries up in the summer heat and I’ve read that they prefer trees to water. But, your post has made me start thinking again.

    1. I have 2 muskovy Ducks that live with my chickens. I love them! They make a kind of purring sound and do a dance when I come out to see them. While they don’t “need” a pond like other ducks, they do enjoy splashing around in the kiddie pool I have in their pen 🙂

  8. I like that this is fair warning to those who think casually about getting cute ducklings at certain times of the year.

    We currently have a flock of 21 Welsh Harlequins. They are amazing birds, to be sure! Ours are allowed to pasture through our 3 acres, and a neighboring 6, and have access to a creek. I’d say that these are somewhat ideal conditions 🙂 The water access helps, because that quote about how to keep a duck pond clean is spot on!

    As for the eggs – I don’t find a difference in taste, per se, but rather in texture. They are creamier, and are excellent for baking. That said, yes – you do need to make adjustments. If you’re a homesteader, though, or are a person concerned about long-term survival issues, ducks and their eggs are awesome. Duck eggs are a more complete form of nutrition than chicken eggs (check the USDA), and in long term scenarios, provide a much needed fat into a diet. They are high in cholesterol, but it’s the good kind 🙂

    And if you do go this route, yes – their messiness is really the most difficult part, and free ranging or pasturing definitely minimizes that. Duck droppings tend to wash away easily at the first drop of water, so as long as you have good drainage and don’t keep them in too small an area, it should be fine. During the winter, we use the deep bedding method for them, and I have to say that in the spring, that compost has been an enormous help to our garden!

    If anyone has questions or concerns about raising ducks, I also recommend the Metzer Farms website, as they have some good information there, including duck breed comparisons – if you are not deterred by anything said here 😀

    Good luck!

    1. Metzer Farms is the best! I am lucky to live about 30 minutes from there, so I can go pick up ducklings whenever.

      AND FYI: Metzer is the (silent) duck supplier behind Murry McMurry’s chicken company! I was picking up ducklings once, and saw Murry McMurry logo literature on a desk and asked why. So if anyone wants ducks, go right to the source!

  9. Have you ever tried Muscovies? I have tried a couple kinds of ducks now and muscovies are amazing. They are pretty darn smart, less messy than regular ducks, and taste like veal! 🙂

    I agree that ducks are a trial, and I will never go back to a regular duck again. I love my muscovies though and will keep them for ages. (this year our hens have even hatched out a few batches for my freezer! ) We don’t eat their eggs though because I am with you – duck eggs leave something to be desired. (but MAN, they are awesome in baking!!)

    Great review. Loved reading about your experiences. I wanted to get runner ducks, but after reading this, I will hold off because I found out that I am not a regular duck fan. 😉

  10. Wow. I am sorry to read this and read other’s thoughts on ducks. We have raised both chickens and ducks for years and I actually prefer the ducks. They do make a mess with their water, but dumping out their pool and refilling it while I’m feeding and cleaning stalls etc is no big deal to me.

    The ducks are quieter, better layers, they love all kinds of weather, are far easier to keep warm in winter and cool in summer. They are hardier, barely even get sick and I find them friendlier AND funnier.

    I think it comes down to going into duck keeping with the realization that their water will always be dirty – and that’s okay – and managing expectations about them.

    Glad you linked up to our Blog Hop this week – and glad you’re still a duck ‘lover’ at least!
    Lisa
    Fresh Eggs Daily
    http://www.fresh-eggs-daily.com

    1. I love that ducks lay in the morning, so they are done, and can be let out while doing morning chores… rather than chickens that need a special early afternoon let-out. (I work at home between morning & evening chores, so I don’t like my day broken up too much).

  11. We also bought ducks at a feed store! The husband couldn’t resist bring home three for our two boys and myself. I have to remind myself to tell my husband to NOT bring home any animals from the feed store. We got a dog that way as well. Sigh.

    We do love ducks but they have been a different experience for sure from our 5 years of urban chicken keeping. I won’t say I will give up on them but I definitely will do it differently next time around.

    Our’s aren’t friendly no matter how hard we try. They sure are pretty though.

  12. Everyone always ask me, “why do you want ducks?” and I always reply, “…because they’re funny”. Yes, they are a messy disaster at times, but as long as you have that mind frame – it doesn’t seem that bad. That’s just how they are. But they sure make me smile and my kids laugh.

    I’m a proud duck owner!

  13. Thanks so much for visiting me at Create With Joy! I really enjoyed exploring your blog and especially loved this article as I love ducks and found your article very insightful!

