Raising Ducks for Preppers
Written by Bobby Akart at FreedomPreppers.com
Have you heard? Ducks are the new chickens!
For Preppers keeping chickens has always been the norm. As a prepper, we have a goal of being duel-sustainable. Our desire is like many in the preparedness community, to be more self-sufficient and I dream of getting back to the basics. As a result, chicken coops are popping up in suburban backyards of families all across the country. We have raised chickens and decided to give Pekin Ducks a try.
We believe that ducks are actually the better choice. Here are ten reasons we prefer raising ducks to raising chickens:
1. Ducks tend to be healthier
Because they spend so much of their time in the water, ducks are less apt to get mites, lice and other external parasites. Ducks also have hardier immune systems, tend to stay in better general health and are less likely to contract illnesses than chickens.
2. Ducks love the cold
Here in Tennessee, we have been experiencing average temperatures of 31 degrees from November through February the last three years. Our Pekin ducks don’t mind one bit. Ducks have an added layer of fat and a thick down ‘undercoat’ that chickens don’t have. They also have waterproofing on their feathers to protect against the elements and keep them warm and dry in the rain and snow.
3. Ducks are heat tolerant
Ducks handle heat quite well by floating around in their pool all day. During the hot southern summers we endure, while our chickens stand around panting, crowded in front of the fans we have set up in our run, the ducks paddle about quite contentedly in their pool. Our barnyard provides more than ample shade in the summer.
4. Ducks quack, but don’t raise a ruckus
We have two barnyards on our property. We keep the chickens with the “regular” livestock (cows, brush goats, etc.) because chickens actually make more noise than our ducks. Chickens cackle and carry on after they lay an egg, before they lay an egg, when there’s another hen in the nesting box they want, and for no apparent reason at all. Our Pekin ducks on the other hand, although can quack loudly when agitated or excited, normally just quietly chitter-chatter. Very adorable.
Roosters, contrary to popular belief, don’t just crow in the morning. They crow all day long. In contrast, drakes (male ducks) don’t quack at all. They make only a soft raspy wheezing sound. On the whole, ducks are much quieter.
5. Duck eggs are larger and better for baking
Duck eggs are larger and richer in flavor than chicken eggs. They are excellent for baking due to their higher fat and lower water content. Duck eggs are also slightly more nutritious than chicken eggs. Due to their thicker shells and membranes, they also have a longer shelf life and are less likely to break than chicken eggs.
6. Ducks lay more regularly
Our ducks consistently outlay our chickens – even through the winter without any supplemental light in their house. Most domestic duck breeds are also very unlikely to go broody (broodies don’t lay eggs, so they are detrimental to your egg production).
7. Ducks are far less territorial
Ducks welcome newcomers far more quickly than chickens do. Whether the newcomers are chickens or ducks, our ducks seem unperturbed and seldom bother new additions to the flock. Chickens, however, take any new additions to the flock as an affront to their rigid pecking order. The result is squabbling and confrontations that can get quite serious until the new order is established and tranquility returns.
8. Ducks are easier on your landscaping
While it’s true that ducks can, and will, eat anything green within their reach, as long as you plant bushes and trees that are tall enough so they can’t reach the tops, you can successfully landscape your run or backyard, even with ducks inhabiting it. As you can see from the pictures of the barnyard near our house, we believe in landscaping. Chickens, on the other hand, within days of being introduced to a new lawn will have it scratched down to bare dirt. Chickens will continue to not only eat every bit of green that tries to grow, but also dig deep depressions in the earth in which to take their dust baths or cool off in the summer. Ducks may trample your lawn a bit, but they won’t create a barren wasteland of your backyard like chickens will.
9. Ducks love bugs
Ducks will eat every slug, worm, spider, grasshopper, cricket, fly, beetle and grub they can find. They are wonderful for natural pest control. Given the opportunity, they will also eat small snakes, toads and even mice. Chickens are more picky about the fare of bugs. Some of our hens won’t even look twice at a worm.
10. Ducklings are adorable!
Okay, this is my personal preference, but baby ducklings are irresistible.
On the whole, ducks are far more easy-going and less likely to get their feathers ruffled than chickens. They are generally calm, smart, alert and downright funny at times. Ducks win out as my top choice for a backyard flock and they will always be an important part of ours.