"Enjoy the LITTLE THINGS in life for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things."


What blog is about Intro

Come on in and sit awhile while I talk about the "Little Things" in life. I will share my journey of everyday life.... homeschooling, raising my children, homesteading, gardening, health and wellness, and real life.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thinking About Ducks....

It is hard to believe this picture was taken only a couple of weeks ago because these ducks are FULL sized now.  We learned the hard way that ducks grow about TWICE as fast as chickens.  That is no exaggeration folks!  I had been told that "ducks will eat you out of house and home" and now I know why.  It is because they are growing at an alarming rate and they need the calories.  I do hope they will slow down eating now that they are grown.  They have some because we are allowing them to free range with the hens.  And they house with the hens now, as well.  Interestingly, the hens stopped laying eggs in their chicken run nesting area when the ducks moved in on them.  Now they lay in a nice little nesting area near our rabbit cages.  Anyway, back to the ducks before I venture off topic...

We didn't really have a plan when we got the ducks.   It was one of those things where we were going to the feed store to buy chicks and they had ducks.... four little ducklings.  So, as I walked around pondering whether to buy a couple (notice that... that mean TWO) the kids were so excited at the prospect of a new creature at the house.  So sure... let's do it!  The cost was $3.75 per duck.  So, the lady asked how many I wanted and I said I was thinking about TWO.  She said, "If you buy three, I will give you the fourth one free."  Hmmmm... I thought about it briefly and said, "Okay."  ;)  Yep, a lot of thought went into duck ownership.... Ha! 

As they began to grow explosively I began to try to find out the breed of ducklings and the sex.  I did not find out the breed.  As far as I can tell there is really no way to know for sure and that is okay really.  [Update: I believe we have Cayuga ducks].  The main reason I wanted to know the breed was to determine the sex of the ducks.  For most ducks you can tell the sex by the color of their feathers and by the colors of their beaks.  With these they are solid black and have solid black beaks.  There are areas of the feathers that have a blue or green sheen to them, but you only see that if you are looking closely.  At the stage in this picture we thought that two of them might be Black Runner Ducks.  Now, I don't really think so.  Alas, we can not use the beak coloring or feather color to determine sex, so the breed is not a big deal to us at the moment.  I have been able to determine sex by the quack method.  The females actually "quack".  The males attempt to "quack", but it sounds more like the baby ducklings chirp and you can hardly hear a sound.  By this method we have one female and three males.  I was so hoping it would be the exact opposite.  Females could produce eggs and more ducklings.  Clearly, we only need one male to fertilize the eggs.  {Sigh} 

So, now I am really trying to develop a plan.  All animals are costly to keep and I don't mind some costs for pets, but there is a point when you have to evaluate each animals purpose.  These ducks need to have a purpose.  They are quite beautiful and that is a good purpose, but I know that I need to know what our plan is for them.  If keep them for a year or so and then decide they need to go, I know that they will not be at their "prime" for butchering.  I am not certain when is the best time to butcher a duck, but I would suspect it is early in life while they are young and tender.  My guess would be around 14 weeks or so.  If anyone knows or has thoughts on that, please share that information.  I am thinking that we will keep the female and one male and butcher the other two males.  It is a difficult decision... and they are so beautiful....

I truly hope that our other two ducklings are females, or one male and one female.  And as quickly as ducklings grow I know it will not be long and we will know....

1 comment:

  1. Oh girl! I'm sure your kiddos have some grand adventures in you backyard. Our chicks are about 5-6 weeks old now and can't tell which ones are male and which ones are female yet :( I think we are gonna go to the fed store next week and get 2 females chicks...just to make sure we don't end up with all males :-/


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