Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Feeling ducky - backyard ducks

Sure, the name of this blog is Crunchy Chicken and not Crispy Duck, but bear with me. You see, I've been jonesing to get chickens for oh, about 8 years now. Generally, it hasn't worked out, mostly because of a variety of circumstances but I think a lot of it has to do with the cost per egg and the work involved.

I have a real hard time justifying the hundreds of dollars of investment in getting a decent chicken coop set up such that those chickens sure as chicken shit better be laying golden eggs. I can get local, free range organic eggs quite readily around here. Sure, they aren't $1.99 a dozen and more like $5 a dozen, but if you add in the cost of chicken feed, home grown eggs, amortized, are probably going to cost me $5 an egg.

I don't have any handy chicken coop designer on retainer around here, so I would have to buy one premade and, from what I've seen, you are looking at anywhere between $500 for a basic coop to over $1,000 for something fancy. I don't fully expect the chickens to live primarily off of kitchen scraps and our yard isn't big enough to feed them with bugs and such. So, there would be a heavy reliance on chicken feed. In other words, expensive eggs. Obviously eggs aren't the only reason to keep chickens, but they make for fairly expensive pets.

Anyway, I was thinking ducks. Super slug eating ducks. They would do perfect around here and have minimal requirements with housing since they, well, are ducks. Many people don't bother with traditional housing for more temperate areas and some just get a doghouse in case of inclement weather. Although it sounds like most of the time the ducks don't bother with it.

Ducks have a lot less health issues than chickens and many breeds are more prolific at egg laying. Plus the male ducks don't crow like nobody's business. From what I've read, a pond is optional as long as the birds have access to water when it's really warm out and, even then, a wading pool would suffice.

For those of you wondering about the duck eggs themselves, as long as you get a breed (they also have bantam duck breeds!) that doesn't lay enormous duck eggs, they will be more or less equivalent to chicken eggs. Duck eggs do have more protein in the whites and more fat in the yolks so they are richer when used in baking and, of course, richer when eating them straight up. A favorite springtime meal is fried duck eggs over roasted asparagus with shaved parmesan and fresh ground black pepper. Mmmm. But, I digress. Ahem.

I wouldn't embark on Project Duckworks until next year if we do decide to, but I wanted to know if any of you out there keep backyard ducks? Any city ducks out there? Oh, by the way, those Indian Runner Ducks (pictured above) are super cute.

Related books:
Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks: Breeds, Care, Health
Barnyard in Your Backyard: A Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, and Cows
The Complete Guide to Small Scale Farming: Everything You Need to Know About Raising Beef Cattle, Rabbits, Ducks, and Other Small Animals

47 comments:

meg said...

Hmmm....interesting! I guess I haven't ever really thought this through as I am a tad obsessed with getting chickens. We do eat kind of a lot of eggs so I think it'll be worth it in the long run.
I have never had a duck egg before...I should taste one and see what I think.
Can't wait to see what people have to say about this.

LatigoLiz said...

Ducks are gross...and WAY messier from what I have seen. Maybe because I haven't seen any decent duck-keeping facilities? Chickens have been easy so far. We just happened to build a Chateau, but there are much more affordable options. And for decent duck eggs you are still going to need balanced duck ration. And ducks quack way louder than chickens. Would you clip their wings to keep them from flying off? Just more to consider.

Word verification word: fract
Hahahahaha

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've had chickens for about 6 years (started with 2, now have 12....nobody tells you they're addictive!) and last year we got 4 ducks.
They are fabulous- even funnier to watch than the hens.
We have 2 Khaki Campbells (Runner duck X mallard X ?Rouen) and 2 hybrids. Very excited about 2 Indian Runners joining us in May!

Ducks do quack (drakes don't) but ours tend to only do it first thing in the morning, when they come out of their house.

Domestic ducks don't fly. The chickens are better at it. I clipped the ducks wings like the chickens when we first got them, but they've made absolutely no attempt to take off. Wings are for splashing apparently.

I would never keep ducks without water. They love it- it would be so cruel. Even breeds that are meant to be less bothered enjoy a paddle and a splash about. Having said that, our garden is 50' x 40' and we have the bottom of a sandpit someone was throwing away because it had no lid, which is fine. In fact, it's ideal because I can change their water every couple of days. They *love* clean water!

