Ducks on the farm? I’m not sure, but I thought it was worth doing a little research to find out. After all, baby ducklings are A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E!!!! Yet, like all baby animals, they grow up and I needed to know what purpose they serve on the farm.
Here is what I now know about ducks thus far.
– The #1 breed raised here in the U.S. is the White Pekin duck. It accounts for 95% of the duck meat consumed in the U.S. and is a dual-breed duck. Adults weigh 8-11 lbs. and the female White Pekin will lay 140 – 200 eggs per year. It is a nervous breed, typically too heavy to fly, has an average lifespan of 9-12 years and is considered the easiest breed to dress. They are also a watchdog type breed warning humans and other animals of approaching strangers or danger.
– Some other common breeds of ducks here in the U.S. are the Indian Runner, Cayuga, Buff, Muscovy, Swedish, Welsh Harlequin, Silver Appleyard, Khaki Campbell, Rouens, Magpie, Saxony and Mallard. I will be gathering more information on the various breeds in the future.
– Compared to chicken eggs, duck eggs are larger and have a tougher shell. Nutritionally, they are similar to chicken eggs, but have more protein and slightly higher amounts of vitamins and minerals. They also have a slightly higher saturated fat content and have 50% more monounsaturated fat. If watching your cholesterol intake, duck eggs may not be a good choice having 884 mg of cholesterol compared to 425 mg in chicken eggs. Leave out the yolk though and you’ll certainly get more protein in a duck egg.
– Everything done with a chicken egg can be done with a duck egg. I’ve been told that duck eggs are an excellent choice when baking, especially in cakes making them rise higher and providing more moisture. And although it’s always a matter of preference, many who have tried duck eggs state they prefer them to chicken eggs. I’ve never personally tried duck eggs, so I can’t give my opinion.
– If looking for pest control, ducks are an excellent choice. They will consume slugs, snails, mosquito pupae, Japanese beetle larvae, potato beetles and grasshoppers.
– Ducks are valuable additions to the homestead garden as well. Their manure is a great addition to the garden and worms will consume molten feathers, pulling them down into their garden worm holes (and we all know how beneficial worms are for the garden). And of course there is the pest control factor as well. I could have used some ducks for my squash bug problem this year.
– Ducks are more resistant to disease and more adaptable than chickens. However, they can be messier than chickens due to their love of water.
While I’ve just skimmed the surface on my duck research, I can certainly understand why ducks would be a good addition to the homestead – eggs, pest control, plant food for the garden and meat.
Ducks on the farm? A definite possibility!
I grew up with Indian Runner ducks. I was in 4-H and my mom wanted to give us an edge toward winning in the duck competition (because we take the 4-H fair SERIOUSLY in Indiana) so we invested in Indian Runners and had a flock of between 8 and 12. They were fascinating and they truly just dart around. No waddling for those guys! AND they did give us an edge because I won grand champion every year! AND my duck eggs won in the eggs competition over all the chicken eggs because of size and uniformity and overall ducktasticness. So yeah, I feel like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm right now while I’m typing all this, but I highly recommend the runners. They’re personable, and one of them took to following my mom around like a dog. They’re so much fun!
Thanks for the info. Of course I assume this means you’ve eaten duck eggs? What is your opinion? Better than chicken eggs?
They’re larger, so there’s more “egg” to eat, but I truly didn’t notice any difference between chicken and duck eggs.
My beau and I have determined that duck eggs are NOT our favorite. They have a sweeter, thicker taste to them… And I prefer lighter foods. Duck meat is delicious, though.
The ducks I want are Muscovy ducks. They are a different species (the rest of these ducks are mallard derrivatives) and I have heard they taste a bit like beef. They lay massive clutches of eggs, hatch them out and raise them theirselves with extraordinary success. The biggest clutch of broody hatched duck eggs came from a Muscovy, 24 chicks hatched and raised to adult out of 25 eggs. They also are less inclined towards water, having less oils on their feathers making them easier to keep without a pond and easier to pluck as well. They also lay a decent number of eggs each hear if you prefer dual purpose. They are huge and they also still fly and have clawed feet so they can be hard to handle. The drakes are mute and the hens are quiet as well.
Good luck with your duck journey! I hope to have ducks some day!
I have just started my duck research and haven’t learned much about the specific breeds that interest me most. Muscovy is on that list, so thank you for sharing so much information about the breed.
We are thinking of getting ducks next year. I am concerned with noise (I have close neighbors) and them flying away (again, close neighbors)! But, I think ducks make a charming addition to a farm. Duck eggs are delicious!
Quarteracrehome left me a comment stating the Moscovy ducks are quiet ducks. In the little bit of research I’ve done, they are referred to as “quackless” ducks and another site states, “Although relatively silent, the male produces a low hissing sound and the female has a short, weak “quack.” Since you’re worried about the noise, it may be a breed to consider for your little farm.
We had ducks growing up. Duck eggs were then preferred by professional bakers. More fluff from each egg. We ate them and didn’t mind whatever difference there was. Duck and goose eggs are sturdier. They can be blown out and painted better than chicken eggs, if your talents run to that.
Friend here had kaki Cambell ducks and didn’t want to winter them over, offered them to us. They are reported to be the best egg layers. We didn’t take them, as it is so hard keeping water from freezing in the winter here. That is one of the reasons I want to farm somewhere else.
We had a turkey hen that got old enough to lay eggs too. Pale tan, with red brown splotchy spots. More pointy at then end and about half again larger than hens eggs. Firmer egg inside too. Tasted the same to us, but harder to crack without shell bits falling in your bowl. The turkey didn’t lay as often as the chickens did, every other day app. I gave quite a few away, as everybody was curious about them. I don’t want ducks on our farm unless water is easy to provide for them. Then if you have foxes, they might get them. April in AK
Since we’re hoping to land in the same neck of the woods, I can tell you there are a number of predators – fox, coyote, wolf, mountain lion, raccoon, skunk, weasel and black bear has been making a comeback. Our plan is to have LGD’s to help with the predator problem.
Part of farming this part of the country is dealing with freezing in the winter as well. Maybe not to the extent you deal with it there though. Heated water bowls will probably come in handy. There are also a lot of ponds, creeks and springs on properties. Having a water source is also one of our goals, which makes having ducks even more appealing to me.
Quite honestly, I don’t know that I’m as interested in having ducks for the eggs as I am for the pest control and meat. Then again, I’ve never tried duck eggs, so I don’t know how interested I am in the eggs yet 🙂