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Keeping Ducks

 
brian aycock
Posts: 7
Location: Fayetteville GA
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I have a pond and want to get a few about 10 or so ducks. I would love to get some feedback on plants I can grow along the edge of the pond to help give my ducks all the nutrients they need for a healthy diet.
 
Mariah Wallener
Posts: 167
Location: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, Canada
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WE'd like to get ducks too some time in the future (next year if we can get our pond dug by then). So I'll be reading with interest....

 
                  
Posts: 114
Location: South Carolina Zone 8
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If you have stuff they will eat along the banks you will end up with the ducks pulling and eating it and then without the plant the banks will crumble and wash in especially on a new pond. In fact in pond plantings rooted to the bottom are better as ducks love foraging under the surface. That said ducks love wild rice as well as grasses let to go to seed where they fall in or lay close to the water. My ducks tend to grub the bottom looking for snails and other things (I assume who knows what they are eating down there) and then waddle the yard for grass and other greens they like. I also find them in the low lying wooded area behind the pond foraging for things. Quite simply I did not have to plant anything for my ducks to be healthy, happy, and well fed because I already had a well established pond and yard full of tasty things according to them. Ducks are great foragers and even though I raised mine from chicks they eventually gravitated to being more "wild" and while they come up for a visit and occasional treat they do not need me to provide them with anything.
 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
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Peter, do they eat tadpoles, toads, frogs, fish, newts?  We have all of these in our pond and I'd be sad to loose them.
 
                    
Posts: 8
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I have ten runners who are about fourteen months old.  I have raised them since they were a day old.  Love'em!

Not all ducks need a pond.  The smaller breeds like runners especially do pretty well without one.  I have a couple of concrete mixing pans for their swimming pleasure.

Large breeds may benefit from a pond when it comes to mating, I am told.

Ducks will eat small fish and other small aquatic animals, based on what I have read and videos I've seen.

When we say "ducks," we are covering a huge territory.  There are the tiny, sweet, loud little call ducks and then there are the massive gorgeous white Aylesburies.  Also, "pond" can mean many different sizes and configurations (spring fed?  rainwater fed? stream fed? any snapping turtles or large mouth bass?).

Plant wise, I have been told ducks will just ruin any plantings you have.  That has not been my experience.

What I have seen is that if you leave runner ducks in an area long enough, they get the worms and slugs and grubs, then they start nibbling on the greens, and if it's wet, they love to drill holes in the soil looking for more goodies.  There are times when they suddenly seem to discover a plant they have left alone.  But again, in my experience, it is because they have noodled and foraged and area so much they are looking for something to do and eat.

Ducks enrich their swimming water very quickly.  I like the pans because I can dump them into a small channel I made that fertigates a garden bed downslope.  Works great!

I hope this wasn't too much blab.  I love ducks.  I recommend that if you're going to get them, or even if you already have them, read the good books and blogs that exist about their care.  There are some disagreements on a few topics, but the more I have learned the better the duck experience has been.  I like Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks (there's a new edition out now, I am told), and Carol Deppe has a wonderful chapter about ducks in her book, The Resilient Gardener.
 
                  
Posts: 114
Location: South Carolina Zone 8
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As far as what ducks will and will not eat you need to think chicken that swims (to a point). Basically ducks eat whatever they want if free range or flighted. I have seen ducks hunt mosquitoes in water and grasshoppers on land, I have seen them decimate hyacenth we tried to float on the pond (natural filter and we planned intensive thinning and composting), and eat clover growing in the yard. I am not sure the specifics but I imagine anything they did not find distastful will get eaten be it plant or animal. That said I don't think a few ducks would be a problem to any forms of pond life or even the pond plantings provided your pond and plantings are already established. In fact the enrichment can be a plus for a guy like me who is a fisherman as it means I have no reason to buy fertilizer (not that I would) for my pond to increase fertility and therby the foodsources for the larger fish I want to catch. However you can have too much of a good thing and the smaller your pond or larger your duck population the quicker this can happen. I know a guy who raises ducks to sell and while I cannot stand his operation he at least has a pond for the ducks. There is nothing growing in his large pen surrounding the pond and mid spring the algae blooms so thinck on his pond as to be soup rather than water. The reason is the pond is small and his duck population is overcrowded.

BTW in all of this I forgot to mention my pond is over an acre in surface size and not a small garden pond.
 
                      
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Hi I'm new but, I can help with the duck questions.  We've had 2 khaki campbells for 6 years now and they are wonderful.  I volunteered at an wildlife rescue and adopted them because we had a pond, little did I realize that a pond was the least of their needs.  Needless to say they now have a nice big daytime pen with a pond and six sides wired to keep them safe from wild critters.  So ducks will demolish anything you plant around the pond so I plant grass in trays and either trim it for them or trade out the trays.  I also supplement them with romain or red lettuce and diced apples for a snack.  They love riding the yard of slugs, snails, grubs, worms, whatever......little carnivores.  One thing they love is duckweed they'll devour it!
 
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