They are messy. Chickens scratch, ducks paddle and dabble. Any moist ground turns into a mudbath with beak holes in it. Ours have about 1/3 of the garden to roam in. If they had it all, I would have no garden, just mud.

They lay as well as a chicken, so they eat as much as a chicken. We feed them all the same food. The ducks do love slugs, but they're hibernating right now in the UK. They'll eat scraps, but not as wide a variety as the chickens, and they're higher maintenance in that it needs to be chopped because they can't peck.

They don't get all the 'funny turns' that chickens get though, so they are hardier (or seem so to me with my vast experience!)

Duck eggs have bigger yolks in proportion to their whites, but I cook them exactly the same as hens eggs, except the whites make rubbish meringues! There's no massive difference in taste. A bit richer/creamier may be? I think most people would be hard pushed to tell.

In the UK, we can sell eggs at the 'garden gate' (ie, to friends and neighbours) without any regulation, so I sell my surplus eggs. As it's to friends, I don't aim to make a huge profit, but it does help cover the cost of the organic pellets. Don't forget though, they eat just as much in the winter when they're not laying any eggs...

My birds do get scraps, and I am trying to decrease the proportion of grain etc I give them. Spring is great because there are lots of free greens coming up. However, my reservation in giving up pellets altogether (apart from time and convenience) is that modern birds (especially hybrids) are bred for performance in a way that old fashioned birds weren't. That means they have higher nutrition requirements, so for me it's a bit of a balance.

All in all (if you're still with me!), I love my ducks and chickens and would never not have them now. They may not be strictly value-for-money, but I don't think they're quite as expensive as you think. They also give me better eggs even than local free range eggs (no organic flocks round here), probably because of the variety of their diet. My work colleagues son can tell if his boiled egg is one of my chickens or not! My children have a better understanding of where food comes from, what food from animals entails and I get eggs with food yards! And the local school gets poultry visits for show and tell...

I could go on, but DH is now laughing at me raving and I think this comment is quite long enough! Any particular questions, please ask and I'll try and answer.

Hazel

Lauren said...

Runner ducks are hilarious! My mister is seriously agitating to get some just because of how funny they are when they run around the yard.
We have (in addition to chickens) Khaki Campbell ducks, which we chose because they lay ~300-350 eggs per year (the first year, at least). They are champs but they are not as fun, as critters go, as the chooks.

I do love the duck eggs for baking and in quiches, scrambles, etc., though I admit I do not like them fried. The white is firmer, somewhat rubbery. I don't *think* I'm overcooking it, but maybe there are ways to fry duck eggs that are different from chicken egg frying. I don't know.

Anyway, Deanna, we are Seattle-ish and I work in the U-District, so if you want some duck eggs, let me know, and we can work it out. We get 3 a day (duck alone, 3-5 chicken), so, you know, we have A LOT of eggs.

Robj98168 said...

I agree with LatigoLiz... messy little poopers those ducks are. Although they would fertilize your yard quite well, while eating the hated sluggs. (Poor Little sluggo) I guess the problem with ducks is they fly. Away. With your eggs!

Melinda said...

Yay ducks! Matt and I have been fantasizing about getting ducks for a few years now. Can't quite do it on our balcony, but...

All our research pointed to ducks over chickens as well. Plus ducks are just cool. They like dogs (good dogs of course), and they are well behaved, and they can be gorgeous and funny critters!

I had a neighbor with ducks in the city when I was younger. We had all sorts of shapes and sizes of eggs in our fridge. Takes a little getting used to when you first cook with them, but you do.

Did I mention ducks are cool? I just think they would be fun to come home to. Here's a quack in favor of Project Duckworks.

Sue said...

We've chosen chickens over ducks for a couple of reasons. Primarily, it's because I've heard that ducks can be a bit harder to contain (plus, we'd want them out eating slugs in the garden) and we share an unfenced border with a church. The folks over there have already spoken to us once about the chickens (there was a hole in the fence. naughty chickens) and so we're very hesitant to get anything that might be more difficult to keep in. We do not have a rooster so the hens are relatively quiet. I *love* the Indian Runner ducks - hilarious! but if we got ducks they'd be the "quackless" muscovies. Again, quieter for the neighbors.

