Should You Get Ducks? Duck Pros & Cons

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Are ducks right for you? Let's go through the Pros & Cons!

Look at this face – who wouldn’t want a duck???

Should you get ducks?

They might be super cute, but are ducks right for you?  Let’s take a look at the Duck Pros & Cons

Pro: Duckling Cuteness!  All baby animals are irresistibly adorable, but honestly ducklings have to be right up there in the top five of Cutest Baby Animals Ever!  The sweet way they always look like they are smiling, their too big for their face bills and too big for their body flappy feet, the way they snuggle perfectly into your hand and imprint on their caretakers.  They are pretty darn adorable

Should you get ducks?

Cons:  Ducklings grow.  Really fast.  Within two weeks that sweet tiny duckling is over SEVEN times it’s original size.  Still cute of course, but leaning more towards awkward, gangly pre-teen years than adorable infant.  All that growth means they are tiny eating machines – and what goes in is going to come out.  Ducklings are a special kind of messy.  They are in a whole other level of messy from any other baby animals (including humans!) that I have cared for.  They are lucky they are so cute  Click here to read more about duckling care

Pro:  Adding ducks to an existing flock is easy.  Not counting hormonal, territorial drakes, ducks are pretty chill about welcoming newbies to the group.  If you have a group of ladies and want to get more, most ducks think the more the merrier.  If you have experience with chickens, you know it can take weeks or even months for a flock to get used to a new addition.  Click here to read more about adding ducks to your flock

Con:  Ducks are loud.  If you don’t have close neighbors this isn’t a problem, but if you are backyard farming in a suburban neighborhood it could be a problem.  I have 4 ducks and 12 chickens and those 4 ducks definitely make way more noise than all the chickens.  Especially in the morning, they like to splash around their pool, quacking loudly.  When they are out free ranging, they like to talk to each other, often from across the yard.  One will quack, another will quack several times back, another one will join in.  Most of the time, it’s happy, excited quacking, but they quack for tons of reasons where as the chickens generally just make noise when they are laying eggs.  I don’t mind the duck noise, but it could be a problem with neighbors.  If neighbors are a problem, consider a flock of all drakes whose voices are quieter than females.

Should you get ducks?

Pro: Drakes are easier to live with than roosters.  If you want to be able to hatch out ducklings, or just have a drake around because they are cool looking they are easy to keep.  They are not great protectors like roosters, but that is a bonus in my book because that means they are not charging after and attacking me, my kids or my guests.  Not only are they nicer, they are quieter.  Unlike chickens, male ducks are quieter than female ducks.  Drakes have a quiet, raspy quack that will not send the neighbors knocking on your door at dawn like a rooster’s crow could!

Con:  Cleaning & Maintenance.  Compared with other backyard birds, ducks are a bit more work.  You have the standard feeding & cleaning up poop chores, but with ducks there is the additional chore of emptying & filling their pools.  Keeping ducks in clean water can feel like a never ending battle.  Not only will they dirty their pool, but they will try to swim in any available water including their water bowls.  All that splishing and splashing also leads to a lot of mud and muck in the pen area.

Should you get ducks?

Pro:  They are SO fun to watch!  Chickens are nice and relaxing to watch as they peck around the yard or flap in their dirt baths, but ducks are downright amusing!  Watching them swim and dive in even a small kiddie pool is hilarious.  There is something just so endearing and pure about how happy they get when you fill the pool with fresh water.  Watching them interact with each other is also fun, they are very expressive with their body language and love to “talk” to each other.  Turn on your garden sprinkler or show them a puddle and you’d think they won the lottery.

Should you get ducks?

for live action duck fun – check out this really short clip of my ducks on a recent unseasonably warm January day when they got some much missed pool time! 

Pro:  Tons of eggs!  The average duck will out lay the average hen.  Most breeds of ducks raised for eggs average 200-250 eggs per year.  That is pretty similar to an egg production breed chicken.  But chickens will only lay at those levels for two, maybe three years before their productivity takes a sharp decline.  Ducks remain very productive even into old age – 6, 7, even 8 or 9 years old.  Ducks are also more productive layers during the short winter days, while many chickens take the winter off.   Plus duck eggs are awesome for making baked goods light & fluffy!

Duck eggs are HUGE! Chicken egg on left, duck egg on the right

Duck eggs are HUGE! Chicken egg on left, duck egg on the right

Con:  Not everyone likes duck eggs.  They do have a slightly different flavor.  Not too noticeable when used in baking or cooking, but you will notice it if you scramble them up or make an omelette.  Before getting ducks, try to find some duck eggs to see if you like them.  If you decide you want ducks even though you don’t like their eggs (totally reasonable!) you can always cook the eggs up for animal feed or barter them with someone who enjoys them.

