Farmgirl School

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -Tolkien

Wouldn’t that be a fabulous exclamatory sentence?  “For the love of ducks, get in here!!”  I might start using that.


I have been talking about getting ducks for years.  I have researched them and coveted them.  Nancy had some ducks this year that she inherited.  They were called Chocolate Runners.  They looked like Walt Disney himself designed them.  They looked like bowling pins, slightly slanted, running about in a pack.  They were so comical and so mesmerizing, Doug and I could not keep from giggling as we watched them.


The things that have kept us from getting ducks are as follows:

1. They are supposedly noisy.  I have tested out my neighbors though and they seem to be immune to a barking dog, bleating goats, humming alpacas, clucking chickens, and an uproariously loud opera singer named Henry the Rooster.  I think they can take a few quacking ducks.

2. Do they need their own coop?  I only have one.  They get into water and may make a mess of the water bowl.  However, the chicken water bowl is my mixing bowl stolen from the kitchen.  (The dog has one, the cats have one, I really do need new mixing bowls!)  So, they can’t make that much of a mess!  I was told today at the feed store that they do eat pine shavings which is less than good for them and that I will need to use straw, which is more odorous, but I suppose I can change it more.

3. Where am I going to get a pond?  I live in town for duck’s sake.  We talked about getting the water feature in the yard fixed that has long been out of use.  It was rotted, holy, and non-working when we moved in.  A child’s swimming pool in that area though could work.  The gal at the feed store said my chickens will drown.  She underestimates the intelligence of my chickens.

4. What the heck do they eat?  I thought maybe layer feed was layer feed but water fowl have their own feed.  Keeping that separate could be an issue.

5. Are they going to catch sight of the fairgrounds and fly south?  Apparently Runner ducks like Nancy’s can only fly three feet up so they aren’t going very far.  Other breeds can have a few feathers clipped with sharp scissors on one side and that takes care of that.

6. How many eggs do they lay?  Cause I have enough free loaders around here.  Duck eggs fetch $8 a dozen at the nearby farmers markets.  Depending on the duck breed, they can lay anywhere from 50-330 eggs per year.  The meat breeds don’t lay as many.  Runner ducks range between 150-300 eggs per year.  More than some of the chickens I have.


Feeling confident, I went to the feed store and pre-ordered my ducks.  Two blue Runners and two chocolate Runners.  Straight run.  Eek.  I asked what if they are all boys?  I can bring them to the animal swap if I don’t want to kill them myself, the clerk says.

Folks, I cannot even put my old, decrepit, eighteen year old dog to sleep for crying out ducks.  How am I going to butcher my ducks?  I will pray for all girls.

I have two choices now to think about.  I can leave them in the same coop as the chickens, keep both their bowls of food there and hope they opt for the correct one for their species.  I can put the swimming pool out by the old water feature and hope the chickens don’t drown.


Or, I can put them in the goat yard with their own coop.  Maybe there is one on Craig’s List.  They can run around with the goats, have their swimming pool, and I can hope the goats don’t break into their food.  I can totally see Loretta chowing down on duck feed.

I have until April 11th to figure it out.  The ducks arrive then.  This is becoming more of a farm every year!

11 thoughts on “For the Love of Ducks!

  1. This suggestion might be a bit like closing the barn door after the horse is long gone, but Muscovy ducks are quiet, a decent dual purpose bird, and the only duck variety that doesn’t require water in which to mate… Keep them in mind in case those runner ducks don’t work out!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I will research Muscovy ducks more. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Liza says:

    At one time or another, Jill had ducks with her chickens. Call her and get her opinion :-). Have a great weekend.

    1. Karon Wurst says:

      I would put the chickens in one area and the ducks in another area. For a duck pond on the cheep, dig in a child’s plastic wading pool. We had that on our place for the ducks and geese. Ducks and geese do not kneed shelter until winter.

  3. debweeks says:

    Ducks, another farm animal I hope to have one day. They will be very helpful in your garden. I’m told you want to keep them out of the garden until the plants are well established, but they will take care of garden pests and leave the plants alone, unlike chickens.

    As far as ducks with chickens, the girls and I went on a little field trip and visited a local homeschool mom’s farm. She had ducks, chickens and turkeys. I don’t know where she housed the turkeys, but the chickens and ducks were housed separately. For a matter-of-fact, she had them housed quite some distance apart. I’m quite sure she did this out of necessity though as she moved her chickens from place to place around the farm. She had a kids swimming pool full of water for them to swim and splash in.

    I know you don’t spend a lot of time on the computer, but again, the Homesteading Today forum has a sub-forum on homestead poultry. Ask questions, get lots of good information and you’re set.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Thanks Deb, I can’t wait to see the ducks swimming in a pool in the back yard!

  4. Laurie says:

    Hi Katie,
    We have geese in with our chickens and peafowl with a large kiddie pool and while I did have one drowning fatality it was a chick but several other chicks have hatched out there and been fine – the older chickens drink out of it and we keep it heated in the winter – ours is above ground though for ease of cleaning and then my husband built steps up to it for the geese to walk up and get in – the chickens stand on the steps to drink and when we overflow it to rinse it out all of the birds have a field day, they love to play in the water. I feed the All Flock crumbles with some added corn in addition to lettuce and bread and whatever left overs I have and the geese seem to do fine without breed specific food. 🙂

    1. Farmgirl says:

      You were who I was going to call! I thought I remembered a mixed flock at your house!

  5. LuckyRobin says:

    We kept our ducks in with our chickens. As long as there is enough room so the ducks don’t have to sleep underneath the chickens it is fine (chicken manure will ruin the feathers on their backs, which messes with their waterproofing). They get along well once the ducks are big enough. Any chicken that is old enough to be laying eggs is not going to drown in a pool. We used one of those turtle sandboxes leftover from when the kids were small for our duck ponds. We filled up the inverted lid as well. I’d recommend something that it is easy for you to dump out because ducks get their water filthy fast. Like an hour after you’ve filled it fast.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Thank you! This really helps!

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