Raising Ducks as Pets

raising ducks country parent


It all started a few years ago when my son decided to take on a waterfowl project for 4-H. We were familiar with raising chickens, but we didn’t have any experience with raising ducks.

So in this post I’m sharing what I’ve learned over the years in case you ever interested in raising ducks of your own, whether it’s for 4-H purposes or simply to have as pets.


The best beginner ducks

In my experience, Pekin ducks and Khaki Campbell ducks are the best beginner ducks. 
Pekin ducks are beautiful large ducks,  avid eaters, and quite the entertainers. They are homebodies, they like staying near the house, feeding all day and love taking naps.

duck pekin 2

The male often spends hours socializing with the ‘other’ duck during mating season.

duck pekin 4


Khaki Campbells are another suitable breed for beginners. Unlike the Pekins, they are more adventurous and might wonder around your property, especially during mating season. However, they do come back when called, if trained earlier on as ducklings. They are also easy to handle and make wonderful show ducks for 4-H.

ducks free range


Suitable housing

If you decide to start off with hatchlings in late spring, then you can keep the little ones inside the house for the first couple of week, in a large container lined with wood shavings. Provide them with heat by attaching a red lamp about 20″ above the base and include a small waterer and a feeder containing starter feed. The starter feed contains more nutrients then the regular pellet feed, which they will be consuming a few weeks later. Be sure to keep their container clean and give them fresh water daily.

The ducklings will eventually need to be housed in a larger space. A small shed (or duck coop) with a fenced-in enclosure works best. Be sure to add a fence above the enclosure and preferably under as well, to prevent predators from climbing in, or from digging their way in from underneath. Place wood shavings or hay at the bottom of the shed for added warmth and comfort.
Ducks love water, so if they do not have access to a pond or creek, include a water source in their fenced area, such as a small baby pool (or large shallow container). Keep in mind, that ducks are very messy! So change their water daily in order to keep it clean. Also, as ducklings, they won’t be able to climb in and out of the pool with ease. Adding a wooden ramp and a few rocks inside the pool provides them easy access in and out of the water.

duck pool 1

ducklings 2

ducklings 1


Get to know your ducks

Ducks are very entertaining and just like any other pet they each have their own personality. So get know them by interacting with them and handling them often. One way to do this is to hand feed them daily, which is the perfect way to develop a trusting relationship.
Side note: avoid leaving food in coop or in the enclosure as this will surely attract rodents and predators.
Our ducks are free range, they forage most of the day in the back yard. However, we do feed them every morning and give them treats whenever possible.

ducklings watermelon 1


Practice your duck call

Yes, it sounds silly, but it works (especially if they like to wonder around). To train them, simply quack whenever they are at a distance and have some food on hand to give them when they come back. That way they know that whenever they are called and come back to the house, they will be greeted with some food or treats.

Springtime and mating

If you have ducks and drakes, then chances are they will mate in the springtime. In my experience, Khaki Campbells are great settlers and are very caring towards their young.
Meet ‘Pow’ (yup, the kids named her) our resilient Khaki Campbell! She raised her sibling’s 4 ducklings following an unfortunate racoon attack, then later she had 12 ducklings of her own!

ducklings 4

ducks free range 6

duck pile 3 copy


What happens in the wintertime?

Winter, cold weather, no problem. Ducks are winter hardy and can tolerate being inside or outside even in cold weather. You can use a red heat lamp inside the coop at nighttime if the temperature drops to -15 degrees, or insulate the coop for additional heat retention during harsh winter days.

duck winter 1

duck winter 6

ducks winter 2

duck winter tracks


Will they fly away?

We never had any of our ducks fly away. They are capable of flying and could fly over a fence of 4 feet or so for example, but they do not fly long distances. Other types of ducks like the smaller call ducks could however fly away, in which case you could keep them in a fenced-in yard or you could clip their wings. However, make sure you have this done by a an experienced duck farmer, do not attempt to do this yourself!
Side note: If you will be using your ducks in 4-H competitions, best to find out what your club’s rules are regarding wing clipping and 4-H Day waterfowl presentations.

duck winter 4


Fun for the whole family

We definitely have enjoyed having ducks in our back yard for the last few years. They do make wonderful and very entertaining pets.
So, if you are thinking of getting ducks as pets, then I hope this post encourages you to take the leap.


                duck pekin 1   

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4-H is Back!

By Jennifer Van Den Heuvel and Regina Cozzi


My HEAD to clearer thinking,
My HEART to greater loyalty,
My HANDS to larger service,
My HEALTH to better living,
For my club, my community, and my country.


