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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

Keeping ducks
..For Eggs
...For Meat
>..Housing them
...Multiplying
...Breeds
...Feathers

Ducks remain on the ground so their housing can be quite simple.

What is important is to have a floor that is easy to clean so that the eggs do not become contaminated. The housing must be fox-proof the nursery rhymes are all quite true: foxes love ducks and geese. There should be at least 2 to 3 sq. ft of space for each duck and that is assuming that these are only night quarters; if your ducks are also confined during the day, they must have a lot more space.

It is easier to maintain them in flocks of less than 50. Ducks are timid creatures and should always be treated with care or they will frighten themselves into going off lay or, when they are small, they will stampede into the corners and trample the little ones. We always whistle when approaching ducklings: if they have heard your approach from afar, they seem quite happy. You can use their reaction of darting away in a bunch to move them about. Raise your left arm behind them and they move to the right and vice versa. It is not quite as effective as moving geese in this manner but certainly more effective than moving hens. If you try to move hens like this, you will generally find that they frantically cluck and dart off in several different directions; it is simpler to resort to bribery and lay a trail of grain to wherever you want them to go. (As a last resort it is worth remembering that chickens roost in the dark and if one or more of yours goes missing, creep around shining a torch up into neighbouring trees. This process is extremely amusing to watch but often very satisfactory and much better than letting a runaway fall prey to a four-footed predator.)

The best way to feed ducks is on a similar ration to hens but in a sloppy mash. They are very wasteful feeders and we always let some chickens in with them to clear up waste not, want not! If you feed the ducks whole grain, feed it in a shallow trough of water. They like fresh water to drink and if they can get into the water container they will swim in it. If the ducks are allowed to forage they may well obtain enough grit and greenstuff; if they are confined, you have to supply at least the grit. Ducks that are allowed to roam are happy creatures; you will only be as happy if you clip their wings, otherwise someone else will probably get a gift from the skies your ducks!

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