For those who have been following our journey, our ducks have been given complete free reign of our 100 acre farm. They can go where ever they please and they report back to their fenced in pond area at night. We have some simple shelters available for them around the pond that they can nest in and seek shelter during bad weather if they choose. This system seemed to work for a while, but lately it has been less than perfect.
Here are the problems we ran into:
- Collecting Eggs every morning became an Easter Egg hunt. We quickly realized that wondering around searching for eggs was a loosing battle. Not only were we unable to find most of them, but many were being eaten by snakes.
- Coyotes and wild dogs began picking off our ducks during the day. While hawks did not seem to be a threat to our ducks, the coyotes figured out we were raising organic free range ducks for them to eat. Suddenly we had ducks being taken in broad daylight. We had a few taken right in front of us (while we were only a few hundred feet away).
- Since our ducks raise their own young (and are fantastic mothers by the way) they will go find a spot to sit a nest all on their own. The problem began when the mother ducks began choosing locations outside of the night time fence location. They would decide on a location anywhere on the farm, leaving them susceptible to predators. We lost some of our best mothers this way.
It got to a point where we were getting no eggs and loosing our ducks at an incredibly fast rate. Obviously something had to be done.
Rotational Grazing the Ducks
In an attempt to allow the ducks to still free range for their food, we recently set up our new rotational grazing duck paddocks. At this time we are using portable electric mesh fencing and slowly moving them around. So far we are back to collecting 6- 7 eggs a day (with 7 ducks laying) and we have 1 sitting on a nest of 20 eggs. The best part is that we haven’t lost any ducks since we switched to this set up.
We will keep you posted as we continue to tweak the system!