Ducks and geese may not be a particularly unusual sight in the wild, but have you ever thought about keeping them as pets? They can make excellent, if slightly quirky, pets.
Ducks and geese make excellent pets because it is interesting to watch them as they go about their activities and engage with their environment. As well as ducks and geese bringing their character and personalities to your life, females also lay eggs that you can cook with. Goose eggs are around two to three times bigger than chicken eggs and duck eggs are just slightly larger than chicken eggs. Although the reputation of duck eggs was damaged slightly a few years ago because they were linked to an outbreak of salmonella, they are said to be particularly good for baking. The slightly larger size and higher yoke to white ratio are thought to make baked goods richer and more moist compared to when using chicken eggs.
Before you get too keen on the idea, it is important to remember ducks and geese need adequate outside space, shelter and access to enough water to allow them to perform their natural water-related behaviours including preening. Many of the requirements of ducks and geese are similar to each other and to chickens, but there are some differences. Geese need access to more grass as they tend to spend a significant amount more of their time grazing than ducks do.
Unlike older birds, ducklings (young ducks) and goslings (young geese) do not have waterproofing on their feathers. If you acquire ducklings or goslings, then for the first weeks of their life they should be given access to shallow water instead of deep water. Deep enough water should be provided for adult ducks and geese, so they can swim, preen and feed in it. Adequate shelter from wind, rain and heat should also be provided for all ducks and geese.
Ducks and geese eat a variety of foods including algae, berries, grass, insects and small fish. They obtain most of this themselves by foraging in the water and grazing on grassy land. More specifically, ducks tend to feed more from the water and geese from grassy land. Whilst feeding them a small amount of bread shouldn’t harm them, this should not make up a large proportion of their diet as it does not include the nutrients they require.
So if you fancy having pets that produce free eggs, consider keeping ducks or geese. Don’t forget that there are a number of different breeds, so it’s worth doing some research on the breeds that are best suited to your requirements.
Written by Sally White on behalf of Vet Supply Shop.