Ducks Versus Chickens: The Benefits of Raising Ducks
In case you were wondering...
A gaggle of geese.
A flush of ducks.
A flock of chickens.
When you think egg, you most likely picture a chicken egg. But raising backyard ducks is growing slowly in popularity.
My friend Katrina helps to run her family's egg business. Every morning she gets up before going to her other jobs to let the chickens and ducks out of their coop, and give everyone grain and water (the ducks like to play in the sprinkler).
One day Katrina needed someone to "farm sit" for her while she was traveling, and I happily volunteered. As I approached the coop in the evening to shut the birds in for the night, I saw that the chickens had already gone in to roost, while the ducks were still huddled together outside. I was a bit dismayed - the thought of herding ducks not seeming too promising. But as I reached their pen, on cue they all turned and one at a time gingerly waddled up single file into the coop. No fuss or muss after all.
It was cute, it was intelligent, and I was won over to ducks! At Katrina's farm the chickens and ducks live side-by-side, but as I learned, ducks are quite different creatures.
Mother's running fast!
Ducks Are More Personable
Ducks appear to be smarter and have more personality than chickens. Ducklings and goslings (baby geese) will imprint on humans, chickens will not. If a human is the first and only organism bigger than itself present at the hatching of the egg, the duckling/gosling will likely follow this person around as if it were their mother, want to sleep beside them, eat with them, etc...
Imprinting is a ridiculously cute duck feature, as demonstrated in this youtube video of a duckling desperately trying to keep up with it's human.
Ducks that are raised closely with humans can also learn to recognize faces. However, my friend Katrina warns future duck owners that Muscovy male ducklings should not be allowed to imprint. While they are sweet at a young age, as adult males they become cocky and aggressive with no fear of humans.
Watch Katrina's video to see some of the mysterious eggs that have come out of her backyard poultry operation, including a double yolked egg and a black egg!
Duck and Chicken Egg Nutrition Comparison
Which came first, the chicken or the egg....or the duck?
Duck eggs are superior to chicken eggs in many ways, though the stronger taste deters some people. Below is an overview of chicken and duck egg comparisons.
- Duck eggs are a bit bigger than chicken eggs. The calorie content compared: Duck Egg: 108 Kcal. Chicken Egg: 75 Kcal.
- Per gram, duck eggs pack more nutritional punch, and contain more beneficial omega 3s, minerals, and vitamins than chicken eggs.
- Duck eggs have a stronger, more oily taste than chicken eggs, and the same can certainly be said when comparing the two meats.
- Duck eggs are excellent for baking purposes because of the higher protein content of the egg. (This is due to the duck egg's higher ratio of albumen (white part) to yolk.)
- Duck eggs are an alkaline producing food, whereas chicken eggs are acidic. Alkaline producing foods create anti-cancer conditions in the body.
- Duck eggs have a higher cholesterol content than chicken eggs, which some nutritionists would say is a problem and others not, since it's the good HDL cholesterol.
- Finally, duck eggs have thicker shells than chicken eggs, allowing them to stay fresh for longer (up to 6 weeks if refrigerated!).
Other Benefits of Raising Ducks
Ducks are easier to keep confined in simple pens, whereas chickens are escape artists that seem to find every hole.
Ducks don't need, but enjoy having access to a small body of water. If you have around 10 ducks a kiddie pool is plenty sufficient.
Ducks and chickens penned in a garden can serve as excellent pest eradicators, but ducks are better hunters of slugs and snails than chickens.
In Asia, ducks are kept on rice paddy farms. As they swim about the inundated rice crops, they poop and add an important source of natural fertilizer.