Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder)
Posted Jul 16, 2013
We've been interested in raising our own alternative sources of protein for a while, and since we bought a home on some acreage, it's finally begun to become a reality. And, since we're avid gardeners, we wanted a type of pest control that didn't include poisons. After spending most of last winter going over options (since we were starting from scratch, cost was a big issue) we decided to start our backyard homestead endeavor with ducks. We got our feet wet with two unsexed rouen ducklings that we bought from a local feed store.
It was a hard adjustment period at first. We kept the pair of babies in a makeshift brooder box (a rubbermaid tub with pine shavings as litter, a clamp heat lamp and a homemade waterer and feeder) in the laundry room. They peeped... loud. All of the time. And they were MESSY. Poop and water and food everywhere! Since they were too small to go outside and it was still basically winter around here when we first had them, we had to endure the mess and the peeping.
But, it was worth it. Many days were spent cleaning and interacting with the pair of ducks. They spent a lot of time in the kitchen sink, paddling around. Sometimes in the bathtub. Eventually it got warm enough for them to go outside. We made them a simple house, and they went to live outside where they live now.
They make great outdoor pets. They eat the nasty bugs out of the garden without harming seedlings or the plants (unless you have young swiss chard, which they devoured). We ended up with a drake and a hen, and the hen sorta acts like a rooster, quacking in the wee morning hours really loudly, and in the late evening hours when she wants to go back into the hut for the night.
We have a small pond for them, but you can totally get away with just a kiddie pool for a water source. They don't really need water to swim in, but it makes them really happy, so I consider it a necessity if you have ducks.
They're perfect for just about anyone. Little kids can get rough with the ducklings and shouldn't be left alone around them. But otherwise, they're hardy and do well with families. They do need room to spread out the messes that they make, but otherwise, they're great!