Better For your Garden
If you want to have a cool sustainable permaculture system in your backyard, go with ducks rather than chickens. While chickens create manure (aka poop), ducks create more nutrient dense poop than chickens. You can also use it right away! Unlike chicken poop, duck manure is not “hot” and does not need to compost before going into the garden. You can also let the ducks do the fertilizing work for you! While you don’t want chickens in your garden because they typically will wreck plants by eating and scratching them, ducks only want to snack on a few plants (the occasional strawberry or green) and don’t scratch. (Be aware ducks will walk over plants which can cause damage so if you have planted directly in the ground add safe guards for your plants). Ducks favorite snacks in your garden are actually some of your least welcome pests!
Hearing about how beneficial ducks could be as pest control sold me on getting ducks! (Ok, maybe the adorable duckling photos played a role as well). Ducks love my least favorite bugs in the garden – slugs and mosquitoes (which are a huge problem here in the Pacific Northwest). I’ve heard of ducks completely ridding gardens of squash bugs and snails. A great tip for controlling pests while not needing to make sure your ducks aren’t causing any problems is to give them a perimeter fence so they can get the pests before they make it in the garden!
With ducks, you never have to worry about hearing a cock a doodle doo! Male ducks are actually quieter than the female ducks! Males can only make a quiet, raspy quack sound. Even the hens are quieter than their chicken counterpart! My chickens squawk about every time they lay an egg, bock for treats, and also bock and squawk at each other! While I don’t mind their chatter, I can’t imagine all neighbors would be so enamored! My ducks on the other hand rarely make noise. They occasionally quack in complaint of my kids try to pick them or if another duck chases them away from a snack! They never make a fuss about laying eggs or try to out yell each other like the chickens! For a more urban farmstead, ducks can be a great quiet alternative to chickens!
Easier To Care For
While some may argue with this because ducks can be messy due to their love of water, I personally think ducks are much easier to care for. While keeping their housing clean may be a little harder, ducks are much less likely to become ill than chickens. As someone who becomes easily attached to our feathered friends and has been heartbroken over the loss of a chicken and frustrated with the financial loss of a bird, this is a huge benefit. For my chickens, I am always doing wellness checks as they are at risk for all sorts of illnesses, while my ducks I don’t worry about anything other than making sure they have clean water to rinse in. Another way they are easier is their ability to be herded. While chickens scatter in every direction when attempting to collect them, ducks will move in a desired direction together with a little guidance.
Are you going to get ducks? What animals do you hope to raise?