These are the core values of 4-H and what the four Hs represent.


What is 4-H?

4-H is a non-profit youth organization. It exists in over 80 countries, and has over 25,000 members Canada wide1.


How does it work?

Although 4-H is governed nationally by 4-H Canada, each province contains and supports multiple clubs. 4-H clubs are divided by region throughout the counties (e.g. West-River club, Heatherton club, St-Andrews club, Landing club, Goshen club, etc.). Each 4-H club organizes meetings and activities for their members, and has volunteer leaders for various projects.

The number of projects has flourished over the years. What originally started with agricultural competitions in the early 1900s1, has now evolved into an array of projects2. Here are a just a few:

projects-1If a club does not offer a project your child is interested in, then arrangements can be made to join the project meetings of another club that offers the project of interest.

Younger children (ages 7 & 8) known as Cloverbuds, can also become 4-H members. This non-competitive group can still take on a project, or simply join the Exploring 4-H program, which encourages them to explore more than one interest, yet allows them to complete 3-4 smaller projects within their capabilities (e.g. crafts, cake decorating, photography & woodworking)


Time commitment?

Usually, each club holds a General meeting once a month. Later in the season, each project leader holds sessions with the members to complete certain projects. For example, in Woodworking, members can meet once a week to work on their projects from December to April. In waterfowl, weekly meetings only start once the ducklings are hatched, and take place from May to August. In general, project work occurs over a six-month period.

In March, each club holds a Club Rally Day. Members, including Cloverbuds, can either give a short speech or do a demonstration on a topic of their choice (they can talk about their pet, an experience, demonstrate a recipe, DIY project, etc.). Selected club members move on to the Regional Rally (in April), and then to the Provincial 4-H weekend competitions a month later.

Judging Day takes place in May. During this event, members become judges! They compare and evaluate four items (or animals) within their project category and rate them. For example, ‘Foods’ members might have to compare four cakes, rank them based on their appearance (and taste!), and give reasons to support their decision.

This is a great opportunity for members to develop their reasoning skills and be able to effectively communicate their reasons for making a given choice. This exercise also gives them a perspective on the standards and quality expected for their own projects.

Achievement Day.  Once all projects are completed, they are evaluated, by the 4-H local staff members, based on their quality (this is also based by age and years of experience in the project). All members need to participate in this event in order take part in the local Exhibition or 4-H Day, at the end of summer.

Run-offs. This is a county level competition, where one junior and one senior member, for each project, is chosen by the project leader to represent their club. Subsequently, run-off winners can compete at the provincial show.

Exhibition Day! (also known as 4-H Day). At the end of August-early September, 4-H members can take part in the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition, ENSE. This is when members finally get to showcase their project work or show their animals (livestock showmanship), and get ranked against other members of their club and county.

4h-collageSome of the projects displayed in the ENSE.
The 2016 4-H theme was: “Let’s be Green in 2016!”


Winning members move on to the 4-H Provincial Show. Provincial competitions usually take place at the end of September. This is quite an event!


Antigonish County project display (NS Provincial Exhibition, Truro)


What are the benefits of 4-H?

The 4-H motto is:

Besides acquiring skills in a specific project, 4-H members develop numerous life skills, such as:

  • Public speaking skills
  • Judging skills
  • Communication skills
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Leadership skills (which could count towards High School Personal Development credits)

Last, but not least, 4-H offers many opportunities for scholarships, awards, mentorship from project leaders, leadership development conferences (e.g. StFX 4-H Society), national trips and exchange trips!

Group activities
4-H members take part in many fun group activities too. Each club organizes get-togethers like BBQs, entertainment, recreational activities (bowling, swimming, Christmas Bake-off, etc.), team competitions (4-H woodsmen, tug of war) and let’s not forget the famous Camp Rankin, a week-long summer camp based in Cape Breton. Loads of fun and a great way to develop lasting friendships.

Community service
4-H clubs actively contribute to their community. Whether it’s a community clean-up, ticket sales for charity, or caroling at Christmas time at the hospital, 4-H members learn at a young age the importance of helping others and how they can make a difference in their community.


How can my child join 4-H?

November is 4-H month! Registration is open. The deadline is Dec. 1st.
If you would like to register your child in 4-H, contact your regional Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, NSDA office, to find your nearest club. If you reside in the Antigonish or Guysborough County, click on the 4-H promotional brochure and visit the Antigonish County 4-H Council Facebook page for updates. For additional information visit 4-H Nova Scotia.

