We have a small brace of Pekin ducks and they are a delight. We also have a few mallards mixed in and the mallard drake seems to be the dominate one. We collect eggs daily and they haven't stopped laying eggs since they started 6 months ago.
We have incubated with 90 percent hatch rate using an egg turner and incubator from the ag supply store locally here - about 50 bucks a piece, so 100 dollar total investment.
We feed them layer crumbles until they reach 8 weeks then add in some chopped corn scratch 50/50 then we slaughter when they are fully feathered. They make for tasty dinners and not greasy when prepared correctly and butchered at the appropriate age.
It took a little practice and we followed the guide in "Barnyard in your Backyard" that we borrowed from the local library. This is an excellent resource as well as "Basic Butchering", another very good book.
We plan on culling as appropriate and replacing with youngsters. I think if we have about 20 ducks with a male to female ratio of 1 drake for 3 female we will be doing well and continue our self-sustaining meat production.
I also raise tilapia with our aquaponics system which is another inexpensive way to produce food both meat and veggies.
The ducks keep out the insects from our little greenhouse and we compost using the duck waste.
It's all about complimenting each other and making the components work in harmony for us not against us.
You will be happy with Pekins and mallards they are excellent and pretty as well. They do love a bath so we fill up small Walmart 10 dollar swimming pools twice a week and those ducks stay pearly white.
Gordon, many thanks for your contribution. Ducks in general are better at egg laying than chickens, however, many people don't realize that and keep chickens instead.
We have both on the farm, and have to say, I get enjoyment watching the antics of the chickens and the ducks, which are Khaki Campbells.
The ducks are a little on the skittish side, quite typical for Khaki Campbells and like your Pekins, our ducks love their water and a pool for them doesn't have to be expensive.
I picked up one of those blue plastic clam shells from the local hardware and garden shop and the girls love that to swim in.
However your ducks must be cleaner than mine, as I find I have to change the water daily otherwise the chickens start drinking it, and after the ducks have been there it isn't that great to drink!
You hit it on the head when you said that things should all work in harmony. I like to think of it too as keeping livestock, or growing plants for more than one reason. For example, nothing in my garden is ornamental. I can either use it for eating or for medicinal purposes, soap making etc.
My ducks I keep primarily for eggs. However, they are also good snail and slug eaters, manure machines for my compost heap, and when they are past the egg laying time, they are then fit for the table.
It sounds as if you have a great set up there. Your drake to duck ratio is fine, and you have a very good hatching record. You must be doing something right! Wishing you all the best with your endeavors!
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