This is our first season raising ducks from day old ducklings. We ordered them from a hatchery at the end of July. At this point the birds are four weeks old and alert, able and growing steadily. As many of you may remember, we 'inherited,' some fully grown ducks last season and put them on the pond next to the Dutchess field with great result. They were low effort to tend and ate very minimal grain to complement their natural diet on the water. They were not part of the Animal Protein share, just an additional unexpected farm project to enjoy and observe.
We had initially planned to transition this year's birds from their indoor brooding area onto the pond. We're seeing the comparable vulnerability of this season's birds (raised by us) to to last season's raised by their mothers. They've been out three days and we've already lost one to an unknown predator. So, we're opting to set up a fence near the chickens and keep them closer at hand. There are certainly pros and cons to this switch- namely we'll be able to keep closer tabs on them and use their waste as soil amendment, while forfeiting keeping them in the most natural space (on the pond).
A great joy of farming is the diversity of stimulus and learning opportunities. There are an infinite number of variables and only some in our sway. Our plans must remain flexible on all things, animals included. Thus we have weighed the various options and are shifting gears to bring them closer to our central operations and activities. Into the less wild zone, if you will.
For the future we'll have the chance to decide if and how ducks could play into the farm ecosystem. You're welcome to give your comments and feedback.
See you around the duck pen!