Although strictly this is not gardening, keeping chickens or ducks is something that a lot of keen gardeners do. It is also popular among those that want to be more self-sustaining as this means you can generate your own supply of eggs and you have a great way to recycle your kitchen scraps. So what do you need to know about keeping chickens or ducks?
Free Range is Not For Everyone
Now, one thing you can say about these winged friends is that they are not very tidy. They will poop wherever they choose and can churn up a well-planted bed in minutes. It is, therefore, popular to create a good size run for your feathered friends.
If you have a more extensive garden, you will not notice damage so much, but urban gardens will undoubtedly play witness to the destruction ducks, in particular, can make.
Create Their Habitat
Ducks need water. With the exception of runner ducks, it is probably advisable to only keep them if you have a pond or lake suitable for them to swim in.
Runner ducks love water but are quite content with a large bowl to splash around in.
Chickens do not need water to play with, so for many people, they are the better option. It is worth checking that there are no restrictions on the property for keeping them, as some places to forbid it in the title deeds.
You will need food and water holders, and somewhere secure to shut them at night. If you opt for a safe run then as long as they have a shelter with lots of straw bedding to provide warmth, and it is protected from water, you will not need to shut them in.
Foxes and cats are chancers when it comes to chicken and ducks, so you want to make sure you have protected them with a fox proof run. Like all animals, they will need regular maintenance in the form of removing old bedding and replacing with fresh and scraping off the worst of the poop. Bark chips can be an excellent base for the run, as you will discover that grass soon becomes a mud patch.
Chickens need grit to process their food but are very useful for clearing your kitchen waste. Veggie peelings, stale bread, and many other treats they probably shouldn’t have ended up in our chicken run, and they are happy, healthy chickens. Layers mash or layers pellets are also a staple diet along with seed. In the winter they love a bowl of warm porridge (made with water).
Some people will tut and frown, but if they regularly lay eggs and cluck around happy and confident, then it seems that diet is just a matter of personal preference. Of course, if you only feed your chickens on an organic food then you can be sure that your eggs are the best quality possible!
Both chickens and ducks can be very tame if handled well from a young age, so do make great pets for children if they learn to manage them correctly.