Pro: They won’t tear up your garden.  Chickens are constantly scratching and digging.  They don’t care if it’s your lawn, your prized roses, your tomato seedlings….if they are awake they are scratching stuff up.  Ducks are not nearly as destructive.  They might nibble on your lettuce, but for the most part they don’t destroy things or make a mess of the garden.  And they are every bit as good at catching bugs and pests!  Now all bets are off if there is puddle in the garden – a muddy mess is pretty much guaranteed to happen in that case.

Should you get ducks?

I really love my ducks.  They are a lot of work and can make a mess of things, but they are an awesome addition to my little farm!  Shhhhhh, don’t tell my chickens, but I think the ducks are more fun to keep around 🙂

 



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16 comments

  1. Corina says:

    I love our ducks sooo much! We have Anconas, an endangered breed. We happen to love duck eggs, so that works out just dandy. The only problem we ever had is when we incubated a batch of eggs and then introduced these new ducks to an older pair we had, the drake went nuts and beat them up.

  2. Beth Combs says:

    I have a question. I have had backyard chickens before, and we plan to get some this spring, but I have never had ducks before. My daughter really wants us to get a duck along with the chickens. My question is about housing. Can they be cooped together? Do they need a separate enclosure?

    • Liz says:

      Hi Beth, you can definitely house chickens and ducks together and they can live in the same run with a few accommodations. Ducks like to splash around and make a muddy mess, chickens don’t like that. So if you can provide a wet area for the ducks in your run and a dry area where the chickens can escape that is perfect. As far as the coop goes, most ducks do not like to roost at night like chickens, so they will just sleep on the floor in the hay. Try to give them a space to sleep that isn’t under the chicken roosts (so they don’t get pooped on all night!).

  3. Kimberly Lyons says:

    I have 6 Ancona ducks 1drake & 5 hens for about 2 years now and I also have chickens and horses and by far ducks are the hardest on our yard. They love to dig huge holes and make them into mud puddles . They have their own pool and use it daily but that doesn’t seem to matter they still love to make a mess. We have a large farm and we still have to walk around and fill huge spots in the yard… I love them and they are funny to watch but I don’t think I will be out to get anymore after these are gone.

    • Barbara Gillihan says:

      thank you Kemberly. That is the answer to a question I was going to raise… mud puddle all over the yard. We also have a nice size pond near our chicken coop. We free range most of the time, chickens coming in at night and staying in coop in bad weather. Will the ducks head for the pond? be safe from turtles? hawks? come back in at night with the chickens?

  4. Katie says:

    Can you have just a single duck + she’s happy? Seems like they are very social. I don’t want a whole flock. Maybe just 1-4 ducks in a few years after we move.

    • Liz says:

      They are very social. I would not recommend keeping a single duck unless you intend to have it live in the house with you so you can be it’s flock (don’t laugh, people do this!). You don’t need a huge flock for them to be happy, just at least two (I would recommend all female ducks in a small flock) so they can keep each other company

  5. Erin Britton says:

    Great article! I really enjoyed it. I agree about the unbridled JOY that they exhibit when their pool is filled with super fresh water!
    I have two four-month-old cayugas that I have raised from day old ducklings. Our new puppy likes to nibble at the perimeter of their pen, sometimes eating or chewing on their poop. I am worried about sicknesses that dogs can get from ducks. Do you have dogs on your homestead? What are your thoughts on this?
    Thanks.

    • Liz says:

      There is nothing quite like ducks in their pool lol! We have two dogs, a lab mix & a border collie mix, plus my daughter’s little dog that visits nearly every day. Our birds free range most of the day in the yard so the dogs unfortunately have full access to a poop buffet. Luckily none of them go crazy eating poop, but I have certainly caught them nibbling it. Lots of dogs love to eat poop and for the most part it is harmless as long as your birds are healthy (but I wouldn’t encourage it!). What is more dangerous is if your dog likes to drink out of your duck’s pool and you don’t keep up with the cleaning. Stagnant duck water will grow algae which can be deadly if your dog laps up too much of the water.

  6. Jessica says:

    I’m deciding between chickens or ducks and I’ll be honest I’m leaning more towards ducks, but I need to be clear on one thing first. Kitchen scraps. One reason I wanted chickens to begin with was because I could toss them the majority of our fruit/veggie scraps. What about ducks? Can they eat scraps like chickens can?

    • Liz says:

      The ducks are definitely pickier. They will eat some kitchen scraps, but if you really want to reuse those scraps, chickens are definitely the way to go

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