Backyard chickens are all the rage these days, but ducks are quickly increasing in popularity alongside them. Compared to chickens, ducks are even healthier, and they still crank out more than enough delicious eggs to keep a family fridge full.
But ducks, like chickens, have their own social requirements and if you’re thinking about making a go of it with their products having the right size flock is likewise important. So, how many ducks should you get?
Always get multiple ducks. Ducks need the company of others of their kind for wellness, and so you should get at least three, but you can sometimes get by with a pair. A good-sized backyard flock will consist of five to six ducks though.
You don’t need a gigantic flock to make it go of it with ducks, but each of them will need the company of their own kind and if you want plenty of eggs you’ll need at least two laying hens.
There’s more you want to know concerning how many ducks you should start out with for various purposes, and I’ll tell you all about it below…
What Do You Want to Do with Your Ducks?
The first and most important question you need to answer is what exactly you want to do with your ducks.
- Do you just want fun backyard pets?
- Do you want enough eggs for your own breakfast table?
- Are you interested in breeding or selling eggs and meat?
All this and more will determine how many you need to begin with…
As a rule, it’s in your best interest to get three ducks to begin with if you just want the experience of owning and taking care of them. This is enough to give them meaningful social dynamics without being a huge imposition on you in terms of time and resources.
If you have a pair of hens, you also get to enjoy enough eggs unless you go through a ton of them every day.
However, a more substantial flock will consist of at least five or six ducks depending on the breed. For instance, Pekins can get by with fewer ducks in a flock, but others like Saxonies and Runners do better with more.
The Size of Your Family Might Make a Difference
Stop to consider also how many people you’re going to have helping you with these ducks. There’s always going to be plenty to do, from feeding them and watering them to cleaning up their coop or shelter and taking care of their water source. Do you have a partner that’s going to jump in and assist or is this a solo endeavor where you are on your own?
Young children that are capable of helping out around the yard and house are more than able to take care of the simple chores concerning duck care.
Obviously, you don’t want a massive flock of 20 to 30 ducks or more if you’re caring for them solo. Once you are seasoned and know what you’re doing, and have an efficient and well-oiled setup for keeping them, it might be different but not starting out.
How Many Ducks Should Be in a Flock?
Although it varies slightly depending on the breed, as a rule of thumb, the smallest but optimal number for a flock of ducks is five or six as mentioned above.
This will allow proper social interaction and hierarchy to form between the individual members, and if you have breeding in mind a single drake, maybe two can service that many females.
But ultimately, the maximum theoretical number of ducks in a flock depends on how many you can handle and house efficiently. Obviously, larger flocks generate a lot more waste, and have a greater requirement for water, including swimming and drinking, and of course, food!
Remember that as long as you’re cautious you can add ducks to your flock over time as long as you introduce them properly and get them accustomed to each other. It’s a lot easier to add later than take away once you’ve overcommitted!
How Many Ducklings Should You Get?
If you want to start out with ducklings instead of adult ducks, you need to change up your math a little bit. If you’re purchasing ducklings straight run, that means unsexed, 10 is a good number. If you’re buying sexed ducklings, and know exactly what sexes you are getting, once again you should shoot for 5 or 6.
Do keep in mind that if you’re purchasing straight-run ducklings you’ll be getting rid of some of them with all certainty, because you must maintain the correct ratio of drakes to hens and you won’t be able to tell how many of each you’ve got until they grow up a little bit.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s always a good idea to get a few more ducklings than your total desired number of adult ducks in your flock. Sadly, as hardy as ducks are, there are still many cases where ducklings just won’t survive for whatever reason, even with the very best and most diligent care.
How Many Drakes and Hens Should You Have?
As a rule of thumb, you want one drake for every three or four hens assuming you have a flock that supports those numbers.
Always Have More Hens than Drakes!
Listen to me. No matter how big your flock is, no matter how small, it is absolutely essential that you have more drakes than hens! Each drake needs his own females to call his own, and even in the best of times, there will be squabbles for dominance over access to females.
If there is a shortage of females, drakes will fight ferociously for access to them. In some cases, serious injuries or even deaths can result, and females that are “overbred” by drakes can be ravaged to the point of illness or lameness.
Hey, no one said that courtship between ducks is pretty. It sounds rough, and it is, but the worst of these issues are easily avoided if you just maintain the correct ratio of boys to girls.
Can You Just Have a Single Duck?
You can, but this really isn’t a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, your duck can bond to you and will certainly love you if you treat it right, but ducks really, really need to be around their own kind in order to thrive.
Is it Okay to Have Just Two Ducks?
Yes, as the absolute bare minimum for their health and wellness. A pair of ducks can be two males, two females, or one of each if you want a breeding pair. But, as I said above, adding even one more duck will make things better for all of them.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.