Flying ducks; intro to goats

Q. I was pleased to see you’ve added some goats to the project. How do you keep them out of the garden?

Also, how do you keep the ducks from flying away?


A. To address your questions:

First, about ducks … Our ducks cannot fly more than a few inches off the ground even if they wanted to. I suppose they could get up to a few feet off the ground if threatened but anymore than that is impossible. Some breeds, such as our Khaki Campbells are pretty much “flightless.” It is because centuries of breeding has made their bodies too large for their wings to support in flight.

There are plenty of domesticated breeds that are classified as “flightless.” Ducks that fly are the typical Mallard duck, Call ducks, and Muscovies. However, Muscovies don’t fly away, but like to fly about the neighborhood and always return home.

Rouen ducks have the same beautiful markings as Mallards but are larger and unlikely to fly more than a few feet off the ground.

Getting these kind of domesticated ducks usually means they’ll never leave. You don’t have to clip their wings or anything. Mine are actually “homebodies” and will explore the yard for a while but enjoy spending time in their pen. They are not as adventurous as chickens.

Secondly, about the goats …

The goats have been a truly enjoyable addition to the project. They provide so much in many ways. I like to say we don’t have cable television – we have goats.

They are also our hiking companions and are pretty much train able like dogs … albeit, slightly more stubborn.

The goat share a ~450 sq.ft. pen with the ducks and the chickens. In the morning and the afternoon, I let them out in the yard to explore and get some additional exercise. They do tend to nibble on things and actually ate one of my geranium plants to the ground. However, they can be trained. Surprisingly, they are becoming more and more obedient as time goes on and as they get older. They know more than a half-dozen commands – one of them being “LEAVE IT!” – which I use whenever they are nibbling on something they could damage. (I usually let them eat the leaves off some plants that won’t be damaged.)

This command has been surprisingly effective as I trained them by slapping my hands, using a forceful voice, and backing up the command with a water squirt from a spray bottle if the command was ignored.

Often, the command of “COME!” will take them away from anything they are doing bad and they’ll come running up to my feet, which earns them a treat.

They are relatively small goats and like confined spaces. These
kinds of goats don’t like an immense pasture. They do well in 100 sq.ft. (bigger is always better). They spend the day lounging about and get exercise from the daily walks and the weekly hiking trips and forays to the park.

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