We did not plan on coming home with eight baby ducklings on a recent Sunday afternoon, but a trip to our local farm supply store changed that quickly.
We went for a routine supply trip and the store had just gotten a shipment of chicks and ducklings the week before, and they were too cute to pass up. We had discussed getting ducks in the past, but without a pond or water source were discouraged. After hearing from multiple people at various occasions that ducks were easy enough to care for, we went for it, and got four Peking and four Mallard ducklings.
We have quickly learned ducklings are pretty messy and like a LOT of fresh water. Compared to brooding little chicks, they are definitely higher maintenance. After futile attempts at keeping cardboard boxes fresh and dry for them, as well as using a big tub, we were able to borrow a dog crate from a friend and we have all been much happier with this arrangement for the time being. Two more weeks of brooding to go, however, and they will need more room. We are thinking a kiddie pool will do the trick.
We are excited to see these little guys and gals grow up on the homestead. They turned two weeks old yesterday, and are too young to sex but we will see what we are working with as soon as we are able. We are hoping in time a couple of them will breed and maybe, if the ducks aren’t interested, a broody chicken will incubate some of the eggs so we can keep a supply of fresh ducks going.
It was $40 for eight ducks, and while well worth it, we have paid that for one locally raised duck at the farmer’s market. We like to make duck confit, have crispy duck breasts, and especially render duck fat, which has endless uses in the kitchen. Once a few of them grow, and we get over their cuteness, it will be time to harvest a couple for the freezer.
If you have any tips on raising ducks please do let us know. Like with many projects on the farm, we need all the help and insight we can get!