    I host three weekly parties – Inspire Me Monday, Wordless Wednesday and Friendship Friday – and wanted to invite you to join us! I think a lot of my readers would enjoy connecting with you and reading your blog as well!

    Have a lovely weekend!

    Create With Joy
    https://create-with-joy.com

  14. Hi Tessa!

    Those are all excellent points about the benefits and drawbacks of ducks. I would add that waterfowl pose a significant risk to backyard chickens, especially in warm climates and in situations where the birds are not free-ranged. Coccidiosis thrives in warm, wet areas and with the amount of water ducks splash around, the environment is ripe for cocci to flourish. Cocci is a life-threatening condition that, when not caught early, is life-threatening, especially younger birds who have yet to build up a resistance to it.

    In any event, your points are well taken, thoughtfully stated and much appreciated. Thank you for linking up with The Clever Chicks Blog Hop, I am going to feature you this week, so please feel free to come grab my “featured ” button! Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick®
    https://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

    1. From someone who has raised ducks and chickens side by side for years in a large pen, as with most things, proper flock management/sanitation does wonders. We have not had a single incidence of coccidiosis, or any other infectious disease for that matter in our mixed flock, despite muddy conditions from pool overflow and not feeding our chicks medicated feed.

      Additionally, the way that young chicks build up resistance is by being exposed to small amounts of the pathogen, so inadvertently our ducks might be actually helping! Regardless, speaking from experience, ducks are a wonderful addition to a backyard flock – but as with any animal, do your research first.

  15. Really appreciate your article! We jumped into ducks rather hastily and while we don’t want to get rid of them, they ARE terribly, terribly messy and we weren’t prepared for that. We also use a kiddie pool and just dump it out every 2-3 days when we move their pen. We’re hoping to get to free-ranging in our garden long-term, but aren’t there yet. (Need a better fence with the dog.) I also appreciate all the great info in the comments! We’re committed to our ducks–no animal on the farm has made me laugh as much!–but they do have unique challenges that folks should know about!

  16. So glad to get the ‘heads up’ on the raising of these wonderful animals from someone who knows. I agree with you on the messy part. I don’t have ducks but have had geese and they make real good watchers! Messy too though!

  17. Love your post. But I have to say I am a huge duck lover and keeper! I don’t find them all that messy… I mean heck they are messy but to me it wasn’t something I couldn’t not work with. Cleaning out a water dish once every morning and a pool once a week. They love free roaming and more than anything love their chicken friends they live with!

    <3 my ducks! 😀

  18. I have 16 ducks and 12 geese. Messy. Messy. Messy. Did I mention messy? And the ruckus over the clean water in the pools for them! Gotta love em!

  19. I’ve long thought about setting up a lot of small kiddie pools in convenient places. Then when the ducks manure them up, just dumping them onto the garden or orchard for some fertilized irrigation…… but even that, then the water required to fill them up each week, has left me on the duck sidelines for now.

    1. Mike – so glad you stopped by! I enjoyed your swale article to no end! Yes, we thought of the kiddie pool thing and in the winter, we had them in a feed trough with a submersible de-icer. Ducks are just work if you don’t have a natural water source. I’m hoping once we’re in Missouri, we’ll have a pond (water is way more abundant there than here in Utah!) and we can keep some ducks again. I love them and want them to have access to water, which is in their nature, but I don’t want to have to break my back over it!!

  20. Don’t forget about clipping their wings! I raised ducks when I was a teenager, didn’t mind cleaning up after them (we have a plastic kiddie pool that I dumped and rinsed out regularly) and we enjoyed the eggs, until my mom became violently allergic to them. We just had to be sure to clip their wings every once in awhile. Ours would get in all sorts of trouble if they were able to fly out of their pen.

  21. This is a great post! You share so much information and related links for anyone curious about ducks. I have seen many posts on pinterest praising ducks, but not mentioning the fallbacks. There are also pros and cons to chickens. Just like getting a dog, you need to figure out which breed or which type (for poultry) is best for your lifestyle.
    I have a flock of 24 ducks and we free range them. They are messy, but wonderful. I call them my little mud ducks. They do not get pool privileges every day, mostly because of the cleaning of the pool. On very hot summer days or when they need a good bath. They get their waterer filled with clean water twice a day. In the fall, we open up the garden and let them have all the pool time they want in there. Gives our garden that nice wet poopy layer before winter hits. Plus they eat up the remaining leaves on the veggies and dig around for lots of bugs under the new mulch layer we add.
    Whether you have chickens or ducks, remember the cons can be used to your benefit!

