Why Raise Ducks?

Ducks are easy to raise, and there are a number of good reasons to raise them.  According to Dave Holderread, author of Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks, they are “one of the most versatile and useful of all domestic fowl.”

As a meat bird, ducks are an excellent choice.  They are easy to care for and do not require elaborate housing.  Ducks are good foragers and can obtain a large portion of their food from forage.

Ducks can also benefit the family garden.  They provide high nitrogen fertilizer and help control grasshoppers, snails, slugs, potato beetles, Japanese beetle larvae, and other pests.

Some ducks, such as Runners and Campbells, are excellent layers and can produce over 275 eggs per year. Duck eggs are slightly larger than chicken eggs and can be prepared in any of the ways you would normally prepare chicken eggs, or used for baking.

Ducks are disease resistant, and most breeds can handle cold, wet weather well.

For more information about raising ducks, see Dave Holderread’s excellent book: Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks.

To see our full selection of ducks, visit: http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/ducklings.html

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22 Responses to Why Raise Ducks?

  1. David says:

    I have 9 one year old ducks and have ordered the giant white turkeys this year. Can they stay in the same run together or do I need to separate them from each other?

  2. Janet says:

    What, besides bugs, do ducks eat?

  3. Kathe in Colorado says:

    I got my ducklings from McMurray, and I am very happy with them. I do have 2 ‘kiddie pools’, and I put step rocks inside so the Rouens have no problem getting out of them. I have three different kinds of ducks and studied the different breeds before I got them. I didn’t want aggressive ones, or very vocal ones. I wanted them for laying and have cooked with their eggs in several recipes. I have heard duck eggs are lower in cholestrol than chicken eggs, so that makes them better for you! They can handle our cold weather here in Colorado too. I was raised on a farm, but all we had were chickens. I like ducks so much more. They are so fun to have around and not boring at all. Plus they keep all the grasshoppers out of my flowers and yard. Thanks McMurray for my wonderful ducks. Will highly recommend you for anyone wanted to raise ducks.

  4. el vigilante says:

    I would not keep ducks with geese during their mating season as the geese may attack the ducks. Otberwise, they get along pretty well. A couple of bricks in the bottom of a shallow pool will help the ducks get out if that poses a problem.

  5. Michael says:

    I have both ducks and chickens. I would recommend not keeping them together as the ducks get the drinking water dirty IMMEDIATELY due to their habit of sticking their beaks into the mud around the waterer and dipping the beaks back into the waterer, which they do repeatedly. The water will be brown within minutes of putting it out.
    If you need to keep them together, you could try building a stand for the chicken waterer that the ducks can’t get to, as they usually can’t fly. That way the chickens can have clean water if they want it, but some may still drink from the duck waterer.

    I would also be careful about using a kiddie pond with the bigger meat type duck varieties as they have more trouble getting back out and may drown if you are not around to pull them out. I have lost Rouens that way.

    Ducks will not automatically all go inside at night. You may have to herd them. You can also keep geese with the ducks and the geese will protect the ducks from smaller predators. I keep my ducks with a couple of guard geese inside a large dog pen which also has wire on the top so I don’t have to worry about getting them to go inside at night.

  6. Bill says:

    Question can you mix ducks and chickens in the same run or do you need to keep them separate? We have an enclosed run that is 15 ft by 25 ft. Current occupants are two blondes (Orpingtons), two brunettes (Wynadots) and two redheads (Rhode Island). They obviously have a lot of space. I was wondering what else we might house in the run without interspecies warfare breaking out.

    • John says:

      I have a pair of pea fowl, a goose, 13 hens, and 1 roster in the same run. In another run I have another pair of pea’s and a
      duck. The pea’s rule, then the goose, then the roster. My runs are a lot larger. It was a job covering the top with wire fence, but they’re protected from hawks, skunks, bob cats, and kids, but if you’re going to have pea’s you need lots of room for them to fan out.

  7. Chicken Momma says:

    Do ducks mix well with chickens? Will they come in at night like chickens on their own? Do they use nesting boxes? We love our girls and we’ve been tossing around adding ducks. We don’t want to have to put up a new/separate set up so I had the above questions. We do have predators so we have the girls free range during the day but in a coop and run at other times. Thanks for any suggestions!

