Planet X Town Hall

Socrates & R.R. Book - PERMACULTURE, and methods for gathering food and water => Animal Husbandry => Topic started by: R.R. Book on April 11, 2017, 03:26:18 AM

Title: Land Ducks
Post by: R.R. Book on April 11, 2017, 03:26:18 AM
Hi all,

I thought maybe some folks might be interested in a little info about land ducks, specifically Khaki Campbells.

We have chickens too, but here are some advantages and disadvantages of land ducks:


-cold hardy and need less insulation in their house than the chickens need
-can also thrive easily in high heat and humidity
-few diseases
-quiet, including males
-lay nearly an egg per day per hen at maturity
-eggs are larger and more nutritious
-can quietly produce offspring without drawing unwanted attention
-can get along with chickens
-adorable, as they wag their tails like puppies when happy
-don't need a pond to be happy
-won't fly away, and will stay close to home even if foraging
-male goes into mating mode in spring, leaving all summer for babies to mature before winter
-don't destroy ground cover like chickens do
-will gladly eat mostly whatever the chickens (if any) are fed, with few additional needs
-are comparable in size to a small (but not bantam / miniature) hen, so eat less feed
-males are extremely protective of the flock

-gamey meat (are kept mostly for eggs)
-shy around humans unless imprinting before 3 weeks of age
-need daily greens
-need to mate in at least a small tub of water
-make a splashy mess when they drink water and bathe
-often lay their eggs in odd places other than the nest box
-have excrement that is more liquid due to all the water they drink
-like to eat and play in mud
-don't brood (sit on their eggs) well

For us the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, and here are some coping stragies:
1. Do without meat and give thanks for the rich eggs
2. Appreciate that their aloofness (unless they imprinted on you) is a sign of their ability to defend themselves
3. Greens are easy to grow and to store long-term in powdered or freeze-dried form
4. Coop can be kept cleaner and dryer by placing a splash pan (like a cement mixing tray) under their water bucket, and by feeding them in the tray space around the bucket
5. Can provide either a tiny pond or tub if offspring are desired
6. Enjoy the egg hunt as part of the challenge; can also place a dummy egg in their nest box
7. The frequency with which their litter needs changing means more mulch and compost for the garden
8. Can prevent acquisition of parasites from mud-eating easily by adding a pinch of diatomaceous earth and French clay to their feed (i.e. Geobond)
9. Can either confine a female to encourage brooding, or incubate eggs (which can be done in a furry cap without electricity

More here a the Livestock Conservancy:

Title: Re: Ducks
Post by: Socrates on April 11, 2017, 08:53:31 AM
I have collected some info and links ( on ducks and other fowl, i invite all to visit

meta query: why animals are under Divine Feminine is beyond me; they are as much a part of 'agriculture' as any plant.

Mrs. Book, i'll see your ducks and raise you a scobie...  ;D
So many fowl to choose from and they all have their niches, both in nature as well as on a farm-/homestead:
Jungle Fowl

Just another reason for a community; imagine you have ducks but your neighbors focus on turkey or quail or whatever... Having a few fowl is something altogether different than being caretaker of a petting zoo...!

When i learned about scobies [i.e. Muscovy 'Ducks'] i fell in love with them [much like i fell in love with the Rhodesian Ridgeback once i started reading about them]. And as much as chickens are popular, scobies are my favorite fowl. Having said that, i've never had any fowl, so...
Ducks [scobies, btw, are not ducks, but rather somewhere in between ducks and geese, genetically speaking] have some advantages over chickens but they are not (as) omnivorous as chickens or scobies and in 'survival situations' that can be a drawback.
In a community, however, as long as some people keep chickens, it might even be considered foolish for no one to be keeping ducks (and/or scobies).
Survival is also about redundancies and not putting all your eggs in one basket [pun intended...]
Title: Re: Ducks
Post by: R.R. Book on April 11, 2017, 06:44:48 PM
Survival is also about redundancies and not putting all your eggs in one basket [pun intended...]

