Ducks are becoming more and more popular, both as pets and for their egg laying ability. A good utility duck will if looked after correctly out lay most chickens. They also have the added advantage that they make very little noise added so don't upset the neighbours (well not all neighbours).
MALE OR FEMALE
If your keeping ducks just as pets then it makes very little difference if you have a male (drake) or a female (duck). A number of drakes can be kept together without any problems, as unlike chickens they don't fight. A big advantage with the males is that they have a very soft quack so will no upset the neighbours. If you want eggs you will of course need a duck. Again a number of these can be kept together without any problems. One thing to try to avoid however is having to many drakes to ducks as in the breeding season the females will be constantly mated. If possible try to keep 1 drake to 3-4 ducks.
unless you have a breed of duck that is sexed linked, by that I mean drakes are one colour and ducks another then it can be hard to tell what's what especially at a young age. Once ducks start to reach maturity then the males develop a curled up feather on their tail, however this curl is not always present especially in the moult.
The other way to tell is to pick the bird up as a general rule a duck will begin to quack quite loud where as a male will have a very week almost hissing quack. But again this is not fool proof. Ducklings can be even more difficult to sex, and can only really be done by what's called vent sexing. this involves bring their internal organs out from inside their vent. This can damage the bird if not done correctly so is best not attempted unless you have been shown what to do.
Ducks are very easy to house and have very few requirements. During the day they will need a run of some sort the bigger the better They will enjoy a grassed run however this is not always possible in a small area as they will soon eat and destroy all the grass. Slabs or concrete are easy to clean but if kept on these will need a covering of straw in the winter as they become very cold and can cause damage to their feet.
All my ducks are kept on soil although the ducks tend to become very dirty and need their water changing regular they love it as they can dabble around collecting worms as they go. Regardless as to how you decide to keep you ducks they will need water in some form, again the bigger the better. I find that children's plastic paddling pools are ideal as they are easy to empty and can be scrubbed from time to time.
Of a night your ducks will need some were that is secure as they will soon fall pray to the local fox. A simple wooden box is fine as long as it has a secure lid and door. It should be at least 3'x3'x2'. This will house up to 3 large ducks, it is important that some vent holes are added as it can become very warm in the summer months. The bottom of the house should have a layer of straw or sawdust placed over it and should be changed regularly.
If your ducks are laying ducks then they should be fed a staple diet of layers pellets these are specially formulated to provide all the vitamins and minerals that are require to produce eggs. In addition to this mixed poultry corn can also be given. This is important in the winter as it will provide the ducks with extra body warmth. vegetables are also relished these should be boiled to soften them. If you keep White Campbells then leafy greens such as grass, cabbage and dandeilion are very important as these contain high amounts of lutin which helps maintain the orange bill. With out it the bill will turn to a pink colour.
If they are allowed to roam the garden they will get rid of all those little slugs, snails ect. I always alow my ducks on the main garden in the spring as it helps with pest control. Fresh drinking water should always be available. Grit in the form of poultry grit is also important as it will aid digestion.
If you have any questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be glad to help.