Why You Might Want To Raise Ducks Instead Of Chickens


I still remember it plain as day.

My husband came in the house and said “I just ordered one hundred ducklings”.

It may have taken a few minutes to get my jaw off the floor, but eventually, I got around to asking him what in the world he was thinking.

Image shows several ducks in green grass, with text that reads "Why You Might Want to Raise Ducks Instead of Chickens"

It was pretty simple, really: not everyone can eat chicken eggs for one reason or another.

And now, funnily enough, six years later, my husband is one of those people.

Yep. He got a legit allergy test and everything. he’s allergic to chicken eggs.

A few weeks ago, I shared that I still insist on having a few chickens for myself (as well as for the kids since our current batch of ducklings aren’t laying eggs yet) because I prefer the taste of the chicken egg yolk to the duck egg yolk, which is mostly only noticeable in fried over-easy eggs. Duck yolks are just so rich! And it’s easy to have both since they eat the same rations.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t love ducks – I do! They’re so sweet, quiet, and completely lovable, and there are a number of reasons why a person might want to raise backyard ducks rather than backyard chickens.

Why you Might Want to Raise Ducks Over Chickens

Food Allergies. I kind of addressed this above, but many folks who are allergic to chicken eggs, can handle duck eggs just fine. It’s a huge blessing to us food allergy families!

Duck eggs are fabulous for baking. Their richness and high protein quality give baked goods a high rise, and delightful texture. Once you try baking with duck eggs, I promise you’ll never want to go back!

Ducks Are Quiet. Ducks quack – actually, they quack quite a lot. A few nights ago, we had their pen situated right outside our bedroom window, and we drifted off to the sound of soft quacks and clucks. But while they do spend a lot of time “talking” they talk quietly – no cackling, carrying on about the egg they just laid or the child who just spooked the living daylights out of them.

Their quietness is a huge bonus for those of us who live in neighborhoods – and yes, you can raise chickens (or ducks) even if you don’t live on a farm!

Ducks stick together. Unlike chickens, you can actually herd them. In fact, just five minutes ago, I stepped outside to see that all of our ducks had waddled out of their pen and parked themselves under the kids’ swing set. Apparently a certain two-year-old had opened a gate. Naturally, I hollered at Gabe, who walked outside and shooed them back into the pen without any problem thanks to their flock mentality (and by the way, that little incident was totally the inspiration for this article).

Photo shows several ducks sitting in grass near a fence

This extreme flocking together has been true of all of our ducks over the last six years regardless of how long they were out free ranging, though they do tend to split up into smaller groups when you have a lot of them.

Ducks don’t go ever fences. No wing clipping needs, ducks won’t even try to fly over a fence, which makes them so much easier to keep inside. We’re currently keeping our ducks in a temporary wire fence so we can move them, and it’s about four feet high – that would never keep a chicken in!

Ducks won’t terrorize your garden. Yup, that’s right! They don’t eat broadleaf plants. So while your ducks may waddle through and scare the dickens out of your, their really only eating out small weeds (grasses), and looking for bugs. I use to freak every time I saw them out in the strawberry patch, but I finally got over it. 🙂

Ducks love wet weather. If you have chickens, you probably know that they don’t care for rain, preferring to hid in a dry spot until the shower is over, which can greatly impede their foraging. On the other hand, when it rains, ducks couldn’t possibly be happier! It’s so fun to look out the window on a rainy day and watch the ducks forage around the backyard as if nothing at all is going on.

Ducks are cute. Yes, this is an actual, real reason why you should raise ducks. They waddle, they quack, they follow you around, and really, they just couldn’t be any cuter if they tried. I have noticed that egg laying breeds tend to be a little more drab looking than some of their fancier relatives, but they make up for it by being adorable.

Probably the only real drawback to having ducks is their love of water. Most folks think they need water (which makes sense, right?), but they can – and do – live quite happily on land. Still it’s nice to give them some water, and that can easily be done with a small watering trough, or child-sized swimming pool – those hard plastic things you can pick up for $5-10 dollars in the spring.

