Can ducks be used in a rotational grazing system?

P.C.MichiganAnswer: Thank you for contacting ATTRA with your request for information on the addition of ducks into a rotational grazing system. Ducks can be raised in similar production systems as chickens, and be included in a rotational grazing system. Ducks are considered great foragers, and enjoy the young tender parts of plants that are about 3-4 inches off of the ground. Because of this trait, they fit well in a system where larger animals are foraging ahead and consuming the tops. I don’t believe they will break up manure as well as chickens do, and that might be the biggest difference to keep in mind. Ducks can be moved in a pastured pen or can be raised in a free range system with electric poultry netting to protect them from predators. The number of ducks to be placed in the system might determine the style in which they are raised. The labor put into each system is also divided differently. A pastured pen is moved once or twice a day while the free range system is left for a few days to a week depending on the size of the paddock. When the paddock needs to be moved, time is needed to take down the electric netting, move the shelter/food/water, and put the electric netting back up in a different location. The following two articles regarding raising ducks on pasture may be helpful. ‘Pastured Ducks‘ by Karma Glos discusses her free range system while Chuck Benhoff’s article ‘Taking the Salatin Model One Step Further’ (Stockman Grassfarmer, April 2000) discusses his experience with raising ducks in pastured pens similar to the ones Joel Salatin uses to raise his poultry.