As far as the cost of raising chickens goes - I've lost track at this point so I have no idea whether it's cost effective. They've become a bit like pets, though, and on that scale, they're very VERY cheap. It does, however, keep me out of the grocery store for longer periods of time, so serves the same function as the CSAs we've joined. We have eggs, so we don't go into the store for them. Plus, sometimes we have a *lot* of eggs, so we don't need to go to the store for other things - we've got eggs to eat. March is eggs and greens month, apparently (a friend has mustard and spinach in a high tunnel. yum!). In that function, they *have* saved us money.

Granny Miller said...

Most ducks are not that much different from heavy breed chickens.
Duck eggs are superior for baking, but I personally prefer chicken eggs for straight up eating.

Ducks DO make a much bigger mess than chickens and they are I think,the most helpless of all farm animals.

That said, as long as they are well protected from predators you should have not too many problems.

Beware that if you have close neighbors some breeds do tend to be noisy and will quack all night.

For most suburban or urban people chickens are a better option.

Below are 2 podcast links - A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO CHICKENS

http://homesteadgardenandpantry.com/?p=1251

http://homesteadgardenandpantry.com/?p=1733

What has been said for chickens will apply pretty much to ducks.
Pay particular attention to Part 2 which covers housing.

You don't need to spend lots of money to keep small livestock.

I mean after all, the rural poor keeping ducks & chickens and they sure aren't forking out the $$$$ to do so :-)

Farmer's Daughter said...

I SO want to get chickens this spring. Of course I need to convince my husband to build a coop, and the screaming baby might just be the incentive he needs to get out and build it.

I'd love to get a duck, too, but I'm concerned we don't have a pond, etc. I know we don't NEED it, but I've heard they're much happier when they have it. So we'll see...

Oh and the baby doesn't really scream that much. He's asleep right now (cause it's NOT night time).

Kate said...

I would never argue against anyone getting ducks, but I am a bit mystified at your projected expenses for chicken housing and feeding. There are plenty of sites online which can show you a huge range of housing options for chickens. And we built our own using a lot of lumber scraps pulled out of dumpsters on construction sites. The materials we had to pay for probably ran us less than $40, and the housing has held up for three years so far and shows no sign of needing a re-build.

As for feed, of course I don't know your local prices. We get 80 pounds of organic, locally milled feed for less than $25. With four layers, that lasts us through more than 4 months at the coldest time of the year (when they obviously need a bit more fuel to keep warm). You can also substantially supplement their feed with Japanese beetles, or other insects in season, as well as acorns - both free for the gathering.

I've posted in some detail on all these topics on my blog, if anyone cares to look.

If you're decided on the ducks though, I hear that khaki Campbells are the most voracious slug eaters.

Paige said...

I know you're not asking, but I just ran the numbers for what we pay in feed and scratch, and how many eggs we get. During egg laying season we save 23.02 dollars a month and gain 8 doz eggs a month.I'm basing that on store cost of 4$ a dozen, two dozen a week. We had a family member gift us with a home crafted coop, so that cost is not factored in.

jewishfarmer said...

I'm with those who don't quite get your projected "chicken vs. duck" costs. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-duck, I just think you are wildly overstating the costs of chickens vs. ducks. I know several people who keep chickens in doghouses - raise them up off the ground a little to keep predators out with cinderblocks or wooden pallets, and there's housing for four chickens. Ta da! Food costs aren't that high, and if you want to reduce feed costs further, you live in a populated area - talk to neighbors about sharing their food scraps or talk to a local restaurant or bakery about a regular supply of feed. Of course, this works fine for ducks too.

I think it comes down to which you like better. Ducks are more personable than chickens, but as others mention, also much messier. I have both, and we like our ducks a lot, but we've also had more problems with loss to predators - they can't fly and are attracted to any puddle or body of water. They are great about slugs and cute as a button, but they poop wet messy poop everywhere, and their water needs regular changing (and they do need some water). They are also much louder than chickens.

You could compromise on muscovies, which hiss (they don't quack) and don't need water, but they aren't as friendly and are weird looking (yummy, though).

I would bring it down to what you like and want to deal with - I don't think your cost benefit rationale quite adds up.
Sharon

Greenpa said...

"Sure, they aren't $1.99 a dozen and more like $5 a dozen, but if you add in the cost of chicken feed, home grown eggs, amortized, are probably going to cost me $5 an egg. "


Naughty, Crunchy!!

People almost always forget to include the cost of their TIME- and you left it out here.

If we're ever going to get to Real Accounting, we've GOT to into the habit of putting the "pay" for our time into each equation.