 :D Ha ha!  Thanks for the informative link Socrates.  I always heard that Scovies couldn't be bred with other ducks, and now you've explained why.  It's interesting that your source mentions that they don't quack.  I had mentioned that Campbells are quiet - must modify that to say that they are "mostly" quiet - I cleaned a bunch of black bananas out of the freezer today and threw them on the compost pile, and the Campbells had a wild party on top of the heap.  Young adults these days, you know...
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: Yowbarb on April 11, 2017, 06:53:38 PM
R.R. Book and Socrates, thanks for the great info on land ducks!
Learn something new every day! :)
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: R.R. Book on June 12, 2017, 12:47:21 PM

I must correct my first post: Khaki Campbells, contrary to the opinions of some, do *not* need a tub of water in which to mate...our drake has been very happy to engage the duck hens on land.  It has been interesting to note the duck hens' responses have ranged from agreeable to evasively side-stepping the drake's amorous attentions, which should settle down as the season changes and we leave spring behind. :)
Title: Re: Land Ducks: Small pond without electricity
Post by: R.R. Book on June 30, 2017, 02:17:11 PM
When we first embarked upon the tiny pond project, I was unsure about how to make it work in the Aftertime without mechanical filtration.  Turns out we didn't need it after all.  Here's what worked:

First of all, we found a level spot that would drain down a gradual slope in case of run-off from rain.  We planted the backdrop for the pond against a tall fence in the henyard, moving Carefree rose bushes from elsewhere in the yard that were thorny enough to withstand poultry grazing pressures.  The critters do enjoy eating the flowers, which re-bloom quickly.  Next we found a 50 gallon heavy-duty black plastic pond form, not likely to be subject to puncturing, for $85 including tax.  It measured about 3 x 5' and 18" deep, perfect for a few swimming land ducks.  Then my son and I spent half a day digging rocks out of the ground, and a sledgehammer had to be used in one rocky spot to get the hole to conform to our insert shape. 

Finally we reached the magical moment of dropping the pond form into the hole for about the 100th time, and finding at last that it was an exact fit. Of the dozens of rocks that had been dug up, many were nice and flat, so we stacked them all around the pond, covering up the plastic edge and making it look as if it belonged in the landscape.  Daylilies were divided from elsewhere in the yard and added between rose bushes, and small stones were placed around and between those to protect them from being ripped out of the ground with chicken beaks and claws. 

Maintence for the tiny pond, if any at all, only requires two simple pieces of equipment and 20 minutes per week.  A collapsible long-handled pond-skimmer (for the occasional dead mouse or spider floating on top) cost $9, and an old bucket was scavenged at no cost.  Total materials cost: $94.  Of the 20 minutes labor each week, 10 minutes are spent carrying pails of algae-rich pond water to adjacent crops, and the other 10 minutes are spent refilling the pond with fresh well water. I should mention, however, that there is no smell to the algae water other than something akin to freshly juiced greens.  The simple system is fairly self-sustaining, in that ducks drink up much-needed greens in the algae water between cleanings, as well as eating mosquito larvae and eggs.

At one point, we had a salamander take up residence in the pond and lay her eggs, which the ducks found very savory (salamanders could also be scavenged from under rocks for Aftertime feed).

Wikipedia lists blue-green algae nutrients here under "Spirulina":

Moving photo from the chickens thread:

Title: Re: Land Ducks: What their little pond attracted
Post by: R.R. Book on July 19, 2017, 09:18:04 AM
I woke up this morning to an extended family in and around the little duck pond.  Right now my instinct is to protect them; however, will be looking for recipes for later... :)
Title: Re: Land Ducks - "Sick Bay"
Post by: R.R. Book on April 28, 2018, 06:12:08 AM
I don't know how many readers have seen films of the mysterious phenomenon causing birds to become lethargic, but it possibly happened to one of our young ducks yesterday.  She had been fine all day, and then suddenly disappeared around bedtime when she should have been following her little flock into the duck house for supper.  After looking everywhere, I finally spotted her in the space under the duck house doorway ramp, clearly unable to get on her feet.  A quick examination of her yielded no explanation, as there was no sign of injury. 

