Ducks (and drakes) in my garden!

Introduction

Warningย  – this is not an e-learning related post :). As some of you know I sometimes digress into posts about the wonderful part of the world where I live and some of the activities on our block. This is one such post. However it was triggered by a tweet to me from a long time Twitter buddy @plangardengal in California who was one of my earliest contacts on Twitter around three years ago. We have talked gardens, food, animals, and education on Twitter so she knows we have ducks and was looking to talk about some “whys and wherefores”.ย  Most of this post was the email I sent to @plangardengal – it was really just meant to say “ask away if I can help I will” but as always my fingers ran away on the keyboard and I found myself telling the tale of our ducks.

About our ducks

Again a warning – this is not for the really faint-hearted we do have and breed both “chooks” (chickens) and ducks because we like the meat as well as the eggs and because we like to eat birds that have had a happy life! We started with the “chooks” and a couple of years later added the first ducks to the “flock” again for eggs and also to eat. It seems that here ducks are better “natural breeders/incubators” than the chooks. We use the incubator for chooks but ducks sit and manage their own incubation.

Our original ducks are Muscovies – great layers *huge yolked eggs” tho’ the shells are very hard! These ducks are great characters as well as being larger than the average domestic duck. They can crossbreed but produce infertile offspring when crossed with other breeds. Their incubation is stated as 35 days (having said that our main breeding Muscovy duck takes 38-42 days!)

We absolutely love our Muscovies! They are not only good layers, breeders and tasty eating but are also great characters. Theirย  temperament is also excellent – calm (as birds go), very non-aggressive and totally relaxed in human company except when protecting eggs. Our first drake was a bit confrontational and bullied the chooks a bit so we swapped him for a better natured one though much older one. Some of our Muscovies are great escape artists – they fly over, climb over and wriggle under the internal dividing chook wire we have in the garden and to divide the chook pens up. So ideally they need fully enclosed runs or you need to fence the veg in as they love to eat emerging young veg!

One of our original bought in birds is our main breeding duck – a fantastic character (Pudddleduck – named for Jemima Puddleduck of Beatrix Potter stories – we don’t name the ones we intend to eat!). She scorns the nest boxes, chooses her own spot – lays and hatches very well (11 ducklings – from 12 eggs –

about 3 days ago & this year another 18 previously over 3 hatches). One of her offspring from earlier this year has also just hatched 4 ducklings (she was only sitting on 5 eggs so that is a good hatch too). At the moment we have two drakes – both are Puddleduck’s offspring and both have now proven fertility with these two recent hatches. We plan to stay with two ducks and two drakes though we really only need one drake, having two reduces the risk of being left “drakeless” if (as happens with all poultry) one suddenly dies.

We also now have Khaki Campbells. We were given 8 fledgling “drakes” one of whom was a duck – so kept her & one drake – they have already bred 8 ducklings. Their incubation is supposed to be 28 days, and as I write Mrs Campbell has just hatched 3 more ducklings. This was a great surprise as we had not expected any success from this batch as we believed that the young from the previous hatch had been sleeping in the nest (before we took them away) and had probably started the eggs into growth prematurely before the duck started to sit.

The Campbells are very different characters from the Muscovies – again great eating and good layers but the two we are breeding from are very nervous in temperament. The group of 8 were all like that – stayed together in a tight bunch all the time, rushed around making lots of noise and kept as far away as possible from humans. These two have calmed a little but not much. We separated off the young (who were showing similar characteristics) when they were a few weeks old and put them in a pen with young chooks. This seems to have had a very good effect in that they no longer rush around in a bunch and they are much less scared of humans. All of our home-bred chooks rush around us and walk on our feet if we are anywhere near them and this influence is being passed on the the young ducks.

Conclusion

The ducks and chooks are all wonderful characters and very entertaining to be around. I was picking figs this morning with several chooks hovering hopefully round my feet in case I should drop a fig when I heard flapping of wings from the other side of the tree. I went to look and found one of the chooks jumping (wing assisted ๐Ÿ™‚ ) to peck at figs on the tree around a metre (just over 3 feet) from the ground! Now I understand why we don’t get many figs on the lower branches. These and similar antics by both ducks and chooks lighten our days and help us keep perspective in the stressful world of education.

 

13 thoughts on “Ducks (and drakes) in my garden!

