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Lazy ducks

Flock of ducks

I hate to admit it, but our duck experiment was a dismal failure.  We chose Ancona ducks because they came highly recommended by Carol Deppe, but either the breed or the species seems to be a poor fit for our homestead.  When the ducklings were small enough to dabble in our sky pond, I loved the way they foraged for their own food, but keeping them on dry land has been much more of a hassle.  The requisite open bucket of water turns into mud within hours, and the ducks then proceed to turn the entire area around the bucket into mud too.

Lazy ducks

I could probably deal with the mud problem, though, if our ducks weren't so darn lazy.  At first, I thought maybe the waterfowl were spending their entire day hanging out in one spot because they were in a hillside pasture, and hills were too hard for their webbed feet.  However, I moved the flock into a flat pasture full of low weeds and clover (and even took away their open water bucket) and the waterfowl still lay about all day.

Busy chickens

For the sake of comparison, here's what the tractored hens were doing on the same hot afternoon that I took the second photo in this post.  Despite being confined to a small space, these Red Stars were busy working up the ground where I plan to set out fall broccoli next week, hunting for worms in the process.

If we were in the market for pets, not working livestock, ducks might be keepers, but Mark and I both agreed that we'd be better off cutting our losses before we have to deal with open buckets of mud in the winter.  We'll soon be dining on ducks and hunting down a few point-of-lay pullets to expand our new laying flock.

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I am having a similar issue but with some 18 week old chickens. They seem to spend their whole day in the coop barly looking for any food.

We purchased them at 1 month old and then kept them inside for another 3 weeks because of the freezing temperatures. Now they basically only eat the feed I put out for them. That said I am not sure I the black flies are driving them crazy since they are not really even finishing the food I put out for them. Other days they eat it all up and want more food.

Do you have any suggestions on how to get them to range for their food?

Comment by BW early Monday morning, July 7th, 2014
BW --- I'd be curious to hear which breed(s) of chickens you have. In my experience, some chicken breeds are just much less prone to forage than others. We ditched our cochin hen for this reason --- she just didn't want to scratch in the dirt. You can read more about the breeds we've had good and bad luck with in my 99 cent ebook.
Comment by anna at lunch time on Monday, July 7th, 2014

Well we got Rode Island Reds thinking they should be a decent foraging bird and decent cold hardines (living in Minnesota that is one of my primary selection traits).

That said I probably should get your ebook to have it around for the next time we purchase some birds (though hopefully that will be a while out).

Comment by BW late Monday evening, July 7th, 2014
I had chickens first and they were the smelliest things in the world! Couldn't stand it. Then I got Sebastopol geese, which I have loved. But now that they are no longer endangered I have been raising Silver Appleyard ducks. I'll take emptying water buckets and pools over stinky chicken poo any day of the year. I got four, hoping for at least one female and will raise, incubate and sell their babies. The other two will go in the freezer. They are currently 5 weeks old and I thikn they are foraging for bugs pretty darn well!
Comment by Jody late Monday morning, September 8th, 2014

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