Downed birds are best separated from the flock for care in "sick bay," which is a large plastic hay-filled tub in the garage that can easily be cleaned out and stored when not needed.  Since it was early in the evening, I decided to fill up a bathtub with warm water and observe her legs.  While I was carrying her upstairs to the bath, she was able to push with both feet against my hand, so I knew there was no paralysis.  She swam for two hours in the bathtub, and was able to groom herself and eat pieces of chopped cabbage that were floating on the water. 

At bedtime, I wrapped her in an old towel and carried her back down to sick bay.  She accepted little balls of mash fed to her by hand, and then settled into the hay for the night with a small light left on in the room, making no noise during the night.  First thing this morning, when I turned on the main light in the garage, she quacked and jumped out of her crate to show me that she had laid an egg, so I reunited her with her flock in the hen yard, and all was well.

Unlike hens, ducks have extreme longevity for birds, and tend not to be susceptible to illnesses.  Ours are dewormed daily with DE and French clay (Geobond) in their homemade mash, as well as being free-ranged and well fed, so there was little reason to suspect disease, malnutrition or a parasite.  It is possible that the drake could have been too frisky with her, as his libido is tied to warmer weather and I have witnessed him standing on the girls' backs during romps in the hay.  But that is what ducks do, so am leaning toward the mysterious energy wave that is downing other birds for the explanation.

Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: ilinda on April 28, 2018, 07:32:43 PM
That's a touching story of your caring for your little duck.  Also, very educational, as some of us know absolutely nothing about ducks.  Do you think the reason she was appearing to be ailing is that she was "due"?  Think of how a woman will become slower and even seem lethargic immediately before delivery?  Maybe Mrs. Duck knew she was "due" and had settled down to have her egg?

Still a lovely story.
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: R.R. Book on April 29, 2018, 03:25:38 AM
Thanks Ilinda.  She lays an egg about every-other day, and her breed, Campbell, is not broody.   :)
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: R.R. Book on August 14, 2018, 05:27:21 PM
The duck house in summer...
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: R.R. Book on March 06, 2019, 04:08:52 AM
Cooking and Baking with Duck Eggs


Quick breads, cakes, muffins, brownies, and other goodies are delicious made with duck eggs in place of chicken eggs in your recipes. My Mom used duck eggs for cakes when I was a kid and I can still remember how moist and wonderful those cakes tasted!
How many duck eggs to use in place of chicken eggs?

In general, the following conversion works pretty well…

1 large chicken egg = 1 small duck egg

2 medium chicken eggs = 1 large duck egg

3 medium chicken eggs = 2 large duck eggs

I realize that this is a bit confusing and it took a while for me to get the hang of using duck eggs in my recipes. If your ducks lay eggs that are similar in size to a chicken’s, then I suggest using the same number of duck eggs in place of chicken eggs. Pekin eggs are about 1.5 times the size of most chicken eggs.  You may notice that using the same number of large duck eggs in place of large chicken eggs will give you a very moist, and possibly heavy, finished product. If you are going for light and fluffy, you may want to remove the yolk from one duck egg.

Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: R.R. Book on July 03, 2019, 10:31:00 AM
On the chicken thread, we've been discussing summer heat stress on elderly poultry.  Yesterday, I discovered that one of our young 2-year-old ducks had begun involuntarily shaking, which continued throughout the day. 

She had opted to move herself away from the flock and onto the little pond.  I wasn't sure if it was heat prostration or something else, but fetched her from the water and put a pinch of mineral salt into her bill, followed by a drench of sweet electrolyte fluid with the pipette, and kept repeating this sequence for a quarter hour at a time, finishing off with a pipette of cold water each time.

I was convinced that she wouldn't survive.  We brought her into "sick bay" inside the garage, putting her into a crate of hay lined with a trash bag beneath, as ducks have very liquid feces.  Then we turned on a little night light for her and went to bed for the night. 

