Ducks are cute and funny to watch, but should you have them on your homestead? There are plenty of reasons to add ducks to your homestead, but there are a few reasons not to raise them, as well.
That being said, so, should you get ducks? Are they for you?
Yes, you should get ducks for your homestead if you can commit to providing the food, shelter, water, and environment they need to thrive, and you enjoy their messy, silly antics. If not,
you might want to consider other livestock options…
Ducks have plenty of redeeming qualities that make them worthwhile friends for your homestead. Here are some reasons you might want to keep them on your homestead.
Reasons to Get Ducks
☑ Ducks Are So Cute and Fun to Watch.
Ducks are adorable and fun! Their crazy antics, silly way of running, and hilarious quacking will keep you entertained for hours.
These little social butterflies will follow you around in a bit of a pack like your own happy fan club. They’ll take off running, change direction on a dime, and take off again, all in good fun.
☑ Healthier than Chickens
Ducks are pretty healthy little critters, and when well kept, tend to have fewer diseases, mites, and parasite problems than chickens. Although ducks can get sick, overall, they tend to be much healthier than chickens.
☑ Ducks Are Surprisingly More Kid-Friendly
Ducks are generally less aggressive than chickens. If a nasty rooster has ever chased you, you’ll know exactly what this means!
Ducks typically are more gentle with children and with each other than chickens or turkeys are. That being said, you should always keep an eye on young children around any animal, even kid-friendly beings like ducks.
Composted, well-aged duck manure makes an excellent fertilizer for your gardens and flower beds. At the end of the season, sweep out the duck bedding and waste into a big compost pile, and by the following year, it will be an excellent fertilizer for your gardens.
Duck eggs are rich and large. They’re great for cooking and baking, and some say they are healthier for you than chicken eggs.
Duck eggs are larger than chicken eggs, and have more protein and vitamin D. Ducks lay their eggs in the early morning, and seem to lay for more years than chickens do.
Yeah, you can eat them. And if you raise ducks for meat, you’ll know where your food comes from, and exactly how it was fed and raised. Duck meat is a healthy form of protein.
Some breeds of duck are better for meat production than others, and of course, you’ll have to learn how to butcher them or find someone who can do it for you.
☑ They Can Withstand Heat and Cold
Ducks have a nice layer of fat, and once they reach adulthood, they also have water-proof feathers. These warm feathers make these waterfowl hardy in cold, wet, or hot weather.
It isn’t unusual for ducks to spend their winters sleeping on a pond because they can withstand both the cold and the wet. As a bonus, this helps keep ice from forming on the pond.
☑ Pest Removal
Hungry ducks will gladly munch away on your unwanted bugs! Slugs, ticks, grubs, and more make for a healthy, high-protein meal.
When the gardening season is done, you can let your duckies right into your garden to feed on leftover veggies and weeds. They’ll help get your garden ready for the following season.
☑ Free Range
Ducks can supplement their food and get some exercise by free-ranging in your yard. They chase bugs, eat weeds, and explore.
You won’t have to worry about them flying away, as most domesticated ducks are too heavy to fly very far.
☑ Ducks Are Affectionate
Ducks enjoy being around people, especially if they’ve been hand-raised by you. They might enjoy cuddling on your lap, and getting rubbed under their chin.
The more you handle your ducklings from the start, the more they will imprint on you and be your pal.
❌ Reasons Not to Get Ducks
If all this sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Ducks are terrific, but there are a few reasons you might not want to have ducks on your homestead.
❌ Your Local Ordinance Doesn’t Allow Livestock
Always check your local laws before getting ducks. You could incur fines, and even have to get rid of your beloved pets. You shouldn’t get ducks if it is illegal where you live.
❌ Ducks Are Messy
Ducks are messy. There is no getting around the mud, the poop, and food being flung all over. If you like a neat and pristine yard, you might not enjoy ducks.
❌ Ducks Are Noisy
While ducks aren’t as loud as a rooster, they do make noise. Their incessant quacking might disturb you or your neighbors.
❌ Ducks Need Water
Not all ducks need a pond, but they all need a source of clean water deep enough to clear the bills.
Ducks need water to eat and clear out the nostrils, so if you’re going to have ducks, you’ll need some head-deep buckets, or at least a baby pond for them. Ensure water is clean, so you’ll need to change it out at least once per day.
❌ Ducks Will Gobble Up Your Garden
If you aren’t prepared, ducks will trample your seedlings and eat up your lettuces. Watch out, or they might just snatch your strawberries, too. If you want both ducks and a lovely garden, you might have to keep them separate.
❌ You Have to Lock Them Up At Night
While chickens return to their roost every evening, your ducks might not be so smart. Some ducks can be trained to return to their sleeping quarters, but not all will comply so easily.
You might find yourself rounding them up every night. Make sure you lock them up tightly in appropriate quarters to keep them safe from predators, too.
❌ Foxes Love Ducks
Ducks are not very predator-proof at all. They are easy prey for foxes, raccoons, hawks, and owls, just to name a few. If you let them free-range, you will probably lose a few.
❌ Ducks Live a Long Time
A healthy duck can easily live 15 to 20 years, so keeping ducks is a long commitment!
Although they live a long time, they probably will only lay eggs for 5 to 7 of those years. You’ll have to take care of those freeloaders for a long time.
❌ Ducks Eat a Lot
Ducks love to eat! An adult duck will likely down 6 to 7 ounces of pellets per day unless you supplement free-ranging, veggies, and other treats.
The cost of pellets can get prohibitive, making those precious eggs cost more than your average grocery store chicken egg.
❌ You Can’t Get Just One
Ducks belong in a flock, so if you get ducks, you’ll need to get more than one. Even if you keep your ducks with your chickens, they’ll do best when they have a few other ducky friends to keep them company.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to get ducks, and there are plenty of reasons not to get them. Should you get ducks for your homestead? The answer is yes, if you love them, you enjoy their crazy messy antics, and you can commit to meeting all their needs.
Amanda is a homesteader and a Jesus-loving, mother of 6 toddlers. She’s raising lots of fancy chickens and goats on her small homestead (among other things).