Did you ever go to dinner with someone who never once took a drink of beverage during the whole meal? Did it seem weird to you? Most people drink a beverage during the meal, but not everyone. Chickens are like the person who doesn’t drink during the meal. Ducks on the other hand, are like people who drink a beverage during their meal.
Why are poultry drinking and eating habits important to preppers? Because it will help determine how to house ducks and chickens. From the beginning, chicks and ducks raised together do great, from a social standpoint. They don’t know about breeds. But some important things to consider before making that decision come to mind.
- While it’s a fair bet that most of you have eaten and like chicken and their eggs, it might not be true about ducks. Before purchasing ducklings, closely examine why you want them. If it is for their prized eggs, go for it. Do the math about how many eggs you can use and sell per year. If using the ducks as meat birds, be certain you like the flavor of duck. Look on craigslist to find one to purchase for that purpose. The duck may be expensive, but if you don’t like the flavor, at least there won’t be a whole flock in the barnyard waiting for you to eat them.
- How many birds? The more birds there are, the more feed, water, work and the more eggs and meat production. It’s important to do the math before your buy your first flock of birds. How many times last year did you serve chicken? Or, how many pounds of chicken did you use? What about ducks? Did you prepare even one duck in the last 12 months? Will you use duck in addition to chicken for meat or will you substitute one chicken for one duck? Once you have done the math order the chickens and ducks to be delivered on the same day if they are to be housed together. You can separate them later if you like.
- Are you going to sell the eggs? Canvas the area to find out how many people will buy them. You’ll be surprised how many people will say they want the eggs. If you are going to have ducks, check local restaurants or bakeries too! If a particular breed lays nearly 300 eggs a year, and you have ten birds, you will get close to 3,000 eggs per year. That is nearly 20 dozen a month.
- After you know how many birds, when? Consider how often to butcher birds. Some people do it once in the spring for the whole year. Others in warmer climates do it two or three times a year. Birds ordered for butcher will be ready at the same time. How old will they be when butchered? This is important! Breeds mature at different rates and max weight varies between breeds. Do you want to be butchering chickens and ducks at the same time?
- If you are going to use housing, what kind of housing should be used? The more birds, the more space you need in order to maintain a healthy flock. There are other things to consider such as which predatory wildlife needs to be abated.
- Housing ducks with chickens will require a water system that provides constantly flowing clean water, or frequently cleaning the water container, since ducks leave floaters in the water as they enjoy beverages with their meal. Water pans are not suitable for the water supply since ducks will get in and defecate in the water. Chickens might get in the water, but they don’t like it and will get right out.
- How much time do you have? Babies take up a good amount of time, and chicks and ducklings are no different. In a few weeks they will be old enough to be left alone all day as long as they have an uninterrupted supply of food and water.
While there is a great deal to consider before choosing to raise poultry of any kind, it is both satisfying and rewarding to know that you have a supply of eggs and meat as well as an income from selling your meat birds and eggs to customers. Enjoy your birds!