    1. All very true, Emily! Thanks for sharing and taking time to leave a comment.

      Our new property is much larger and sports two ponds so we’re looking forward to getting ducks again. They were much more of a struggle for us in a small space but I know plenty of small space homesteaders who make them work beautifully for the homestead. Such a good point you made about turning cons into pros with the right management and attitude!

  22. I have developed a chicken egg allergy, but I am able to eat duck eggs with no issue. Fortunately my parents have a couple of Peking ducks and are able to supply me with eggs. I actually enjoy the taste of the duck eggs. One day I hope to have some ducks of my own. They are so relaxing to watch as they contentedly waddle around the yard.

    1. So wonderful that you pinpointed your problem and have a supply of duck eggs. I know lots of people who love, love, love the taste of duck eggs and am pleased you’re enjoying them. Ducks are wonderfully fun to watch and I hope you realize your dream of having some of your own! Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Here in my city, we have a medium-ish sized river coursing through it, therefore a lot of river front parks and family recreation areas. The parks also have ponds and streams with wooded places… plus the city is loaded with inland lakes… soooooooo, we have migratory geese, ducks, swans, everywhere. One of the riverfront parks acres of lawn is nothing but a goose and duck poop covered mess and you cannot walk anywhere without stepping in it. The parks roads and parking lots too are full of piles of foul, fowl poop. It’s disgusting. Oh sure, when the babies duckies and geese are waddling or paddling around like they own the place are so cute to watch – BUT, you also realize that those broods just increased the population numbers vastly, annually. Once – the parks were free of these dirty birds, but people began feeding them and they knew they found a great place to nest and raise young – so now no matter what they do to get rid of them – they just keep on coming. Some never leave and stay all year long -year after year…
    IF I want duck eggs – I go to the farmers markets and buy them there as I don’t mind the flavor of them…but they are twice the price of chicken eggs. I don’t eat duck or goose because it is too greasy and gamy for my liking. All I do know is that I never would to raise them or have them as pets.

    1. City parks are a difficult water fowl environment, to be sure. There’s less of what would be present in nature to help regulate both the fowl population (an abundance of woodland predators) and the poop (rocks, water plants, tree roots, etc.). It’s impossible to keep the area clean without human intervention when the number of birds gets so high and park staff is usually spread pretty thinly. Nature, though, has a way of evening things out eventually. I would bet that in five years or so, something will have changed to bring equilibrium back. Well, I say that, but really that’s only true in nature. Who know what the people in charge might do!

  24. I was thinking about getting ducks and once I looked into it I realized that there is far more work in them then the chicken see currently have. I am still considering it but the idea of dumping and refilling a swimming area daily definitely leaves me mainly as a duck CON. Lol. How often does the pool need to be dumped and refilled? I was thinking about duckdoponics but even then…… Refilling it too often :/. Then again we do have neighbors directly behind where our chicken coop is (we live on a farm) that have an extra large pond in their cattle grazing area. It’s probably about 100 or so yards from the coop. Would the ducks find this on their own and use it? Also, if so do you think they would come back to the coop at night? Thanks so much!

    1. There is a lot to think about, isn’t there? You don’t HAVE to provide a pond, of course, but they will be so much happier if you do. However, if your neighbor has a pond and you don’t provide one, the ducks will most likely go there. Your neighbor may not be too happy about it, though, because the ducks will foul the water for the cattle. You’ll most likely need to keep them penned and possibly clip their wings to keep them out of his water, if you determine he doesn’t want ducks in it. Ducks can be trained to come back to their home at night, just like chickens. You just need to acclimate them to the duck house and the area around it and they should be fine.

      They’re such lovely birds but it’s good that you’re asking yourself all these questions so that you can make an informed decision about their care. If you need more help or I was unclear, please feel free to comment again. Let us know what you decide!

  25. I have been raising ducks for the past three years and I LOVE them! I started with Welsh Harlequins from Holderread’s, which I think is the best source of pure bred ducks anywhere. Dave Holderread wrote the book “Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks”, so he knows his stuff. I would advise anyone thinking of raising ducks to get this book, because of all the great information in there. Ducks are not just chickens that like to swim. They do have different nutritional needs, like the fact that ducklings need niacin in their water for the first 8 weeks.