Here is how I would do it-

Cost of local eggs: $5/doz., plus ~ 5 minutes per week of shopping/decision making time (@ $25/hour)

Benefits of local eggs: improved health; support local economy

Cost of backyard eggs: minimum of $500.00 set up cost; one time chick cost of $40; ongoing expense of feed; time spent convincing neighbors not to sue; chicken management time of ~ 30 minutes/day forever @ $25/hour; changes in security arrangements (dogs, theft).

Benefits of backyard eggs: improved health; support local economy through buying feed; eggs to give away to friends/neighbors; health benefits of time spent with animals, mental and physical, benefits to children of contact with animals, fertilizer for garden, occasional meat (if you wanna); and probably some I've left out.

Now- assigning dollar values to lot of that is difficult - BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE. You just have to make a start on it, and get the values in the equation. It's much more difficult because nobody teaches us how to include this costs and benefits; so we're not used to thinking this way. For example; benefits to children: # of children (time spent with birds daily + time not spent doing nothing + time spent learning something(cost of school hours)) - etc. Equation needs work, I'm sure- but you see how to start.

I think you would be GREAT at figuring out this kind of real accounting; (and it would make a helluva good blog post, and probably get you in the NYT again...)

We're trying to do this here, with the guineas. After 2 years of keeping them, I'm much more aware of the ins and outs- and it's vastly more complex than the cost of feed and coops.

Satsuki Rebel said...

Jewishfarmer said a lot of what I was going to say. If you don't have a huge family to feed you only need a few chickens. (We had them free range when I was high school and always had more eggs than we could use.) Just get a doghouse for them and call it done. Then as JF stated get someone local to donate the food and that can be free too.

Anna in Atlanta said...

Our chickens are cheap, I guess. The coop I built from scrap lumber (old fencing, 2x4s cut down to 2x2s, pallet wood, etc) and all I had to buy was hardware cloth(wire), fasteners, and wood stain, less than $50. Do a search for Catawba Converticoop -- it's a great design for 2-4 hens (they will need more running around space but it's perfect for a house that closes safely at night and you don't have to get up at dawn to let them out of). The pattern is cheap and REALLY good.

LatigoLiz said...

Regular (non-organic) layer pellets $12.40/bag at one of my local feed stores. I don't come close to going through a bag a week right now, and we have 6 chickens. It might be a 50 pound bag every 3-4 weeks right now. I am going to switch to organic feed next time around, so I will keep you posted on the price. I don't have to make a special trip tot he feed store to get the feed, so I guess you can't factor in the cost of fuel for that trip. There is an organic feed supplier north of Seattle somewhere, but I don't recall where at the moment...but their feed was more than double the cost if I recall.

There are locally made coops on CL that are adorable. They might even be able to make a coop custom for you.

We have 6 chickens and are OVERFLOWING with eggs for our family of 3. I have 3 dozen eggs right now. I either give away or sell to friends and family. Hubby eats a lot of quiche during the week. I usually eat an egg muffin sandwich every morning.

Here are cheap coops, most less than $300:
http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/grd/1654932457.html
http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/grd/1653741372.html
http://seattle.craigslist.org/skc/grd/1652904984.html

Alicia said...

Crunchy- Greenpa makes excellent points. And, for heaven's sake, we women should be really careful to be d##n sure that the value of our time is figured in!

Greenpa- you forgot the positive side with neighbors; I've made new friends because of our chickens; besides the arguing with the cranks.

Mmy said...

Like everyone else has said -- ducks like to poop. Now, our backyard ducks were very sweet, and liked to try to walk into the house -- and poop. Made for some adorable pictures, though.

(Be VERY SURE you're getting a breed that can't fly, if you go the duck route. We had some big fat white ducks, but the cute little ducks we got ended up needing their flight feathers trimmed. And also laid green eggs that looked exactly like the chickens' green eggs, which led me some head-scratching moments.)


There's no comparing your own eggs with storebought eggs... of all the easy crunchy-homesteading steps, I highly recommend this one to anyone, provided you have the energy. We eventually gave ours away because I haven't been able to do the daily upkeep (chronic fatigue), but the second I feel better, it will be the first project to come back.

Doghouses make great coops -- the big expense is a fence. I had one around the house, so I sectioned off a corner. My mother went a little fancier with one of those pre-built dog kennels/runs for the fence -- you could just stick a house in there, although she built a joining coop with easily accessible egg-boxes and the whole nine yards.

