Home Homesteading Why You Should Be Raising Ducks Opposed to Chickens

Why You Should Be Raising Ducks Opposed to Chickens

by Anthony

chicken-vs-ducksIt isn’t uncommon for people to have a flock of chickens in their backyard or on their homestead. Chickens are super easy to raise and produce eggs that can be eaten or sold. Raising chickens for meat is quick and inexpensive as well, which makes them a favorite for those who are living the self-sustainable lifestyle. Chickens are so common, you don’t think twice about seeing a few running around a homestead. They are as natural as weeds. A rooster crowing is synonymous with country life. You are probably accustomed to seeing chickens milling about your place and have never really considered anything else.

With that said, are chickens the best small livestock to raise? Is there another option?

You may want to consider raising ducks instead of chickens. Why ducks you ask? Well, we are going to discuss some of the reasons others have opted to go with ducks for their small livestock of choice on their own farm or homestead. The animals are similar in size and both produce eggs and can be eaten as a protein source, but ducks are better for several reasons.

Egg Quality

Many people have never actually tasted a duck egg. They are not very common and when most people think of eggs, they automatically assume they must come from a chicken. Ducks produce eggs on a regular basis as well and for those who have given duck eggs a try, they say they are superior to chicken eggs. Duck eggs have more protein then their chicken counterparts. They are also rich in vitamins A, B-6 and B-12. The eggs are slightly higher in cholesterol and fat, but not so much as to really change the way you would eat duck eggs compared to chicken eggs.

Duck eggs are also better for baking. You will discover many of the fancy bakeries will use duck eggs in place of chicken eggs in their recipes. Duck eggs have a bit of a thicker consistency, almost custard-like, which makes them beautiful additions to cakes, cookies and other fluffy batters. Duck eggs are also bigger than chicken eggs, which means you need less for certain recipes and to serve for breakfast in the morning.

Ducks are Kinder to Your Yard and Garden
Many new chicken owners are not fully aware of the animal’s ability to make mincemeat of a garden or yard. They may be small, but they are mighty diggers. You would be amazed at the size of holes chickens can dig. They can put a small dog to shame. They are excellent mini-tillers and can help get your garden patch ready for planting in the spring, but you need to build tall fences to keep them out of your garden throughout the growing season. Chickens are destructive. They will shred healthy plants and eat your fruits and vegetables within a matter of minutes. Their sharp beaks can break through plastic and get at potted plants and flowers.

Ducks on the other hand, with their flat bills and webbed feet are much gentler on the yard and garden. They can eat a healthy plant, but are less inclined to do so within minutes of you allowing them into the space. They will not dig holes in your yard or garden.

Many people use chickens to help reduce bugs in the yard and garden, but have to worry about them doing more damage than the bugs would have. Ducks are excellent foragers and will be more effective at reducing things like caterpillars and slugs without being quite as destructive. Ducks are mighty foragers and will work harder to get bugs than their lazy chicken counterparts. Ducks take their bug-hunting extremely serious. That is their focus. Chickens tend to scratch more than they actually forage.

Ducks are Hardier in the Cold

Backyard chickens can be problematic for those who live in colder climates. Chickens are not able to withstand the cold and will require a lot of care. Some breeds of chickens will stop laying when it is cold outside. Ducks are not quite so sensitive to the cold. They lay eggs year round. You won’t have to put in quite as much effort to keep the ducks warm as you do the chickens. And most chicken owners will tell you it is tough to keep up with the demands and needs of the chickens during the winter to keep them laying eggs.

Chickens are also more susceptible to disease. Many flock owners expect to lose a chicken or two during the winter because of some disease or an intolerance to the cold. Ducks love the cold water so a little cold weather is not a big deal to them. They can still go out in the cold and snow and thrive. Chickens risk suffering from frostbite and ultimately death if they are exposed to the weather for too long. Ducks seem to have a better knack and instinct for staying warm. They are smart enough to know to tuck their heads under their wing when it is cold out. Chickens will roost with their heads exposed. This can lead to frostbite or death in extreme cases.

Ducks are Friendlier

Lastly, ducks simply make better pets. A duck isn’t going to attack you with a sharp beak or try and scratch you with it’s scary spurs. You don’t have to worry about your little ones getting pecked by an overly aggressive chicken. Ducks tend to be much more mellow and nicer. Watching ducks waddle about your yard is entertaining. They are a sight to see when they take their bath in the pond and baby ducks are absolutely adorable. Is there anything cuter?!

Ducks are certainly not quite as popular as chickens to raise in the backyard, but more and more people are discovering the joys to raising ducks. You don’t have to abandon chickens altogether. You can certainly have both. Ducks and chickens can live side by side in harmony. This means you get the best of both worlds. This spring, check into adding a few ducks to your flock. You won’t be disappointed!

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5 comments

Emily October 14, 2015 - 6:07 pm

This is a great post about the joys of ducks! I have ducks while my neighbor has chickens, both flocks free range, so I have been able to experience both. I have 21 ducks in total. I would agree with everything, but the ‘kinder to your yard’ point. I would say that ducks and chickens are equally destructive to yards, just in different ways. My neighbors chickens like to dust bathe in my flower beds and my ducks will eat our hostas and ferns to the root. My neighbors chickens scratch up our yard, but on a rainy day our ducks will drill into the ground with their bills and make a huge mud pit at the end of our down spouts. In the garden our neighbors chickens will scratch and eat bugs but also steal a couple tomatoes. Our ducks will forage and eat some slugs, but also love our kale. So since they are both equally destructive to yards, I would say ducks still come out ahead due to cuteness. Oh, and that the pecking order in a big duck flock is peaceful. No ducks with bare heads from each other. Other than in the spring when the drakes get excited.

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Yvette November 6, 2015 - 12:40 am

I think ducks are absolutely the best therapy a person can have. It is so much fun watching them marching around the back yard. They follow me around their duck yards like some weird caravan. My husband had his hip replaced recently and he just loved watching them through the window, He said that they would be peacefully foraging in the yard and would all of a sudden take off in group like the just realized they were late for an appointment.
Ducks have really added something to my life. I have to change the duck house straw but I enjoy the eggs and entertainment.

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Ophiuchus Oversoul April 22, 2016 - 11:23 pm

Chickens are actually quite cold hearty. I do not use any supplemental heat in the winter and have never in six years lost a chicken to the cold despite weeks of below zero weather. Frostbite generally only happens on the comb/wattles when it does, rarely on toes (never had a toe loss here). Housing is important in that the hen house can NOT be airtight and circulation is important so that moisture doesn’t build up. Also ALL chickens, if not given artificial lighting, stop laying in the winter after their first year because its part of their natural cycle. No need to lay eggs if chicks cant survive. Do ducks hatch eggs in the winter? My sister had ducks and I thought I remembered her saying their laying season was quite short. Im surprised to hear they lay in the winter. Either way, I have 3 ducks now with my chicken flock so I guess Ill find out.

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Here we grow again! | Tater Haven Farmstead May 2, 2016 - 10:17 pm

[…] But I kept asking because I kept reading about how they are helpful in the garden.Like this ducks vs chickens post I found on […]

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Anti Everything June 4, 2016 - 2:03 pm

I like’em all. Give me an animal and I am glad to care for it.

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