Ducks are wonderful homestead birds for meat, eggs, and bug control. However, ducks have their drawbacks, especially for small space homesteaders. Here are the pros and cons of homestead ducks with information about eggs, duck poop, and ponds.
To learn about more homestead-friendly animals (even the difficult ones), you may want to check this out:
If you’d like to skip the following story, just scroll down to the heading “Why Ducks Might Not Be Right for You”.
For the Love of Ducks
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.
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.
Why Ducks Might Not Be Right For You
Here are three reasons you might not want to bring these birds onto your homestead.
I know a lot of people praise ducks as great farm birds and 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:
- Ducks 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.
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.
Do You Need Water for Them?
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.
We had a pond for our few ducks but the process of cleaning up after them 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 the poop around the grass.
To learn how to safely free range your water fowl, please visit this post from Timber Creek Farm.
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.
The Virtues of Backyard Ducks
I don’t want to discourage you from trying ducks if you have your heart set on them. If you’d like to learn more about keeping ducks, please visit the following posts.
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!