A Foul Faceoff-Chickens or Ducks? Which is better on a small homestead?

Our whole farming enterprise all began with bringing home 8 chicks. Chickens that is. We brooded them in the garage and built them a coop and kept 6 hens on our 1/8 of an acre. A small flock was perfect for what we had back then.

A few years later, we moved out onto our current property (1 acre) and in doing so inherited 6 more chickens and 6 ducks. Since then we have maintained between 4 and 8 ducks and our chicken flock has surged to over 50 hens.

But which one is better. By the looks of things you could assume that we are pro chicken. And although we are pro-chicken, we are not anti -duck.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the pros and cons of keeping each.

Everyone is comfortable eating chicken eggs. We let our kids sell the extra eggs to family, friends and around the neighborhood. We have only found one customer who is interested in duck eggs, because he grew up eating them.

Duck, chicken and bantam chicken eggs

Which one lays more eggs per year? Well that’s debatable. Different breeds of chickens lay different numbers of eggs per year. Brown Sexlink are known to lay up around 320 eggs per year, and our most prevelent layers have been the white leghorn. They give about 310 large white eggs per year.

What do you feed them? We let our poultry forage in the pastures, but come winter there is little to forage. And with so many birds on little acreage, the foraging is only a part of their diet. We feed a mix of scratch grains, black oil sunflower seed, and a layer ration. We feed the chickens and ducks all together and they all eat the same food. But boy can ducks be glutenous! The ducks eat so much food! Definitely more than the chickens!

Housing… For our chickens we have a well ventilated coop with multiple roosts, nesting boxes and fresh pine shaving bedding that needs to be changed every few weeks to keep it fresh and clean in the coop. This also helps keep the chickens from having respiratory problems. As for the ducks… well they sleep in the chicken run that the coop opens into, but only to keep them safe from other critters at night. Even on the coldest of nights our ducks have not required any housing.

Raising chickens in the chicken tractor until they were old enough to integrate into the rest of the flock.

Chickens can be very destructive with all of their scratching. Ducks however are incredibly messy! Brooding ducks was an experience for sure! I don’t know how 4 ducklings can go through more food and make 10 times the mess and stick that 25 baby chickens can. As they grow up they continue to be messy. Any wet spot in the yard becomes a muddy hole with ducks. Their poop is messier and bigger than chicken poop too!

But ducks are so cute! They waddle, they quack, and they can be very friendly too. Ducks are definitely smarter than chickens. When putting all the birds to bed, the duck are easily herded into the coop. Chickens not so much.

So which is the superior poultry? Honestly, I can’t pick a winner. Ducks have my heart, but chickens are more practical on our small acreage. We keep the few ducks that we have, but the chickens give us eggs that easily sell, don’t make such messes, and are more cost effective to feed. If there was more room for them to forage on our small farm, maybe ducks would be a better fit. But for now its chickens.

What do you prefer? Quacks or Clucks? We love to hear from our readers! Leave a comment and let us know!

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