I don’t really know if it merits a blog post, but I thought I should announce somewhere on my site that I’ve finally decided to stop losing money in the egg game.
For over four years now, I have raised chickens and ducks on soy-free organic layer feed, allowing them to free range the entire yard and feeding them treats regularly as well as fresh produce. I’ve had and offered the highest quality eggs an animal could produce (I even raised quail last year, whose eggs were delicious!) but at the prices I had to charge to get even half of my investment back, I was always losing money. And layer feed just went up again!
Organic feed isn’t cheap, and neither especially is Soy-Free feed. Why do I feed the girls soy-free? I’m soy-intolerant, but if you click that link you’ll see the other reasons. At any rate, I am going through some changes in my life right now and I simply can’t afford to be losing so much money on feed when I can barely sell any eggs. So I have reduced the size of my flock by over half. I now have 3 chickens and only 4 laying ducks.
Basically, if you are one of the 2-3 people who were buying eggs from me consistently before, chances are that I’ll be able to supply you with a few dozen eggs a month still. If I happen to have extra eggs, I’ll sell them. Otherwise, due to lack of customers and increasing feed prices, my egg operation is now officially closed.
I will continue to feed my girls soy-free and extra treats, but the eggs are going to benefit my own family. Thank you for your support the past few years! It’s an unforgiving job, but I’m glad I can at least feed my own kids the healthiest of eggs available.
You should know based on my farm website that we raise chickens and ducks on our small farm. We have two geese, but they’re more like pets so I can’t really say we “raise geese,” but goose needs are basically the same as ducks so you can probably take my advice on their account as well.
I’m writing this post because we got another batch of ducklings last weekend and want to brag about them while they’re still cute.
Disclaimer: I don’t hatch my own ducks. I have tried and failed a couple of times, so I need to get better at using the small incubator we have. These ducks we bought from a local feed store, because I keep getting requests for duck eggs and just can’t keep up when most of the flock stops laying in winter. Pekins lay through the winter, so while I’m not a fan of white ducks, that’s what I got this year.
Ducklings are ADORABLE. And the sound they make is exactly the same sound you hear when you squeeze a rubber duckie. THAT SOUND IS REAL. And it’s second only to the sound of their little webbed feet slapping across the kitchen floor.
Rule number one: do not think that just because you’ve had chickens before means you can handle having ducks. Ducks are ten times as messy as chickens/chicks. We have to clean the ducklings’ box out every day when they are tiny, and every other day the bigger they get (when they end up in the basement pen we have set up, between being babies and teenagers.)
Rule Two: Unless you plan on spending every waking moment with that duck, DO NOT just get one duck. They need friends to socialize with. Chickens are not good duck friends, but they can get along well enough if that’s all you have.
Rule Three: Ducks, at every stage of life (this goes for geese too) NEED a water bowl. Those red and white plastic water jug things may work for chicks, but ducklings have to submerge their bill/face into the water to properly clear their nostrils for breathing, several times a day. They really do need a bowl. They will also swim in or bathe in this bowl, which is also necessary for getting their oil gland working properly for when they have feathers. If you can’t handle this mess, don’t get waterfowl.
Those are my biggest concerns with most people. I raise ducks for eggs and meat, but we treat our birds very well and keep them clean and well-fed. Ducks have slightly different nutritional needs than chickens, so I like to give them a duck feed while they are young to help make sure they get the right nutrients. Once they are grown, they have no problem sharing the chicken food, and they do a great job hunting for bugs around the yard to supplement what I feed them.
Some crazy people even have a pet house duck that they put diapers and a leash on and treat like a dog. I’m not at that point yet… saving that for my crazy old lady years. But it can be done! Anyway, don’t get ducks if you can’t handle a mess or don’t have enough space for them. They are excellent at helping keep your yard insect-free (especially from Japanese Beetles!) and are all around a real joy to have. The slap of duckling feet running across my kitchen floor is literally my favorite sound in the whole world. And duck butts are adorable, no matter what age they are!
You can find all kinds of guides and books online about how to raise ducks. I wanted to give this short PSA since Easter is coming up and I’d rather not have to rescue more ducks that people dump after not realizing the care involved in raising them.