Adding Ducks, and Other Spring Chicks
As part of our wintertime planning, we’re making orders for spring poultry. While adding goats to the farm is going to be a huge focus of our summer, adding new birds is also part of our plan for 2016.
In addition to more chickens and geese, we’re going to be getting a quartet of ducklings. Having not raised ducks before, I’m looking forward to learning about these charming quackers as they grow up with us. My partner, on the other hand, has kept ducks before and tells stories about sleeping with one on his pillow as a child. So, we are both pretty excited to be getting some now.
After some research we selected a pair of Cayugas and a pair of Buff Opringtons for our fledging duck flock.
Buff Orpington, or just Buff, ducks are pale brown with orange feet and yellow bills. The males have gray heads, while the females are all hazelish. They are a heavy-weight breed, originally developed by William Cook of Orpington in the early 20th Century. They lay white eggs and are known for a docile attitude and lovely coloring. Since we are getting a pair of Buff geese as well, it seemed sensible to continue the color scheme. Buff ducks are considered a Threatened species by the Livestock Conservancy, with only 793 breeding ducks in the US in the year 2000. One of my priorities is finding and preserving unusual breeds, so a breeding pair of these beautiful birds seemed like the perfect addition.
The Cayuga duck is also considered a Threatened species. They are an iridescent black bird, appearing almost green or blueish. In addition to their black feathering, they also lay black-green eggs that fade to white as the laying season progresses. Named after an area of New York where they were first bred domestically, Cayugas are remarkably hardy and friendly ducks with a reputation for an affable nature.
Ducks make a great addition to a backyard flock partially because unlike chickens, they lay throughout most of the year. Ducks lay almost as much as chickens, approximately an egg a day, and their eggs are slightly larger. They are also less prone to broody behavior than hens. Ducks do require water for eating and bathing, like geese, which should be easy for us to accommodate as we’re already set up to handle a gaggle.
Our poultry additions will be arriving, species by species, throughout the spring, starting with four goslings in May. We can’t wait to have more baby birds running around our farm!