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!