Chickens or ducks on the homestead? I have to admit, I am a chicken collector.
A friend of mine was looking to rehome about 30 of her hens due to space constraints, and I didn’t even blink an eye when I said, “Sure, bring them over.”
Of course, since my wonderful hubby keeps me in line, we scattered those hens among other friends who needed to add to their flocks. There was just no way he was going to let me keep them all. Not that I didn’t try…
I also have a love affair with our ducks.
We have 3 Pekin, 2 Khaki Campbell and 2 Indian Runner. 2 of them are drakes, or males. They have such a neat personality, are really friendly, and quite entertaining to watch.
I would have lots more ducks, but again, my hubby has to have a limit somewhere for our 1/5 acre. So, which is really better–chickens or ducks? Here’s my pros and cons to each, based on my experiences.
Chickens need more daylight hours to lay. That means, when the daylight has less hours in the winter, we either have to supplement their light or we get less eggs. That means more electricity for the light and timer.
They eat more in the winter since they are not able to get at bugs and grass, so it becomes a matter of economics.
I have never had this issue with ducks. With our 5 ducks, we get 4-5 eggs every day, no matter what season.
Of course, chickens will lay their eggs in a nesting box, and our ducks require us to go on a “hunt” to find theirs. I have figured out the places they like the best, but once in a while they change it up on me.
Time and effort spent on care
Well, that’s up for debate, but chickens require only fresh water, food, and the occasional treat. We have our chickens set up with an automatic feeder and in the summer, the 55 gallon rain barrel feeds into a waterer for them. We could easily leave our chickens for 3-4 days without much issue.
Ducks-not so much. They use up a lot more water, and for some reason, whenever their feeder is full, they will eat until it’s gone. Gorge themselves on it.
We have to have a trusted friend or neighbor fill their water and/or pool daily (as well as rinse it out) and feed them daily.
Well, chickens are noisy at times. When they sing their “egg laying song”, or when they are complaining about something, they can get rather irritating. But, that’s about it.
They don’t make a lot of noise otherwise. They are quiet creatures, usually staying within pecking order and happily scratching about and gathering bugs, grass and such when they can.
Ducks, however…well, let’s just say that they are not quiet. They will quack in the morning, quack when I fill their pool, quack when it’s time to eat, quack when the wind blows, quack when they see another duck… They are just noisy. Even though the drakes are quacking at a whisper level, they are still making noise.
Well, this is where the tables turn dramatically. Our chickens can destroy an entire garden bed with all it’s goodies in less than an hour. One time, our chickens got out of their run while I was at the store, and by the time I got home, all our tomatoes were gone.
Our ducks generally don’t mess up the plants. They can destroy the beds that have just been planted by eating the seeds, but once the plants are growing, they have never destroyed it.
So, which is best?
There’s really no right answer to this. In general, ducks are less destructive and lay better in the winter, but, they are far messier and noisier than chickens. Having both is awesome, though and I seem to get the best of both worlds.
Perhaps try them both for yourself and see which you like best. Or maybe you’ll be like me and just love them both!
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.