If bugs are a problem, you could look into guineas. NOISY, cranky little birds that eat the heck out of ticks... I love them, although I seem to be in the minority, here.

Breeds of fowl can have very different personalities... if you want more of a cutesy pet, check out silkies, which are just about the most adorable chickens ever. (Have to make sure your fence is good for those, though, as adorable = tasty to foxes!)

LatigoLiz said...

Here's that organic feed:

http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/grd/1655082818.html

At that price, it's more than twice my non-organic locally produced (Tacoma) feed. I will check the price on the organic feed from my feed store and find out where it is produced.

Elisabeth said...

I only have experience with ducks as pets. My lifelong best friend had a duck when we were little girls and he was wonderful! I don't remember him being messy, but he had lots of space (and there was only one of him). He did love water...he'd swim in the pool with us and dive between our legs. He never flew away and I don't remember him being loud. On the other hand, my aunt had chickens and they weren't nearly as entertaining or friendly. I think your kids would love ducks.

:o) said...

We have had both ducks and chicken and both are super GROSS!!! The ducks pooped everywhere and harassingly quacked (begging) at us non-stop. They were louder than the chickens! The chickens were a lot of work and we found that it was just not worth it. Their coop stunk no matter how well we cleaned it. They also attracted rats---that was the deal breaker!

Anne said...

If you DO get ducks, I'll duck-sit for you when you go out of town! I think it sounds great and would love to test the idea on my husband! I wonder if ducks would defend raspberry bushes from mountain beavers. Guard ducks...if so, I'm totally in.

Linda said...

We've had chickens for 7 years - we live in SeaTac and are allowed up to 5, including roosters, although we stick with the hens to keep the neighbors happy. We have no experience with ducks, although my husband has wanted them but we have been deterred by their need of a fresh watering hole and the mess it might make. Anyway, I just wanted to add my experience with the hens. We had 6 in the beginning. We always had way too many eggs so I was always giving them away. Now we have 2 hens, only one which lays eggs anymore (Buffy is in her menopausal stage as she is getting up there in her years). This spring we are going to get 2 more chicks. Personally, I think 2 or 3 laying hens would be a good number. Enough eggs, but not SO much poo and cleaning to do. In the beginning I fussed over our hens all the time, cleaning and such. But after some time I have relaxed a bit and they are really no more work than taking care of our cats.

As far as the cost of a coop, we bought all new lumber as we had no scraps to use. Plus I had envisioned a perfect little red coop with a front window and such, so that is what we built (window salvaged from second-use), raised off the ground, with a completely fenced-in run. Yeah, it was expensive, but it made me so happy building an awesome coop for my gals. But you don't need something so elaborate, I have seen "chicken tractors" that are triangular and nothing but 1 x 3 boards surrounded by fencing, and only the very end is enclosed by plywood, very inexpensive. Plus you can move it around the yard very easily.

Our hens get organic feed (I don't remember the cost as it takes a long time to go through a bag), they get to peck around the yard, and they get my weed piles and kitchen scraps to peck through. If the eggs end up costing more than $5 a dozen, their fun addition to the family more than makes up for it. And they each have their own personalities. Our Penny always comes running when we call her name. I love it!

OK, I've been rambling long enough. Sorry!

Greenpa said...

Ok, Crunch; one more story (about ducks!).

A couple years ago Joel Salatin was showing me around his place, and feeding me dinner with his familly (he's the real thing).

Of course, we looked at all the chicken stuff, rabbit/chicken stuff, I helped him move electric fence for the hair sheep he's playing with for grass fed lamb, and eventually we went to look at the beef.

Right by the beef was this circle of plastic barrier fence, like they use on construction sites? Circle about 20' across. In it, with no buildings or water or feed, were about 80 ducks.

So, I asked him "what the hell are you doing with ducks!? " And he smiled kinda slow, and said "Eggs". And I said "what, do you sell them to local Oriental markets?" (Chinese usually prefer duck to chicken eggs). And he smiled kinda slow and said "Nope. Pastry chefs, in DC."

We talked about that for a bit, then, looking at these 80 ducks, which are obviously going to be set loose shortly to "free range", since this is not a permanent pen, I said "How the hell do you gather the eggs!!? They've gotta be spread all over the farm! Hasta take hours, I'd think.

