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PHOTO: Kirsten Lie-Nielsen
If you’re thinking about raising poultry for their fresh eggs, chickens might be the first birds that come to mind. But they are not the only option, and they may not be the best option.
Ducks are a fantastic way to enjoy delicious eggs straight from your backyard, and they’ll help keep pests out of your garden and provide you with endless entertainment.
Why Duck Eggs?
Most ducks lay eggs slightly bigger than chicken eggs, with thicker shells and larger yolks. Their larger general size and yolk mean they have more nutritional value and healthy vitamins and minerals than chicken eggs.
In addition to nutrition, duck eggs also taste a little different from chicken eggs. Their whites are thicker, so they make a thicker batter in a mix and can taste creamier.
Ducks are also more efficient layers than chickens. Most duck breeds lay between 200-300 eggs a year, which is comparable to many chicken breeds.
They tend to be better at foraging, so they consume less grain to make an egg than a chicken. They don’t go through the same kind of severe winter molt that chickens do, so you will get duck eggs in winter when your hens are not laying.
Click here to learn how to start raising ducks on your farm.
What Do Ducks Need?
One big reason to keep ducks is how little they require in infrastructure.
With the exception of Muscovies, ducks do not roost to sleep at night. They also prefer a quiet, comfy corner to lay their eggs rather than a nesting box. Therefore, if you’re adding ducks to your farm, you only need a small hut such as a doghouse or a stall in an existing barn to house them.
Ducks and chickens are both messy, but in very different ways.Ducks are muddy and chickens are dusty.
If you’re keeping ducks, you do have to provide them with plenty of fresh water, but they do not require a pond. Troughs or buckets of water work well, as long as it is regularly changed and kept clean. They will use water for bathing and drinking, but also need it to wash their beaks clean of debris from their food.
What Else Do Ducks Do?
There are other benefits to ducks!
Ducks love eating slugs and other slimy and nasty crawlers that even chickens would ignore.
Nearly all duck breeds have docile personalities, and are remarkably entertaining. Ducks have social structures within their flocks and always seem to be happy and excited to be doing whatever they are doing.
Ducks are an excellent option for the small farm, homestead or backyard flock, and they can provide fresh eggs year round for your family.