Want eggs? 8 reasons to consider ducks. August 18, 2020

Doris is a bit full of herself, but she may have a point.

If you want to produce your own eggs, ducks may be just the ticket. While I wouldn’t echo Doris’s sentiments above (she’s rude), you’d be smart to carefully consider the benefits of adding ducks to your flock! Ducks are, without a doubt, my favorite backyard layer. Here are 8 reasons why:

1. Ducks are “cheep”

Cute but voracious.

Yes, they really are! Ducks can be a little pricier to start out, to be sure. Ducklings eat like, well… pigs. This is just in the early days, though, to maintain their exceptionally rapid growth.

In the long run, ducks actually eat less than chickens. This is because they’re excellent foragers and — you guessed it — foraging is free!

Ducks will eat a much wider array of bugs than chickens would deign to, including slugs, tomato hornworms and the dreaded Japanese beetle. Heck, ducks will even eagerly chase down dragon-flies and other such small pterodactyls. Far from squeamish, ducks will happily dig under decaying matter to snarf anything that moves.

They’ll also forage on soft grass and tender weeds through the summer, supplementing their grain intake more heavily than chickens.

2. Duck eggs are flat-out better

Duck eggs are not only larger than chickens, but they work better, too.

Sorry; this is just a fact. Ask any pastry chef if you don’t believe me! They’ll tell you that duck eggs are essential if you want the creamiest custards, softest bread and moistest, fluffiest cakes.

This is because duck eggs are different: they contain less water, and have higher levels of fat and protein.

While some folks swear they can taste the difference when eaten solo, in truth, I find there’s little discernible difference to the taste buds between chicken and duck eggs.

Duck eggs are usually quite a bit larger than chicken eggs, too, and have harder shells. When substituting in a recipe, 2 duck eggs equates to 3 large chicken eggs.

Plus, duck eggs are the best choice for gluten-free cooking since the albumen helps to bind the gluten-free ingredients and improves the final texture considerably, creating moister breads, cakes and cookies.

3. Ducks are more reliable layers

Ducks will keep your egg basket full

You heard that right! Your best layer duck breeds, like the Golden 300 Hybrid Layer, White Layer Duck and Khaki Campbell will lay nearly as many eggs as your most productive chicken breeds: up to 290 eggs per year!

Plus, they aren’t fair-weather layers: ducks also tend to lay exceptionally well throughout the winter.

And our quacking ‘quaintances will reliably lay eggs year after year, whereas chicken will produce fewer eggs ever year after their second laying season.

Not quite as important as egg count, but helpful nonetheless: ducks are considerate enough to lay their eggs by 10 am, generally. This means you can let them out to roam by late morning and not have to worry about going on an egg hunt for breakfast the next morning!

4. Ducks go where you tell them to!

Ducks flap their wings, but it’s all for show.

Have you ever seen the hen that can climb a wall? Trying to contain chickens can (and does) create headaches. They fly, they roost and poop where you don’t want them, and they’re pretty darn sure the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

We love them nonetheless, but ducks, by contrast, are easily contained in a 3-foot-high enclosure. They don’t mind being herded, which means you can encourage them to check out new foraging areas of your choice each day.

Even if you leave your fence gate open, you likely have nothing to fear: ducks think long and hard about going through a gate that’s normally closed.

5. Ducks don’t eat your veggie garden, and 6. They DO eat bugs like champs!

Do you value your veggies just as much as your eggs? Then consider ducks.

Chickens are famous for decimating any veggie garden they’re lucky (or clever enough) to get into. They’ll dig up the roots of your plants and shred every last thing they can get their beaks on.

Darling ducks, on the other hand, will merely dibble and dabble under the vegetation in their search for bugs, slugs and anything moving — but they leave most all vegetables alone.

Of course, their big feet can be a problem with delicate seedlings, and they do love munching on lettuce, but for the most part they spend their time viciously and incessantly hunting things with wings.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the wealth of naturally-diluted fertilizer your ducks will leave over the surface of the entire garden. Bonus!

7. Those with egg allergies can often eat duck eggs!

Many people who cannot eat chicken eggs can eat duck eggs! Why? The proteins are different. So where you may have an allergic reaction to one type of egg, the other may not bother you. This opens up a world of food to those individuals that cannot typically eat foods containing the usual chicken eggs.

8. Ducks are hardier than chickens

With ducks, you’re more likely to steer clear of the vet!

Chickens — we love them to death — er, excuse the pun. It’s true that chickens aren’t the hardiest creatures in creation. Probably it’s not their fault; we’ve been selectively breeding them for so many thousands of years. But regardless, ducks may be right for you if you don’t want to be making frequent visits to the vet!

Mites and lice are far less apt to infest ducks than they are chickens, for one. Chickens are likely to fall prey to a whole host of respiratory ailments, too, where that’s unusual in ducks who are cared for properly. And when birds are sick, you know what happens: they don’t lay!

All this means adds up to one thing: if eggs are your thing, you may be smart to consider adding ducks to the flock. If you’d like to learn more, here’s my recommended reading list:

Which goose and duck breeds are right for your farm?
Raising waterfowl for eggs
Day-old ducklings for sale
How to care for ducklings and goslings
Do ducks and geese make good pets?

2 Comments
Julia E August 19th, 2020

Thank you for this informative post! I live in Texas and had previously decided that ducks or geese would be my “starter poultry,” because there are plenty of wild ones that do just fine in our crazy summer heat. You’ve given me even more good reasons to go with ducks. And if any of y’all have geese, I’d love to see a comparison of geese and ducks, geese and chickens, or all three. Thanks for the great info!

Jordana August 19th, 2020

That is a great idea! They certainly all have benefits depending on what you are looking for. Personally, I have all three types!

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