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Chooks v Ducks

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum

Has anyone any experience with keeping chooks or ducks (2 or 3) in a suburban garden?

I was thinking of a couple of chooks, but I read today that ducks are less prone to various diseases, don't need vaccinating, etc.

Carla? Anyone?

Carol.

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SourDom 2007 February 3

We have had 4 chooks and 2 ducks at various times over the last couple of years in a suburban backyard in Melbourne.

They were delightful company, and not a huge amount of work.

The pluses and minuses (of either variety) are

pro:
The regular supply of eggs (a major advantage for me since I will not eat eggs from other sources)
The even more regular supply of fertiliser for the vegie garden
The consumption of a wide array of scraps from the kitchen (I never felt too sad about the refused remains of children's dinners, since the chooks were always happy to oblige)

cons:
The mess - you need to fence off a portion of the garden that will be taken over by the chooks, and turned progressively into a wasteland. I had naively had this idea of the chooks pecking contentedly around the vegies and eating the weeds, however the reality is that they will dig up and eat just about anything that they can find.
The rodents - where there are chooks (read ducks too) there will be little (or not so little) furry things eating the leftovers. This discovery was almost enough to put me off completely.
The casualties - foxes are the biggest culprit wherever you keep chooks, and almost everyone I know who has kept chooks has fox stories. We never had foxes, but had a very early fatality when one of our new chooks flew over the fence and was attacked by the rottweilers next door. Burials are depressing.

We loved our chooks and ducks. Over a couple of years we lost one chook to dogs, two to 'natural causes', and one duck to the heat. Now the last two have gone to stay elsewhere as we are trying to tidy up the garden over the next six months before renting our house out.

Ducks are very sweet, but catching them and putting them to bed can be a bit energetic until they get the idea. They have constant diarrhoea, which can be a bit offputting and messy (you asked)

I would recommend having both. We had a Khaki Campbell duck in the last year who has been the most extraordinarily prolific layer.

cheers
Dom

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SourYumMum 2007 February 3

Thanks Dom,

That's fabulous information - certainly lots to think about.

What sort of coop/pen did you house them in?

Do you have any good links to caring for them?

I'm keen on fresh eggs ... I just can't believe the rubbish they sell in the supermarkets, even the so-called 'free range' eggs are a bit ordinary.

And have you seen the fancy new 'white' eggs selling for $7/8 per dozen in Coles???

Scandalous!

Carol.

SourDom 2007 February 4

Carol,

I built a chook shed - found a design on the net. (when I looked recently I couldn't find the one that I had made).
If I were to do it again I would plan to build one with doors on either side, and build it in the middle of a 'double' vegie patch. THen you can alternate areas of garden for vegies/chooks. (allows the garden to recover, and chooks to get excited, and fertilise one area, while growing vegies on the other. doesn't work for any perennials though)

try http://www.users.on.net/~greggles/

I haven't bought eggs at a supermarket for maybe 10 years

cheers
Dom

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SourYumMum 2007 February 4

Dom,

I have a small yard, so I was thinking about something like this but with wheels for moving about:

[url]http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280074613040&sspagename=ADME:L:RTQ:AU:1[/url]

One of the sites I looked at said ducks were less prone to disease/illness than chooks - so I've got a bit of reading to do yet!

Carol.

SourDom 2007 February 4

there are a few desings around for 'chicken tractors', which are a-frames like that picture, but which you can move around a yard, and have the chickens 'mow' and fertilise.

Only problem that I can see is that foxes can almost certainly dig under the edge.

cheers
Dom

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SourYumMum 2007 February 4

Thanks Dom!

Got any photos of your chook shed?

Whilst I don't think I'd trust my hubby to build a chook shed (you should have seen the old dog house ......), I sure get him to nail some wire under a chicken tractor. In fact, I've already had him put wire under our two compost bins.

HE thinks he's handy, but he's a shocker!

Good thing I like him!!

I'm having a good look around the Chook Shed site and forum, and have posted a note for any folks near me who might be able to volunteer answers to dumb questions to get in touch.

Carol.

carla's picture
carla 2007 February 6

We used to have both, as chooks lay from spring till autumn then molt and then go off the lay until spring again. Ducks start about July/August and lay till about Xmas (so you have these huge eggs for baking) and then lay only sporadically in autumn.

Now we only have chooks as the ducks were just too expensive to feed. If you have an egg-laying strain they are very skinny and there is nothing to eat on the secretly hatched ducklings. If you have a meat breed you pay about 20 dollars each in food costs until they end up on the table.

Now we have just chooks and they have tight schedule: The babies get hatched in very early spring so they are ready to lay in autumn and will lay right through their first winter and spring and summer until they molt in autumn. They then have a rest and will start laying agin in spring and by next autumn end up as soup hens once they stopped laying.

So in every given year we have some young ones and the ones from the year before and that works very well. About 8 keep us in eggs all year round plus some cockerels from each years brood (and any excess females) for roasting and the soup hens from the last years hens which go into the freezer in autumn for lovely winter soups.

SourYumMum's picture
SourYumMum 2007 February 6

Thanks Dom and Carla,

All great information.

I'm actually going to get some chooky people on my programme to interview (interrogate!) about backyard chook keeping!

Carol.

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