Skip to main content

Getting Started with Ducks - Kim from Oasis Biodynamic Farm

The last few weeks I've been asking bloggers to tell me more about their ducks.  Kim from Oasis Biodynamic Farm volunteered and I'm please to share her story with you today.

Kim: “The Oasis” is our 20 acre lifestyle property near Inverell in northern NSW. Since moving here in 2005 we have set about rehabilitating our land, which was once sluiced for tin and in a very degraded condition. We employ permaculture principles and use biodynamic agricultural practices. We rotationally graze Dorper sheep and Highland cattle to maintain and improve ground cover and build soil organic matter which in combination with the above is healing the land on which we live. We believe that a healthy soil leads to healthy food and ultimately to healthier people. In addition to the sheep and cattle we keep chickens for eggs, ducks, and grow as much of our own fruit and vegetables as possible. We have been growing a small crop of garlic for the past three years, but this year drought conditions led to us growing only enough garlic for our own needs. (See the website for Oasis Biodynamic Farm here).




Farmer Liz: Tell me about your ducks, how many do you keep and what breeds? What do you keep them for? (meat, eggs, other?)

K: We currently have five khaki Campbell x welsh harlequin ducks and one Indian runner duck. These are our core flock which expands to over 20 in breeding season. We originally got into ducks for snail control around eight years ago and knew very little about keeping them. The book For the Love of Ducks by Nyiri Murtagh was a great help, highly recommended if you want to learn more about keeping ducks. We don't butcher our ducks and usually have no problem finding homes for progeny as they are beautiful. We do enjoy a good supply of duck eggs in spring and summer.

Kim's duck pen
 

FL: What sort of housing do you provide for your ducks? Do they free-range? Do you have to lock them up at night?

K: Our ducks free range through the gardens in the day and are fed at night in their pen and locked up for the night.

FL: What sort of water do you provide for your ducks?

K: Ducks must have water available at all times. We have a small water container in their pen which is emptied and refilled every day with clean water. We leave water bowls under taps around the garden for them and also have a small pond in the garden which we periodically pump out onto pastures and the garden for fertiliser.

one of the water bowls we leave in the garden to encourage them to forage for
snails and spread their manure around. These are emptied and refilled regularly

FL: What’s the best thing about keeping ducks?

K: Their beautiful energy as they wander through our gardens, watching them preening and pottering around. And the added bonus of snail control.

FL: What do you wish you knew about ducks before you got them?

K: They love to eat strawberries and some veges, we put small duck proof fences around vege gardens we don't want them foraging in. They will also try to break into our decorative water garden ponds which we have needed to put barriers around to stop duck invasions.

FL: Any last advice to someone wanting to get started with ducks?

K: Established routines make things much easier. We always feed our ducks in their pen late afternoon so they are trained to come in for feed and be locked up overnight. We don't leave food out ad lib or the ducks won't come in at night and will be susceptible to predators.

Many people think ducks are messy but we don’t find mess a problem. They have a large area to free range around and the manure is good fertiliser for our soil. We make sure there is no feed or water source around areas where we don’t want them making a mess like the house and have no issues.

FL: Thanks Kim!  It was great to get your perspective on ducks.  And good to know that we may have to keep them out of gardens and non-duck ponds.  If you want to comment on this post, please head over to Kim's blog to leave a message.



Getting started with ducks


Getting started with homestead dairy







Getting started with chickens







Getting started with growing vegetables





Popular posts from this blog

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Growing and eating chokos (chayotes)

Cooking chokos (not be confused with another post about cooking chooks) has been the subject of a few questions on my blog lately, so here's some more information for you.
Chokos - also known as Chayote, christophene or christophine, cho-cho, mirliton or merleton, chuchu, Cidra, Guatila, Centinarja, Pipinola, pear squash, vegetable pear, chouchoute, güisquil, Labu Siam, Ishkus or Chowchow, Pataste, Tayota, Sayote - is a vine belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with pumpkins, squash and melons, with the botanical name Sechium edule.


The choko contains a large seed, like a mango, but if you pick them small enough it is soft enough to eat.  If you leave the choko for long enough it will sprout from one end and start to grow a vine.  To grow the choko, just plant the sprouted choko and give the vine a structure to climb over.  In summer, the vine will produce tiny flowers that will eventually swell into choko fruit.  The vine doesn't like hot dry weather.  And it doesn&#…

Native bee hotel

Like I wrote back here, native pollinators are as important (if not more important) than honey bees for pollinating crops and native plants.  There are a few things you can do to attract native pollinators to your garden:

Grow flowers and let your veges flower to feed the pollinators all yearHave a source of insect-friendly water in the garden (shallow dishes are best)Provide somewhere for them to live/nest/lay eggs - a bee hotel! In Australia, our native pollinators consist of both stingless native bees, which live in a colony like honey bees, and lots of solitary bees and wasps.  These solitary insects are just looking for a suitable hole to lay their eggs.  You may be familiar with these in sub-tropical and tropical areas, in summer you will find any and all holes, pipes and tubes around the house plugged with mud by what we call "mud daubers".  These area a real nuisance, so I'd rather provide some custom holes near the garden where they can live instead, so I don'…