Let me introduce you to my new ducks: Abigail, Jasmine and Jemima
Apart from being undeniably gorgeous, ducks are a great addition to the homestead garden for a number of reasons, apart from their yummy eggs!
Ducks are great for pest control – they eat all manner of bugs and love snails! Bonus! Especially since I have been looking for effective and safe ways to reduce my overwhelming snail population in my veggie garden. My runner ducks, Jasmine and Jemima, have controlled access to my veg garden to forage for snails as they do not scratch up the garden and don’t eat roots.
Muscovy ducks will eat roots and shoots and are not suited to running through my veggie garden – but Abigail is an amazing lawn mower in my orchard! Muscovy ducks are also highly protective and will actually eat small rodents if need be!
I love doing my homework before embarking on a new adventure and there was plenty to find out about keeping happy ducks.
Here are some things I have learned about keeping ducks on the homestead as well as some links to very interesting articles that I have enjoyed.
While ducks can eat a good balanced mixed grain poultry feed and layer pellets, they also need a few extra things to keep heathy.
Ducks need Niacin (vit B3). This can be found in Brewers Yeast as well as several types of feeder insects that contain niacin, including mealworms, crickets, waxworms, superworms, and silkworms. Another great source of niacin is found in PEAS. Ducks LOVE peas! Throw some fresh or frozen peas in their water and watch them guzzle them down! Here is a great article about niacin for ducks
Always ensure your ducks have fresh clean water, especially near their food. They love to drink water while they eat and they also mix their food in water. This helps to get the food down their long throats and necks.
Avocados are toxic to most types of birds.
Crackers or any other salty, sugar-laden or fatty foods are bad for ducks, who gain weight easily. Added weight puts too much strain on their legs and can lead to problems walking. Ducks can also easily die of salt overdoses.
Citrus fruits (lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges) are thought to interfere with calcium absorption and contribute to thin-shelled eggs. Citrus fruits can also cause acid reflux and stomach pain in ducks.
Bread can not only make your duck overweight if fed in large quantities, but can also lead to impacted crops which can be fatal. In limited amounts, whole grain breads are okay.
Mangoes can make ducks’ throats itchy, as it does in some humans. If you do feed your ducks mango, watch them for any reaction. If they seem fine and enjoy it, then it’s okay to feed to them.
Spinach interferes with calcium absorption and can reduce the amount absorbed by a duck’s body, thereby causing egg binding in females, or soft-shelled eggs. Spinach is extremely nutritious but should be fed in limited amounts only. Read more here.
Also limit the iceberg lettuce you feed your ducks since it has very little nutritional value and can cause diarrhea in large amounts. Far better choices are leafy greens such as cabbage, kale and collards.
Ducks need plenty of space to roam and also a safe space to sleep. Unlike chickens, ducks do not need nesting boxes as they lay their eggs on the ground. Ensure they have a warm, dry spot to sleep. I use a thick layer of srAW in their sleeping spots and sawdust around their run.
Ducks create lots of moisture when they sleep and they poop a lot, especially at night, so it becomes even more important to be sure you have good ventilation in your coop. And you want to be sure that there are no drafts down at floor level.
Ducks need a deep water source that they can submerge their heads in. This helps to keep their eyes clean. They also need deep enough water to wade and swim in.
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