I have to admit, the ducks have grown on me. So much so that now I feel compelled to write about the superiority of ducks over other barnyard fowl. I suppose most of it has to do with the fact that we now have Silver Appleyards rather than Cayugas. Silver Appleyards lay more, and they’re far quieter than the Cayugas were. They’re just as messy, but that’s forgivable considering the number of eggs they supply us with and that they’re otherwise quiet and unassuming. Plus I do like the fact that they are a rare breed kept alive only by small farms like ours. Really, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be more prevalent – they lay a ton, they’re quiet, they forage well and they don’t eat much. They’re keepers.
Of course, there’s every likelihood that I’ve grown to like them more now that we actually have other forms of barnyard fowl to compare them to. The turkeys I will be glad to see gone come Thanksgiving. Yeah, they have that Ugly Duckling cute look (can a turkey look like a duckling?), but they’re always picking on each other. Granted, so do goats, but that’s more out of sibling rivalry than the desire to eat one another’s feathers. Plus they are still residing in my bathroom, and I don’t share the master bathroom well.
As for the hens – these blasted birds can FLY. Our barn has a garage door, and the hens like to roost on top of it when it’s open. This makes it difficult when trying to close it up for the evening. I’d hate to pinch off a toe in the springs from the door. This means that unlike ducks, they can leave behind droppings on a greater variety of surfaces beyond just the ground. The garage door, the top of the hay feeder, and the window sill are all fair game.
So, if you or someone you know are looking for a way to get home-raised eggs or poultry, consider ducks. Specifically, look into the Silver Appleyard breed. By raising them you will help preserve genetic diversity of livestock while still enjoying the benefits of high egg production. They don’t pick on each other, they require virtually nothing for shelter (indeed, they actually prefer it when there’s freezing rain), and they’re generally calm and well collected. They herd easily and go where I want them to when it’s time to lock them up at night, and it’s fun to watch them play in the water. There’s no reason not to choose them over chickens.
Meanwhile, I’m wondering if I can convince my wife that ham would taste just as good on Thanksgiving…