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Keeping Ducks

Find out how easy it can be to keep ducks in your garden

Keeping Ducks

livestock | smallholding

keeping ducks in your garden

Many people would like to keep chickens in their garden (see Keeping Chickens, however there is an alternative bird which it better suited to typical surburban garden living and is easier to care for - the duck.

Why Keep Ducks

The two main disadvantages of keeping chickens are 1) the amount of noise they make early in the morning - something which will make you unpopular with the neighbours, and 2) their feed can attract rats and mice - something which will make you more unpopular with your neighbours.

Ducks are very quiet - you will hardly hear a quack out of most varieties, and their feed floats on water and therefore does not attract vermin.

Duck Eggs

Ducks are not as prolific layers as chickens, but the eggs you do get are rich and particularly delicious - excellent for cake baking. (Click here for our new article on Uses for Duck Eggs.) If you are not a vegetarian, and do not grow too close to your ducks, they are also delicious roasted.

Keeping Ducks in your Garden

You may imagine that ducks would not be happy unless you have a large lake in your garden, but that is a misconception - domestic ducks spend less than 10% of their time on the water, and you need only one square metre of water per 5 or 6 average sized ducks to keep them happy.

A children's paddling pool (no longer to be used by children) or a small garden pond can be more the sufficient and if you use a padding pool, when the water gets dirty, it can simply be poured over your garden as excellent fertiliser. Ducks do however need quite a lot of garden to forage around in.

Duck House

As with chickens, ducks need to be protected at night from foxes. As they do not perch, they need a coop with a flat floor, sufficient height to be able to stand up fully, and a couple of square feet of resting space, and another couple of square feet of run space.

Ducks can be fed on a mixture of kitchen scraps and pellets, and they will supplement their diet by doing an excellent job of clearing your garden of slugs and snails. They do have a tendency to nibble flowers and other plants if they get hungry, and they will make short work of a lawn during wet weather. Any plants you are particularly fond of can be protected with netting, and it is possible to pen the ducks using low fencing which can be moved around so that only one small portion of your garden is being attacked by the ducks at any one time giving the rest the time necessary to rejuvenate.

Ducks need to have their wings clipped (trimming the primary feathers on one wing) to prevent them from flying away. This is painless for the ducks, and without it, they would disappear and never be seen again.

Ducks in the garden

Ducks are almost always sold in pairs, and typically someone would keep two or three pairs of ducks in their suburban garden - needing about 30 square metres of area for the birds. Ducks can live for up to around 10 years typically.

Article Published: 09:34, 16th Jun 2011

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