Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Duck Duck Peahen



When I have a crazy idea, Dara either tolerates it, or rolls her eyes and accepts it. I am lucky that she is pretty tolerant of my propensity to add more projects to the homestead. Recently she came home and said, "we are getting ducks". I think I am rubbing off on her. I wanted ducks as well, but I don't think she was asking.




I told her the ducks were her project. So who do you think feeds, waters and changes the bedding? Hint, their name consists of more than four letters. Here she is designing the duck house. I told her the dimensions of the left over wood I had laying around. I love it when we can build something out of scrap wood laying around.








Here it is. I have made some improvements to it since. I will do a winter duck post talking about how I insulated it later. Ducks don't really need much. If they have a roof over their heads, food and a water supply, they are pretty happy. My nephews kiddy pool turned into the puppy pool and has now turned into the duck pond.








The type of duck you get depends on what you want out of them. We chose Muscovy (Cairina moschata) ducks for multiple reasons. They are very quiet. If fact, they barely make a noise over a hiss. They require very little water and do not need a large pond to thrive. I do have plans to put in a sizable pond in the future. I am sure they will love it, but if you don't have a pond, a small kiddy pool or stock tank will work just fine. They are great foragers and will eat many pests on your property. They will pick mosquitoes out of the air and will happily devour garden slugs. They are cold hardy, great mothers, good egg layers in season, they will stand up to predators and the meat is great!








The large one in the middle is our breeding drake Half and Half. He came from our friend Mike's homestead. The female behind him is Mimi. She and the three young ones came from our friends over at Shady Coop Farm. Muscovy ducks are very interesting. They are native to South and Central America. They had been domesticated by many native peoples way before the "discovery" of the new world. All domestic ducks you have ever seen are all descended from the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) except the Muscovy, which has its own evolutionary path, sharing an ancestor with Mallard ducks.








Muscovy ducks are good flyers. Here is Half and Half on top of the garage with our peahen Fergie. At first they didn't care for each other. Now they seem to be good friends. We eventually caught the ducks and clipped their wings so they would not leave the yard. We were debating on whether or not to clip them. The decision was made when I found one of the young ducks in the road after work one night. That was our first livestock loss on the homestead. Clipping their wings does not hurt them and I recommend it if you plan on keeping ducks. 






3 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. Do you need a fence around the yard, and also, do you coop them up at night against coons and such?

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    1. Sorry, meant to reply to your post, see below.

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  2. Hello,

    We do have a fence around the yard. Ducks can fit through a very tiny hole, so you need to make sure the whole yard is secure. You will also need to clip one side of their flight feathers. We do not have a locking coop for them at night. They just roam the backyard and sleep wherever they feel like, even though there is a duck house. Pests that can climb like racoons and opossums are the real threat. Luckily we have only had one incident with a racoon, he is no longer around to tell his tale. IF you have good trained dogs, that is your best defense against nightly predators. Hope this helps.

    Patrick

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