Are Muscovy ducks actually ducks
Duck keeping for beginners - this is how you keep ducks, running ducks + flight ducks correctly
Anyone who wants to keep animals as self-sufficient in order to meet their own needs for animal products can actually not avoid ducks. There are actually a few things that speak for the lively waterfowl: keeping ducks is uncomplicated, they provide meat, eggs and feathers and they eat unloved pests such as snails in the garden. It is therefore no coincidence that duck keeping has become more and more popular with self-sufficient people in recent years. If you pay attention to a few basic points, you will have a lot of fun with it.
Legal requirements for keeping ducks
In principle, anyone can and is allowed to keep ducks. The legislature does not require a certificate of competence or certain structural requirements. In principle, however, the general animal welfare regulations (Animal Welfare Act) must be observed. The core rules are that the animals are to be kept in a species-appropriate manner and in accordance with their needs. Also important: certain epidemiological requirements. These particularly affect poultry-related epidemics such as bird flu or avian influenza. In general, the following requirements can be derived from the few legal regulations that actually exist, which of course also have to be met:
- No exclusive cage
- Free-range housing with combined cage and free-range housing
- Stable with daylight
- Group keeping, no keeping of individual animals
- Access to feed and water must be guaranteed at all times
- Compulsory housing in the event of poultry epidemics
- Transport ban in the event of poultry epidemics
- Registration of the animals at the epidemic fund or the veterinary office
- Professional slaughter
Ducks and duck breeds
For the self-sufficient only one species or breed of duck comes into question - the so-called domestic duck. These are either musk ducks (Cairina moschata) or Peking ducks (Anas platyrhynchos). Various breeds such as the wart ducks, the flight ducks, the mallards, muskrat, mute ducks, Turkish ducks and the barbarian ducks all descend from the musk duck. So it's no wonder that the musk duck, originally domesticated in South America, is the most widespread breed of duck with its subspecies. In addition, there are also small populations of the Peking duck from China. Both breeds are equally excellent for meat production. Eggs still play a subordinate role in duck farming, but of course egg production with both is basically not a problem either.
The situation is different with the ducks, which have become more and more popular in recent years. They are extremely unsuitable for meat production. Of course you can also eat them, but runner ducks are very tough and would only provide very little meat. Eating their eggs, on the other hand, is not a problem. Like all duck eggs, they are slightly larger than chicken eggs and also have a slightly more intense taste. By the way: Of course, runner ducks also have wings. There they are no different from flight ducks. However, they cannot fly and move forward mainly by walking upright.
All ducks are water birds and live in communities. Water, in other words: the possibility that the animals can also bathe and swim, is therefore an indispensable prerequisite for keeping ducks in a species-appropriate manner. Since the animals also have a very pronounced social behavior, it practically forbids itself to keep them alone. If you do this anyway, behavior disorders of the individual animal and stunting can quickly result.
All duck breeds have the following things in common:
- basically omnivorous
- very frugal
- robust and resistant
- high urge to move
- need a lot of exercise
Duck keeping in concrete terms - the basics
In the meantime it should have become clear what is most important if you want to keep these animals as a self-sufficient person - regardless of whether you are in your own garden or on a separate piece of land. First of all, it needs as much space as possible. The space requirement is basically dependent on the number of individual animals that are to be kept, but it is very difficult to give precise information about the area required. The bigger the better. Ducks need a lot of freedom of movement in order to develop fully and thus also to be able to develop. Even with only three or five copies, a minimum area of 150 square meters is therefore recommended.
The area should:
- be green
- not treated with lime, fertilizer or slug pellets
- have a secure fence
- and have a pond.
For these waterfowl, water is actually something like the central element in their life. Not only do they need it from a nutritional point of view, but also to suit their species. Bathing and swimming are simply part of the animals' natural instincts. They cool off in the water, cleanse themselves in it and also let off steam. Every self-sufficient person who seriously wants to keep flight ducks, running ducks or whatever breeds of duck can therefore not avoid digging at least a small pond for them. In addition, there must always be a further supply of water in a drinking trough in the open space. It is important that the drinker is protected from sunlight in summer. The animals no longer drink water with a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius or more, even if they are very thirsty. It also has to be changed regularly - as a rule, all sorts of rubbish ends up in the drinking trough.
Incidentally, future duck owners should also be aware that they will soon no longer recognize their garden. For example, the animals like to dig in the earth, eat everything that is classified as food and also leave their droppings where they go and where they stand. Even if ducks often and very persistently groom themselves or clean their plumage, they are not necessarily hygienic animals from a human point of view.
The duck house
As mentioned earlier, ducks must be kept free in a fenced area. Keeping them in cages is prohibited. Nevertheless, even as a self-sufficient person, you cannot do without a stable. The animals spend most of the day outside, but at night they have to go to a stable. The reason for this is relatively simple: The greatest enemies of these water birds include crepuscular animals such as foxes, martens and rats. For them, in turn, a duck is not only tasty, but also very easy prey. Therefore, flight ducks and running ducks belong in their stalls before dark. In the morning you would do well not to let them out again until daybreak.
