Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More on Ducks in the Permaculture Homestead

Ducks do belong in the Permaculture Homestead plan. You might think you can’t keep ducks unless you have a pond. Or, perhaps you can’t imagine of what use a duck is on the homestead. As I mentioned before, I have actually gone back and forth on this issue myself. Yes. No. Maybe. But, I keep coming back to -- Yes!

The best thing to do is consider how ducks will function within the system.

It might help to first realize that there are different types of ducks. Most ducks are water ducks. For these ducks, you will need either a pond or kiddie pool. With the latter, you will be changing that water often because ducks will foul it, fast. While changing pond water might be irritating, there is an upside to it. It can be used to water the garden and provides fertilizer at the same time. But, if you really don't want to deal with the kiddie pool, there are land ducks. 

The easiest thing to do is head over to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and read up on each of the ducks. Take note of the ones with characteristics you think will benefit your homestead. There is bound to be a breed or breeds that appeal to you and fit well within your homestead plan.

For my little homestead, I wanted a non-water, meat duck that is good at foraging (eating bugs and weeds) and quiet. Quiet is important because of the close proximity of neighbors. Docile, good mothering abilities, and easy care were also important. While some folks are fond of duck eggs for baking, Mother nixed that idea. So, which duck meets those standards? The Muscovy! Muscovies are land ducks so a water bowl is all the water they require. They eat a tremendous amount of mosquitoes along with slugs, bugs, and even small snakes. Their meat is said to be lean and similar in flavor to grass fed beef. They are parenting machines so with just a breeding pair or two we will have enough for our freezer and some to sell. They are docile but willing and able to defend themselves and their ducklings against any animal or human stupid enough to challenge them. And, they roost in the trees and only take shelter when the weather is foul. The males are too heavy to fly but the females and juveniles will need to have their wings clipped to keep them away from the neighbors. If we find that we have issues with them being totally free range, I will convert them into a “duck dome” but I hope to avoid that.

What breed(s) are you considering? Or, do you have ducks already (if so, what type)?

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