Among all the farmyard animals that can be raised in your garden, we find the duck. In addition to bringing life to a garden by its presence and its cackling, the duck can also be raised for its flesh, its eggs or quite simply for ornament. However, raising ducks requires some knowledge: first of all knowing them themselves in order to be able to take care of them as well as possible, but also knowing their needs in order to be able to respond to them and offer them the living conditions they need.
The duck in detail
The word “duck” is a generic term in French which designates aquatic birds of the order of the Anseriformes (order which contains 169 species, including swans and geese for example), with short, webbed legs, a short neck, a broad, yellow, flattened bill with long wings that end in a point.
There is therefore a multitude of species of ducks, coming from all over the world. We thus find white Pekin ducks originating in China, Kuban ducks originating in Russia, Shetland ducks originating in Scotland or the well-known French mallard duck.
Ducks are omnivorous and diurnal animals, which live between 5 and 10 years. They are also sociable animals, which generally evolve in groups of 4 to 8 individuals. They spend most of their time in the water, just splashing around, tending to their feathers and looking for food.
Finally, be aware that if, for some species, it is impossible to keep them at home as ornamental ducks without a certificate of capacity, issued by the Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations (DDPP), do not hesitate to ask. contact the prefecture or the chamber of agriculture in your department for more information.
A living place for ornamental ducks
First of all it will be necessary to take into account that, as said above, the ducks are sociable birds, it will therefore be necessary to plan to adopt several, at least a couple, or a small group of three or four individuals, of which you It is quite possible to mix the species, since ducks are not territorial animals, there will be no risk of “turf war”.
These water birds need a lot of space to live and stretch their legs. Thus, they will need at least 5m² per individual. A water point, surrounded by gravel or sand to prevent the accumulation of mud, will be compulsory for them to live in good conditions.
Apart from the land and a water point, ducks are not demanding birds. However, remember to enclose their land to a height of about 1.50m, on the one hand to avoid attacks by predators such as foxes or martens, against which the ducks are defenseless, but also to prevent them from sinking. ‘escape, or they will devour your vegetable garden if you have one. If you have flying duck species, you can cut off their primary feathers (on the wing tips) that allow them to fly. It won’t hurt them, as the wings aren’t nerve-racked, and they grow back.
Finally, a wooden shelter, in which straw or wood shavings will be placed on the bottom, will provide them with a place of rest, comfort and laying that they will appreciate, even if it is not compulsory. If the land is well fenced and landscaped, they can live very well outdoors.
Feeding ornamental ducks
Ducks are omnivorous birds with a very large appetite. While they can feed on grass, earthworms, and other insects that they may find on their land on their own, you can also give them food supplements like oats, corn or wheat, but also greenery such as salad or even dried mealworms to provide them with proteins.
These supplements will be particularly useful for so-called diving ducks, which usually fish for their food underwater. In winter, when their food, such as insects or even grass is less abundant, these supplements will sometimes prove to be essential
The health of ornamental ducks
Ducks are hardy animals. They are very resistant to diseases and parasites, but their condition must still be monitored regularly. So, if you notice ruffled or ripped feathers, stools containing blood, parasites in the feathers (which is rare but not impossible), that they are feeding with difficulty or behaving abnormally (an individual which remains in a corner, curled up on itself for too long a period for example), do not hesitate to quarantine them, in a warm place, and to treat them. If necessary, contact a specialized veterinarian.
You now know more about ducks, and you know what they need to have a decent life and above all, you no longer ignore how to take care of them. If you have a large enough land, enough to dig a small pond as well as the time and means to raise it, why not give it a try, and bring life to your garden ?!