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
P.S. Gary...My second year of growing garlic is upon me. Year #1 was
a smashing success. Thanks for your help.
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.
Well you may be interested but there were some Khaki X's going free from
Freightliners City Farm in Islington/London
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.
On 20 Oct 2003 16:44:08 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark)
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....
To email me, remove the spam trap and type my first
name in its place.
On 20 Oct 2003 16:44:08 -0700, email@example.com (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"
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.
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
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
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
BTW, goose doo-doo is fairly unobnoxious when their main diet is grass.
Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com ).
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
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.
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.
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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