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Ducks: mobile slug control units?

 
Jean Kroll
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Here in the Maritime NW slugs are such a problem. I have two large gardens and I lose a significant amount of my vegetables to slugs even though I am constantly drowning them in beer, picking them out of the yard/garden at sunrise/sunset and poisoning them with iron phosphate. I heard of this idea to raise a small flock of ducks that could be transported to various gardens for the purpose of slug control. The idea intrigued me! Could it be possible to raise ducks in one area then transport them in a large crate to eradicate slugs from various gardens? Benefits: in addition to hopefully being an effective mode of cutting down on the slug population, the ducks would provide eggs. Has anyone ever tried this?
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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Yes and it has worked very well. Leaving them in your garden spots during the winter (if you are not growing a cover crop) will give you a head start. They do eat most garden plants or sit on them if they are short.
During the growing season i let them in the garden for about an hour when they are more active and they run around and eat bugs and slugs before they become too interested in the plants.
The eggs are very good and they usually lay in the winter.
We have Indian Runners and they are fun to watch but are very nervous. If i had it to do over again i would get Welch Harlequins. They are supposed to be good foragers as well but calm, and have some meat on their bones.
It is so awesome when a critter enjoys doing something is a lot of work for us!
Happy Thanksgiving
 
William Whitson
Posts: 50
Location: Washington coast
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We separated the garden into fenced areas with surrounding walkways. The ducks can always access the walkways, so they keep the slugs from migrating in. When the area is fallow, we leave the gate open so that the ducks can really work it over. It works pretty well; we used to have apocalyptic slug populations, but now it is pretty rare to find one in the garden.
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 709
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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We had always wild ducks in our vegetable patch and they were eating all the lettuce, now it's fully fenced. Our ducks are pretty big so I don't know if I would let them in the garden. Muscovies and something mixed. Muscovies are quite ugly but a very good bird in all aspects.
 
Guy De Pompignac
Posts: 192
Location: SW of France
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Indian runners and Kakhi Campbell are said to be the most slug eating ducks

I've got a question related to slug patrol. I would like to let some ducks in the vegetable plot where they could go on pathes but hopefully not on raised beds. So i need to know what height these two races could jump/fly to secure the beds full of vegetables.

I've got one runner some time ago and i think it coulndt jump 20' hight, but its only a +1 experience. Any thought ?
 
Jean Kroll
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Thanks, everyone, for your responses! I'm just wondering about having the ducks trained to go back into a carrier when they are "done" with their slug-eating work. Also: what can you do to keep them from flying away (I'm guessing there is some way to clip their wings). If a person were to have a small flock of ducks for the purpose of eating slugs out of gardens, how many ducks would you recommend?
 
Dennis Lanigan
Posts: 174
Location: Philomath, OR
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I would look into getting Ancona ducks. They don't fly, are great foragers, play nice with each other, lay a ton of eggs, and eat slugs until their mouths seal shut with goo. They are the ideal Maritime NW slug patrol duck. Read all about them in Carol Deppe's book the Resilient Gardener. I patrolled a half acre garden with them and didn't loose much to slugs. For a half acre I had 13 ducks to work with. I would not let them run loose without me keeping an eye on them, lest they give up on the slugs and weeds and start in on the crops. If I see them stop darting around in the weeds I keep them moving to a new spot. And I never put them in beds that were just emerging (like carrots). A perfect place for them is around a tomato trellis. Slugs seem to love fall rain split tomatoes and that's when it's dinner time for the ducks to protect the rest of the tomatoes.

Muscovies love to fly (the females anyway), so I would avoid them if you don't want to clip wings.
 
William Whitson
Posts: 50
Location: Washington coast
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Jean Kroll wrote:I'm just wondering about having the ducks trained to go back into a carrier when they are "done" with their slug-eating work. Also: what can you do to keep them from flying away (I'm guessing there is some way to clip their wings). If a person were to have a small flock of ducks for the purpose of eating slugs out of gardens, how many ducks would you recommend?


In general, ducks don't train very easily, but they will run to food. If you are planning to handle them a lot or herd them into close quarters, you'll need to spend a lot of time with them. Ducks are usually don't want to get too close to people and panic easily. I would consider a mobile pen rather than a carrier - that way you can just house them close to where you want them to work and they will readily run home when you provide some food.

Most domestic varieties can't fly, so you don't need to fuss with wing clipping. Stay away from the smallest breeds (mallards, harlequins) and flying won't be a problem.

We have a bit less than two acres and 20 ducks. We also have six geese, so we could probably accommodate 30 or more ducks without the geese.
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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mine would not go into a carrier willingly. They have a dog kennel and house they stay in at night and can easily herd them back in when i want them to leave the garden. The runners did not go over a 30'' chicken wire fence but would go under or push it down if it got loose enough. if i kept it tight they were fine.
 
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