Our first year of duck keeping

12 Jan

First year of duck keeping

It is now a full year since we collected our ducks and started duck keeping. It has been a super year of duck keeping experience and we have learnt much along the way.

A lot has happened in the year too, not least the fact that for the past couple of months the ducks have been subject to ‘house arrest’ due to the defra regulations on protection again bird flu. The cases that are cropping up around the country are worrying and it is surprising that when out and about driving you still see chickens roaming in the odd field or back garden.

First year of duck keeping - our ducks housed because of bird flu preventionPerhaps the most noticeable thing to occur over the past year has been the way that keeping the ducks has become just one of those things you do. To start with, perhaps because it was the middle of winter, we were almost permanently thinking about the ducks and hoping there were no predators about. The electric fence was constantly on when we were more than a couple of minutes away, but over the year, that has become more relaxed and while we still regularly cast a glance out of the window at the ducks, it’s now for the pleasure rather than out of worry.

Early on in their time with us, one of the ducks emerged one morning with a bloody foot. Our ducks are not the type to come for a cuddle so it was hard to check her foot out very well, but for the next 24 hours we made sure she had the ability to wash her foot and she sat, sad looking, with her foot held up off the ground and when she walked, it didn’t look good. For a while it looked like a humane destruction might be necessary. But on the next day, she was back to normal and it showed us how resilient ducks can be. Ducks are renowned for having feet problems.

During the spring and summer months we were impressed by the number and quality of the eggs laid by the ducks and several of the neighbours were able to enjoy some of the surplus production. Many people who had previously said that they didn’t eat duck eggs because they are ‘too strong’ came round to enjoying our eggs.

When the ducks started to moult in the late summer, it was amazing to see the large number of feathers strewn across the lawn. On reflection, it was obvious that these big birds would have a large number of feathers, but seeing them on the grass morning after morning, it did look somewhat like a duck massacre had occurred overnight. The complete drying up of egg production that accompanied the moult was a surprise though. It’s known that during the moult ducks lay less as they are putting their energy into producing new feathers, but it was a surprise that they didn’t start laying again until December – which did have the benefit that there were delicious poached eggs for breakfast on Christmas morning.

And that brings us to the end of the year and the introduction of the avian flue prevention zone measures on the 6th December. 2017 will be our second year of duck keeping and a year to the day that we collected our first ducks, we have, today, expanded the flock by one.

rescue duckWe have taken on an emergency foster duck from a colleague, as her sister ducks were taken by a fox and so she was getting lonely. We will let you know how we get on with her and with other ducks we aim to have, once the defra restrictions have come to an end.

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