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.
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