Following organic practices as we dedicate ourselves to regenerative agriculture
Healthy Duck Flocks
Why we love ducks
I’ll be honest. I love my ducks. I’ll also be honest and tell you that ducks are a hot mess. Unlike the chickens, who were “love at first site,” ducks took some time to win me over. I started with a baker’s dozen Welsh Harlequins the year after moving to the homestead in Los Gatos. I enjoyed the chickens and their eggs, but I was starting to think about being more food independent.
As someone who chooses to eat meat, but living on a space that wouldn’t allow for larger animal options, I went small. I wondered about ducks. I did some research about breeds and breed types, and I was attracted to their dual purpose of egg production and meat. In fact, it didn’t take me long to realize that my little handful of ducks often outlayed my chickens. I’ve even had days when a duck has given me two eggs, one in the morning and again at night.
It wasn’t until moving from the homestead in Los Gatos to a larger farm in Corralitos that the ducks really won me over. Before that move, a text message to my son autocorrected the word “ducks” to “sucks,” and it’s what we’d been calling them up to that point.
They were loud, and had to “talk” about everything. If they walked anywhere, they quacked. If they stopped walking, they quacked. Lay an egg? Quack. Go to sleep? Quack. You get the idea. It sounds cute until you’re exhausted and the ducks are just outside the window incessantly letting you know they’ve got something terribly important to make noise over.
Lots to talk about
Ducks & Chickens
Between the males of my flock being dinner, and coyotes and bobcats predating others, the flock of Welsh Harlequins had dwindled to just three hens when I moved to Corralitos. There, Donna, Daphne, and Delilah had the run of the place. They loved to wander the little guava and lemon orchards there. And with them farther away from my living quarters, I started realizing how truly marvelous these birds are when they aren’t quacking up a storm under my bedroom window. Sadly, Donna had a wandering eye and managed to escape her enclosure. I assume it was a coyote that took her, and Daphne and Delilah were constantly calling for their friend.
By the time 2020 rolled around and the move was confirmed to the large farm, I was sold on ducks as an integral part of any egg ranching endeavors. Many farms have chicken eggs. But very few offer both chicken and duck. So I took a leap of faith and brought in 150 ducklings from Metzer Farms in Gonzalez. Daphne and Delilah had their flock. And while they were originally aloof to the babies, they eventually came around to be something like matriarchs. They’re still standoffish and always together, but they’ve integrated well and are quite happy now. The majority of the birds are “Golden 300 Hybrids,” which are here for one purpose only: laying a solid 300 eggs a year. I also brought in a first flock of 35 Duclair ducklings, which are a breed more suited to meat production. The COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on a lot of the meat operations, so the Duclair just ended up staying as part of the flock. They’re now too old for a dinner table, so they’re on the retirement program, and I’m not complaining. As the farm continues to expand, the Duclair eggs will be available for purchase specifically to hatch your own.
In 2021, more Golden 300 Hybrids will join the already sizable flock. And, because I’m nostalgic and want others to enjoy ducks in their backyards, on their homesteads, or as part of their farms, I’ll be bringing in a good number of Welsh Harlequins specifically for hatching eggs and hatchlings. Stay tuned for much more as the farm continues expanding.