  1. Thanks Jo for this post. I really enjoyed reading about your poultry. As we live on a farm and have chooks, ducks (khaki campbell) and we have peacocks and hens, I can very much relate to what you have written. The two peahens are sitting on eggs now. Our plums are ripening so I will be making plum jam soon too. I had a fig tree but it died – fig jam was my Dad’s favourite jam. It is great to learn about others outside of our educational professions, so thanks for sharing.

  2. I have read the post with great interest, Jo. And I am satisfied with your Muscovites’ behaviour.
    The post is related to e-learning, too, as it helps English teachers from different countries learn English via the Internet. Besides, such posts build cross-cultural awareness better than anything else.
    And I am feeling as if I were going around your farm together with you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you!

      So pleased you enjoyed and that you feel it has relevance for English learners and from a cross cultural perspective.

      I must admit that I can usually find some e-learning relevance in what I post especially for my literacy learners and/or for ESL learners.

  3. Thank you Anne

    I did wonder about posting that I had posted – as it isn’t strictly edu related but have had positive responses including yours :). Wld love to share “Campbell” experiences. Are yours frenetic too or is it just the ones that we were given? We have found them a bit startling after the Muscovies.

    Our plums are a bit less productive this year as are peaches, in last few years we have had too many! This year veg glut! Have made beetroot & orange chutney, piccallilli and pickled cucumbers in last week.

    How exciting to have peacocks – so beautiful when they display – do your peahens lay/incubate eggs? Can’t imagine anything more exciting in the “fowl” sense than breeding peacocks/peahens ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Well, Jo, I too enjoyed reading about your chooks and ducks. I also love hearing about the summer weather and produce, as I sit in my wintry cold room getting ready for school to start back up tomorrow. The heat is down low, so I’m wearing my coat.

    The chicken and duck antics made me laugh and get distracted from my work for a little bit, and that’s a good thing!

    Happy New Year,
    Denise

    • Thank you! Yes Denise one of the best things for me about a global PLN is hearing about summer activities when it is winter here.

      I think I will have to try and write more posts about our animals and the things we do on the block – there are so many funny things that the animals do and also so many exciting events like seeing different wildlife that I really feel I should share.

  5. Hi Jo

    I feel so privileged to say that as I read this I was able to visualise your beautiful property and the ducks. The bubs are so cute and over here in the east I could use the pool today.
    s

  6. Hi Sandra
    Lovely to see your comment. We are so pleased with our Puddleduck – she is a great “Mum”. I agree ducklings are cute – I think they are “cuter” than chicks.
    Wld love for you to visit again anytime:) especially in the pool season!

  7. Our youngest son loved the ducks and sank an old bathtub in the ground of the chookpen so the khaki campbells love splashing around in it. Our dogs keep them away from the garden which is a pity as they are great at keeping our snails and slugs down. The peahens sit on their own eggs but the foxes provide a constant challenge. We used to incubate eggs including turkey and guinea fowl, but now that our family is grown up and gone on their own global journeys my husband and I dont have the time. Great to see all the comments on this post – shows that posts like this are of high interest and are educational.

  8. Thanks for the post on our behalf. Great read as we think alike.
    Although we can’t call our ducks “Mr. and Mrs. Campbell”, even if we get this breed as we have the Campbell’s living 2 houses away. It could make for some awkward dinner conversations when the neighbors come over.

  9. “Chuckle” I know the feeling Roy – we rarely give any of our animals “people” names for exactly that reason. Very embarrassing to be chatting about your animal to a human of the same name. Even worse telling the dog to ” lie down ….” when one of your guests has the same name!

  10. Hi! Thanks for your blog post!
    Last year I started with Muscovies! We just had our first batch of hatchlings!

    A few weeks ago, I added Khaki Campbells to our flock. They are about 3 weeks old now… and definitely… of “one” mind! They run around together. I sure hope that they become more friendly!!!

  11. Thank you for the comment Toni.

    So exciting that first hatch! I always get excited but that first successful hatch from any breed is a bit special. Then there is the couple of days of glimpses under Mum’s wings and trying to work out “how many” before she finally shows them off.

    Putting our young Khaki Cambells in with a flock of young and very unafraid chickens has definitely worked in that they have continued to calm down though still less calm than the Muscovies. I think the frenetic behaviour must be a breed characteristic!

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