As much as we’d all like to live on a farm surrounded by animals it isn’t always possible and sometimes you find yourself living in an urban area. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the joys of duck keeping, you just have to think outside the box!
If you’re living in the UK it’s worth checking with your local council to make sure there aren’t any restrictions on the animals you can keep in your garden. This also applies if you’re living in rented accommodation.
If you live in the USA there are many states that don’t allow poultry and other livestock animals to be kept within the city limits so you’ll also need to check with your local authority before purchasing any animals.
Regulations aside, here’s our guide to keeping ducks in an urban area:
Which type of duck is right for you?
Keeping ducks in an urban area requires a little more thought than if you kept ducks on a far, especially when thinking about the amount of noise they make.
If you’ve only got a small garden you might think that a smaller breed, such as the Call duck, might be better for you. However, as their name suggests Call ducks can be rather noisy and your neighbours might not appreciate their constant ducky noises!
Quieter breeds such as the Pekin, Cherry Valley, or Muscovy might be a better option for those of you with close neighbours.
Ducks aren’t fussy creatures when it comes to housing. As long as their house is dry, clean, and protects them from the elements they’re happy.
From a human point of view you want something that is attractive, robust, and practical. The more money you spend the longer the working life of the duck should be.
Cheap houses might look like a bargain but you’ll probably find you need to repair or replace them every year or so.
A note about predator protection: You’ll also need to consider adding extra fortifications to your housing to protect your ducks against urban predators such as foxes, cats, and dogs. Burying wire in a 6ft trench around the house should stop predators digging their way in and make sure the enclosure has a roof to stop danger coming from above.
To free range or not to free range?
The size and style of your garden might mean that you’d rather your ducks didn’t free range. Ducks are excellent foragers and will happily graze on your lawn or in your plant pots/flower beds to supplement their diet.
If you’d rather protect your garden from hungry ducks it’s worth investing in a large duck run or enclosure so they still have room to carry out their natural behaviours without trashing your outdoor space.
If you live in an urban area it’s unlikely that you’re going to have a pond in your back garden. Luckily this doesn’t matter as ducks don’t really need a huge amount of water to be happy. In fact, Indian Runner ducks are happy just to have a bucket to dunk their heads in!
As long as ducks have access to water that is deep enough to submerge their entire head in then they’ll stay healthy. Ducks need to do this to clean their eyes (as they don’t have tear ducts) and help them wash their food down.
Of course, the more water you can give them the better, but many people choose to use a child’s hard plastic paddling pool or other large plastic container. Be sure to provide small steps or a low ramp to help them in and out of the pool.
A note about water: it’s worth providing other water sources around your garden/the enclosure that aren’t big enough for the ducks to get in. This should stop the water getting too dirty and give them something else to drink from throughout the day.
Remember, drinking water should be changed daily and their pond every other day depending on how quickly it becomes dirty.
Next week we’ll be looking at how to make a duck friendly garden. Keep an eye out for our duck posts which will be moving to Wednesdays!