    • John says:

      I got my wife a duck for Easter, and she stayed in our house till she was big enough that she would not get out. In fact she is 6 months old, and she still stays in the house in a plastic tub, and she’ll lay her egg at night in her tub. She walks to her day pen in the morning, following me down there better than a dog. Her name is Donald because we thought she was a he until she started laying eggs. Donald loves to get in my hot tub when I’m in it, I have to put her out every time but she keeps trying to get back in. In the house she likes to stand on my foot stool and watch TV with me. The more attention you pay to them the more friendly they are. She loves me to scratch her back, so does my goose…

  8. DANA says:

    They also keep my broiler rooster company since he cant jump up and perch at night…

  9. Bary says:

    I raised a couple of ducks this year and really enjoyed seeing them move about the yard. However, when processing day came I was amazed at how much more difficult they were to dress then my chickens! I could have processed 3 chickens in the time it took me to clean one duck! To make matters even worse, each duck had about 1/2 the meat as a chicken!

    As much as I enjoyed raising them, I have to say that I won’t do it again because they were so impractical as a meat animal.

  10. Debra says:

    Thanks for this information about ducks. I never knew that they could be kept in a coop like chickens (with a kiddie pool). I always thought you had to have a pond for them.
    I will definitely keep this information in mind when we order chicks next Winter/Spring and might include some ducks in the order.

  11. Roger Smith says:

    I really enjoy the positive comments and practical ideas listed from your participants utilizing the comments columns. Ducks of any description are simply wonderful to have, no major problems to care for and great to watch in their activities from grooming to eating.

  12. Jill Ghirardelli says:

    We live on a creek and have a chicken coop approximately 120 ft away on a small incline. The chickens have never ventured down to the water so my concern, if we were to start raising ducks, would be if they could find their way? and if so, would they come back home to sleep in the coop with the sisters (there are 9 at present)?
    Thank you for your input.

  13. judy ptacek says:

    I had a wild male mallard that I rescued with a broken wing. Got 2 Pekings, 2 domestic mallards. They lived together for 2 months, and when the others got bigger they killed the wild one. He was much smaller — is that why? Big Mistake.
    One of the Pekings is female and just started laying eggs. But she won’t sit on them. Is she just young or will she never sit on her nest?

  14. Nancy Claeys says:

    @Kirsten, ducks can thrive in a coop environment very well. We keep ours in a netted coop at night (to protect them from predators) and we let them out during the day to forage. They need access to plenty of fresh drinking water — they go through a lot of water! We provide a plastic kiddy pool (about 5 feet across, 1 foot deep) full of water for them to play in during the warmer months — but they seem to do okay in the winter without access to the pool. Please feel to contact me on my blog, http://elvigilanteblog.blogspot.com/, if you have any more questions.

  15. Nancy says:

    I have one mallard, 5 pekins and 15 magpies. I love them all. They are such a happy bird and make me smile every day. The magpies are 5 months old and already laying. I would recommend ducks to anyone — especially the beginner. They are a hardy bird.

    • Kirsten says:

      What kind of set up do they need? Would a standard chicken coop work? Do you need to have a body of water?

      • Kirsten,

        Ducks need protection from predators, particularly at night. They normally perch on the ground, so they don’t need a roost. In general, they don’t require as much protection against the elements than chickens. In mild but occasionally freezing weather, they should have a windbreak and a roof. In colder climates, they should have a coop that offers more protection against foul weather.

        Ducks enjoy swimming, but they don’t have to have access to a large body of water. A kiddie pool works well for them to bathe and splash around in. If you use a pool or other container having steep or slippery sides, it’s important to provide a way for them to get into and out of the water easily such as stones or a ramp. If you have ducklings, we recommend not providing access to swimming water until they are at least several weeks old. Ducks do need to always have a good source of drinking water. They use a lot more drinking water than chickens.

    • laramie says:

      What are 15 magpies? You have 5 pekins and one mallard. Is this a mallard hen? thank you

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