We got into the duck business last summer. We needed some cuteness around the barn I guess. With the meat birds and lambs growing out on pasture, the compost rows cooking, and the cranky ol hard-boiled hens busily scratching around out in their yard, the Pole Barn wasn’t exactly the picture of cute. Not that cuteness is an essential function of a farm, but on this farm…well, heck, I’ll buy half a dozen ducklings and see what happens.
They came in the mail, as do all my chicks, at two days old. They really were cute. I put them in a little old brooder with a heat lamp, one water fount, a chick feeder, and about an inch worth of good Maschino Brothers wood shavings. The summer camp kiddos handled them a lot, so they were regularly checked, fed, and watered, though I don’t feel like they really ate all that much.
I was busy haying and moving cows and moving chicken tractors and resetting the grazing cells for the lambs and all that good stuff, so I didn’t see our little ducklings but about once a day when I did my final rounds in the evening. One evening I peeked in on them and they were HUGE! What happened? Did these ducks get some kind of superman juice or what? I had to take them out of their little brooder because their heads were literally scraping the top. I hastily set them up an area in the old rabbit hutch and that became their summer home.
They grew at an incredible rate, and once they feathered, that beautiful buff color came through, and they became an even bigger attraction. Ethan, one of our enterprising young summer camp counselors, would take a group of kids and herd those ducks down to a small in-ground pond he had built. That was quite the sight, seeing six little ducks toddling noisily down the road as Ethan and his little partners in crime darted here and there trying to keep them pointed in the right direction. Ducks are have a very strong herding instinct, and stock dog trainers often use a small band of ducks to start pups on. FYI.
I decided I like these ducks. Then they started laying huge, bright white, delicious eggs and I decided I really like these ducks. While the hens dropped off in production when we had those miserable cold snaps, the ducks seem to thrive on the cold. Each of them lay very nearly one a day. And these eggs are GOOD. Just like a chicken egg, just bigger and thicker. I’ve been scrambling them, frying them, and making cheese omelets. Now I’m finding it a little disappointing to eat chicken eggs!
If you’d like to try eggs from our little duck flock, come by the farm. I may have a few extra! And I do plan on getting another 10 or so layer ducks this spring to be laying by fall, because I have a feeling the eggs are going to be a hit. Plus, ducklings. Nuff said.