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.
FOR A RECAP OF MY ADVENTURES RAISING THE DUCKS FOR THE FIRST YEAR, CHECK OUT THESE PREVIOUS POSTS
FAST FORWARD ONE YEAR
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.
PROS & CONS
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.