I have finally nagged Craig to the point that he is willing to let me get ducks. I have wanted chickens for quite some time, but after a friend’s girlfriend got some, and they were NOISY, Craig has been unwilling to put our neighbors through it. Which I understand, but still don’t like… you know… because I want chickens. But last year, we learned about a breed of ducks that is quiet. They’re called Muscovy ducks. They’re not particularly attractive, they look kind of prehistoric. They are the only domesticated breed of ducks not related to Mallards. As a result, they do not quack. They twirr and whisper. And they are smart. They wag their tails. They also get quite big, males coming in at about 15lbs. And they have claws. All of those things kind of work together well enough to make them a reasonable option. They will not make a lot of duck noise, they lay an egg a day from spring through autumn, they get big enough to hopefully make the dogs think twice, and they have talons to defend themselves. Also, they make good eating! After Craig’s brother got some chickens last year, Craig seems to be feeling a little jealous (they really are fun birds!), so with the help of his family, I convinced him that we could get some ducks!
|This is not my photo, it’s a public domain image.|
I did all of my research in terms of what will work for us, and I think we have a plan. We have a corner of our back yard that we never use, and it’s also the only part of the yard that ever gets any shade. It will make a perfect location for the ducks. One downside of ducks, besides how messy they are, is that they require a lot more space than chickens. Luckily, we have plenty of space in the yard. It has been interesting gauging how much space we should really set aside for them. According to the forum, for an enclosure that they only let out of to do supervised free ranging, you need to set aside 10-25 sq ft/duck. The more space they have, the less totally disgusting their enclosure gets. Counting on getting 4 ducks, 100 sq feet would theoretically be sufficient, but in the future, I would like to raise some ducklings for dinner. I originally pushed for a 15×15′ enclosure, half roofed, the other half covered with chicken wire (to keep the ducks safe and inside) and about 6′ tall, plus whatever pitch the roof has. Craig was less than impressed by that plan, and we eventually settled on a smaller 6′ tall enclosure (a 5×5′ space) that we could stand up in, and also set up some roosts (muscovies are the only type of ducks that roost on things, due to their talons), with 2 “arms” coming off of it at 90 degree angles. Each arm’s dimensions will be 5×10′ and they will be 3′ tall, which is obviously not tall enough for a human to walk in, so we will make them so they open up from the top, allowing people in there to feed and clean and whatnot. The proposed enclosure gives us 125 sq feet of space for ducks, allowing at the top end, 12 adult ducks, or probably 14 small ones. That allows us to raise up to 10 additional birds for meat in the future, should it turn out to be something that we want to do, and if not, give our laying duckies lots of space to stretch out their wings.
And said corner of the yard. It looks horrific now. Covered in weeds, wet, overgrown grass, it’s a mess. Also, the fence looks like it’s going to come down, and we will have to move some bushes and trees to make room for the pen.