Sauce decided back in March that our poultry flock was incomplete. He needed ducks. My experience with ducks was the throwing-bread-to-at-the-local-pond sort. But I learned that duck eggs (& meat) are highly prized for their flavor. Duck eggs are significantly larger than chicken eggs & have a richer flavor. Plus they really churn them out. Some breeds lay every day or even twice a day! “I’ll take care of them” quipped Sauce. (Parents, you know where this is going).
I was sold on the ducklings from the start. There is nothing cuter than their tiny
webbed feet & bills. But within weeks I was ready for duck a l’orange. What a mess. Their sloppy eating, drinking, & poop echoed of animal party frat style. They seriously made the chicks look darn Victorian-proper. Yuck. Plus, they aren’t very friendly. Running, flapping, and hoarse quacking erupted every time Sauce wanted to hold one. And with those cute paddly feet, you really do want to hold one. But they are pretty anti-social (unlike our chickens). But things changed with the relocation of the ducks from the brooder to the castle…
Enter Duckingham Palace. Our home-crafted duck tractor, complete with its own drawbridge. Sauce dubbed the lead male duck, Sir Kane of Duckinghamshire. Paul & Spaghetti up-cycled the palace from our former deck. (Deck to duck!) The ducks now have pasture grass & bugs to eat as they please. And boy does it please me.
We move the palace every few days to give them fresh turf & to allow the former area’s soil to regrow with its newly added duck fertilizer. What about a pond? Well it turns out that these are land ducks (Khaki Campbells) who technically don’t need a pond. But we offer a tub for drinking & bathing – plus it’s great fun to watch them flap & paddle around. Thanks to the Palace, the flock is safe, happy & productively slowing-mowing our field. Improvements loom: wheels to speed movement, an onboard watering system, GPS….
While the Palace grew out of ducky necessity, it occurred to me that it would be ideal for meat chickens (something I’ve wanted to try for a while). They too benefit from a pasture system but require a maximum security facility from predators. Summer break assignment Spaghetti: build me another one. More to come on Poultryville Palace.
Ducks take about the same amount of time as chickens to mature & begin laying eggs, about 6 months. (So far we still can’t tell who is Sir and Maiden.) Duckinghamshire will be on royal egg-watch around August. And we shall herald their arrival. Sauce already has a few customers lined up thanks to our friends at Ninja Cow Farm, so we may need to expand the kingdom before long. Long live Sir Kane and his maidens!