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Ducks love to swim — but will you love them?

If you are looking for a way to raise animals as more than simply a house pets, ducks may be an ideal choice. The idea may seem strange, but they provide a wide variety of benefits, even if you don’t want to raise them for meat.

Much like chickens, ducks lay culinarily useful eggs. Many find them better than chicken eggs for baking. The most common type of duck you will find in domestic settings is the all-white Pekin, which lays good eggs — but not as many as chickens. For that, you should look into breeds known for their prolific egglaying if possible, such as Khaki Campbells.

But ducks are useful for so much more! For instance, duck droppings are fantastic fertilizer. Their poops are often runny, depending on what they eat, but their roosts can be lined with compostable material to soak things up and ferment in a compost pile. Ideally, ducks should be given access to the outside, but their they can fertilize the land directly!

Be mindful of how fast duck poop can accumulate if they are kept in a small area. Furthermore, the ducks walking too much over certain areas can interfere with grass growth. Balancing such considerations can be the key to an ideal duck-owning experience — but a good pair of muck boots is good regardless. However, the minerals the ducks put back in the soil will prove potent fertilizer for any future growth.

In terms of diet, ducks are omnivores that will happily hunt and munch on pest bugs in gardens like slugs. Though if left unattended for long periods, the ducks may do damage on their own, putting ducks in gardens periodically can help clear out things that might require a lot of manual effort or pesticides otherwise. That is not to say ducks alone will solve your pest problems, but, either way, more than one anti-pest approach is often best for gardens.

A final thing ducks can offer that is hard to quantify in benefit but is the reason so many people are drawn to animals anyway: cuteness and companionship. Ducks are goofy, playful animals that will serve as endless entertainment in and of themselves. Given they are waterfowl, ducks will happily splash around in any water you provide them.

Given all of these benefits, duck ownership might seem appealing, though they are a responsibility not to be taken lightly. Though hardy animals, they require regular care. You will likely find yourself hauling around a lot of water to keep them satisfied. They are happiest when given a lot of outdoor time, though keeping them protected from predators is important — something I have found out the hard way myself.

However, if you have the resources and are willing to commit to the responsibility, ducks are definitely one of the best animals you can keep as more than just a pet. You can have eggs from the backyard instead of the supermarket as well as fertilize and protect your garden. All in exchange for keeping a goofy bird happy and safe.

For more about duck farming, please subscribe to This Smol Farm, a YouTube channel I host about the mini-farm on which I live.

Software Engineer. NYT-Published Writer. Farmer. Trans Lesbian (She/her).

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