    I added Saxonies to my flock a couple of years ago, and love them. They are a very large meat breed, but they also lay good numbers of huge eggs. I just sold off my last Welsh Harlequins to concentrate on the Saxonies. Once they are past the really messy duckling stage, I don’t find ducks to be that much trouble. I had 20 ducks in a large back yard, and they get along fine with my two dogs. It is easy to dissolve duck poo that is in the yard by just hitting it with a spray of water. After a rain there is none to be seen in the yard, but boy, my grass is luxurious!

    It takes me less than 30 minutes a day to dump and refill two small kiddie pools and three water bowls. I use the deep litter method in their duck house, so I go in every day and collect the eggs, then use a small kiddie garden rake to fluff up the bedding and toss out any chunks of poo. I spread a thin layer of Sweet PDZ granules over the top, which makes the poo clump so it is easy to dispose of on the compost pile and it keeps the odor way down.

    I love duck eggs, which to me taste just richer than chicken eggs. However, after a few months of eating them like crazy when my girls started laying, I wound up allergic to them and now can’t eat them alone. I can still bake with them and cook with them, and I do. I sell my duck eggs for $5 per dozen because they are so large.

    Next, I want geese and goats!! My daughter says I can’t have them until I retire, because she doesn’t want to have to care for them when I travel for business. I am slowly wearing her down!

  26. We’ve got a few Anconas for our city homestead. Haven’t noticed an odd taste to their eggs, but they definitely have increased yolk. Having done meat rabbits, I have to say, ducks are down right clean in comparison.

    We have a flock of 9 who are producing for us. We made the mistake of homing them in our bathtub the first time. Whups. One bathroom remodel (that was going to happen anyhow) later and we are doing chicks in bins and kiddie pools.

    We were having a lot of trouble keeping their bedding dry until we started keeping their water in a paint tray liner so it would catch the splashing. It didn’t cure the bedding material getting moist, but it was no longer sopping every day and we could just layer up… till they started slipping out of the kiddie pool.

    Now we’re up to 25 (9 adults, 10 incubated 3 week-olds, 2 natural births, and 4 “rescues” from that natural birth batch (first year mothers abandoned the nests after the first two. The 5 remaining were hypothermic, one died)

    We’ll be putting 18 of them in the freezer (including one of our two adult males).

    Water:
    We are lucky and our property has a natural pond through most of the year. I could not handle sourcing their water artificially year-round.

    1. That is fantastic, Michael! Thank you for sharing what you’re doing with everyone. Ducks are wonderful critters. I’ve only eaten duck once or twice and can’t decide what I think. How do you like to prepare it? I’m going to try canning a good deal of my meat this year – I wonder how duck would do. We’ve since moved to twenty acres and now have a pond so I’ve been looking at ducks again because, for all the trouble they may cause here and there, I really do love them.

  27. I have kept chickens for 9 years and added a pair of ducks to my flock this year. They are very messy but I think if you take some time and research and prepare it can work and so far it is for me. I solved much of the poop and water problems a few ways. One my chicken run which is where my ducks are also housed and live is sand, sand dries up poo quickly and is also good for drainage. Two, I use a 15 gallon stock pond and I separated their water area from the rest of the sand run by building a short retaining wall (I also keep my ducks fenced from the chickens at the end of a long run) and within the retaining wall I set the stock tank on a large pad of pavers surrounded by medium smooth round river rock. This helps so much and makes things so easy to keep clean as I just hose it all down and it drains through the sand under the rock. I also happen to have my run right next to a rose bed so the water gets dumped every 2-3 days into there or when I get the larger tank with a drainage hole I can empty it by hose into my other flower beds right along the run. I also do not keep there water in there house or food which keeps that dry. So far this has been working. The ducks love it and I love my duck addition to the flock. Ducks just are so funny to watch have so much more personality and I really enjoy them even if they do require a bit more care then the chickens, but I think they are worth it. 😉

    1. Thanks so much, Meghan, for sharing your tips – those are great! Wonderful idea to incorporate rocks and sand for cleanliness and I be those roses are so happy to be where they are. Love those duckies!

  28. I do agree they are messy but we love ours. We have about 28 at the moment that we’ve had for years and always hatching duck eggs in the incubators. (I sell my ducklings) We wash them up and take them to our County and State Fair each year. Everyone in our neighborhood likes to bring their kids and grandkids over to see them.

    1. There is simply NOTHING cuter than a baby duck. So glad you enjoy them and their silliness. I’m especially glad you allow your community to share in the joy of ducks.

