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What will Ducks NOT eat?

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Location: Denver, CO
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I am constructing a small pond and marsh for some ducks. I will be growing duck feed OUTSIDE of the system. What useful plants can I grow IN a marsh or pond to help filter duck manure, which will not get munched into oblivion? I don't mind them nibbling at the plants a bit. I was thinking maybe some of the rush type plants would work well.
 
William Whitson
Posts: 50
Location: Washington coast
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Plastic plants. Anything else is toast, unless the pond is very big and the ducks very few.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Instead, I will have a very small pond, and a relative plenty of ducks. (four)

But I don't think plastic plants would filter and oxygenate water very well.

HUM.
 
William Whitson
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Location: Washington coast
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I feel your pain. Ducks will totally destroy any plants around their water, even if they don't eat them. In my experience, the only kind of small pond that works well with ducks is one with a drain in the bottom.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Location: Denver, CO
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What about all those "horrible" invasive things that like lots of water and nitrogen, and tend to get out of control? Comfrey? Running bamboo?
 
Chris Kott
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Figure out a way to limit the access of the ducks so that the plants will grow back. Also, if you could figure out a paddock-type system, where you could limit their access to specific areas, and limit the extent to which they eat down individual plants, well, you'd have to keep them moving, but your greenery would survive.

My take on this is that ducks require paddocks with individual ponds. If you can't have them forage without destroying everything, you need to give the destroyed paddocks adequate time for everything to grow back and probably go to seed before the ducks return. Perhaps they aren't really a good permacultural domestic animal if you don't have the space.

-CK
 
Jay Angler
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I admit I'm a noob in this area, but it seems that some version of geoff lawton's floating plant island with netting to prevent the ducks from getting up on the island and designed so the ducks could only trim roots that went too far into the water, would be one approach. I've been thinking of a related floating "box" that would have duckweed in it - any duck weed that escapes the box gets eaten, but the "mother" remains safe. I'm not sure either of these ideas will work if you don't have the density under control.
I agree with Chris Kott that arranging a paddock system may need to be part of the system.
There is another guy on Youtube who pumps the duck water through a "hydroponics-type" system and back into the duck pond for cleaning purposes as well as to fertilize the plants. This would require more care/complexity/planning and would depend on density.
In another video related to a chicken run, they showed planting trees inside car tires so the chickens couldn't scratch up the roots to the point it killed the tree. That concept might help you protect the roots of things like rushes and cattails, but I have no idea if that would be enough to save the plant if the ducks were determined to eat it. I suspect the root would get exhausted unless there was fencing going up above the water line sort of like a tomato cage.
In another thread, a contributor suggested just using a stock tank and moving it around an orchard. Dumping the tank once a week onto the tree it was under would water and fertilize that tree, and then you can move the tank to another appreciative tree.
I am pretty much at the same point of trying to figure out how to meet my duck's desires for bathing without them getting eaten by an eagle. At some point, you may just have to try some experiments and see what works. Hopefully, I've stimulated some lateral thinking that might inspire you! If you do find some things that work, please report back.
 
Jay Angler
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Hi All,

Has anyone got any more experience with ducks to add to this thread? Has anyone used a rotating paddock system with Campbell/Runner- type ducks and can identify some successes/failures of their system so that I can learn from that? My friend is hassling me because my duck habitat lacks good swimming facilities, but we have heavy predator pressure (flying and land-based) and I hate to loose more of my feathery friends through the learning-curve while I figure it out. I've got 3 birds in what is essentially a portable cage on grass that moves twice a day but they only get buckets of water - no swimming pool.

Thanks
 
Mike Cantrell
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Location: Mid-Michigan
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Mine have left the cattails alone. It could be because the cattails got a head start vs. when the ducks were big enough to get into the water, but it's ended up giving a delightful tidy arrangement where they keep MOST of the weeds down, and leave the few cattails looking comparatively manicured.








(Note: 8 Black Swedish ducks and 4 geese in a pond about 90'x30', plus a grassy yard about 2x-3x that big.)
 
Ernie Schmidt
Posts: 81
Location: Olympia, Washington
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I have to agree with Mike. I have the same experience with my ducks in the pond. They pretty much clean up or make a mess of all the other aquatic vegetation, but leave the cattails alone. They may make a path through them to go in and out of the pond, but even then it is an easier open'ish spot in the cattails. Also as Mike, my cattails got a few years head start on the ducks. Here in the Pacific Northwest my flock of ducks help with the slug control. They routinely forage the field around the pond rooting through the grass for them. I do some supplemental feeding at the edge of the pond because, even with the free range foraging they do, they do seem to need a bit of grain on the side. Reaching a balance between ducks and pond size, pretty much depends on what one's duck farming program is.
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
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Jay Angler wrote:Hi All,

Has anyone got any more experience with ducks to add to this thread? Has anyone used a rotating paddock system with Campbell/Runner- type ducks and can identify some successes/failures of their system so that I can learn from that? My friend is hassling me because my duck habitat lacks good swimming facilities, but we have heavy predator pressure (flying and land-based) and I hate to loose more of my feathery friends through the learning-curve while I figure it out. I've got 3 birds in what is essentially a portable cage on grass that moves twice a day but they only get buckets of water - no swimming pool.

Thanks


What kind of ducks do you have? I ask because if they are Muscovies, they don't need a pond to the same extent that other breeds of ducks do. My muskies are quite content with a bucket of water and a kiddie pool but don't spend nearly as much time in the kiddie pool as my new Blue Swedish and Pekin do. I will have to upgrade to ponds rather than kiddie pools before I increase my number of Sweds/Pekins...

Also, the Muskies are less destructive to plants than my Sweds and Pekin are proving to be.

Just a few observations.
 
Ben Zukisian
Posts: 84
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9, 60" rain/yr,
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Nobody has mentioned the magic of duck manure in your pond! I would agree with the previous post about a drain being preferable. This or a pump could move dirty water to plants away from the ducks. My duck pond water after 2 days (with aeration) has a ph of 6-6.5, and a wonderful all-around nutrient balance (NPK is around .8-1.4-.6 plus lots of micronutrients). I have used it directly on even young annuals as well as trees and fruiting shrubs with great success. You can simply add chicken waste for more nitrogen for greens or leave it longer for stronger (aeration is key though).
 
I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay, I sleep all night and work all day. Tiny lumberjack ad:

World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set. Gardening with an excavator.
richsoil.com/wdg


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