Ducks?

I'm thinking of getting half a dozen ducks.
#1 -- It would be cool (to a geek like me)
#2 -- I'm imagining that they'll help keep the bug and slug population down in my yard/garden.
Has anyone here done this? Do they eat seedlings and other stuff you'd rather keep in the garden? Is this, for some reason, a phenomenally bad idea?
I have a plot of raised beds in my backyard that can easily be fenced in, thanks to the neighbors on two sides who have chainlink fences bordering my yard. I'm thinking of chicken wire, a kiddie pool for them to splash around in, and a ramp up into my garden shed so they have shelter when necessary.
I spilled the beans to my kids already, so they're running around the house "naming" the ducks we don't even have yet. Any input would be appreciated.
Thanks, Mark
P.S. Gary...My second year of growing garlic is upon me. Year #1 was a smashing success. Thanks for your help.
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I have ducks and find they do a fine job of tending the yard. They are fond of slugs and bugs of all sorts. They do occasionally find greens to their liking and have done some damage in the garden. They got into the lettuce and cilantro and ate it all down to a nub. I've seen them plucking cherry tomatoes from the vine. And they started ripping up the pumpkin leaves before I fenced them out. The ducks do find some landscape plants tasty, too, and I've had to put little fences up to protect those particular plants. They tend to keep the mulch from packing down with all their rooting around, too. Even more, I am getting delicious eggs every morning. The downside to having ducks is that they poop everywhere.
I have seven Indian Runners, two drakes and five hens, on an acre and a quarter. They spend their days hunting for bugs and I feed them duck chow supplemented with vegies and fruits from the garden. If you have less property, you might want to consider fewer ducks. I highly recommend Indian Runners for a breed. They do not fly and are relatively quiet, for ducks. They are easy to herd and seem to be rather intelligent - as well as endlessly entertaining. Indian Runners are also very good layers, if you are wanting eggs. Ducks are generally healthy and easy to care for.
A kiddie pool works well - just keep a drip of water running into it to keep the water fresh. The ducks root around in the dirt and get surprisingly dirty, and that water will be black in no time. If you live where there are predators (raccoons, coyotes, dogs, owls) you will want to secure the ducks at night - closing them up in the shed. I got flexible electric fencing to set up a pen with a small shelter and nest box where they stay at night. They patrol the yard all day. I have two border collies that sort of care for the ducks and keep predators out of the yard during the day.
Ducks are very useful in the garden and I hope you are able to get a few for yours. Your kids will love them too - especially the Indian Runners. They stand upright and look like little monks running around the yard, always busy, following each other everywhere.
Anything else you want to know, just ask.
Karen

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Well you may be interested but there were some Khaki X's going free from Freightliners City Farm in Islington/London <http://www.freightlinersfarm.org.uk/
They generally eat worms, slugs but will tramp on stuff (tho are better behaved than chickens IMO. ) They need a foxproof house for nighttime and enjoy a pool or pond to spalsh/dabble in.
This is aminly just form obeservation. I'm no duck expert!
Good for pest control after a crop though. Let them in and they'll help/clear ground.. Don't let them in when digging. They get right under your feet or fork.. Dangerous!
Not sure of you're location though. // J
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On 20 Oct 2003 16:44:08 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net (Mark) wrote:

I haven't done it myself.
Eliot Coleman, in his book 'The Four Season Harvest' mentions their ducks - they use them similarly.
My guess would be that you'd need to keep them away from seedlings because even if they didn't eat the seedlings, they'd probable trample them to death. Being walked on doesn't help seedlings....
Pat
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On 20 Oct 2003 16:44:08 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@bellsouth.net (Mark) wrote:

A great idea, as long as your neighbors don't mind a half dozen ducks walking around. Like the other person said, runner ducks are great bug eaters and egg layers. They're basically walking bowling pins with webbed feet lol. They're not great for meat, but since you're naming them I don't think that's what you intended.