  29. In WA where slugs are king we really appreciate the fact that the ducks consider them a delicacy. It is gross to watch but also hilarious. We keep buckets of water around so they can run and wash out their beaks if it gets too slimy. We are surrounded by wild areas so have lost a few over the years to the local coyote. We have had different breeds but my favorite are the muscovies as they are quieter. We currently have pekins. Had 3 lost one recently so have begun fencing the entire yard. My favorite is when they come up to the house and stand and chatter to the ducks they see reflected in the window. They do it everyday so it must be a social gathering for them. I am not a big egg eater but used them in baking and my husband mixes them with the chicken eggs and likes them just fine.

    1. What great duck vignettes you paint – slug snot cleaning and window chats! I LOVE it! Ducks are truly so charming and I love them. I’d love to know more of your ducks’ antics – maybe we should write a book. 🙂

  30. I agree that ducks aren’t for everyone, that being said I started out with chickens and now I’m 100% duck. I don’t honestly notice much difference at all in the taste of their eggs, they just have larger yolks and the whites are crystal clear as opposed to the chicken which is opaque. They are in my opinion a lot better than chickens for several reasons: they do not carry salmonella, their eggs last longer due to thicker shells, they don’t scratch, they aren’t aggressive and it’s very easy to integrate more ducks in your flock, they aren’t prone to illness like chickens (no mareks), hardier in the winter, comical and I can hand feed them without pain or worry of being pecked. I enjoy them. The cons are they are very messy, but we keep their water outside side and use shallow pools for swimming. My ducks have lots of fenced area, due to the dangers of predators and they usually like to actually stick close to the coop. The other downside is that you have to make sure that you don’t have land that was filled at some point, because ducks will eat metal and get poisoning and most likely die if that happens. I would never go back to chickens, I love my ducks that much. I had both and my chickens were always trying to be aggressive, chickens production is not even close after 2 years. I look at it this way, every animal is work, if you don’t want to have to do simple things to clean up after them, then you shouldn’t have them at all.

    1. All great points, Kelly! Mind if I feature your comments in my next newsletter?

      I’m glad you mentioned that about metal as I have never read that or seen it – yikes! How much land do you live on, if I might ask? How many ducks? How big is their area? We have some maintenance to do on our pasture pond, but after that, it’s back to ducks for me. I miss their weirdness. 🙂

      I’ve been thinking about geese, lately, too. So many poultry options, so little time.

  31. I just bought part of a mountain in Tennessee. I have 98 acres with 2 spring fed ponds. There is already deer and Turkey on the land. We are going to do chickens and goats on very small scale like 1 goat and 10 chickens. But I was thinking of doing Mandarin Ducks because they are so beautiful. I would like to just do free range. I don’t want them to fly away though. Would clipping their wings work if so who would do it for me. we hope to open the area to the public for camping and trail walking. Do you have any suggestions on the best way to proceed. Thanks,
    Addie

    1. What a fun adventure, Addie! I suggest getting a really good livestock guard dog before you start free-ranging ducks. They’re really vulnerable to predators when free-ranged. PLUS, no matter how many acres you have, they’re going to poop on your porch. Why? Because they’re ducks. 🙂

      Here’s a good article from Timber Creek Farmer on free ranging ducks, just to get the ideas flowing. It is possible to “free range” ducks in large, airy, movable pens – much like with chickens. You move them daily, or every other day, so that they’re constantly getting new pasture. This might be a way to compromise with them and safety, though it does make it hard to provide fresh swimming water every day. Drinking water is easy enough, though.

      You can clip duck wings, much like with chicken wings. I would worry, though, that you’re taking away their one defense in a challenging situation – the ability to take off!

      Did I just make it worse?!

  32. GREAT ARTICLE! I really appreciated reading this. I always do better at things when I know what to expect. I now want ducks more than ever, BUT I know what to warn my husband about. We have geese, so I am used to cleaning their kiddie pools. (BTW, loved your comment on the “pond” :). This was quite a help. Thank you! vicki

    1. So glad it was helpful, Vicki! I love ducks and I think everyone should have them…except those that shouldn’t. 😉

      Talk to me about geese! We had one for dinner a few months ago and ever since I’ve been thinking about raising them. Do you raise yours for meat or as pets?

