So we started our journey with ducks as a Mother’s Day present to Audra who wanted them because they were cute. As a side benefit I wanted them for their eggs and for their hopeful benefit of keeping the duckweed issue on our pond under control. As we already owned chicken we figured this was going to be easier because ducks are supposed to be smarter.
Well, we were wrong.
Ducks this summer with a wild drake.
Raising them up from ducklings was the easy part, very similar to chickens except that they make a HUGE mess in the brooder because they have duck like tendencies. They like to splash water everywhere. They were quickly moved to their duck house and that is where the trouble really began. We worked hard to train them to go into their house at night. The house had an automatic door that opened in the morning and closed at night all based on a photosensor. They did beautifully and were trained within a month to go inside at night and have their own little duck party until the door opened.
Then the first winter struck and they decided they’d rather live and lay their eggs out on the frozen pond. A few days of frustration and two separate trips through the ice and we had them “trained” again. The following spring they start laying eggs in their house, which is what we want because it’s really tiresome to find a clutch of eggs that have been laying around for who knows how long. We also expand the flock of ducks so we can have more yummy duck eggs.
We’ve now hit a cycle where we have to retrain the stinking ducks every two months or so because they think they are wild beasts and able to defend themselves. They are not, we lose two of them to predators. We are also losing eggs as they are laying around the pond and in the swamp to the west of the farm. I also find out that I’m allergic to duck eggs and all of sudden I’m becoming less tolerant of duck shenanigans.
Fast forward to this winter and we now have two separate flocks of ducks. We have tried to get them to comingle, but they won’t. We continue with retraining them to go into their cozy house and they were actually doing well. I checked on them every night and other than their typical lull in laying eggs during winter all is good. As we got into the real cold snap a few weeks back, I may have forgotten to ensure the ducks went inside for the night. And that is all it takes, is a single night of saying “they’ll be all right, its cold they’ll go inside”.
They didn’t, and now we are down to four ducks, from 18. Lesson learned. It’s the way of life on the farm and we’ve already setup delivery of the new flock this spring. Needless to say we have quite the lessons learned list to make this flock, the best and least amount of work this go around.
Remaining ducks on the only open spot on the pond.