Thursday, March 14, 2013

More Ducks = More Winter Eggs!?

We've recently been looking into adding additional ducks to the family farm in order to have more eggs year round and a couple things turned our thinking in that direction.  First off, the younger children found a very large stash of duck eggs under one of our outbuildings and realized Judson's lone duck was laying quite a bit and trying to hatch some ducklings.  This was during the very cold part of winter.  Next, Abi had a conversation with a sweet sweet friend (thanks) of ours who shared their winter experience with ducks and their decision to add more on their farm.
While we still want to raise chickens for eggs and meat, we've been reading about some of the differences between the two.  Duck eggs, of course, are larger and that is a plus for our large family.  The shell is tougher, protein content is slightly higher, and vitamin and mineral content is reportedly similar.  Also, they can be used as a chicken egg replacement and scrambled, baked or poached.
Many bakers insist that duck eggs make their cakes rise better due to their high fat content and provide excellent taste.  But some say they become rubbery if over-baked. 
They are wonderful for having around an orchard since they will eat the pests and the fallen fruit, they make excellent fertilizer for the soil, and they are good for meat, feathers and eggs.  And like a goose, they will warn of approaching danger.
They take approximately 23 days to hatch once they've started to sit full time, they are more cold hardy than chickens, they don't scratch up vegetables as chickens do, and some say they lay their eggs by 8 a.m.  But best of all, to me, they lay eggs from mid-winter through mid-summer and will produce for up to 3 years!  Just when the chickens are laying less during the winter, they are beginning to lay.
Judson's Duck Duck is a Pekin and the most common type in America. She is truly free range and has grown quite large without any feed.  She really seems to like the watercress, insects and such, and she loved the garden green tomatoes and ate many off the ground this past summer.  Those in-the-know say her kind are best for meat and take about seven weeks to be ready for the table, 2.7 lbs. of feed  for every pound of bird, and 19 lbs of feed are required to grow off a 7 lb. bird. The female Pekin lays 140 to 200 eggs per year.  Again, they are said to be best for meat whereas the Khaki Campbell is better for egg production and some have reported more than 300 eggs their first year.
Above is a picture of Duck Duck, all grown up, and her friend Goose Goose.  My mother recently came for a visit and took Judson to the store to purchase a mate for Duck Duck.  Hopefully we will have little Pekin ducklings eventually.  But for eggs, we're planning to order a number of Khaki Campbells this year.  Has anyone else had experience with raising the Pekin or Khaki Campbell ducks?
Blessings to you all ~ Sherry~

2 comments:

  1. I have a love affair going on with ducks.. Just wish hubby did too.. grin..
    Blessings..

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  2. Hi Sherry, I wrote on my blog about this very thing recently (I'll share the link in case you want to look!) but I have found basically the same thing as your family has. The other thing is that when the ducks are in the garden, they demolish produce like the chickens do! My problem has been with keeping them out of every single water trough around the farm that isn't theirs, LOL! My ducks are runner ducks and while I know they aren't meat producers they are wonderful egg layers. The key I've found to success baking with duck eggs is not to overbeat and I do find more density to cakes and cookies. God bless you and your family and ducks ;) Oh, here is that link:
    http://serenity-farms.blogspot.com/2013/02/chickens-or-ducks.html

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