And, he smiled kinda slow, and said, "Nope. You just have to be here around 9:45 in the morning. That's when they lay."

"What? All of them??" "Yup, all of them."

That has to be a huge help on the gathering end of things. If you leave chicken eggs in the coop very long, they get dirty, then you have to wash them.

So, one for the ducks, I think.

And yes, the poop is a pain.

Toria said...

Don't have time this morning to read the other comments, so this may already have been said.

A pond is not optional! Do not believe any book that says it is. Ducks are water birds, they need a largish body of water. Yes, they might survive with just a water bowl, but you could also say that battery chickens survive.

Also, ducks are messy - they poo everywhere. You need to clean frequently or you will be overrun with poo. They are good layers, we are still getting 3 eggs a day from our 3 birds & they are almost 2 now. But they will lay anywhere, even in their water & you can't eat an egg that has been in the water.

And they are destructive - plants need to be protected from them until established.

But they are wonderful & entertaining, and well worth having.

jewishfarmer said...

Greenpa, the regular laying is awesome about ducks, but the thing is they poop messily in the process, so the eggs are never as clean as chicken eggs. Again, it is a set of trade offs. We have to wash all our duck eggs, because they really show the poop, somehow.

But they are wonderful baking eggs and delish.

As for accounting for the value of your time - I'm a little skeptical of that. If that time is going to come out of something else remunerative, that's fine. But I always find those calculation for subsistence work to be a little strange, when they are replacing non-remunerative time and then calculated as though all our time is remunerated. I think the questions are not just how much time, but where the time will come from, and whether you can do other things (like childcare or other domestic work) at the same time.

Sharon

evilbunnytoo said...

why not neither and choose guinea hens who don't really scratch and so lay (a smaller) egg. My grandmother kept them and they are more self sufficient, don't ruin gardens, and free range eaters.

Greenpa said...

Sharon- glad you've seen the ducks laying by the clock too, so I can hope I'm not hallucinating.

About remunerated vs. non-remunerated time; I know what you mean. I used to argue with my CPA/farmer friend that my time indeed was NOT money, because nobody was going to pay me for it otherwise.

He never agreed.

I've come to a middle stance- is your time OF VALUE?

oh, yes, absolutely.

The only reason to put a dollar value on it is because the idiots out there (all men, I'm quite sure) can't think about "value" in any other way.

So it's mostly a ploy to get their attention.

And, it works. About 2.5 decades ago, I argued with a friend who was on the Board of American Forests that they could get more support for "trees for cities" etc. if they put monetary values on the air conditioning provided in summer, air cleaning actions, etc.

He later became President of American Forests, and they started doing just that; so press releases came out with nice headlines like "One Maple Provides Street Air-Conditioning Equal To Two Full House AC Units."

Or something.

Nobody was ever going to pay the trees, but the town council now knows that each tree provides $2,000/year worth of airconditioning to the city. They think very hard about that.

Oh, and, my friend is a lawyer. He actually made this kind of thing stick, in court. Not re street conditioning yet, but for building sites- if a construction firm in Minnesota kills that big oak you were planning on- you can sue them for $30,000- and win. Because it provably adds that much VALUE to the house.

You're right- the dollars are imaginary; but - is your time valueless? Hell no. So the imaginary dollars are all we have to communicate with. So far.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Greenpa - I think I should develop an online chicken calculator wherein you fill in basic information (cost of housing, feed, healthcare, wages, age and type of chicken) and it will calculate whether or not getting backyard chickens makes economic sense. Or, rather, it will let you know how much a dozen backyard eggs will cost ya.

Oh, and you grossly underestimated my hourly rate :)

Crunchy Chicken said...

That's interesting about the duck poop - I guess it makes sense. I didn't think it would be that much worse than chickens. If they are eating the same feed, what's the difference? Water content?

The ducks seem less fidgety and more social than chickens. I didn't think they would be noisier than chickens, but it sounds like it depends on the breed?

Anyway, thanks everyone for your feedback. We'll have to do a bunch more research before launching Operation Duckworks.

Greenpa said...

"Oh, and you grossly underestimated my hourly rate :)"

lol. No, not really. I was trying to come up with a number that some idiot (man) wouldn't scream bloody murder about; for a "generic" person; not, to be sure, you.

And, YOU'RE much more mathematically inclined, I think, than I am- YOU should do it!

Granny Miller said...

