Ducks are becoming increasingly popular as pets – the lively birds are entertaining and cute. Among self-supporters, the robust and hardy animals are considered particularly popular. They provide meat, eggs and feathers, and eat pests like slugs in the garden. If you want to keep ducks in your garden, however, you need to consider a few basic points so that the animals feel comfortable with you and you can enjoy them for a long time.
In our guide, we explain what you should consider when keeping and caring for the feathered aquatic animals.
Legal requirements for keeping ducks in the garden
If you want to keep ducks at home, you must follow the general regulations for keeping animals according to the Animal Welfare Act. You must have the necessary knowledge and skills to feed, care for and house the ducks in a manner appropriate to their behavior. The animals must be able to move in such a way that no pain or avoidable suffering or damage is caused to them. You must also feed, care for and house the ducks in a manner appropriate to their species and needs.
The keeping of ducks must be reported to the veterinary office or the animal health insurance fund. Certain animal health orders may be necessary in the event of an outbreak of poultry disease.
If you want to be sure that you have thought of everything when it comes to the legal requirements, ask your local veterinary office. They will be happy to provide you with information.
In addition, you should check with your local regulatory office to see if keeping ducks in your backyard is allowed on your property. Keeping ducks in residential areas is prohibited under certain circumstances.
You can also find out from the relevant building authority whether the duck house you want to build for your animals requires a permit.
It also makes sense to inform your neighbors in advance and involve them in your plans. This way you can avoid many disputes.
Which ducks can be kept in the garden?
For beginners in duck keeping, only the running duck or the domestic duck as a subspecies of the mallard can be considered for keeping in the garden.
The domestic duck grows relatively fast and cannot fly away because of its heavy weight. The running duck cannot fly. It has a steeply upturned neck and a long slender body. Their legs are high, so they are very good at walking.
Even if you want to keep running ducks in the garden, you must remember that they are water fowl and they need water to swim.
Which points must be fulfilled for species-appropriate keeping of ducks?
For a species-appropriate husbandry, in addition to plenty of space, some other points must be fulfilled.
You should definitely implement the following:
Ducks are not loners, but like to live in company. A single duck can become lonely and even sick. You should therefore always keep ducks in a group. Your ducks will stay healthy and feel good if you give them a balanced diet. Ducks like to eat fresh greenery.
There should be plenty of it in your garden. The coop should be large enough and provide a large run with secure fencing. Ducks, being waterfowl, should be able to swim in a small pond or wading pool. They are adapted to live in water. For example, their long and broad head provides buoyancy when swimming and their feet have webbed feet.
Ducks need a lot of exercise
Wild ducks never stay in one place for long. They move around a lot. Accordingly, you need to provide a lot of space for the animals that love to run.
You should plan on an area of 15 to 20 square meters per duck in the garden. If you only want to keep a small group of three to five animals, you should provide them with at least 150 square meters.
Roosting ducks need even more space. For running ducks, you should expect at least 100 square feet per animal.
If the ducks are kept in too small an area or exclusively indoors, they can develop physical and psychological problems. However, if ducks have enough run in the garden, they develop very well and can develop freely.
Make sure there is enough space in the coop, too. For running ducks and other small duck breeds, you need to plan for a barn area of about half a square meter. For large breeds, one square meter per animal is recommended.
What does the perfect duck house look like?
The space required per duck in the coop is – as already mentioned above – between half a square meter and one square meter. A duck house must be bright and dry. In addition, the coop should be protected from drafts and have a comfortable temperature. To prevent predators such as foxes or martens from breaking in, you must make the ducks’ home safe. At night, you should lock the animals in for their own protection.
How to best defend chickens from foxes is explained in our guide “How to protect chickens from foxes”.
Divide the coop into the following areas:
Area for sleeping: Chickens do not sleep on the perch like ducks, but on the floor. So that the ducks do not have to sit directly on the bare floor, you scatter for example straw or wood chips. You should remove excrement and urine regularly for reasons of hygiene. In addition, the ducks feel more comfortable in a clean environment.
Feed and water area: The animals must be provided with food and water throughout. It is best to offer the birds fresh food and water daily through containers in a designated area of the barn. You should clean the containers daily to keep pathogens away from disease.
Nesting area: In order for the ducks to lay their eggs, laying nests are important. Depending on the size of the breed, they should be between 40 x 40 centimeters and 50 x 50 centimeters. So that the animals do not sleep on the nests, you offer them only a few nests. These should be clearly separated from the other sleeping area.
What do ducks eat in the garden?
Ducks are not choosy when it comes to eating. They eat almost anything that comes in front of their beaks.
The daily menu of the feathered waterfowl includes:
Grass, Herbs, Vegetables, some fruit, snails worms bugs and other insects.
Ducks look for most of their daily food ration themselves in their run during the day.
As leftovers from your kitchen, you can offer them, for example, the following:
Lettuce, soft vegetables, cooked pasta, and boiled potatoes.
Seasoned and salted leftovers should not be fed.
If you want to make sure that your ducks get all the necessary minerals and vitamins in sufficient quantities, offer them additional supplementary feed.
If you observe your ducks eating small stones, there is no need to worry. This behavior is completely normal, as the animals need the small stones for their digestion. Sand and small stones help their gizzards break down hard-to-digest food. Ideally, you should offer your ducks poultry grit. The grit contains small stones mixed with lime. For an optimal formation of the eggshell, the intake of lime is particularly important.
Water: A key element in keeping ducks
Ducks are water birds. They need water to feed, to clean their food and swallow it better, for plumage care and for the basic need to swim.
Make sure there are several water containers in the coop and garden. For example, large and small zinc tubs are practical, the water of which the ducks use not only for drinking but also for splashing. Optimally, a pond is available for them to swim in.
The water should always be clean and regularly renewed.
Keeping ducks in winter
Winter is moving into the country and you are wondering if your ducks can stay in the garden during this time. The answer is clearly yes. Because of their dense plumage, they can withstand cold temperatures well. However, if the thermometer reading drops below -10°C, you’d better keep them indoors to avoid endangering their health.
In winter there are hardly any insects to be found. Therefore, you have two options to provide your feathered friends with sufficient protein: either feed dried insects or mix the feed with low-fat curd cheese.
How much does a duck cost?
The acquisition of a pet is always associated with costs. However, ducks are usually offered at reasonable prices. On average, a running duck costs between 15 and 20 euros. Drakes are more expensive than female ducks. Flying ducks cost around 25 euros.
However, you have to consider that during the keeping of the ducks running costs for feed, bedding or veterinarian arise.
In addition, there are costs for the initial equipment. The costs for the initial equipment can vary greatly depending on the size and quality of the products.
Initial equipment includes, for example:
Material for fencing off the area such as a poultry net (from approx. 1.60 euros/running meter) Feeding bowls and water containers (approx. 4 to 20 euros) Duck coop (small coop between 100 and 200 euros) Duck pond
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