There are practically no specific rules as to what a duck house should look like. However, in order to ensure that ducks are kept in a species-appropriate manner, the following points should be taken into account:
- Area of at least half a square meter per animal
- at least one square meter per drake in addition
- the stable must have daylight
- it must be littered, preferably with straw
- a fully perforated floor is not permitted
In general, the requirements for a good duck house can be summarized in such a way that it should be safe, light, dry, draft-free and warm. It should also have several zones in which the animals can move or sleep. In addition, there is a need for a continuous supply of food and water. A duck house can also be built by yourself with relatively simple means. Boards and squared timbers, chain link fence and some tar paper for the roof are sufficient. Neither a cement floor nor a foundation is required for the stable. A height of around one meter is sufficient. However, there should be a certain distance between the ground and the stable floor to protect the animals from the cold from below. Access must then be via a board that is not too steep or a staircase. Also important: the door should be relatively difficult to open. Martens in particular are very inventive when it comes to possible access to their prey.
As already mentioned, ducks are absolute omnivores. They utilize vegetable and animal food equally well. During the day, they can usually find enough food in their free-range area. They eat grass, herbs and other green plants, but also hunt insects and beetles. Her favorite foods include snails and worms, which are real protein bombs for animals. If you want to fatten the animals in order to be able to obtain as much meat as possible, you also feed them with concentrated feed. In addition, leftovers from your own kitchen are also suitable:
- Lettuce leaves
- chopped, soft vegetable scraps
- boiled potatoes and potato peels
- old bread soaked in water
Overall, the animals are not very demanding and frugal when it comes to food. It is only important that they also have access to feed and water in the barn. The future duck owner should also know that flight ducks, running ducks and all duck breeds have no teeth. They only roughly tear the food into pieces with their beak. The crushing itself takes place in the stomach. In order for this to work, the animals pick up soil and small stones. Both of these help them to literally grind the food in the stomach.
In this context we have to come back to the importance of water. Sufficient water is essential when eating - mainly for rinsing. In many cases, a duck that devours a snail, for example, is usually only able to transport this delicacy to its stomach through subsequent water absorption. Water is therefore essential so that the ducks do not get their food stuck in the throat in the truest sense of the word.
Special case - ducks
Those who keep domestic or flight ducks usually do so in order to be able to provide themselves with meat. With running ducks, however, it looks different. Their meat can also be eaten, at least in theory, but it is not necessarily a pleasure - it is extremely tough. In addition, the yield would be very low. Running ducks are therefore mainly kept to free their own garden from unwanted pests. Snails in particular, regardless of whether they are domestic or nudibranchs, have next to no chance with running ducks.
Unfortunately, they don't differentiate between wanted and unwanted animals. For example, worms, which actually have a positive effect on the soil, are also destroyed. They will also at least eat heads of lettuce or other plants. After all, you can have a lot of fun with ducks. As a rule, it is just a pleasure to watch the nimble water birds with their sometimes hectic activities. Runner ducks are really very little fun on the plate. Flight ducks are clearly the better choice.
The duck breeding
Sooner or later, self-sufficient people will also think about breeding ducks. This requires a drake to mate with the female animals. However, one should make sure in advance that there is no family relationship. Incidentally, the drake would later mate its own female offspring at any time. You should therefore always consider whether you can borrow the male animal for a certain period of time.
Keeping ducks is as uncomplicated as it is, just as uncomplicated is breeding. Basically you don't have to worry about it, the animals know exactly how it works. A drake can easily get along with six females. After mating, the ducks will usually build a nest in the stable for the eggs from straw and then hatch them. After the chicks hatch, the offspring are immediately integrated into the association. However, one should make sure that the drake has as little contact with the chicks as possible during the first two weeks, as it could possibly kill them. Alternatively, hatching can of course also take place in an incubator.
Here are a few basic facts about duck farming:
- possible all year round
- Breeding animals should be between one and two years old
- set up a separate niche for the nest
- the breeding season is between 28 and 30 days
- the mother looks after the chicks after they hatch
- if the mother rejects her offspring, only hand-rearing will help
If you are self-sufficient in duck farming in order to obtain meat, you must of course also think about the slaughter of the animals. The rule is that this must be done as pain-free and stress-free as possible for the house or flight ducks. For this to really work, you definitely need a certain amount of experience. For self-caterers, it is therefore advisable to contact a specialist from a poultry farm or a butcher. On the one hand, he has the necessary know-how and, on the other hand, he has the necessary equipment. As a rule, the animals are slaughtered when they have reached a weight of 2.5 kilograms or a little more.
Duck keeping - perfect for self-catering
The included is perfect for self-catering. In addition to sufficient space and a water point, there are no major requirements to be met. Ducks also get along very well on their own and are largely uncomplicated. In terms of feed, too, the effort is limited. Only the slaughter and plucking of the animals can be problematic. Service providers can help here if necessary. And yes: keeping ducks and ducks is also a lot of fun.
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