So for me, my story, we started our duck egg business because my girlfriend gave me fifteen ducks as a house warming gift, surprise! That was that. I learned about raising ducks from the day my gifts arrived.
And now here I am, staying up late at night and reading through my hatchery catalogs, new breeds I might want to add, super egg layers that sound interesting, oh and maybe a few Toulouse Geese?
OUR SET UP
HENS / DRAKES – I keep around thirty plus hens and two drakes. Drakes are not necessary for an egg laying set up, but they are Alistair and Mr. Jones, and while they can be kind of rough with our hens for about three months out of the year, they are awesome protectors and our Ladies like them around.
I have Golden 300 hens, and Blue Swedish drakes, that produce Black Swedish offspring with blue/green/purple iridescent feathers.
My Ladies average about 300 eggs per duck per year, and they seem to lay strong until six to seven years of age.
Our younger hens layer smaller eggs, our young adults big eggs, and our older hens bigger eggs.
PASTURED – My ducks have full access to our back pasture, and whatever weather Mother Nature gifts us, and they sleep in our green house at night in their own nesting area called the Quack Shack.
PURPOSE – My ducks are not for meat, they are for bug control and egg laying, and comic pasture relief. I really love having them around.
FOOD – My ducks are fed organic layer pellets, non-gmo, greens when we have things growing, dried grubs and black soldier fly larva, and any other bug in the pasture they want. We provide free choice oyster shells, splash pools around the pasture, and every once in awhile I supplement ACV, DE, and brewers yeast.
EGGS – Duck eggs are about 145-170 calories each. Their health benefits are pretty incredible. CHECK IT OUT And with pasture life, and being loved, throw on that extra energetic goodness!
EGG HANDLING – I became a certified preferred egg seller with our state agriculture Milk & Egg Bureau. I actually learned a lot through this process.
Because I am an extremely small egg producer, and sell what is considered nest run eggs, meaning farm to consumer, I am able to sell farm fresh un-washed eggs.
From egg collection baskets to recycled traditional duck egg cartons, and their own designated refrigerator, we have a micro egg set up that works well.
WASHING vs NOT WASHING – The hens put a bloom or cuticle on the egg when they are laying it. This keeps all air and outside bacteria from getting into the egg itself. Mother Nature is pretty cool this way. If the bloom stays intact a duck egg can stay fresh in the fridge or on the counter for about two months.
Some people sand paper the outside to remove mud and poop and straw, this damages the bloom.
Some people wash eggs in cold water, there is a vacuum effect that pulls the outside bacteria into the egg. Not good.
But if you wash an egg in water that is 90 degrees, that is a bit better, but then you are required to dip the egg in a chemical coating to ‘re-seal’ it. Even if you buy organic eggs at the grocery, they are dipped in chemicals.
So what we always recommend to our clients who receive real farm fresh eggs from us, mud, poop sometimes, and maybe a bit of straw, is your egg is fresh, the bloom is intact, there are no chemicals, and if you would like to wash your eggs in warm water, just do so right before you cook with them. This insures the best quality, the freshest egg, and no added chemicals. And of course use safe handling methods in the kitchen, always.
NOTE – some of our eggs are golden and clean, and some have mud, or poop, or straw on them because ducks don’t use nesting boxes, they lay their eggs wherever they damn well please.
COST – Ducks are expensive. You don’t raise ducks to collect duck eggs to save money on food, quite the contrary. I raise duck eggs for our family, humans and dogs, for an exceptional product, that is super healthy in nutrients and energy, THAT is very important to me.
When we first started our egg business, and all of the set up, and housing, and trying things out, each carton of eggs probably cost us something like $350. No joke.
Because I am picky about their food I pay a premium. Plus their extras including oyster shells.
Our water is from our well, but we pull at least 50 gallons a day for the ducks pools, and cleaning.
Straw and wood chips for their nesting area, triple that in the winter.
And their housing, our greenhouse has had lots of remodels to accommodate them mostly in the winter months.
Ducklings, oh sweet expensive ducklings. If I buy them at two days old from a hatchery they are around $15 each, hens. If I let my girls go broody to raise their own ducklings it takes half of my flock out of egg laying for almost three months, maybe longer.
TIME – Ducks are a time suck. out of all of our animals the ducks take the most time in the morning and evening. Water hauling, cleaning, egg hunts, feeding, keeping safe from predators. You have to like being around ducks a lot, they require lots of care.
BENEFITS – Our gardens have duck poop filled straw that is N-P-K perfect. The ducks keep the bug population in our pasture to almost nothing. We have nutritious food that they make, and eat almost daily.
Ducks rarely have egg binding.
Ducks are hardy, super hardy. Their internal temperature is something like 107f. No heat necessary in the winter. They do need a wind free, straw bedded area of course, but hardy.
They make me happy and I love having them in the pasture with me.
SELLING – I just reached a point where we have lots of extra eggs that we can sell. Do I make a lot of money? No, but I can offset the cost of the duck food, and know that I have a quality product that our farm has produced.