This morning I fully expected to find her dead in the garage, but instead discovered to my surprise that she was running around and quacking that she wanted to rejoin her flock.  The time spent on giving her the electrolyte drench the previous day had proven to be well-spent.

The drake greeted her a bit effusively back in the henyard, and wouldn't stay off of her, so he was put out to graze in the gardens with a bucket of water so little Duck-duck could continue recuperating.  I have continued offering her the pipette today, which she is taking almost too voluntarily for a semi-wild creature, and I fear that I may have created a Sugar Junkie  ::)

Will have to wean her back off of her "fix" gradually... :)
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: ilinda on July 05, 2019, 02:42:13 PM
That's an amazing little story of trying what you think will work based on your livestock knowledge base.  (The people who sold us the goats back in 2010 said goat owners will end up having to be their own vets, as most country vets know cattle, hogs, horses, dogs, and cats, but not much about goats, and in fact think that goats are useless, throw-away animals.  We have found that to be true.)

Your lining the crate with plastic under the hay was similar to our recent experience with a sick goat.  She couldn't walk, so her urine would flow everywhere and completely ruin any new hay put down, so we bought Pampers and put them--not on--but under the goat and it saved us hours and hours of constant cleaning up of wet hay, and having to replace it with dry hay.

Would weaning your duckling be easier if you gradually reduced the sweetness of the pipette mix, day by day?
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: R.R. Book on July 05, 2019, 05:47:05 PM
Good idea about the gradual weaning - also about the Pampers! :)
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: R.R. Book on July 22, 2019, 06:31:30 AM
Just a follow-up on the duck that was in heat distress:

She is doing a lot better now, and opted for a little bath this morning, into which I tossed some fresh chunks of watermelon for a healthy snack...

( (

( (

We're also now offering the hens and ducks a free-choice bowl of coarse salt in summer, in addition to the sea salt mixed into their food.  It needs to be sited away from non-halophyte crops that don't like salty soil.  :)
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: ilinda on July 22, 2019, 11:58:26 AM
[quote author=R.R. Book link=topic=6572.msg113075#msg113075 date=156380229

We're also now offering the hens and ducks a free-choice bowl of coarse salt in summer, in addition to the sea salt mixed into their food.  It needs to be sited away from non-halophyte crops that don't like salty soil.  :)
You just answered a question I've had brewing for weeks now--whether to feed sea salt and/or kelp to the guineas.  How much sea salt do you mix with a given amount of food?
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: R.R. Book on July 22, 2019, 12:01:25 PM
Our rule during all but peak heat is one "fat pinch" per bucket of feed, meaning that all four fingers plus thumb are used to pick it up out of the bulk sea salt jar.  Two or three "fat pinches" are used in summer heat  :)
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: R.R. Book on September 30, 2019, 05:38:13 AM
I've been studying veterinary manuals on duck care, and have learned that there are individual ducks that may need larger amounts of niacin (B3) at given times than other ducks need, depending upon external and internal stresses. 

Have been experimenting with ways to deliver the niacin which ensure that it is consumed and not wasted.  What has been working here has been to slather a generous amount of butter on a piece of whole grain bread, then break open a 500 mg capsule of niacin onto the bread (it has no bitter taste).  The free niacin is rubbed into the butter with one finger, swirling it around on the bread until the white powder is fully absorbed, which takes just a few seconds.

Then the duck is situated in a tub or small pond and the buttered bread is broken into bite-sized pieces and thrown onto the water for the duck to grab in her bill.  I have seen an eye disorder heal itself overnight with this treatment, and am hoping it will address a leg disorder, which is common in ducks.  :)

Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: Yowbarb on September 30, 2019, 09:21:56 PM
RR wow that is great stuff!
Title: Re: Land Ducks
Post by: ilinda on October 01, 2019, 04:00:09 PM
Fascinating!  So land ducks are as diverse as any other species, it seems.  Congrats on your  insights and ability to doctor on the ones who might need more diligent care.