Daily routine

Our adult ducks live in our backyard, in a secure house at night and in a movable grazing pen during the day. The grazing pen has a baby pool, which they use in lieu of a pond for bathing. When we’re home during the day, we also give them some "free range" time to roam the backyard. The grazing pen gives them enough room to move around comfortably while keeping them from tearing up the yard or the garden. (See my notes on backyard pasture.)

We manage their routine so that the bulk of the work is in the evening; all we have to do in the morning is move them, give them fresh food, and collect the eggs. This is much easier when you have to work off the homestead during the day. In total, managing the ducks takes less than ten minutes in the morning and ten to fifteen minutes in the evening, unless it’s time to clean out their pen. Continue reading “Daily routine”

Backyard pasture for ducks

Raising poultry in the suburbs or in a rural backyard requires some unconventional thinking, both about your backyard and about sustainable livestock management. Our goal was to develop a system of rotational grazing that wouldn’t destroy our backyard. It’s been a success, if not a complete one; we always have a few bare patches at the back of the yard waiting new growth, but the ducks do well, and most of the yard stays usable for us. But see the update at the bottom of the page. Continue reading “Backyard pasture for ducks”

Duck house and run

New crib! The ducks moved into their new house in October 2003.

When we first got our ducks, we put them under our second-story deck at night for safety. This was secure and comfortable for them, but not entirely convenient for us, and not a very good long-term solution.

During the ducks’ second summer I built this house and run at the back of our yard. Continue reading “Duck house and run”

Portable grazing pen for ducks

Livin’ large. Think of it as a duck playpen. (They do.)

I designed this grazing pen with several things in mind. It had to keep the ducks safe and content, it had to be portable, and it had to be easy to take apart so we could move it to the “real farm” (which, to date, we haven’t bought). And it had to look good enough to sit in the middle of the backyard. And not cost too much. Continue reading “Portable grazing pen for ducks”

Duck food and water

We started the ducks on Mazuri waterfowl starter formula, and then switched them to Mazuri waterfowl breeder formula. They did great on the Mazuri breeder for five years, and then we began having supply problems. In the spring of 2007 I started buying Southern States layer pellets, and the ducks have done fine on that. It’s about $12 per 50 pounds as opposed to $25 for the Mazuri, and since they’re not laying the way they used to, I appreciate the savings. I can’t say, though, whether they’d have laid as well on the Southern States feed in their prime. Continue reading “Duck food and water”

Raising ducks: The second year

Eddy the duck
Eddy, still the smartest and best-looking of the bunch.

As spring and the close of our second year with ducks approaches, I should offer an update on our experiences. I apologize for its somewhat random nature, but that’s life with poultry. Or with anything else, really. Covered here are molting, a hawk attack, duck first aid, and a new house. Continue reading “Raising ducks: The second year”

Raising ducks: 6–12 months

two ducks
Eddy and Bubble keep an eye on suspicious humans.

The ducks have been with us for a year. I have to say that our experimental backyard poultry operation has been a rousing success! We have wonderful eggs, enough to sell some to friends; we’ve found a routine that integrates the ducks into our "halfway homestead," and we’ve been able to keep the ducks happy and healthy. Continue reading “Raising ducks: 6–12 months”

Raising ducks: 4–5 months

The maginificent seven.

The ducks have been laying eggs for five weeks now. We found the first two on September 28, and found at least one egg every day after that. After a week we were averaging three a day; after a month five a day. Now we get five to six each day, and we believe that all of the ducks are laying, so each of them lays an average of five to six eggs each week—pretty impressive, I think. Continue reading “Raising ducks: 4–5 months”