Keeping ducks in the back garden is a lot easier than people expect. They need a little more room than chickens in both run size and coop size; plus a few little extras to keep them healthy and happy. However, in terms of looking after will take you only a few minutes more each day than chickens and they reward you with lovely rich duck eggs for your hard work.
Choosing your ducks
Keeping ducks in the garden means that you need to consider breeds that are flightless or make sure you clip their wings to stop them escaping. Unlike chickens an unclipped duck will be able to go a fair distance if able to escape and it is unlikely you will see them again.
Good back garden breeds include runners ducks, Campbells and Aylesbury ducks as they will not fly out and escape and have pleasant quacks. Call ducks are another possibility, but they will need wing clipping and are prone to being very noisy.
Accommodation and Run
Ducks don’t perch like chickens so you’ll want a flat based coop with a ramp to access it and sufficient head room for them to stand up inside. For large breed ducks you will need to give them at least 2 square foot resting space in the coop and 2 square meters run space each.
Ducks in the Garden
Like chickens ducks can make a real mess of the garden, but unlike chickens they are easy to pen into an area. A small two-foot barricade will keep most breeds of duck where you want them and this can be moved around to allow you garden to recover. They are also really good at gobbling up all the slugs and bugs that may get to your veggies and love digging over your garden for you, if left in an area you want clearing!
Ducks and Water
Ducks need water. They do not need big ponds or lakes, but they do need enough water to dunk their heads in fully and to have a little swim in. Small hard plastic paddling pools or a small pond will suffice, along with buckets of water for them to have a good dunk in.
They will not lay as prolifically as a chicken, and are unlikely to lay for you between November and February, but the eggs will be larger and have a lovely rich taste so are perfect for baking
Just like chickens they will learn to come to you when called or for food, will enjoy eating your left over vegetables in the evening, and can be fed on layers pellets to keep them healthy.
Taken from the book, Starting with Ducks by Katie Thear, these sample chapters are all about feeding ducks.
Anyone who keeps ducks, or fancies keeping ducks in the future, will find this book extremely useful and full of practical advice and tips for those with a desire to keep a few ducks.
Further Articles on Ducks
- Back Garden Ducks – Duck Keeping Basics
- Duck Housing – Accommodation and Enclosed Runs
- Ducks and Water – Do You Need a Pond?
- Feeding Ducks & Compound Rations
- Feeding Ducks Best Practice & Home Made Duck Feed
- Feeding Ducks Grain, Grass & Greens, and Grit
- Popular Breeds of Ducks for Backyard or Garden