It has been an interesting start to our farm. We never imagined the amount of work it would take to get things off the ground and start producing duck eggs, nor how long it would take. We now understand that farming is an ever-growing “To-Do List”!
How we discovered duck eggs
We had heard about the superior taste and nutrition of duck eggs for the first time in the fall of last year and tried to find somewhere to buy them. We searched our local grocery stores and small markets and could not find any. It wasn’t until we visited our nearest farmer’s market in Langley that we finally found someone who could sell us duck eggs. They weren’t even very well advertised. The lady we ended up purchasing from was actually selling cheeses and duck eggs were very subtly announced in the very bottom corner of her product list.
When we tried these eggs, we were instantly sold. My wife, Trisha, makes pancakes for breakfast quite often and never had we enjoyed them so much as when she used duck eggs. They improved the flavor and texture, turning humdrum flour discs into rich and fluffy pancake miracles! (OK, I may be exaggerating a little…). All of the scrambled eggs we made were gobbled up by the kids with enthusiasm. Duck eggs had hit a home run in our house. We needed to start producing some of our own!
Our Duck adventure begins
We were so excited this spring when we brought home our first adult ducks to our home in Surrey. We had never raised livestock before. My grandparents on both sides were engaged in raising animals and I loved to visit them, but farming was never something I could do where I lived. Trisha, on the other hand, had never desired to be involved in any level of farming. She thought I was nuts!
She’s fond of telling people that “Rick wanted to get a duck and I did not. So we compromised and got 70!”
Our first 8 ducks were Swedish ducks, an easy breed to start out with. We kept the 6 hens and 2 drakes in an enclosed area which had previously been used as a garden. We wanted to try a small number of ducks to see if we could handle them and if we even liked ducks. Our kids instantly fell in love. Our son, who is not willing to share his thoughts or feelings often, declared in a rather subdued manner “This is the happiest day of my life”. The behavior of these ducks,which was engrossing and sometimes comical, brought happiness to our household that we didn’t know was missing. Our first eggs came about 1 week after they arrived and they were delicious! Trisha was sold and gave me the go-ahead to get more.
It wasn’t long after that we brought home 6 more nearly mature ducks, all female White Layers. After that, we purchased 6 Welsh Harlequin ducklings. Then we hatched out 10 Swedish ducklings and we purchased 40 White Layer ducklings. Trisha started pumping the brakes. “Where are we going to put all of these ducklings when they grow?!”
Up to this point we were keeping our adult ducks in a small coop, which was filled to capacity with 14 ducks. We had 3 groups of ducklings at various stages of development that had different feed and heat requirements and needed to be housed separately to prevent older, larger ducklings from bullying the younger. I had built 2 small houses, little larger than a doghouse to house the first groups of ducklings and we kept the 40 White Layer ducklings in a chicken tractor that my parents had built the year previous. We had ducks up to our eyeballs!
We needed to build a larger, permanent coop, and fast! So we got to work.
We spent a great deal of time (and money) building our duck mansion. Yes, it was overbuilt for the purpose of raising ducks, but we wanted to have the flexibility to use the building for another purpose down the road. We also wanted to prove to ourselves that we could build a solid structure that would last. Mission Accomplished.
We’re now in fall. Days are getting shorter. The nights are getting colder. This is the time of year where our ducks should be dropping their production of eggs down to zero. We were fully prepared to not see any eggs from our young ducks until next spring, but they apparently want to prove themselves to us. The number of eggs we find every day is climbing ever higher as our youngest ducks enter into adulthood. They may not lay for much longer as winter is coming. But so is Spring and they will be ready.