We got our first 6 ducks last year! They were the highlight of our summer! Oh, except for having 2 bottle lambs in the house running around with their diapered bums. Now that was cute!
I had heard that ducks were hard to manage because they are so ridiculously messy! So true. They are messy eaters and wet messy stuff comes out of their back-end on a regular basis. I probably would not have liked having them if I had to keep them contained, but since they mostly roamed the yard, I loved having them!
What would motivate us to get ducks you ask? Well, because they are only too happy to gobble up all the slugs that you have! Slugs are a delicacy for ducks! They roam your property and gardens, slurping up all the slugs they can find. We live on a flat, tired hay field that doesn't drain very fast in the spring. The slugs love the wetness every spring and procreate very willingly! The summer before, there was an infestation of slugs everywhere especially my garden! I had to pick off those slippery, slimy pests off all my garden produce. The slugs had been getting worse with each passing year. It was time to do something drastic!
I decided we needed to find some adult ducks that could go to work right away. We ended up getting 5 Pekin ducks, and 1 khaki Campbell duck from a guy down the road. As soon as they were let out of the truck, I knew they were a good fit for us! They were so pretty and fun! They are also so pleasant to watch!
We set up an old bathtub in their outdoor pen for the days that we wouldn't be able to let them free-range. Most of the time they got to go on slug removal duty in our yard, garden and pastures! It was so fun to watch them walk single file back and forth from our pond through our field, to the garden and back again. Always on the lookout for slugs!
I didn't think it was too difficult to care for them, we would fill up a low tray with a gallon of water with some grain, twice a day. They seemed to do very well. When we harvested a couple of them, they didn't have as much fat on them as I would have liked. But maybe that is tough to get some girth when you are a duck, walking all day long, finding slugs and other goodies!
We ended up putting some fertilized duck eggs in the incubator and got some really sweet ducklings. Super cute! When people stopped by they would want to hang out and watch the ducks doing their duck thing! Since ducks love water so much, we made a ditch that goes nowhere. Sounds funny, but it really helps dry out our land after a good rain. The ditch fills up and the ducks are extremely happy, and so are we! We get to watch them enjoy all that water!
The only downside, with keeping ducks with all their sloppiness; combined with our climate, is that they stay in a shed during the worst months of the year. When it's below zero for 3 months at a time and constantly dipping into 30 below wind chill, they just can't be outside. We think that the deep litter system with them has worked really well for this winter. We just keep layering dry straw so the floor stays dry and keeps any odors from getting too bad.
Did we have any success on the slug plague? You bet! There was a significant difference after about a month! It was so nice to not worry about slugs hiding on my garden lettuce. I can just picture a slug, somehow not getting washed off my garden lettuce and I somehow end up eating it! Oiiiii!
Since we are trying not to do as much incubating this year because of other demands on our time, I didn't think we would want to have ducklings hatch out. But the kids thought we for sure needed more baby ducks. They enjoyed having ducks on the property too! Hopefully in about 3 weeks we will have some little ducklings again!
If you are thinking about getting ducks, I say go for it. Keeping ducks went better for us than we expected!
Here's a verse for you:
....In humility, value others about yourselves, not looking to
your own interests but each of you to the interest of the others.