We don’t have one hundred ducks anymore – thank goodness! – in fact, our newest flock is only eleven strong, and I can’t wait until they start laying this summer!

So what do you think? Would you try raising ducks?

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  1. Hi Elise,

    We have property and want to build someday, and dig a pond (yay!) I’ve thought about having ducks, so it’s great to know that chickens and ducks can cohabitate! Thanks for a fun and helpful article.

    I’ve heard that, about duck eggs being strong. And I’m not much for baking. Do you think a person could get used to the flavor over time?

    1. I guess it would just depend on a person’s personal taste preference. I’m totally fine with eating scrambled duck eggs, but I still just can’t bring myself to eat them fried over-easy. Too rich!

  2. Do you keep them in a “coop” at night? And how do you collect eggs? I mean do they just lay them anywhere and you have to look for them or will they lay in one spot?

    1. Yes, we put them in a small enclosure at night to keep them safe. Usually by 9 AM, they’re done laying, so we just wait to let them out of their yard until then – it’s pretty easy to find the random eggs in their yard. 🙂

  3. I wish I was as lucky as you. Our Muscovies ate just about everything we grew in our gardens including perenial flowers and would fly over our 6 foot wood fence to perch on our neighbors shed.

    1. Oh wow! I have heard that Muscovies are more wild, whereas Khaki Campbells, and Golden 300s (which are the two breeds we’ve worked with) are very easy going.

  4. I had 7 call ducks and there were the loudest things louder than my sometimes 4-5 roosters wich were silkies and seramas . I only had them for a couple months months I had to get rid of them in fear my neighbors would have started complaining . They hadn’t complained about my chickens in the 3 years I’ve had them but I didn’t wanna take that chance .

    1. Yes, there are breed of duck that are specifically kept for their eggs. I think Khaki Campbell are the most popular, and they’re awesome! Currently though, we have Golden 300 ducks, which are pretty much the same as the khakis. 🙂

  5. I started laughing when I read the part about cackling and carrying on about eggs. One of my chickens goes on and on sometimes until I peek out into the yard and tell her to hush. I live in a very developed area and don’t want to drive the neighbors crazy. I actually think the various noises are charming!

    I’ve never had a duck egg before, but my sister was trying to convince me to get ducks instead of chickens. The neighborhood I’m in right now doesn’t allow it, though. I can’t wait to get out into the country and get some ducks, too!

  6. Hello! I’m Katelynn, I am 15 years old, and I am trying to convince my mom to let us raise ducks. The only problem is she’s concerned about the noise level… On a scale of 1-10 how loud are ducks and, you’ve probably mentioned it, but what breed of duck do you have? Also, where did you get them?

    1. hi Katelynn, We have had both khaki campbells, and Golden 300s, which are breeds designed to lay eggs, and both of them have been fairly quiet, and despite the hype, we haven’t really found the goldens to be more calm than the khaki campbells which are much easier to find at more local hatcheries.

      Sometimes, they get to quacking in unison, like when they’re excited about being fed in the morning, or something scares them, but even at that, they’re not as loud as chickens.

      We try to get our ducklings as locally as possible, because shipping long distances is really hard on day-old chicks. For us, Ideal Poultry has been a really good source.

      Hope that helps, good luck with your duck adveanture!

    1. They will do either water or land. My understanding is that they prefer water, but ya know… whatever works.

    1. We haven’t had any foxes around, mostly our problems come from possums who occasionally dig under the fence and get in, but that’s only happened a few times.

  7. I’m not sure what part of the country you live in but do ducks lay in the winter or do they take a break like chickens? Thanks!!!

  8. As a child, I used to envy the neighbours who kept one or two ducks each year. (We only had chickens.) How long do they live? I wouldn’t want to eat the birds themselves, just the eggs, so the longer they keep laying, the better.

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