Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Raising Free Range Pasture Raised Ducks


The Pros & Cons of Raising Free Range Pasture Raised Ducks

Two years ago I moved from a suburban are of  Rhode Island to a much more rural setting. I intended to raise a few free ranged pasture raised chickens for eggs, tick control and entertainment.  Growing up in Western Pennsylvania I raised around a dozen chickens and pair of Pekin ducks so I knew the basic ins and outs of raising poultry, although they were limited to the chicken/duck run during the day and the barn at night.

But once I got settled into my new home I decided that I would raise ducks due to the fact that a little over an acre of my land is wetlands with a small natural spring winding its way through the area.  I decided on Welsh Harlequin Ducks and I decided to purchase them from Metzer Farms.  




After a successful first year of raising the ducks came the brutal winter of 2014/2015 both the ducks and I looked forward to springtime and getting 13 more ducklings to add to the flock.  The happy hobby changed quickly as  I started loosing ducks to the neighborhood dogs and a random predator or two. At first it was a drake who never came home, although not happy about the situation I knew going into this small farm project that a few ducks would be lost due to  predators.  I also knew that any ducks lost to predators would almost solely be lost while they were out free ranging and enjoying the land, because I built a very secure duck house. Then I lost a duck and a drake within a few days because of the neighbors dog. The first time the duck went on to the neighbors property and the second time the dog came onto mine.  Then a few days later once again another duck didn't come home.  

I don't raise my ducks as pets and I don't have a strong attachment to them, but I can't help but to be saddened and disheartened when within a few months I loose two drakes and three ducks.  So do I stop letting them out of the duck house during the day and keep them in their pen?  I don't find this a possible long-term answer.  So do I just accept a certain inherent loss percentage every year  to predators?  At the moment I don't know what the solution will be.

Other than loosing ducks to predators I have enjoyed the first year of raising ducks, selling their eggs and the possibility of selling fertilized eggs, ducklings and processed birds going forward.  I do this as a hobby, because I find enjoyment of raising animals in harmony with nature relaxing and sustainable. Plus raising duck (and chickens for that matter) is entertaining and fun.


Fun Hobby                                                                     Start-Up Cost-Cost to Maintain 
Entertainment                                                                 Predatory Threats
Selling Eggs, Meat and  Duckling                                 Constant Vigilance (Dog, Hawks, Coyotes)
Raising from Ducklings, Hatching                                365 Day Job, Vacations = Finding Someone to                                                                                               .......................................................................................Watch the Farm

These have been my trials and tribulations of one year of raising ducks. 

I look forward to feedback from others currently raising free range, pasture raised ducks and/or chickens and helping others decide if raising ducks is for them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day- Where Did We Go Wrong?

According to Earthday.org  Earth Day -- April 22 -- marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

I equate Earth Day to a terminal cancer patient who decides the best way to beat cancer is to only treat it one day out of the entire year.   Every other day of the year they ignore the fact that their body is slowly dying due to radical changes going on within their body.

To celebrate one day a year where we organize groups to clean parks, plant trees just doesn't make environmental sense.  The fact is that most of these same Earth Day "do gooders" are also the ones who spray their weeds with RoundUP and destroy the soil the weed was anchored to.  According to This article in The New York Times  explains the negative effects glyphosate has on soil, effects that include compaction and resultant runoff, the killing of beneficial microbes and bacteria, and the exhaustion of necessary minerals and other nutrients that plants require.
Additionally we are just now re-discovering that some of the weeks we are trying to kill not only benefit the ecosystem where they grow, but some of them are edible and benefit out bodies eco system as well.

In a 2006 Bloomberg article entitled  The Perfect Lawn: How Obsession Fueled a $40 Billion Industry we Americans are obsessed with our lawns, the shade of green they are and trying to have the best lawn on the block.  We do this not only by dumping environmentally harmful chemicals on our lawns but we waste more and more water to green our lawns even when we are in a near drought.

Earth Day 2015 has the slogan It's Our Turn To Lead   So Please LEAD everyday we only have one planet, just like a cancer patient only has one body.

And if all else fails follow this farmers motto:

Don't fail to treat the earth like you would treat your body, with respect, with intelligence, with patience, proactivity, love and care