rhinestonesandroses asked: I'm thinking of buying a duck! So I have a few questions :) what breed of duck is the best for a beginner? Are they much work? And some positives and negatives of having a duck? Thank you! :)
Hi, thanks for asking! I think I always talk about the positives, so let’s be more honest… The first thing you need to know about ducks is that they are very, very messy.
The amount of mess is equal to the amount of duck, so it does depend on how much space you have to keep them.
For a small garden or semi-indoor set-up I would recommend Calls, they’re at least one of the smallest ornamental breeds widely available. The females can, however, make a noise equal in volume to a cockerel, but generally speaking, she will not need to make this call often when happy. You need to be much more careful regarding birds of prey, cats, rats and ways they can escape, however.
If size permits, I would personally go for a larger duck at first because of the risks from predators; you don’t know how many you have in your area until you have poultry…! A breed such as Cherry Valley, Orpington, Campbell, Aylesbury or a shiny Cayuga would suit well.
But on the nature of local predators; if your ducks are not secure, they will get them.
I cannot emphasize this enough, when unattended an outdoor duck will need to be in a secure run and preferably locked into a hutch at night. Omlet do a very solid range but there are other alternatives.
An indoor duck (who will need to forage outside still!) can be kept in a large rabbit cage (two-tier preferably) and let outside regularly either with their human or in a secure pen. You can get them nappies from The Gooses Mother & Father, which are brilliant, how much your duck will like them, is up to them… ;)
Ducks should be kept on straw, not hay as this can cause fatal lung infections. It should be changed at least weekly.
They always need clean water and access to a poultry feed that can be picked up from local farms and farm suppliers, you buy a sack at a time and it’s low cost. They will also enjoy lettuce and dried mealworms you can buy for wild birds (never live).
They don’t need a pond, but a paddling pool or children’s sandpit you can keep clean easier will do them nicely ;)
They can mess up gardens if you don’t keep an eye on them! But they are insect-free messy gardens. Bigger the land, smaller the duck, less the impact!
But that’s the practical side of it. I was given my first ducks at 8 years old and I fell in love with them, they are the most transparent, honest animals I know. They have wildly unique personalities and then when you put them all together it’s like watching handless children playing adults… It sounds daft but sometimes the greatest pleasure of keeping ducks is stepping back and watching their soap operas :)
I hope that helped, let me know if you have any more questions!