a group of ducks

Episode 93: Backyard Ducks

Many people have thought about raising chickens and most of them have been successful doing so. But have you given any thought to raising ducks?

All ducks belong to the Anseriformes order, a biological group that contains ducks, geese and swans. Ducks are generally smaller and shorter-necked than either swans or geese. They have many economic uses, being farmed for their meat, eggs, and feathers (particularly their down).

The head and wing feathers of drakes (males) are more colorful than in females, with male ducks typically having larger heads. Ducks generally only have one partner at a time, although the partnership may only last one year. Ducks don't use nesting boxes or roosting bars.  They are perfectly content to bed down in straw on the floor of a chicken coop or shed or other secure structure and then will make their own nest in a corner to lay their eggs in.

Ducks do have predators. Nests and ducklings can be raided by land-based predators such as foxes, or large birds, such as hawks or owls. While people may allow them to free range during the day, they really need to be locked into a coop or other strong structure at night.

Backyard Ducks don’t need a pond and can be perfectly happy with a kiddie pool. They do need a water source deep enough to submerge their heads into to help them swallow their food. Ducks eat grasses, aquatic plants, fish, insects, small amphibians, and worms. Ducklings should only be fed un-medicated feed. But bear in mind that ducks can be messy. They tend to make a water mess around their tub, as they go back and forth from the feed to the water, wetting the feed in their mouth with the water to help them swallow it.

Ducks can be wonderful backyard birds to raise as you enjoy their eggs as well as their personalities. Join Cathy Bruce on Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley to learn more!

Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas

Guest: Cathy Bruce

Photo by: Cathy Bruce

Production Support:  Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden, Annie Scibienski



Xandra Powers
Community Horticulture Coordinator
518-828-3346 x106

Last updated November 2, 2023