  33. Hello! I am currently running a 120 acre ranch in Tennessee. All the talk is ticks.
    I’m from California, and just got my first two ticks yesterday, so I am highly motivated!
    I have SOME sway in the say as to what we can do about it, and I’m thinking ducks.
    We recently had two geese up on the pond that flew off with their four goslings a few days back.
    The owner of the ranch has owned chickens in the past (terrible upset when they were all killed by predators (chiefly raccoons.))
    Also had some guineas that flew away straight off.
    My mom loved ducks. I want them.
    We have a pond about 75 yards long by 30 yards wide, and a 5 foot wide 1 foot deep creek- both of these features are separate and more than 100 yards from the main house.
    What I am thinking about is raising ducks and trying to turn them into a natural feature of our ranch.
    Yes, some will die, but it will be a natural death. I will try to keep predators at bay. But out here, I know I will not be able to save them all.
    I am thinking to replenish their numbers each season if they are not able to keep up production, out of my own pocket.
    I can build them homes, see to their safety as well as I can etc., as I learn more about them and their habits.
    I am asking because I think this is an unusual situation. Lotta land and water.
    We do not need the eggs, nor the ducks as food. Neither do we need to sell them.
    We will not have hunters on the property, and I won’t mind them flying off (though it would be great if they came back).
    I DO plan to enjoy them, though I will not name them etc.
    As I have never done anything quite like this, anyone’s thoughts, or better ideas will be appreciated.
    Understand, also, that if in the end I deem this a bad idea, (or it is too cruel a plan) I will not go through with it.
    Many thanks for your consideration.
    B.R.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Brennan! With your permission, I’d be happy to post this on our Facebook page to get a few more eyes on your inquiries. Just let me know and I’ll do that ASAP.

      My first inclination is to say that ducks can thrive without human intervention, of course! They do it all the time, all over the world. I would advise the presence of an livestock guard dog, regardless of what livestock you have around because they’re worth their weight in gold. As long as they have a safe, undisturbed place for hatching you should be able to ensure they keep their numbers up. The safer the nests, the more ducks you’ll end up with on a regular basis.

      I will say that wild ducks are hardier and more adept at living on their own. So, if you’re going to run more domestic breeds, you’ll need to consider that they’re bred for other purposes – egg production, meat, etc. Perhaps there are ways of encouraging native, wild ducks onto your property?

  34. I absolutely adore my ducks! The whole “poop” list made me laugh because it is so true. Ducks are incredibly messy, but in my opinion the laughter, and happiness they give me a is worth it! Mine free range, come and go in the canal as they please, but are promptly home at dusk to be put up for the night. I am one that used to (I’m vegan now) covet their eggs. Once they started laying I don’t believe I ate too many of our chicken eggs after that. They are so tasty! ! Now all of the ducks, and chickens are simply pets. I have to say the first 2 months with my ducks was very trying, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything now. I just adore them. We have Blue Swedish, Muscovy, Pekin, and Abbcott Ranger. The Pekin, and Abbcott found us. I never signed up for those two, but I still love them!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jessica! I think you’re so right that ducks are funny and personable and worth the work. I loved our Blue – great duck! I still haven’t had any Muscovy but I lived in Russia so I kinda think I should just on principle! Can’t wait to get back to ducks once our pond is fixed! So pleased you’re enjoying yours. Have a lovely day!

  35. Hi! I enjoyed reading this. I 100% agree on the mess! I have 2 Peking ducks that are an absolute delight. I love them so much! They have their daily swim in their pool and we hunt for worms together. I’ve been a duck lover for almost all my life. I raised a mallard when I was a child and he was my most special pet. They are so interesting and fun to watch. I say, if you’re debating on getting ducks, GO FOR IT!!! Just be willing to clean after them daily. 😊❤

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Robyn! There’s nothing more delightful than a duck, as you say. They’re way better than TV, that’s for sure.

      They’re so worth a try for any homesteader with a pooper scooper. 🙂

  36. Oh for the love of Ducks!
    Looking back I realized that all those childhood books my Mama read to me involved Ducks. Cute ducks, sweet ducks, mischievous ducks, ducks that sang, ducks that wore raincoats…everything except SMELLY ducks.
    I have 6 adult Ducks, and recently my pair of Swedes just became proud parents of 12 adorable babies.
    They are absolutely the cutest and they each have a distinct personality but oh that smell!
    They definitely make a water mess every chance they get! If you don’t like messes, ducks are not for you.
    Did I mention they SMELL? Because oh boy they do!
    I highly recommend doing Foster care for ducks, or volunteer with ducks before committing to owning them.
    I love my ducks, but wow they smell as bad as they are cute. And they are SUPER cute.

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