For five years I’ve been watching ducks, literally, shake their tail feathers. As we inherited them with our house we’ve had ducks longer than we’ve had chickens, our cat and our dog.
Sadly, we no longer have the original trio – Vanessa, Jemima and Neville. We actually currently only have the one duck. Her name is DuckFace (not as pretty a name as the originals!) and she is the last of the quartet of ducklings we had four years ago.
Over the five years we’ve had a total of ten ducks. It sounds like we’re a bit careless with them – eight have died, only one survives and one we gave away. But in the beginning the adults ducks were practically wild. They were used to fending for themselves and refused all offers to keep them safe. They thought we were the dangerous ones. And by doing so they left themselves wide open to the fox.
We’ve learned the hard way how to keep them safe from predators.
Keeping ducks is as wonderful as keeping chickens although they have slightly different needs. As with chickens, ducks enjoy a lot of space. They love to graze the grass, rooting around for slugs, worms and snails. They love water, swimming about or using it to keep themselves clean. For such dirty creatures; they poop as they walk and make a terrible mess of their house and run, ducks like to keep their feathers pristine. They spend a lot of their day preening and love being able to cover themselves with water. They produce oil which is why the water runs off them. Unlike the chickens who look like a soggy mess when it rains.
My tips for keeping ducks is below. Meanwhile this video is the story of my duck keeping journey so far. Make sure you watch until the end to see our exciting news. (And if you’d like to subscribe to me on YouTube that would be ace!)
My top tips for keeping ducks
This is my opinion after keeping and watching ducks for five years. Bear in mind the ducks I’ve kept are non-fliers. We’ve either had runner ducks or khaki campbells or a combination of the two!
- Unlike chickens the girl ducks are the noisier ones. Boy ducks have quiet gentle quacks. Some breeds, though, are nosier than others.
- Some ducks cannot fly. So if you’d like some for your garden but are worried they might fly away then get runner ducks or khaki campbells.
- If you have a large pond then ducks don’t necessarily need a duck house. Especially if there’s an island in the middle that will keep them away from predators. However. Ducks are not always the cleverest and will often lay their eggs in full view of the fox (in my experience!) So, getting them a house and a run is ideal so they can be locked up at night, lay their eggs in the morning, then let out when the coast is clear. This also saves you from hunting everywhere for their eggs!
- Ducks like to eat slugs, snails and worms. But they also need layers pellets.They also like corn.
- Ducks will not naturally put themselves to bed at night like chickens do. But they can be trained so they walk into their run on their own accord as the sun sets.
- If you’re thinking of keeping ducks then try and get them as ducklings rather than adults. This is because ducklings are easier to train. You can lift up your arms and herd them into their run or house.
- Duck houses have larger openings and less steep ramps than chicken houses. They also don’t need a nesting box or roosting bars.
- Ducks are messy. Let me say that again. Ducks are messy and stinky.
- Although ducks can live without water to swim in (they ALWAYS need water to drink) I think they’re happier with the opportunity to get their feathers wet. Something as small as a cat litter tray, to a child’s plastic sand pit, to a large bath are all perfect and will allow the duck to preen themselves.
- Ducks need drinking water. Always. This needs to be deep enough to duck (sorry!) their whole head underwater to clean out their eyes.
- This water will get dirty quickly. As will their swimming water. As will their house. They will all need freshening often.
- Their run, especially if they’re kept in it most of the time, will need moving to fresh grass. Or, move them to a permanent area that you don’t mind getting trashed.
- Ducks are brilliant at keeping your slug population down in your garden.
- I know Joey and Chandler kept a duck and a chicken in their apartment – but in real life those two cute creatures would have stunk the place out. I’m surprised Monica put up with it.