Testimonials from 4-H members

We asked 4-H members to complete this sentence: “I love 4-H because…”

Here is what they had to say:

“I’m always learning new things and having fun!”-Olivia

“I get to try new things, meet new people and go to new places.”-Nora

“my brother was in it.”-Cameryn

“I can be with my friends and make things.”-Brennan

“they always welcome me and I get to try new things.”-Marley

you learn how to do all kinds of cool things.”-Percy

it is lots of fun and way to stay busy.”-David

I love animals and because it’s a really good program.”-Sydney

of the life-long friends I have made and skills I have learned.”-Danya (parent and previous 4-H member)

of all the different things I can do.”-Mallory

I get to meet new people and get to hang out around the farm and cows.“-Mark

there are so many opportunities to become an active member and get involved in your community. 4-H allows you and challenges you to be a critical thinker and always learn, develop and better yourself on so many platforms.”-Iain

“you get to learn new skills.”-Ava

“I get to do new things that I can’t do at other places.”-Tony

“it is fun.”-Jacob

“you get to go outside.”-Ben

“I get to do a lot of different things that I like.”-Gabriel

“you learn lots of new stuff throughout the year.”-Baileigh

“I like showing calves.”-Ryan

“it is a really nice program and I love animals.”-Cassidy

“I like the variety of projects 4-H has to offer.”-Leah

“it encourages me to try and do new things.”-Casey

“it’s a great way to make you feel a part of a community.”-Emily

“they accept me for who I am. They help me accomplish things faster and they are always kind and cheerful. They challenge me to do my best.”-Maddison

“I love going to camp Rankin.”-Jaelynn

“it broadens my job options for the future.”-Angus

“it encourages learning and self development.”-Elliot

“they have free food and it’s a great experience.”-Hayden

“I get to go to camp Rankin every year and it’s always the highlight of my summer.”-Shannyn

“The projects are a lot of fun and the trips are great.”-Alex


Exhibition Day projects 2017

4H West River4H St Joseph

4H St Andrews

4H Landing

4H Heatherton

4H Havre Boucher

Hope you join us!


Thank you to Sheri Lambourne and Dawn Barrington-Hodgson for helping with this post.

1 http://novascotia4h.ca/
2 http://www.novascotia.ca/agri/programs-and-services/educational-resources/4h/


You might also like:

4H Day!

Annual 4-H Christmas Cookie Bake


Win ENSE 2017 Passes

ENSE 2017


The Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition, ENSE, will take place August 30 to September 3, 2017.

Numerous exciting events are scheduled for this year’s Fall fair, including 4-H Day, competitions, carnival activities, special features and much more.



I am thrilled to announce that the ENSE organization has generously donated TWO Weekly Passes to the Exhibition grounds to the Country Parent blog followers.

So don’t miss this opportunity, ENTER THE DRAW* to WIN!


1. LIKE the Country Parent Facebook page: click HERE

2. LIKE & SHARE the ‘Giveaway post’ on Facebook

3. COMMENT on the Country Parent Facebook post about the ENSE event you are most looking forward to seeing this year. For the complete schedule of events and programming visit ense.ca

For 3 additional entries, to increase your chances for winning you can:

1. FOLLOW @countryparent on Instagram
2. FOLLOW @countryparent on Twitter
3. SIGN UP with Country Parent for your weekly blog post (see ‘Sign up’ in the
Side menu panel or bottom of the Home page)

TWO random winners will be drawn on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 5:00pm EST.

The lucky winners will be announced on the Country Parent Facebook page and contacted by email, with 24 hours to respond.

*This Giveaway is open to residents of Canada only, age 18+.




Want to learn more about 4-H Day? Check out this post:

4-H is Back!

4H Day!

by John David
I was hired by Atlantic Lottery to take some commercial photography at the Antigonish Agricultural Exhibition.  Atlantic Lottery is a sponsor of this and many other events throughout the Atlantic region.  I elected to capture my images on Wednesday because of the diversity of interesting events taking place.  As it turns out, a lot of the events taking place on Wednesday were youth oriented.  From 4H programing, to kids activities to competitions for budding agriculturalists, it was no wonder there were a lot of young Antigonish attendees while I was there. I was also really happy to do the type of portrait photography that I love most.

Here are a few of my favorite images of the event and some of the budding agriculturalists!

John David photography

John David   www.johndavidphotography.ca johndavidphotography.ca@gmail.com Antigonish, NS