It is hard to believe that it has already been four years that we have been keeping chickens! We made it through the infancy stage, the teenage months and the multitude of adjustments as they discovered their individual personalities and pecking order. We made our notes and documented the stages of their growth all the way to ovulation, and felt the overwhelming excitement and pride as the first of their eggs landed in the nest! Now it’s time to add to the sustainability of Rising Kale Farms with baby ducks. “What…?” and “Are you crazy?” have been the typical responses…and then after I explain that the plan is to raise them for their eggs, there is, “What do you do with a duck egg?”
Raising ducks will not only add a different dimension to the sights and sounds of the farm, but an added bonus with the beautiful eggs that will come in the next 20-25 weeks! Much like raising the hens, raising ducks will require a warm place with plenty of room to waddle about, fresh water, and fresh vitamin rich crumbles [15 to 16 percent crude protein] as their food source. Their bedding will be hay, lots of hay. And, they will need my full attention.
Considered a hardier bird than a chicken, ducks can grow to become an equally substantial part of the farm. From providing eggs [often considered a much more proficient layer of eggs than chickens] to feathers, raising ducks can be a rewarding endeavor. And, their manure will add a great source of increased fertility to the garden! As with the baby hens, the ducklings will be raised in the new barn at the farm. We will start them off in a 500 gallon galvanized water trough with heat lamps clamped to its sides to provide the necessary heat for the delicate little birds. As they grow, they will transition to the 10 x 15 foot open topped cages that were once the home to the baby goats.
As with chickens, attention to the correct lighting is a great consideration to ensure as they come into their time of laying, they are as productive as possible! [13 – 14 hours of natural or artificial light daily]
In answer to the question, “What do you do with a duck egg?”… you can eat them just like you would a chicken egg. Whether it’s hard boiled, deviled, scrambled, fried or poached, just think of them as a large chicken egg, only creamier. And, a duck egg also keeps it’s freshness longer than a chicken egg, with up to four months in the refrigerator!
In my research, there doesn’t seem to be too much concern raising ducks [temperature wise] with so few days that dip below the freezing point here in Texas. Their feathers and thick layers of down protecting their bodies, seem to be incredibly insulating and help protect the birds against any wet and cold.
Wish me luck…and check back to see the progress of the new birds. They arrive next week!