Over the last few years, there has been a major increase in the amount of backyard chicken keepers. But what about ducks? Do they make good pets or additions to the homestead?
Our first ducks were a complete impulse purchase. When picking up our chickens from the farm store the baby ducklings were just so-so adorable I had to have a few. Since that first impulse buy I have learned lots about how great they are and now I might just prefer them over my chickens.
Here are my top 9 reasons that you need ducks on your homestead!
1. Ducks are more cold-hardy.
Overall ducks are larger and have an added layer of fat that chickens don’t have. They also have waterproofing on their feathers to protect against the elements, as well as a thick down undercoat designed to keep them warm and dry in the water.
This makes them far more cold-hardy than chickens. Most of the time we think they are nuts, but ours like be outside in the frequent snowstorms and rain.
2. Ducks lay more regularly.
Our ducks consistently outperform our chickens even through the winter without any supplemental light in their house.
We average 3-4 eggs from four female ducks daily and even with 22 laying hen we only get about 12-15 chicken eggs per day.
3. Duck eggs are superior to chicken eggs.
Ducks lay eggs that are larger, richer in flavor and excellent for baking due to their higher fat and lower water content. They are also slightly more nutritious than chicken eggs.
Due to their thicker shells and membranes, they also have a longer shelf life and are less likely to break. You can get an in-depth look at duck eggs vs chicken eggs in this post!
4. Ducks are wonderful for pest control.
Given the opportunity, ducks will eat every slug, worm, spider, grasshopper, cricket, fly and grub they can find. They are great for keeping the ticks down around the yard.
They are the best natural pest control. Chickens can get be kind of fussy about what they eat.
5. Ducks Are Easier on Your Lawn.
If you have ever owned chickens, you know they love a good dust bath, and usually, a favored dust bath spot is on your lawn or in your garden instead of in the chicken run or coop. Dust bathing chickens can leave large areas totally bare of grass or plants.
Ducks don’t really dust bathe much at all. Instead, they prefer to paddle in the water, which you can easily provide with a kiddie pool or a stock tank with ramp access.
6. Ducks Are Quieter Than Chickens.
Squabbles over pecking order, jostling over roost space, and cackling when laying eggs are all noises hens make throughout the day. Most of the time they also carry on for no apparent reason at all. Roosters, contrary to popular belief, don’t just crow in the morning.
On our homestead, we currently have two roosters it is pretty much nonstop crowing. Roosters are the most annoying men and seem to feel compelled to communicate their manhood, especially when another male is present.
Ducks on the other hand, although they will quack loudly when agitated or excited, normally just quietly chitter-chatter. Males, also called drakes, don’t quack at all. And they don’t have the same dominance issues that roosters have.
7. Ducks Are Super Friendly.
Chickens generally are flighty, skittish, and even aggressive. It takes quite a bit of work to tame chickens. One of our roosters has recently started chasing my kids down. Roosters are large and make quite a show when they feel threatened. So soon he will have to make his way to the stock pot because chasing my babies is no good.
Ducks? Not so much. They have a sort of bubbly, friendly, and calm manner. Domestic breeds are sometimes curious but never aggressive.
8. Ducks are generally healthier.
Because they spend so much of their time in the water, they tend to be far less susceptible to mites and other external parasites than chickens. Any parasites that might be tempted to latch on will drown.
They also have hardier immune systems which helps them to stay in better general health and are less likely to contract diseases.
9. Ducklings are adorable!
Okay, I admit this comes down to personal preference. As cute as baby chicks are, baby ducklings are irresistible. There webbed feet are way too big for their bodies and they giant eyes will melt your heart. Ducks are truly entertaining. They love to swim and will have great fun in anything from a dishpan to a kiddie pool.
I hope that when you are considering what kind of birds you want for your homestead you give raising ducks a try. They are great companion around the house and always entertaining to watch. They are simple to care for and the rewards are great!
So what about you?
Have you ever raised ducks? If so, what was your favorite part of keeping them?