Just my 2 cents again....

I think all this talk of cheap food & hourly rates is missing an important point.

The price per dozen of eggs or the cost of meat cost per pound, in my opinion subscribes to an economic system and worldview that has degraded both human and animal life.
It is the foundation of the system we know as "factory farms".

Believe me factory farms can be "organic" and "pasture raised".

Life Feeds On Life - and what we humans eat is about far more than simply cost or convenience.

I believe how we choose to use the Creation that provided us food, goes to the very core of what it means to be human.

And for me those choices are at the core of what it means to be a Christian.

http://homesteadgardenandpantry.com/?p=209

I'll get off my soap box now and go away....................

Greenpa said...

Granny Miller- I DO find it hilarious that you start those comments off with MY TWO CENTS WORTH.

Were you aware? Or was that a lovely accident?

Anyhow- there's no need to go away! Most of us here agree very substantially with what you're saying.

As I was saying to Sharon, the only reason to be putting it all into monetary terms is so you can communicate with the wackos on the other side of the fence, who don't really understand anything else.

I would contend it is still useful, possibly important, to be able to communicate clearly with them.

As someone who has coined several scientific terms, and even several units of measure; I can assure you that getting others to understand and accept new terminology is the pits.

Nonthewhatsoever, sometimes it's necessary (which is why I got into coinage.)

It would be a GREAT challenge, Crunchella- to have your blog peeps come up with a good, new, unit of measure for "value"; with no monetary references.

It would not be easy to do- but it could be really worthwhile.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Granny - I totally know what you are saying, but that's not what I'm getting at.

There is a monetary cost to raising animals that cannot be overlooked. I am in no way suggesting people buy factory farmed eggs because they are cheaper.

However, if I can buy pastured, completely free-range organic eggs from the farmers market from a local farmer that I know for cheaper than I can raise myself, then I'm not sure I want to undertake such an expensive affair.

It's an expensive experiment to see whether or not I like raising poultry (or waterfowl) or even have the time for it.

There are benefits in economies of scale (and I don't mean farms with thousands of chickens). Taking into consideration the fact that I live in the city and have more constraints than someone living in rural areas, sometimes it just doesn't add up. Similar to trying to grow my own wheat or corn - it can be done, but there are trade-offs.

Greenpa - I'm afraid any challenge of the sort would merely revert to bartering or some such thing. There's a reason we place monetary value (aka a "number") on goods and services - because it makes for a fairly reproducible measure of value.

novemberjuliet said...

Growing up, my sister's friend down the street had chickens and ducks. I don't know if they ate the duck eggs. But I do remember one of their ducks loved to be scratched under the wings and would follow you around like a dog. The chickens scared the crap out of me.

Sylvia said...

Our neighbors in the flat downstairs from us in SF had both ducks and chickens while they lived here, so we got to know them fairly well. Yes indeed to ducks vs chicken poop- more of it, more watery and voluminous, more everywhere. And as others have also said: boy ducks=quiet, girl ducks=LOUD! Very cute, but loud. I like the sound, though. Also, the drakes can be pretty sexually driven, and can bother the girls to the point of injuring them, if there isn't somewhere to get away. And said "bothering", again, causes very, very loud quacking on the part of the (usually) unappreciative duck. And requires much explaining to your worried 2 year old ;)

Toria said...

Slyvia has just mentioned something I forgot to write earlier - male ducks will wear out their female companions with their constant 'attentions'. You can get eggs without having males at all.

Noise - I don't think our ducks are particularly noisy. They will quack a bit with excitement in the morning when they see coming out of the house & know that breakfast is coming, but apart from that they don't make much noise at all. That could be a breed thing though, we have pekins, they might be a quiet breed.

Rosa said...

Before you get ducks, visit someone who has them - with your kids.

I have a ridiculous and embarrassing duck phobia because of too much unsupervised duck & goose-meadow time on great-grandma's farm when I was a toddler.

(Yeah, I'm "only" 35 and when I was a little kid we still visited the old Swedish lady with the free range ducks and the little milk calves and the bajillion-acre garden - all her kids got the hell off the farm as soon as they could, but we had family gatherings there until she died.)

adelina said...

My mother got us both chickens and ducks when we were growing up. And no, we didn't live on a farm but in the suburbs.

The chicken coop we made ourselves with just a little imagination and the chickens were bought from a local chicken farmer.