I've heard they ravenously eat borage. They will hunt down and devour nearly every slug in your yard. However, every predator around will stake a claim to your yard, including raccoons and coyotes, so try to keep them safe. Ducks are not "property aware" and will go anywhere they please, including the neighbor's doggie yard heh.. Mixing ducks & geese can sometimes be a good idea, since the ducks eat the slugs and the geese have a little more attitude (ie "protect" them).
My former scandanavian neighbor used to have ducks and geese walking all over the place. I used to scare them off with the dog when they crossed the line, but that was long before I started gardening and thus didn't appreciate their beneficial nature at the time.
Dan
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<snipped>

I love geese. We have 12 -- 9 Toulouse and 3 Africans, living lawnmowers for 1.5 acres, hopefully eggs next spring. They take about a year to mature.
A gaggle of geese can run off a dog, but not a pack of dogs. This isn't foolproof. They'll make a big racket if there's an "invader" on their territory. They're smart enough to recognize their owners, and can be really aggressive to guests, esp. during breeding season.
Geese graze and dabble in water (sometimes to the extent of enlarging their pond). They must have enough water to at least immerse their beaks. They graze and doze, graze and doze, not strictly diurnal, so if they're cooped at night, they should have food and water in their housing. No stale bread - some low-protein chicken feed when they're young, later on cracked corn, and lots of tender grass. A 3-ft fence will confine them though won't keep out foxes etc. Domestic geese usually get too heavy and contented to fly. Housing isn't a requirement, even in winter, except to protect from predators.
They'll keep your lawn trimmed down if it started off short, and happily nibble many other plants. My rascals ate a patch of gladioli down to the ground.
BTW, goose doo-doo is fairly unobnoxious when their main diet is grass.
flick 100785
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Oh, my. I'd hate to see what you consider obnoxious. ; -) Grazing geese defecate a lot, frequently, and it's mushy and it smells and it stains. (They've got a caecum full of bacteria which help them digest grass; this makes them function like little web-footed cows!) I once had the nasty job of hand-weeding a daylily bed in which a gaggle of Canada geese had been lounging. Ugh! If geese become tame enough to come up on the porch and say howdy, you will be hosing off the porch on a daily basis. I like geese, but I don't like cleaning up after them. Maybe your ick threshold is higher than mine.
Monique in TX
flick wrote:

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Quite possible; I tend to compare anything's doo to kitty or dog, which are much more obnoxious IMO. And I have dogs, so it's a firsthand comparison ;-).
flick 100785

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Now that you've told the kids, the decision is made. :-) Please, *please* keep us up to date on your experience. It sounds as if you have a reasonably realistic idea of what this will involve, and other posters have offered some good advice. I'd really like to read more as you go along.
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(Mark) wrote:

My two pennies: Mark can say goodbye to walking barefoot outdoors, and his kids immune system is going to get a great workout. I don't know how one can form the idea that these animals are clean, because they poop a ton, and the soft, slimy matter it is made of persists for quite a long time. Maybe one should drive to a pond where there are ducks, and inspect the quality of the ground around there.
I am of course very sympathetic with people trying these things, I am just questioning the amount of work and discomfort involved in sharing a yard with ducks (somewhat separate quarters would be a lot better). If your wife is unhappy at you when you come in with your working boots for a phone call or glass of water, she will be screaming once ducks are around. Geese are, of course, much worse. But they are nice animals that can inject a certain amount of cheer in family life, not to mention real life experiences for the kids once the racoons get them.
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Instead of a kiddie pool I dug a small pond in the yard and lined it with 1" of mortar. About 4' in diameter and 8"-10" deep in the center with gently sloping sides kind of saucer shaped. This can be swept out clean with a push broom in minutes which is neccessary just about every day. I planted an orange tree just downhill from the duck pond and it sure seems to like the green slimy stinky water. -RP
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On Mon, 20 Oct 2003 16:44:08 -0700, Mark wrote:

I did this once, it's a really bad idea. Water fowl are shit machines, you are going to be knee deep in duck excrement.
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