Keeping ducks in the garden helps with controlling slugs and snails and you get tasty eggs of course!
If you live in a damp climate like we do here in Ireland you will have a big problem with slugs and snails eating all your precious veggies, flowers, and delicate perennials.
For me, this was the number one reason for getting my first 3 ducks! We now have about 10 ducks of mixed breeds on slug patrol in the garden. Of course, they supply us with plenty of delicious and very nutritious eggs as well!
Our garden was infested with millions of slugs and snails eating everything we planted overnight! Slug pellets weren't the answer to a slug population of this magnitude! We had far too many slugs and I don't use non-organic products in the garden anyway.
Keeping ducks in the garden solved the slug problem over time. It is not a quick fix solution, though. It took nearly 2 years to get the slug population down to a level where we could grow vegetables outdoors without too much damage.
There are a few things ducks can't do without. The number one thing is water!
They are water birds and it is their element. Ducks need
something to muddle around, get their feathers wet and clean their beaks
There is no need for a huge pond though if you want to keep just a few ducks in the garden. We use inexpensive kiddies pools. They can be easily cleaned and moved around as needed. If they are left for too long in the same place the ducks turn the place into a big mess!
Ducks also need a coop to keep them safe overnight from predators like
foxes, minks or stray dogs. The coop should be easy to clean because
ducks are very messy! We use straw as bedding. The dirty bedding is
great for the compost heap!
A duck pen is handy if you are not around all day to keep an eye on them. Stray dogs can kill the ducks within minutes! They need a water source of course in the pen area!
You have to provide some additional food for your ducks. They will forage for slugs, worms, and greens in the garden. You can use organic layer pellets for laying ducks or a grain mixture. We feed ours in the evening when they go into their coop. That makes locking them up much easier. Don't forget to give them a bucket of water with their feed!
Ducks do less damage in the garden then chickens because they don't scratch. Nonetheless, you don't want them walking over newly emerging seedlings with their big feet!
We keep them out of vegetable beds with low plastic mesh fences. Domestic ducks don't fly so it is easy to keep them out with just a low fence.
If you get new ducks you might have to 'train' them in the beginning. Ours didn't know where to go and sat outside their pen all day! We had to push them towards the vegetable garden to do their job! The easiest way to attract them to areas you want to have cleaned of slugs is to put their water source there. This is easy to do with the kiddies pool.
Garden Cress indoors is one of the simplest things to grow. Grow cress on your window sill during the winter and boost your immune system with lots of Vitamin C from this easy to grow culinary herb!
Check out the November 2017 issue of the 'Homestead Gardener' Digital Magazine for organic gardening tips, permaculture and self-sufficiency.
Are organic pesticides truly harmless for your garden ecosystem? When should you use organic pest sprays to avoid killing pollinators and beneficial insects.