Anyway, I had been wantin’ some ducks because obviously, I have a bird-fetish. Had tried to buy some off Craigslist once, which led to a not –so – pleasant experience, which led to me just givin’ up. That is, until I stumbled upon the two Blue Swedish this woman was selling.
The story was, she had bought them for her kids – small kids—to teach them responsibility. Now that the ducks were getting’ too big for their tote, it was time they moved on. For twenty bucks, they could move on to my house. And for twenty bucks, they did.
Unfortunately, they were skittish—real skittish—not wantin’ much to do with me or my own hellions. So we couldn’t handle them much but once they were moved outside with the rest of the chickens, they seemed to integrate well. I bought them a small, plastic, swimmin’ pool which they loved and eventually, when I sat outside, they started to come “near” me with the other chickens. Not to let me touch them but they would Quack their way to my neck of the woods keepin’ themselves at a cautious leg-length.
Sadly, somethin’ nailed the female over winter. Never figured out what since there were no remains. Coyote or Fox perhaps? Regardless, the male has seemed rather sad even though he stays right with the other chickens. That bein’ said, this year, I was determined to get me some more ducks no matter who I had to deal with — except for the one bat-sh&t crazy person I had a run in with last year on Craigslist. But anyone else – other than HIM—I would totally deal with IF it meant, more ducks.
I was actually gonna order some from a Hatchery. I know some don’t like those but believe it or not, I have had a real good experience with the one I’ve tried so far—Meyers.
Didn’t have to go that route, though. Found a breeder out in Deerfield, Virginia and around 7:30 pm Saturday night, I loaded up my daughter, great niece and husband – he was drivin’ us since this was his neck of the woods—and away we went.
This time around, I went with Pekin Ducks. That’s the kind I went after before the unfortunate run-in with the “crazy craigslist person”. Not to fear anyone from Craigslist – I still get livestock and such from there and I have met a lot of nice folks sellin’ on that site—BUT this person was just a crappy-crazy-should-exit-society-altogether-kind-of-cracker-jack. Just sayin’.
Ducks in general, or so I have found, are GREAT as far as nailin’ flies, yellow jackets and all kinds of other unwanted pests hangin’ around the yard. Pekins are great dual-purpose birds. That means if you are going to butcher them for meat or use them for eggs. As far as a meat bird goes, they say a Pekin is to ducks what a Cornish- Rock cross is to Chickens. They mature fast, have great feed conversion and because of their feathers—easily cleaned. The feathers are more loose and fluffier, which makes them easier to pluck, BUT, that also makes them less repellent where mud is concerned. They are great layers, though, and happen to lay all through winter even when the other chickens shut down. And they say, this is only what I have read, if you are going to try eating a duck, well, the Pekin is King.
Pekin is not a broody bird, so if you are wantin’ to increase numbers, you will need an incubator. And baby ducks themselves are slightly different than baby chickens. They don’t require as much heat.
90-92 degrees for the first 3 days, then 85-90 degrees for days 4 to 7. Thereafter, drop the temperature by approximately 5 degrees per week until they are fully feathered. They must always be able to get away from the heat. Panting and drooping wings are a sign that they are too hot. Once they leave the brooder, it is a good idea to give them a heat lamp at night for the first week or so, unless the weather is very hot. Always make sure they have some shelter and a place to get out of the sun. Source
DO NOT GIVE BABY DUCKS MEDICATED—I REPEAT: MEDICATED—FEED.
Baby ducks are way messier, than baby chickens, too. Keep that one in mind as well. And they drink way more water. So make sure to keep them a fresh supply.
Pekins are only fair, as far as foraging goes, so you will have to make sure you have proper feed. They have a calm temperament and originally originated in China. Drakes, that’s the boys, usually get to be around 10-11 Ibs. and the female, 8-9 Ibs..
The next duck I’ll be bringin’ in this year will be the Khaki Campbells. Talk about egg layers. They can lay up to 340 medium sized eggs a year! And while maybe nervous, happen to be great foragers!