Our 4 Magpie ducks are thriving in the pond. They are not laying yet, and my plan is actually to cull these birds in favor of another breed. The pond seems like a great place for the ducks, but it’s not a sustainable situation. I just ordered 20 Kaki Campbells from a hatchery in Oregon. These runner ducks will be pastured, not in the pond. It’s a big shift in planning ducks on Leafhopper Farm.
Why not the pond? It’s too much impact on the space. Already, with just 4 ducks full time, the pond is looking stressed, especially around the edges where the birds choose to hang out. In the picture above, look to the left side of the photo. That bare spot with a lot of feathers is the ducks’ favorite place to rest. It’s impacting the ground and not in a good way. The mud and much caused by this small flock, would be utterly destructive to the pond with “production” numbers.
Why not Magpies? These ducks are high stress, meaning they overreact to seemingly normal actions. If anyone moves too quickly, the ducks panic. If I come down to feed in a poncho, the ducks flee. They will not be handled, or allow you to get close. I hand raised these guys, and now they act like I’m going to eat them. (Well, I am) But my calm nature does nothing to reassure the ducks.
Kaki Campbells are runner ducks, prolific layers, and I could find a breeder in a neighboring state with fair pricing. It’s not an ideal way to put together a flock, and certainly not the most holistic. But there are not a lot of duck breeders locally who can sell bulk numbers of the breed. Maybe a niche industry? I’m definitely ready to expand production.
The hens are ramping up with the return of the light! There are more wonderful colors appearing as the genetics of the ladies mix with Ayam Cemani roosters. You can also spot a few chocolates, courtesy of the Marans, who just began laying. By late Spring, all 40 hens will be producing, and that’s the most eggs ever produced at Leafhopper Farm. Yay chickens!
Incubation of a fresh round of chicks will start by the end of the month (Funerary), and I’m excited to see what kind of birds hatch out this year, especially with the Marans in the mix. For the ducks, it’s a straight run flock I’ll be receiving in April, meaning the birds aren’t sexed. We’ll be able to breed more ducks in future. The journey in developing these flock has been wonderful, and there’s a lot more to come!