Ducks are thrilled that they are now allowed in Huntington, NY
A few weeks ago we explained a legal battle where Huntington, NY duck owners Nina Tam and her daughter Ava Post were battling local regulations to allow them to keep their small, domestic flock of birds. Like many duck owners across the country, they utilize their egg laying ducks to provide them with a safe and healthy alternative to chicken eggs. Nina Tam has a food allergy to chicken eggs, and duck eggs have offered the perfect nutritional solution.
We are happy to report that this brave duo succeeded in going through the appropriate legislative channels to have their local regulations changed such that up to 8 ducks can now be owned in the town of Huntington, NY. Through the use of social media such as a Facebook page and an online petition, Nina Tam and Ava Post were able to garner enough support to form a cohesive argument as to why their flock is not a nuisance, and should be allowed to remain.
Many people do not realize that most ducks and chickens one comes into contact with are domesticated breeds. Thus, they had their wild instincts bred out over time in order to achieve the most desirable farming traits. They will not adapt to a wild environment in most situations, and certainly should not be killed or dumped simply because they are unwanted.
If you have ducks or chickens which you cannot care for or do not want, please do not destroy them. These are several key options which you can pursue to find them an adequate home, all of which require little effort.
How to find a good home for unwanted ducks or chickens -
Post an ad for free ducklings or chicks on Craigslist.org . People all over the country raise ducks and chickens for a variety of beneficial purposes including egg production, pets, and as meat. If you simply advertise on Craigslist that you have some free birds available to be picked up, you will receive plenty of interest. Often time times, a good home can be found within a few hours.
Look for people seeking ducks and birds in your area on farming message boards, such as BestFarmBuys.com or AgriSeek.com . If you find the right person, you may even be able to sell you birds and make some money.
Contact a local farm or hatchery and ask them to take the birds. There are countless places which raise birds for a variety of purposes all around the country.
Many avid gardeners consider their vegetable and flower patches as more than just hobby level agricultural endeavors. Rather, one’s garden is a reflection of one’s natural self. Thus, just as you don’t want to use harmful herbicides and pesticides on a large scale as it is unsustainably damaging to the environment, you likewise do not want to use the same practices in your own garden.
Pesticides are bad for a lot more than pests
How then can you control harmful weeds and pests from destroying your prized herbs, flowers, and vegetables without employing the very practices which you may be opposed to on a large scale? One innovative solution is to keep ducks in your garden. That’s right, ducks….quacking, waddling, goofy yet adorable waterfowl. Ducks will literally take your garden pests and nuisances and convert them to natural fertilizer and eggs (which by the way are suitable for human consumption).
Ducks will eat just about any pest. Grasshoppers, which can decimate a garden in short order during heavy infestation years, are quickly gobbled up when in reach of a hungry duck and so are Japanese beetles, June bugs, grubs and even mice. Ducks will also chase and catch flies, and root their larvae out of fresh manure and decaying vegetables.
Using ducks as an environmental and low cost gardening and farming aide is nothing new. Chinese farmers have herded Pekin ducks by the hundreds through their rice paddies for thousands of years. These avid foragers would seek out and consume any pest or weed they could find, yet leave the more mature rice crop alone. Furthermore, their droppings would serve as fertilizer for the plants and soil. A recent episode of The Amazing Race featured a challenge where contestants were to herd large amounts of Pekin ducks, as an homage to this ancient practice.
Ducks are best used in your garden when there aren’t any sprouting seedlings, as they will likely tear up the ground enough and prevent the seedling from taking root. Ducks should be allowed to forage when the plants are mature enough that they can survive some physical movement and won’t be hurt by some disruption in the soil. Ducks essentially use their beaks as plows, and will actively seek out even buried pests and weeds.
Also, ducks can serve as a wonderful alternative to a bug zapper. Simply keep a light over their water supply and it will attract countless insects at night, which the ducks will gladly eat out of their water. Thus, you will have a natural, environmentally sound, and fun alternative to an unsightly blue light and power consuming device.
Which breeds of ducks make the best for this innovative and green gardening solution? eFowl.com recommends four key types -
Runner Ducks – these wine bottle shaped ducks are far and away the most active foragers
A type of avid foraging duck, the Black Indian Runner
Khaki Campbell Ducks – not only are these birds great foragers, they’re also one of the most prolific egg layers of all ducks.
Khaki Campbells are avid foragers and prolific egg-layers
Cayuga Ducks – these ducks are a medium size, and very popular as pets for their unique iridescent green color, as well as their quiet demeanor.
Cayuga Ducks are great for pets and great for your garden
Swedish Ducks – who knew Daffy Duck was so helpful in the garden?
Daffy Duck is modeled after a Black Swedish Duck
What are you waiting for? Get some ducks and take green gardening to a whole new level!
Ducks are only good house pets as long as you can keep them comfortable in a large box or cage. As the ducklings mature to about 6-8 weeks of age, their care demands will change such that they need access to water, will become a bit messier, and will require more space.
Ducks are not meant to live in houses, despite some owner's best efforts.
Generally, we consider the 6-8 week old mark to be “pond ready”, when ducks can be released as primarily yard or pond ducks. Granted, they’ll still need some type of duck housing, but their domain should move to a more natural environment at this age.
Now there are certainly exceptions to these guidelines as there are for nearly any bit of pet waterfowl care knowledge. We receive many testimonials of pet duck owners who keep their friends primarily indoors, but most breeders and experts will agree that they need to be more of a yard pet.
Most domesticated duck breeds cannot fly. As breeders have created ducks with certain characteristics, they’ve bred out the ability to fly in many types of farm fowl.
Domesticated Mallards can still fly...most of the time
For example, breeders want to produce a better meat duck, and thus they selectively breed the birds to be larger, which in turn makes them too large to fly. This is the case for ducks like domesticated Pekins, pet Rouens, and even medium sized ducks like Cayugas. Other breeds of ducks, such as Runner ducks, are able to fly for short distances, but cannot achieve sustained flight. Thus for all these types of domesticated ducks, it isn’t necessary to clip their wings in order to keep them from flying away.
However, some of the smaller breeds of ducks can still fly, and wing clipping may be necessary if they are not explicitly trained to stay around their home. This is particularly true for domesticated Mallards and Call ducks.
The ability to fly is an important consideration when selecting a pet duck. Most people prefer flightless ducks, as clipping wings can be a difficult process. If you do select a duck breed that is capable of flight, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will fly away, it will just have the ability to. Often times when someone has a pet Mallard for example, the bird will bond with it’s owner and never leave, despite being able to. Clipping wings is usually a precaution people will take when dealing with larger flocks of birds, rather than just a few waterfowl as pet ducks.