Each of us had our own chicken or rooster and it was generally fun.

Chicken droppings do not make good compost for gardening so it was hard to get rid of or use.

Ducks on the other hand are very very messy. They mess up the lawn and don't always work in a small area.

Ducks are happier, at least ours were when they were in the pond that we had on the property. They would swim in it all day and then at night go into their beds (or coops).

I would just say that for either have enough space for them to run around in. And take lots of pictures because both chickens and ducks are cute and they do funny things.

LatigoLiz said...

OK, picked up a bag of CHS/Payback Organic Pride Layer Pellets for $23, $4 less than the Scratch & Peck brand. And still almost double the price of the X-Cel brand out of Tacoma. Here's the ingredients tag:
http://www.culinate.com/hunk/63021

Tina Cipolla said...

Couple-o-thoughts:

1)I think you are way overestimating the cost of setting up shop with chickens. We've done it twice and you can get a lot of stuff cheap on craigslist.

2)We've done ducks once, and we'll never do it again. They are filthy (by comparison to chickens). We had 6 ducks and their pool was always disgusting, they fouled the water of the other animals chickens and cows alike. On the upside, however, they seem to be very reliable egg layers, but you practically need a sledgehammer to crack the blaste things; relative to chicken eggs, duck eggs need a serious whack and the shell tends to splinter and you can hardly avoid getting eggshells in everything.

Stick with the chickens. Pleasant, clean, easy and good eggs!

Debra said...

we have 2 ducks, Big Love and Tinkerbell (as named by my 6yr old) I love my ducks. I do not love the duck poop. OMG is there lots of it! I finally had to cave in and pen them because they decided my front step was the perfect place to pile up the poop. The eat EVERYTHING including anything even remotely green that I plant and they have eaten every dingdang goldfish out of my rainbarrel and fountains... to be fair, they also eat the mosquito larva. I originally bought them to eat the slugs that were eating my cabbages. They ate the slugs alright... then they ate the cabbages! They will decimate any grassy area if left in one place too long leaving it a smelly, muddy wasteland. I would, however, do it all over again. They are way better than the dogs when it comes to noise. The dogs can bark upwards of 30 minutes straight but don't seem to care if someone who doesn't belong there comes in to my yard. The ducks will sound the alarm every time and then quiet down immediately after the offender has gone. The eggs are delicious and they didn't stop laying over the cooler months when the chickens wimped out. We clip one wing on each duck to keep them from flying over the side of the pen (for their safety more than anything else) The neighbor kids love them and watching them is a hoot.

Anonymous said...

Carol Deppe has a good article on ancona ducks:

http://boondockersnaturals.com/CarolDeppeAnconas.aspx

`KC

Carl said...

Crunchy, You should totally try chickens, they are a blast. My husband (not they handiest man in the world) built the coop with scrap wood and about $20 in supplies. We also bought them a water dish. Our feed is purchased from the local farmers co-op, but we supplement heavily with free greens from a local grocery store, and the occasional leftover movie popcorn (which they love). Last night they ate the skin from our dinner salmon. Besides, playing with and caring for the new chickens last summer provided endless fun for our kids, so they can be factored in the entertainment budget too. Get chickens Crunchy!

Lisa Sharp said...

I would love to have chickens and or ducks. :)

amy said...

We have 5 Australian Spotted bantam ducks in our backyard in town. We love them & the eggs. I don't think they're messy. They are hardy, excellent foragers, effective mosquito larva exterminators, attentive mothers & tame. We have a plastic pool they love to splash around in & an old plastic dog igloo for shelter which they rarely use. These ducks are cheap & easy to raise, quiet (the females can give a quack off & on but it's nothing to upset the neighbors)& beautiful! You clip a wing so they don't fly away. Check out Holderread Waterfowl Farm (where we got ours): www.holderreadfarm.com

Anonymous said...

DUCKS are the best! We had a pet duck after she wandered into my sister's dorm and wouldn't leave. She must have been someone's pet before because she preferred people to other birds. If you get fertilized eggs and hatch them, you can get them to imprint on you and they won't fly off because you're their mom. The poop and mud were a tradeoff for the delicious eggs and the bug eating. We used a wheel barrow as her "pond". She was quiet and so much more pleasant than the chickens I have known. Major drawback to any small critter: RACCOONS, city or country. One eventually got her after several attempts and one careless moment.

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